WRITING FICTION

Writing, supposedly, it’s something that comes from our soul, something personal and almost magical, but, when a person decides to dedicate their life to it, they should keep in mind that writing is much more than typing away on your computer keyboard, or scratching your pen or pencil on a paper. Writing, fiction or not, needs a whole lot of work, organization, and research that takes a lot of time and ends up making all the difference.

When we’re talking about writing fiction, the first thing to do is to organize the story, finding a way to summarize the main idea in a sentence, or at most one paragraph. This one should contain the starting point, the early events, the conflict and its resolution. Do not worry about details, neither the time or place of the story, neither the characters names matter. These details are only important if they become decisive for the course of the story.

Then, you should create the main characters. Think of them as people you could, eventually, know. Make a small text where you put everything about them: a quick life story, ambitions, and desires, fears, conflicts, unique features or philosophies of life. Try to picture your characters in your mind and then describe them as thoroughly as possible, physically and psychologically.

For many people, the next step is to make a little summary of each chapter and, from there, start to write the story. But not me. Actually, the way that looks more efficient for me to create the story and all its adventures is opening up an excel document, or equivalent, (and yes, I know you hate it and you don’t know how to work with it, but it’s important to learn, now) and there I write the main scenes of the book. Done that, each one of them will unfold itself into new scenes. For example, How do they get there? Why? Where are they going now? What they did between the scenes X and Y?

In the end, you have a simple outline of the story which you can modify, increase, decrease and manipulate as you like, without much work and being able to frame your changes in the big picture.

When all of this is done, I divide the scenes into chapters (normally, at this point I make some more changes, I add some scenes and cut out others that seem pointless), so the different chapters keep similar sizes.

Why all that? Because nothing is more annoying for the reader than incongruences and moving forward and backward in a story.

At the end of each step, I revise the previous and when I’m done, I revise again. It’s almost impossible not to make any alterations. And if, by any chance, you do not feel that need, be careful, because it could mean that everything is perfect the way it is (which despite your abilities is quite unlikely) or, it means that something is wrong but you can’t yet figure out what is.

And in the end voilà! A new story to make your readers dream and smile.

COMEÇAR A ESCREVER – START WRITING

Cada um de nós tem as suas razões para começar a escrever, mas no fundo, é sempre a mesma: necessidade de falar e expressar o que nos vai na alma.

Os primeiros textos são quase sempre acerca de nós mesmos, do que sentimos, do que vivemos, do que nos confunde. Muitas vezes, o famoso Diário, especialmente atractivo nos primeiros anos da adolescência, é apenas uma introdução a este mundo fantástico que é a escrita.

Mas quando nos bate aquela vontade de escrever algo mais, então tudo muda de figura.

A nossa mente bloqueia, rodeamo-nos de incertezas e inseguranças e de repente, parece que, afinal, já não sabemos escrever assim tão bem. Será?

Escrever para si VS. Escrever para os outros

A nossa principal questão quando decidimos escrever para outras pessoas é: será que estão interessados no que eu tenho a dizer?

A resposta, é claro, não é 100% fidedigna, mas posso garantir que pelo menos algumas delas estarão, por afinidade convosco, ou porque escolheram um tema que lhes diz alguma coisa. Há sempre alguém que se identifica e a nossa tarefa é apenas sermos honestos connosco e com os outros.

Não há uma receita ideal para escrever, mas quando queremos que a nossa história, texto ou poesia seja lida pelos outros, temos que nos lembrar que eles não estão na nossa mente e que coisas que para nós parecem óbvias, para os outros, não o são. Deste modo, os pormenores são importantes. Só com eles, a pessoa poderá identificar-se com o nosso texto, sentir que aquelas palavras lhe dizem alguma coisa. Afinal de contas, quando o assunto não é totalmente perceptível, perdemos o interesse, não é? Os outros são como nós.

Claro que isto vai depender do tipo de escrita que pretendemos elaborar e de qual é o nosso público-alvo. Mas mesmo que sejam experts a tentar ensinar alguma coisa, quanto mais simples conseguirem colocar o assunto, melhor para todos.

Leitores-beta?

Quem pretende escrever, principalmente obras de ficção depara-se agora com o conceito dos chamados leitores-beta. Os leitores-beta é apenas uma expressão recente, para um conceito antigo, tal como acontece com tantas outras coisas. Estes são apenas os leitores que irão ler o vosso trabalho, antes dele ser publicado.

Quando estamos a trabalhar a um nível mais profissional, convém escolhermos alguém que não conheça a história e que saiba o que está a fazer, isto é, que esteja empenhado em ajudar-nos realmente. É importante termos críticas construtivas, que nos façam melhorar e nos apoiem na nossa missão.

No entanto, quando estamos a dar os primeiros passos, porque não pedirmos aos nossos amigos para o fazerem? É uma excelente forma de começar a perceber se o que escrevemos é perceptível, se as outras pessoas entendem e então depois, começamos a escolher melhor, pois é sempre importante, que estes leitores sejam pessoas que não tenham receios de nos dizer o que está mal e que gostem muito de ler, que tenham lido muito e nos alertem para as incongruências que encontrarem.

E claro, se eles detectarem um erro ortográfico ou de sintaxe, corrigir o mais depressa possível.

Não elucidem os leitores-beta acerca da história, da ideia de fundo, nada. Quanto menos souberem, mais facilmente irão detectar os “erros” ou pormenores em que os leitores convencionais vão reparar.

E porque não um blog?

Como em quase tudo na vida, para se escrever bem, é preciso: escrever.

Escrevam sempre, em todo o lado, a toda a hora. Façam textos, poemas, escrevam contos, criem personagens, mesmo que não cheguem a escrever a história delas. Se não podem escrever, pensem, elaborem na vossa cabeça os textos, como se fosse para alguém ler.

É preciso escrever, escrever, escrever e escrever.

A questão do blog é apenas uma forma de terem uma visibilidade, que com um pouco de sorte, chegue mais longe do que apenas os vossos amigos mais chegados. Porquê?

Bem, temos uma maior crítica, estamos mais expostos e pessoas que não nos conhecem, não temem ferir os nossos sentimentos, apontando com maior clareza os nossos erros.

Mas atenção, aceitem apenas as críticas construtivas e que vos poderão ajudar a melhorar. Comentários destrutivos e sem qualquer valor, apaguem-nos e nem os leiam duas vezes.

O blog para além de nos ajudar a enfrentar um público maior e assim gerar mais confiança em nós, dá-nos uma sensação de compromisso importante. Sabemos que não podemos falhar para com os nossos leitores mais assíduos (mesmo que sejam apenas um ou dois, merecem o nosso respeito) o que nos força a escrever quase todos os dias, nem que seja só um bocadinho.

E lembrem-se: confiança é tudo. Falhem as vezes que forem necessárias, mas nunca desistam. Cada erro é uma aprendizagem e daqui por algum tempo, vão rir-se e emocionar-se com eles.


Each one of us has our own reasons to start writing, but deep down, it’s always the same: we need to talk and express what’s in our soul.

Our first texts are, almost always, about ourselves. What do we feel? What is happening to us? What’s so confusing or worrying for us? Many times, the famous Diary, especially attractive in first years of adolescence, is just an introduction to this wonderful world of writing.

But some day you feel the need to write something else. Then, everything changes.

Your mind seems to block, you surround yourself with insecurities and somehow, you question yourself and feel that, in reality, your writing skills aren’t as good as you thought, your work not as polished. Are they? Is it?

Writing for yourself VS. Writing for other people

Your main question when you do decide to write for other people is: will they be interested in what I have to say?

The answer, obviously, is not 100% sure, but I can assure you of something: some people will. Maybe they like you, or maybe it just so happens that you chose some subject they related with or feel connect to. It doesn’t matter why, it doesn’t matter if these people will be ten or ten thousand, you have to give it your best shot, for them.

There isn’t any ideal way of writing, yet, if you want your story, poem or article to captivate people and be read, you must remember that other people are not inside your mind and whatever seems obvious to you, may not be so for them. So, the details are very important. They are the ones which will make a reader identify himself with your text, even making he or she feel that your words truly mean something. After all, the fact is that, if we don’t fully understand what we’re reading, we very well may lose interest, isn’t it? Well, that applies to your readers too.

Logically this will depend on the kind of work you are doing and whom your target audience is, yet, even if you are some expert trying to teach something technical to a specific group of people, the simpler your presentation, the better.

Beta-readers?

Anyone who decides to write, especially a work of fiction, will probably come across the concept of beta-readers. This is a recent expression, for an ancient concept: these are the people who will read your book before it has been published.

When you are working at a professional level, it is important to choose someone who doesn’t know your story and mostly, who is really committed to helping you. Constructive criticism are important, it will support you and help you improve as a writer.

However, if you are at your first steps, how about asking your friends for help? It’s an excellent way to know if what we write is perceptible, if other people can at least understand and appreciate it. Then, you can begin to choose carefully those who are preferable for the job. Why? It’s important that the readers don’t feel very embarrassed to tell you what might be wrong with your text and, of course, they must love reading and should be avid readers themselves. The more they read, a lot of different authors, the easier it may be for them to alert you to little inconsistencies and mistakes in your work, aswell as any orthographic or syntax mistake that’s gone by unnoticed, which are bound to pop up every now and then.

Do not share any insight into the story with these beta-readers. Not the main idea, characters, nothing at all really. The less they know, the more efficient they will be at detecting the little mistakes and details, which the normal reader is bound to notice.

How about a blog?

Like everything else in life, in order to be a good writer, you must: write!

Write anywhere and everywhere, all the time. Try to write texts, poems, short stories, create characters, even if they end up never becoming part of a story. If you can’t write, think, elaborate the texts in your mind, as if anyone could read it.

You must write, write, write and then write some more.

Why not try to create a blog aswell? The way I’m talking about a blog, is just as a way of having more visibility, maybe, with a little luck, it will be read by more people than just your close friends. Why is that important?

Well, you’ll have a larger audience, more unobstructed criticism (hopefully constructive), you’ll be more exposed and thus, more likely to improve.

Yet, be careful, you should only accept the constructive criticisms, the ones that can help you improve. Destructive comments, without any value, may appear and should be ignored.

A blog, besides helping you face a larger audience, gives you an important feeling of commitment. You know you can’t fail your most diligent readers (even when we are talking of one or two, they deserve your respect), and this forces you to write almost everyday, even if it’s just a little bit.

And remember: confidence is everything. You can fail a lot of times, but never give up. Every mistake is a learning experience and soon enough you will laugh at them as they lead you on your road to great things.