Follow the clues

by juliusmsanz

Something funny came up today: I had to work a couple of hours helping this one guy who doesn’t know how to properly write an opinion piece.

And it was funny because he had the paper that told him what he had to do, and pointed out all these important details. Without bothering to read the important paper that told him how to write an outstanding piece he brought me a substandard opinion.

I think this applies to writing in a major way.

It is true that I have been writing and suggesting my readers to experiment and to bend the rules, but that only applies once you properly know the rules.

Writers have been perfecting their craft since the times of Ancient Greece, so that means there has been more than a couple of millenium of experience that we can take advantage of. It also means that people have been following a certain path of rules for either dramatic plays or horror scripts, or comedy, pretty much everything. With so much information around us, it’s impossible not to know what sort of work can captivate an audience or even make them laugh.

So what do you need to do?

You have to follow the clues.

Following the clues is not that difficult, it is all a matter of reading. I’m not revealing a state secret or anything, talk to any writer out there and he/she will tell you that the only way you can improve as a writer is by reading, and reading, and reading. Except that when you read something, you read it again looking for the pace, for the structure, for the compelling characters and how they came to be. You analyze the book, you dissect the story; and after that you take a good long look at the results.

I wrote a mystery once. I had no clue how to write mysteries; thought I could give away too much information, or that I wasn’t making the story or plot all that difficult. So what did I do? I kept on reading mysteries and I actually searched for a formula, turns out there are some formulas out there; it’s all about searching for them.

Something done right always has some sort of structure, you can bend it, rearrange it, but you need that structure in order to be successful.

This is all for today, have a great one!