Accomplished writing is rooted in social and psychological awareness, perseverance, technical expertise, passion, talent and luck.
There’s little you can do about luck, but there is plenty you can do to make your writing so accomplished that it can‘t be ignored.
Firstly, believe that you can and will improve as a writer if you work on your weaknesses. Writing is a craft, much like painting, woodwork or dressmaking. Practicing the skills and techniques that go into it yields results.
Although there is almost as much advice on writing as there are people offering it, I believe that a writer’s development will benefit through study in four areas:
1. A passionate and genuine interest in people—the ins and outs of human motivation, their hopes and fears.
2. An understanding of story structure—how the parts of the story engine work together to deliver an emotive experience to the audience or reader.
3. The ability to identify and deploy abstract ideas such as morality and ideology and distill them into specific themes, characters, and events in a way that makes your stories meaningful and appealing.
4. The development of a distinctive voice that reflects a unique style.
“Apply to your writing knowledge from the four areas of focus.“
Having identified these areas, take time each day to observe how people interact with each other—at social gatherings, cafes and shopping centres. What clues do they offer through their posture, tone of voice, and general demeanour?
Read an article on some aspect of narrative structure from a book or website every day. Can you describe the function of the inciting incident? Its relation to the first turning point? Learn something new every day.
Can you identify the warring ideologies of the day? Unfortunately, the world is bristling with strife, now more then ever, so it shouldn’t be that hard. How would you package these ideologies into characters that tell a powerful and dramatic story?
Which authors and screenwriters do you admire? Stephen King? Margaret Atwood? Aaron Sorkin? David Mamet? All have a distinctive voice revealed through their use of theme and genre, as well as sentence structure, word choice and the speech patterns of their characters. What are the patterns in your writing?
Work to perfect them.
Identify and rectify weaknesses in your writing by focusing on the relevant categories of knowledge.