Tools of the Trade

Tools-Of-The-Trade

Every writer must have a reliable writing arsenal under their belt; a set of weapons to take down the enemy in the field of battle. I have found, however, that many aspiring writers carry a selection of powerful weapons but are unable to use them. If they do, they use them at their lowest potential.

Well that’s how I felt anyway. I ran around swinging sword and shield only to come out battered and bruised with no idea why. That is until a veteran warrior brought spoils from the war, a manual for the unseasoned warrior. She gave me On Writing Well by William Zinsser (Amazon link). My eyes were opened.

I went to a school where I spoke English as my first language. In fact to this day I think and write only in English, while slipping into vernacular whenever the situation calls for it. Or I’m trying to impress my fellow Tswana/Zulu speaking counterparts. Nevertheless, I believed I had a firm grasp of the English language. Editing was a skill I thought I was adept in, like a novice swordsman who knows only how to swing a sword. It was only when thrust into the battlefield that this foolishness became evident.

“Rewriting is the essence of writing well: it’s where the game is won or lost. That idea is hard to accept. We all have an emotional equity in our first draft; we can’t believe that it wasn’t born perfect. But the odds are close to 100 percent that it wasn’t.” ~ William Zinsser

Now, reading my writing in light of this new knowledge has been a cringe-worthy experience. That’s a decade of writing, half of it spent writing “professionally”. What bothers me most is the fact that I was not aware of the amateur mistakes I was making. Sure I used words correctly. I put my apostrophes in the right place. I could use punctuation marks correctly. But these were merely the hilt of a Camelot-worthy broadsword.

I have read a little over eighty pages of this +300 word book and already see an improvement in my writing. I now know what to look for when editing my work. Granted, this book is for writing non-fiction pieces but its principles are applicable across the board. I feel like an experienced gamer who finally gets over his pride and plays through the tutorial. The warrior who turns to a master to better their skill. A writer able to properly wield his tools of the trade.

About Nthato Morakabi

South African born author working as a Junior Technical Writer for Everlytic and a freelance writer for Gamecca Magazine. His main focus at Gamecca is running the Independent Game Developer interviews, and writing up game Reviews and Previews. Occasionally does book reviews too. He is a hobbyist blogger, writer of short stories, and aspiring digital artist.

2 Comments

  1. We tend to forget it’s a craft that we need to work on daily. There is no magic, just hard graft and learning.

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