Improving Your Writing Style


James Joyce

I saw James Joyce (1882-1941), the Irish writer in a vision last night, he wrote The Dubliners, which is considered by some as the greatest short story ever written. I remember reading it when I first started writing. As a writer, it’s very important to develop a ‘voice’ that is distinct from others. You have to be crisp and clear and keep the reader informed and/or entertained. Every word you write, is a log they have to walk across with their eye.

Reading journalists on the Internet, I often find they waffle and don’t get to the point and three paragraphs into their piece, you click off in frustration.

If you want to write successfully, make your point with as few words as possible so that makes it simple when writing a paragraph, waffle is just a self indulgent ego trip. Then expand on what you want to say with a couple of short examples that back up your idea, then answer the reader’s objection or his/her questions, and then conclude with a short summary of the point you made.

Characters from the TV adaptation of the 16th Century Fable 'Monkey'

If journalists followed this ‘few words law’, they’d get their message across more effectively. I read the French writers Flaubert, Stendhal and I read Hemingway, as he is considered the best writer of dialogue. Then I read Lawrence Durrell to learn prose and I read Monkey, a chinese Taoist fairy tale. The last book I read was The Importance of Living by Lin Yutang.

That was the sum total of my literary training. Writing is organized talking, you don’t have to train for it, you just have to be very disciplined. If you are clear in your mind and you can concentrate, you can write very fast. A book of 50-60,000 words takes me between four days (God’s Gladiators), and a week (Grace, Gaia and the End of Days). It’s words in your mind, you’re only the typist.

You can practice by writing crisp emails. Make sure the Anti-Waffle Squad jumps all over your letter before you click SEND. Stuart Wilde www.stuartwilde.com

 

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