Celebrating East African Writing!
Written by Akinyi Okulo
Creative writing is fun. However many budding writers do not know how to start. They are faced with myriads of challenges and more often than not abandon the idea. The Storymoja Hay Festival 2012 held at the Nairobi National Museum provided aspiring writers with a series of workshops on how to publish their own work. The workshops were tailored to cater for different age groups.
Writing a book starts with an idea. Any idea is good. An idea on its own however is not good enough and has to be developed. A writer needs to brainstorm the kind of idea he wants to write about; it may be fiction or real life stories. Brainstorming involves a lot of back and forth on topical issues that interest the writer.
Ideas are quite interesting when looked at keenly. Sometimes they are big and sometimes they are small. Ideas must not be wished away. They are the building blocks of a good story. Ideas may even change with time.
Ideas may take the shape of characters. A character is a distinct personality in a piece of creative work. Character development thus helps with building ideas. A character may take a specific form conjured up in a descriptive image. Characters bring life to an idea in creative writing.
One key challenge of character development is that a character may bring out the best or the worst in a piece of creative work. Each character must be distinct in the role they play out in a piece of writing. Characters may be weak or strong. Weak characters often play a supportive role and may not necessarily be well developed. Notwithstanding, they have a role that remains distinctively functional.
Also note that a character may be too strong in their role. Any creative writing needs to have a harmonious balance between characters.
A writer may give characters certain traits that often carry away the idea of the creative work. This calls for a gradual review of the characters in order to maintain the initial idea.
Once you have a clear picture of your characters, you are ready to tell the story. It is quite exciting to explore the various angles that an idea takes. For example, you can use characters to lead the way. Characters are constantly built and destroyed as the story develops.
Once the story is done, a writer should step back and look at the piece of writing from ‘outside in’. This helps the writer have a three-dimensional view of his work.
Finally seek the opinion of a mentor. An objective opinion can help point out the weaknesses in one’s writing.
The above are some of the aspects of the writing process which the participants at the Publish Your Own Book session were introduced to.