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The Skills You Need to Master
to Become an Author
It is not enough for a writer to be good at writing alone. Knowing how to write and following the rules of syntax, genre and grammar is not sufficient. A writer must understand the human condition and have an insight into the human soul. As a writer, you will also have to be a part-time psychologist, a designer with an eye for detail, a planner, a poet, a seducer, a teacher, and perform many other roles.
It is said that the best characters write themselves, but that is not true. You will write your characters, and they will be as dumb, wise, clever, or charming as you make them. This article aims to be an introductory educational resource, mentioning the skills you need to acquire for successful authorship.
That said, let’s analyze some of the most critical skills you will need as an author.
A plethora of details
If you write fictional stories, you must translate an entire world onto a page. A good author will always enable the reader to see through his or her eyes. An image of the characters and the setting must be formed in the mind of the person who is reading.
This image can only be formed via a detailed description. Do not spare the details, and use plenty of adjectives. Of course, repeating the same adjectives such as “great” or “large” will get tedious.
An expanded vocabulary and a thesaurus will come in handy. However, be aware of the opposite scenario as too much detail can turn your descriptions into a tedious slog.
As a beginner, it is best to be safe than sorry at first. The odds are you won’t write a world-changing novel on your first try, so don’t worry about using the experience as practice. Play around with your descriptions, and you will develop a sense of proportion and when to use them.
Communication is not exclusive to humans. However, while other creatures use it for pragmatic reasons, we also do it for fun. We make multi-millionaires out of people who are good at making up fictional stories, just so we can read them.
Needless to say, we are an odd bunch.
Communication is key in any type of writing, be it articles, manuals, poetry, prose, or any other category of the written word.
Even if you have a world-changing idea in your head, it will stay locked in there unless you find a way to express it. On many occasions, people read authors who tell them what they already know or suspect.
It’s just that the author has the vocabulary and communication skills to package the idea. It almost does not matter what is written, as long as the concept is conveyed clearly. Knowing how to package ideas and speak to people is a rare and essential skill.
Be a people-person
A good writer needs to understand the written word. They must know the basics of syntax, grammar, outlining, editing, and possess an expanded vocabulary. However, these skills are not enough. With these abilities alone, you will be good at writing technical manuals and news articles.
For any other type of writing, you need to understand what makes people tick. There is no shame in not “getting” people, as many geniuses and accomplished intellectuals have undeveloped emotional intelligence.
By far, the most interesting story that can be told is not of stars and atoms or bullets and bombs. The tale we never get tired of reading is that of the human soul. You must become a part-time amateur psychologist, a priest, and a detective.
Real people don’t just scream out their motivations. We hide our reasons and insecurities; we weave stories and behavior to cover them up. We constantly struggle against our vices and strive for moral standards that we often fail to reach.
We are complicated, nuanced, flawed, and wonderful. As a writer, you must peer into this nature and weave insights into your stories.
There is a false distinction in popular culture. On one side, we have the overly serious and robotic scientist, while on the other, we have the airhead imaginative artist.
The truth is that science often requires imagination and abstract thinking, while art demands rigorous structure and adherence to rules.
As a writer, you will have to worry about the logistics of your craft and your story. Your story must be structured and layered. To avoid being overly-formulaic, you must find innovative ways to solve problems.
Before the pretty words can touch the page, you must make a cold analysis of the direction of the story. Watch for plot holes, analyze contradictions, and avoid inconsistencies. Very few authors can get away with not outlining, so be sure to draw yours.
Respect your Universe’s rules. People will suspend disbelief for the sake of your Universe, but your Universe has to follow its own rules. For example, armor can’t be described as being effective in one scene, while a character gets stabbed with a dagger through his chest plate in the other.
Learn to handle rejection
To some extent, life is a number’s game. In love, for example, many people are unsuccessful because they are afraid of rejection. So, they don’t try.
The same fear of rejection plagues art. Over the writing process, you will come to love your work as if it was your child. All the time spent writing and pouring a piece of the soul into the piece will make you very attached.
As a writer, you must understand that many people will dislike your effort. They will reject you, causing you to doubt your skills and your place in the world. The only solution is bravery.
Also, try to research the greatest writers in history. Some of them wrote hundreds of pieces and only one of those managed to put them on the map.
You will evolve, and you will get better. Persevere until then.
Writing is a craft and an art form. There are hard rules that must be followed and a mentality that must be developed. Focusing strictly on the literal process of writing will never be enough.
Writers understand people and are able to tell them what they are already feeling. Good writers have an instinct that allows them to command and stir emotion. Technical and essay writers must be good communicators, organizing content and building arguments.
Overall, a good writer is brave, personable, a good communicator, and has the vocabulary to craft entire worlds.
About the Author
Laura C. Field was a Jack of All Trades, Master of One. While she easily grasped all school subjects, her true love and mastery were towards the written word. Passionate about the topic even to this day, she is an avid writer with a vast portfolio.