Month: October 2016

WRITING WITH A PURPOSE

A lot of books start but never conclude. They stop half way pending when the author hopes to return to them again. This never happens and hence so many works have been left in the middle of nowhere and worst still the writer never get to become an author. This can be the case also with authors hoping to conclude a new book. They can start a fresh title and not lead it to completion. For all we know, a concluded work is one that we can call a written work.

Worst than the first is a case where the writer feels there is a book inside of him to be written, but he cannot organize his thoughts at one thing narrow enough for him to take off on the project. He goes about telling people his intentions to write such and such a book and sometimes brags that it would be the best ever written on the subject matter. Once, I met a man who had loose sheets of points he was putting down for a new project. I approached him and asked what they were meant for. He told me that they were for a new project he intended to write and he believed it would be the best ever written on the subject matter. I requested to look at the sheets. When I did so, I did not find the incentive to stay on looking at them. They were disorganized. With them, I did not see how they led me to anything. The points or would-be chapters were randomly chosen in a manner not offering the promise that the man knew what he wanted with the book, and I left wondering “what is the point of this work?”. Unless he gets it right later, I bet you that book may never be written or may be written badly. If the latter is the case, we will have a shoddy project coming to the book stands, but I doubt what publisher might want to take it on. This is the case with many projects facing rejection at the hands of the publishers. Every publisher wants income from projects it takes on. Accepted, publishers have their own part. They sometimes don’t look at genuine works critically once the author is a new entrant, but trust me many works may not be worth the stress, time and money.

Yet on the book stands, actually published by a publisher, we have books that don’t meet criteria. They tell us nothing such as we need to know. They do not lead us on to the point of the writing. Such books may have been laced with luck to have been taken on by a publisher. There are so many of them around and one would wonder how such projects got by in the first place. They are simply lacking in organization, leading to nowhere and lacking the point of the entire exercise. It is true that conventionally no known rigid rule has been accepted as the formula for writing a book, though on this blog Plotmatics is the answer, where it is the art of writing a book by the use of scientific principles borne from years of scrutiny of existing evidence. Books have had to be written by trial and error ranging from author to author for what is best practice. What works for A may or may not work for B. Consequently, books on writing are mainly one type of advice or another written by different authors who by no means agree on one fixed principle.

For any author who would set out on a project, purpose is key item that should be settled out first. The author ought to ask himself the question, “Why am I writing this book? What is the reason for this work?” The problem with the man I mentioned previously is that when I looked through the sheets I did not see his purpose for wanting to write the book he was about writing. The only item about his work was excitement. He was excited about certain discoveries he had made on the subject matter but failed to organize his plan with a meaningful purpose that will drive and guide his writing. The purpose of the author is his guide while putting pen to paper. It helps keep his thoughts on the track from the beginning to the end of the work.

Purpose is that set agenda in the mind of the author for writing his book. It is his set objective of what he would have achieved in the end by writing the work. It is the role the book is meant to play for its audience. Example is someone writing a work on practical biology because there are few or none of such texts available on the subject matter to help in the course of study. Another book on practical biology may have the view to further simplify the subject matter easy enough for school children to readily understand. For novels, the author may have in mind to show by narrative certain lesson he wishes his audience to learn and apply in real life situations. He may wish to educate his audience on a new process. It can be anything. All that matters is that the author should allow certain concern drive his work. This will help guide the making of his book and place his discussion on the right track in consonance with his set objective.

Before an author puts pen to paper, he should ask himself, “What is the concern of this work?”. This is much like the sight at the tip of the barrel of a gun used to aim at a target and hence guide its shooting. This is somewhat writing with vision. It is seen from afar before building the book around it. It is a powerful tool of the author to help align his writing onto a desired end. It helps him to have control of his work from the outset to the very end.

The following are some of the concerns people may have for writing their books:

  1. Chinua Achebe, the author of Things Fall Apart, wrote the narrative to show that the black man, the Ibos in this case, had a culture before the coming of the Europeans.
  2. Our text, Lonely Weekends, was written to express, through the narrative, the author’s style of English language and to show improvement in African literature.
  3. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote to express, through the narrative, the failure of the African State.
  4. The narrative Mysterious Affair; If the Pines Could Talk was written to show that African literature can also be detective contrary to the case where it is commonly epic.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but it gives an idea into our meaning. Any book written should have an end it wants to meet and this often is its selling point.

 

Maximus Clement

Author Lonely Weekends