Celebrating East African Writing!

Advice for the Young Writer

The article below is borrowed from the Internet Writing Journal. It further stresses some of the things that we have discussed here previously. I am quoting it here just to demonstrate the wide resource of good advice and encouragement for the novice writer.

As previously noted, not all advice is good for everyone. So, we would like you to share with us what has worked for you as you find your foothold and then your niche in the writing world. Further, we would like you to tell us what you think we can do to help you in achieving your writing dreams.

Advice for the Young Writer by Alex Keegan

Becoming a good writer of fiction takes a mass of work. You have to read and read and read: the good, the bad, the ugly and the eye-bleeding atrocious, then some more of the OK, and some more of the good, some more of the very good, the classics, the stuff you don’t get first pass, (so read it again) and then you can go back and you’ll see that the OK is pretty bad too.

It takes a minimum of three years’ full time study, or 7-10 years of part-time study to get a university degree. Becoming a writer is harder! I think it was Ray Bradbury who said we need to write at least a million words just to make it to the foothills. Seems like a lot? Not really. 3,000 words a day for a year or 1,000 words a day for three years and you’re home free. What d’you mean it sounds tough? It IS tough!

A writer is someone who on waking, always thinks, “Now how will I find the time today to write?” If you start writing every day and it becomes a habit, something which gets into your blood. If thirty days down the line the habit is set, then you’re a writer, and you’ll get there twice as fast as the six-day-a-week writer, ten times as fast as the weekdays only one. Exercise the writing muscles, exercise the soul, become pixel dependent.

Write about things that energise you, that make you buzz, get angry, get sad, emote over. Write about things with weight, meaning, a point. Don’t be glib or trite, or clichéd, don’t re-write Asimov or Chandler, write yourself, be brave, and while you’re writing your million words, don’t think you have to write LIKE anyone. You are a true original. Think originally.

And when you want me to believe you, paint me pictures, let me see the pain without having it explained. Understand what the pundits mean by show not tell, or better, understand my own term, seduction not instruction. And if you don’t understand it, work until you do.

Most importantly, forget plot, let characters do it for you. This always freaks the younger writer (especially since most are first attracted to the genres, such as Science Fiction, where ideas and plot appear more important. They’re not. What people remember are people, situations, emotions, character, so be brave, imagine your characters, put them in a spot and let them get out of it.

Think about language, style, flow and lyricism. There are great writers with ordinary styles and there are “stylists” who bore the pants off us. Nevertheless, mastering how words work musically and phonetically as well as semantically can give you an extra level of power and set you apart.

Learn about good dialogue, how it is NOT like real speech but artificially creates the illusion of everyday speech. Learn to hone dialogue and read great writers of dialogue — I love Elmore Leonard for this.

I’ve said already, read, read, read, read, read, and we know we must write, write, write; but don’t forget submissions! Submitting our work after it’s had time to settle and then has been seriously reworked is one of the most overlooked essentials to becoming a writer. You write to be read. If you aren’t writing to be read stop now and go do something else. To be read means getting published, and to get published you have to get rejected, and rejected and rejected, tens, hundreds even thousands of time.

The above is an excerpt from British Crime and Literary Fiction Author Alex Keegan’s article Advice for the Young Writer at the Internet Writer’s Journal.

And now to this week’s readings.

We begin with another debate. Working Mother – Adam vs Eve: In a perfect world where everything comes easy and life is good and has no hardships, mothers should indeed not have to work. They should stay at home and take care of their children.

Then we have a little love in the air. Love Note – Rayhab Gachango: “I don’t want to hear anything from you. Go get packed now. Let me deal with that villager. He will know who is playing with. I am going to have him arrested right now. No one touches my daughter. No one.’’ After saying that Mr Mbae stormed out.

Lastly, we have Chicken Crossing – Gideon Chumo: He has only to smell his cigar and he gets timid like a mare—even now when he looks at his boots, stepping on that the gas pedal, taking us for a ride, so flexible and springy, he feels his heart sinking, as they say, into his paws.

Please continue sending your ideas about how to make your weekly reading more fun to And remember, all stories published on the Storymoja Blog will be eligible for the Crown of Story of the Week. The stories are posted every Monday. Please critique and vote for the story you believe should wear the crown. At the end of the week, the votes will be tallied and the story with the most votes will posted on the Storymoja Website as the Story of the Week on the Friday of the same week.
To have your story in this weekly process please send it to before Friday at 4pm.
Thank you and have a wonderful week!



This entry was posted on February 15, 2010 by in Writing and tagged , , , .
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