The Bicycle book cover

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The book should be out this week (Christmas week) and priced at RM12 for Peninsula Malaysia and RM15 for Sabah & Sarawak . I love the simplicity of the cover.

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How to choose the RIGHT language to write a novel.

Let’s keep things simple. You want to write and you want to be published. So what language will you write in? It sounds like a dumb question and I can see some of you rolling your eyes and fidgeting in your seat; ready to flame my blog. But hear me out.

Language choice is a BIG decision, primarily because it can determine whether you would actually finish your novel/short story/article or love letter. Anyone can write, thats why we go to school. We learn to spell words and articulate our minds onto a medium called paper.

Yet, language will determine the feel of the story, the life of the story lies not in the writing itself (per say) but rather in the language used. Language determines the way the words are spoken by that invisible story teller, who sits in reading room of our mind and language moves us to think, to dream and to imagine.

Write in the language you think in.
If you think in Chinese, try writing in Chinese and so on so forth. Writing in the language you think creates flair in your stories. It just means, you have mastery over the language. By being a master of the language you can play with words and sentences and allow yourself to speak your mind. Remember, creative writing is about painting your mind onto a printed medium for people to read. Paint using the colors that you are sure of. Write in the language that you think in.

Now, there will come a time when you choose to write in a language you learnt..

Write in a foreign language if you want to reinvent yourself.
When I write in Bahasa Malaysia, my style changes. It becomes dead formal. My sentencing becomes rigid and it takes on an air of formality. Yet, when I do attempt to write in Bahasa Malaysia, I am not govern by the rules of the language because I don’t know them. My writing takes on a flair akin to a mad-man ranting away nonsenses. So, if I ever want to write in Bahasa Malaysia, it’ll probably be poetry or a compilation of short stories by inmates of the local asylum.

Write in the language you read in.
Writers are in part hugely influenced by what they read. We pick up a writer we love and in time our style matches them to a certain degree. We take on some of the way they sentence their words or speak their minds. My own style is (ironically) greatly influenced by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the writer of the Sherlock Holmes series, and lately by Stephen King, Neil Gaiman and Nicholas Sparks. These are the writers I read and they all write in English.

Write in the language you vocalize your stories in.
Writers need to be good story tellers. For example, imagine sitting in a coffee shop with your friends and it’s your turn to tell them your story. You need to grab their attention, keep them hooked, allow them to follow the story, allow them to experience the characters. This imagery is the one I keep in my mind when I write my short stories. I imagine I’m telling the story to a friend. This is what I deem the Voice of the Writer. Every writer has their own unique voice. It’s their fingerprint in the literacy world. We recognize each other by the way we speak on paper. So make it a point to try to translate how you vocalize your stories to people onto paper. Try to mimic the phrasing and sentencing onto paper and you’ll find that your writing has taken on a new dimension.

So why are you still reading this? Go write something.

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3 essential factors that makes a writer great

What sets one writer apart from another writer? How can we ever measure ourselves up to the likes of Stephen King, Nicholas Sparks, Nicholas Evans, Cecilia Ahern or JK Rowling? What must a writer have in order to be the best of the best?

I’ve asked myself this question time and time again, all for the primary reason of improving my craft. Writing as a craft, is something anyone can do. Anyone can write a piece and couple that with a reading habit, most people have what it takes to be a writer, but are these things enough. What really sets a writer apart from his/her peers?

I think a writer must have these three (3) essential factors in order to be a great writer. Not just a writer that merely writes but one that sells also. One that is able to deliver his/her message to an audience dying to hear what they have to say.

1. Talent
If you got it, you got it. Anyone can string together a sentence. Anyone can put together words but it takes talent to arrange the words into sentences that appeal to the reader. You can teach the dummies guide to writing, get the wannabe writer to memorize each page and the result would be as exciting as an obituary if there is no talent. Talent is something that one is born with and chief among the talents is imagination. Imagination is key to a writers. It is his/her vision into another world. It is the canvas where they paint the pictures that appear in the minds of their readers. If imagination is non-existent then you better think of another area to work in, maybe cutting grass or accounting.

2. The art of the craft
Talent alone would not get you anywhere. You must develop the skills of good writing. This is a never-ending process and all writers learn as they go along. The key is to identify what works with you and stick to that winning formula. Most people don’t read Stephen King. Most of my friends are horrified that I read Stephen King. Too much horror, they say. Evil influence, another tell me. Have they actually read Stephen King? I bet they haven’t. Why then would I read Stephen King? I love the way he voice out his stories. His prose is something that I aspire towards. It is as if Stephen King himself is sitting in front of, over a cup of coffee, narrating the story from memory. It’s natural, its great storytelling and his stories are entertaining. Stephen King has develop not just the writing but the art of the writing. He breaks the rules after understanding what the rules are. Study the craft and then break the norm, make it your art-form and I bet you would develop into a unique writer of your own.

3. Focus, focus, focus
Focus on your study of the craft, focus on developing your voice, focus on writing, focus, focus focus. We must become stubborn with our solitude, alone in our struggles, conversant with our inner muse; all for the goal of writing the story that sits in our minds. The story needs to be told and the audience is waiting, gearing up for the twist, waiting to hear the ending and hoping to identify themselves with the plights you identify in your writing. Focus and all other things will fall into place. I read somewhere that out of a hundred that start writing a book, 3 finish the book but only 1 get published. Pure tenacity, mindless stubbornness and perseverance would take you a long way in your writing.

There then is my 2 3 essential things in order to be a great writer. There are many more that I can think off but I rather stick to these three for the moment and once I’ve mastered them, maybe I look into other essentials.

Cheers!

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