Tag: Literature

Leonard David Raymundo

Tips for the Inexperienced Writer

The art of writing, regardless of setting, can be seen as a means of expressing yourself, manifesting your emotions on a piece of paper or computer screen, or just simply communicating with another. However, for those who possess less than average writing skills, achieving any of those can be unnecessarily difficult. Improving this can be tricky if you don’t know where to start. Which is why I’ve included a number of strategies you can use to enhance your writing abilities on all platforms, that I’ve found to be successful.

Write with your hands

Almost everyone today would consider the terms ‘writing’ and ‘typing’ synonymous. Given the various forms of technology at our fingertips, that is true to some extent. If your daily writing activities are via a keyboard 100% of the time and you are failing to see any improvement, give handwritten pieces a try. Practicing your handwriting has been linked to improved cognitive ability, and can allow you to look at the written piece from a different perspective. It can keep your mind active, and promote thoughtfulness within you that not have been able to tap into prior. For myself-I have found that writing by hand, while more “difficult”, produces more creative and thoughtful work.

Recognize your mistakes

Make note of the most common errors you yourself make when writing. Do you struggle with spelling, grammar, or overused expressions? Pay attention to what you tend to write most. This can provide insight into any mistakes you are making on a consistent basis. When typing, the technological phenom that is autocorrect is another great tool to help point out your mistakes.

But the best thing you can do is simply read your writing out loud. Does it sound disjointed? Awkward? Doesn’t make sense? If any of these things are true, you’ll want to rewrite it until it sounds natural when read aloud.

Utilize resources

There are countless websites online that are greatly beneficial to writers. Whether you need a thesaurus to expand your vocabulary, or a tool to help you figure out which words in your title should be capitalized, the internet has it all. In addition to helping you improve your writing, you are likely to learn new words or phrases that you can then incorporate, breaking up your style even more.

Organize ideas beforehand

If your writing tends to be scattered and unorganized, writing down your thoughts before you start working on the actual piece can help tremendously. Create a chronological storyboard that lays out every part of your intended piece, adding specific details in bullets underneath. This isn’t to say that spontaneous writing is bad, rather organizing your thoughts can be helpful, and easier for those that wish to improve their basic writing skills.

Learn from others

All the greats in writing learned from someone. Developing your writing skills takes time, and making note of what accomplished writers put together can help. Read the works of famous authors, or even a friend or family member who you know possesses great writing skills. This can enhance your vocabulary, your grammar, and even spark ideas for future pieces.

My personal favorite is Stephen King, and his book: “On Writing”, which has been an inspiration to my writing career. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Leonard David Raymundo fewer words

How Fewer Words can Make a Bigger Impact

Less is more is always true when it comes to the art of writing. Whether it’s a note to your boss, or a full length science fiction novel, finding ways to make a big impact with few words is always better.

When it comes to writing fiction, it can be overwhelming given the endless possibilities that come with developing a story, and with those countless options, one is bound to make mistakes here and there. It’s natural. Writing isn’t as easy as it seems on the surface. A great way of attracting a reader’s attention however, is harnessing the less is more concept.

When writing short stories, you are a little more limited in what you say and how you say it. This stresses the importance of engaging readers even more. Keep in mind that less can in fact mean more, so focusing too much on certain details like color and meaning, or using unnecessarily complex vocabulary may hurt your story.

Take the characters of your piece into consideration. Seeing as you’re dealing with a limited amount of words, you’ll want to effectively detail each of their personalities without wasting too much dialogue. A great way to do so is by utilizing gestures. For example, a quarterback heaving the football toward the end zone in the final seconds of the game could be followed by him being carried out of the stadium by the fans. Without describing who or how the ball was caught, the reader knows that a touchdown was thrown, and the game was won.

As stated by Writer’s Relief, the setting of a story can, and usually is just as important as the plot and characters. By describing where the story is taking place, what the weather is like, and in which season we are in, you can adequately paint a picture in the readers’ minds, as well as convey the mood of the story. For example, the quarterback who scored the winning touchdown could be on a muddy field in a downpour to detail tension, and the possibility that the game could be won or lost. Perhaps during that last drive, the clouds began to clear, signifying a comeback in the making.

Clothing is another great way to effectively tell the reader what the personality of a certain character is like, and even provide certain insights into the plot of the story. Continuing with our football example, without ever mentioning the fact that the main character is a quarterback, you could describe the numbers on his jersey and his varsity jacket while nervously waiting for the bell to ring.

Whatever tactics you choose to use in getting your point across in as little words as possible, be precise. Dialogue is absolutely crucial in driving the plot and developing the characters. Using brevity in your work allows you to explain your story without having to go back and elaborate on previously mentioned information.

Always remember, when it comes to writing, short and sweet is the way to go.

Leonard David Raymundo books

Top 5 Books of 2016

If you’re anything like me, part of your New Year’s Resolution involved reading more books. Studies and personal experiences show that people who read regularly tend to be more intelligent, empathetic, and happier. Reading more (and I don’t mean your Facebook feed) will open yourself up to viewpoints you never would have considered before. There are so many genres to choose from, that it’s nearly impossible to not find a book that peaks your interest. Some people say they don’t like reading, but that’s probably because they haven’t found the right book yet. If you’re looking for a place to start, here are some of the top books from 2016.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Set in the 1960’s, this novel follows the plight of a family after two marriages fall apart and then a blended family comes out of the ashes. Taking place over the rest of their lives, it’s often difficult to know exactly what happens, as the reader observes the family from the outside, hearing pieces of gossip and different perspectives of events that tells the story of a family that deals with job and tragedy, including the death of a child.

The Return by Hisham Matar

Written as a memoir, this book tells the tale of Matar’s father, who was arrested in Egypt and sent back to Libya. He was then placed in a prison where letters were occasionally smuggled out to Matar, but they stopped coming after a few years. Matar, his brother, and his mother immigrated to America, where his father’s absence haunted him for the rest of his life. The memoir gives insight into these events and also covers his return to Libya, where he attempts to discover what happened to his father.

Secondhand Time by Svetlana Alexievich

A poignant novel examing the personal lives of several Russians as the Soviet Union dissolves. This novel vividly describes the experiences of people stuck in this country as drastic change takes over. Instead of approaching it from a historical point of view, Alexievich chooses the tell the story through emotions and memories. A reader feels connected with the characters as the novel gives deep insight into their struggles and triumphs.

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

This novel features two timelines that alternate between the narrator working as a personal assistant to a celebrity who wants to establish a school in Africa and the narrator’s childhood, when she became friends with a biracial girl, which ends in friction between the two girls. The novel offers interesting insights into race and class issues that most readers will find engaging.

The Girls by Emma Cline

The story follows a lost teenager, Evie, who searches for a place she can belong, which leads her to join a cult eerily similar to that of Charles Manson. The story is told from the perspective of an adult Evie, who cannot come to terms with how close she came to taking part in a horrific murder. This book will definitely make you shiver.

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