If you were born in a country, in a town, on a road, and in a home, then you will have everything you need to be a fiction writer. The stories are there in your head, hiding and brewing in your childhood and adolescence; the stories that become limitless in our adulthood.

The very real events we encounter every day inform our stories. We find them in the heroes and the villains who walk our streets. We meet them in those who serve in public office. And we may even discover them in those who eat and sleep beside us in our homes.

But sometimes, having a story to tell is not enough.

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In those times, you need to know what style is, and how characterisation informs plot and, how plot defines and refines characterisation. Having a good working knowledge of your writing voice is to acknowledge its strengths and weaknesses. Being able to define what narrative structure (or lack thereof) fits your particular story will improve your telling of it. These are all aspects of fiction writing that can make or break your story, no matter how hot you think that story is.

But you need not pay thousands for a course or a degree in creative writing to be a fiction writer. While that route works for a number of established writers, you can discover the art of crafting prose on your own. Many of the bestselling and literary icons of the written word were self-taught masters of putting a pen to paper, and of pounding away at a typewriter and a keyboard.

And perhaps, what may be the most surprising thing about learning how to write, is that the best advice and crafting methods come from the books themselves. No other art form has the ability to educate of its own conception as entertainingly as the book. But even the books on storytelling are not the only and definitive references on learning how to write. The journey is long and each writer has their own path to make and take. And most of it is lonely.

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To write is to be alone with yourself, tapping into the deepest recesses of your memories and consciousness. Writing a story is to visit and stay a while with old friends and terrifying enemies; running through the entire worlds born of fantasy and science fiction; seeking out and capture the culprit of a suspense-filled mystery; and finally, attempting to answer the quiet questions of identity and the human soul; questions that reside in the extraordinary characters of literary fiction.

Let’s explore the books and the lessons I have found to be crucial in my self-education as a fiction writer.

Continue Reading "How to educate yourself as a Writer"

A few years ago, I made the decision to dance Argentine Tango. In the years that followed that nervy start, I’ve found myself enriched, challenged and emboldened by a dance that forces both sexes to lead and to follow, and, more importantly, to learn how to listen to each other.

It changed the way I interact with people. Its Latin American bravado educated me about the importance of physical communication. And there is no better form of communication than the Tango’s famous embrace. With time, I found myself learning to feel out the subtle nuances of a woman’s body, how the delicate weight of each step ebbed and flowed with feminine grace, as my solid but controlled movements surged and broke with each whim. I search for that balance now, in each and every moment I spend in the company of the fairer sex. It is now instinctual, and I am glad for this gift.

But that is a praise spoken from the perspective of a straight male. Sexuality and sexual prowess are the hallmarks of the Tango. But it has become an art form that now breaks the stereotypes of gender in dance, thanks to an impassioned community that numbers in the millions across the world, and with a sizeable number who are proud members of the LGBT community.

Now, more so than any other time in history, the Tango thrives as the dance of balance between the leader and the follower, between the virile masculine and the graceful feminine. This balance is what first caught me as a young boy, having seen the Tango on a television screen, as those long legs captured an audience.

It is fulfilling that I have now come to understand this expression of movement as a form of storytelling. My favourite tango composer, Astor Piazzolla, was a master of this storytelling form, and his music enthralled a deep love for Tango in me that goes beyond its fleshy delights.

Let’s explore the Argentine Tango, and why the Tango is the ultimate dancing expression of a subtle and knowing but wordless story between the masculine and the feminine.

Continue Reading "On The Argentine Tango"

Copyright by 0307 Films.

 

Storytelling has the privilege of entertaining those who embrace it. But good storytelling also has the ability to educate and enliven the passions of life within the audience, especially ones now lost in the quietly apathetic South African landscape. Even though it has been presented as an advert for VW, this is really a short film. And this short film is my favourite South African story. In the space of a minute and a quarter, an entire story has been expressed using truly South African themes that span across this country’s recent history. It inspired me to write a novel, and it has had a profound impact on my writing style. It is one of the stories that moved me profoundly as a kid, fumbling around with my misplaced words and confused ideas, trying to make sense of it all. And it is only after many years that I have been able to reflect back on it, and understand just why it captured me.

Let’s find out how it shows great and artful South African storytelling.

Continue Reading "The Art of South African Storytelling"