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How To Be A Good Writer - Literature - Nairaland

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How To Be A Good Writer by Abdalladamfashi: 5:05pm On Aug 18, 2017

I won’t deny the fact that I feel a little awkward writing on the aforementioned topic, considering the fact that I am not a very good writer myself. However, it has become imperative of me to dwell on the matter, most especially after the barrages of requests I have received so far on how I write my articles. One even went an extra mile to ask to be in my group of writing articles (as if I have any!) It is in view of this, that I draft this small piece of just ten paragraphs I hope you will find it useful.

The art of writing is too skillful an art to be learned in a short period of time. Like any other art, it needs persistence, consistence practice and dedication, for one to be skillful enough. People all over the world write for various reasons. You might be asked to turn in a memo at your place of work, draft minutes of a meeting, write an essay for some exams or as the case may be. While some write for a living, others simply do it for passion. Whichever one, there is the need to prepare and master the art of writing.

The purpose of an article as earlier mentioned differs among writers. For the sake of this write up, I would be speaking about those who comment on contemporary issues; the social commentators. The first thing I would like you to know is, do NOT be afraid of airing your views, because someone else may criticize or oppose your views. No matter what and how objective you are, someone somewhere may not agree with your opinion(s). Having made up your mind on what to write, the next step is to gather enough facts, proofs, figures, statistics, theories (if any) and whatsoever to support your points while presenting them. One should however be careful not to overstate them, as it sends a wrong signal to the reader.

Many people are of the habit of delaying their write ups even after having enough evidences to support their claims, simply because they lack an accurate title. The moment you know what you are writing on, and have the facts, proceed with your write-up as the title would come later. One should also avoid the use of ‘big words and vocabularies’ while writing as it would only annoy your readers. You can imagine the stress of having to check a dictionary for the meaning of an alien word. Writing is not about using vocabulary to bamboozle your unsuspecting teeming audience. (I hope you get my point.) The best writing is done using simple common words.

Speaking of words, the choice of words too are important. It is important that one knows where, when and how to use a word or describe its meaning. Also, less conventional words such as Nigger or even common abbreviations like won't, or couldn't (I know, I'm still working on that too) and the rest should be avoided, as they seem too informal. The grammar, mechanics and structure of sentences are also things to consider while writing. The punctuation rules which most writers choose to ignore, should be accurately dealt with. Know where and when to use a colon instead of comma or when to dot I's and cross your T's to be a good writer. The capitalization of every first letter of a sentence or that of a proper noun is an important note worth remembering.

One ought to ensure words, phrases and sentences are properly spelt and agree with basic grammatical rules. These can be ensured using dictionary, spell checks and constantly revising one's draft. Most writers make the mistake of publishing their works without editing which is not supposed to be so. An article should be thoroughly checked for errors, crossing, alteration or further addition before the final copy is made. I usually revisit my work countless times to check for errors, that sometimes I am afraid to glance through it, lest I detect another flaw.

The title of an article when chosen should be precise, concise, and catchy and short enough to arouse interest (even though this is somewhat difficult considering the influence of The Net these days.) The title is an important factor which determines who read the piece, as such considered important. The beginning too, like the title is also important. While some start with a quote or joke, others settle for a question depending on the style of the writer, (satire, humor or deadpan serious).The idea is to settle for something catchy.

I usually draft an outline or plan which includes the number of paragraphs, its contents and all the points that the entire article follows before I start writing. I would recommend you do the same. The paragraphs should be planned, conformed, and sequential and must follow a particular pattern. If possible, a draft should first be prepared, before the original write-up so as to ensure adequate revision and trimming of unnecessary words, before the final copy is ready. The number of drafts may depend on the writer, as some may require up to 5 drafts while others may need as few as 2.

Giving an insight to what you would talk about before you start dwelling proper on the topic (introduction) might be a good idea. The title of the subject should be the same as the content of the article. You cannot choose a title on "how to prepare pounded yam", but instead talk about the "harmful effects of cigarettes". You must stick to the topic and not wander about aimlessly. (I know the analogy sucks, but I hope you get the message). One thing many writers fail to achieve is holding the interest of the reader at the back of their minds. You must be able to keep the audience glued to their seats, at the same time not losing your objectivity. (I hope I am doing the same) Throw in a joke or a harmless banter in the middle of your article, it would be useful. The length of an article should also be regulated. Short interesting articles seem to be more appealing to the audience, than long boring ones. (I know, I’m still working on that too.)

In concluding, you may choose to go for a quote, a question or just a natural pause, depending on the purpose and style of the writer. It should however be brief and concise too! Finally, proof read your write up before publishing. This is one of the aspect most writers forget (or is it deliberately?) to dwell on. I hope this helps!

Abdullahi Malumfashi is on Twitter as @Abdalldam01and can be reached via abdalladamfashi@gmail.com

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