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The Things We Treasure

What? I just mentioned that I do not write a very long post and the twist for Day 20 is longform writing? Also, I cannot finish reading word-by-word for long posts, even if they include pictures. This is going to be the most difficult assignment for me. Luckily, it is the last.

If I write in Chinese language, I should be able to write a long story, a lot of ideas and different vocabulary at my disposal. English language? I am not sure. As the assignment suggests, choose my longest post thus far in the Writing Challenge and raise the bar. As you can see from the table below, the maximum words are only 636. Thus, the target is set at 700 words or more.

(There are two poems and a short letter which are excluded in the list below.)

joyfulyue.com_Writing-Challenge

Word count for Writing Challenge thus far

I am still pondering about the title. The Things We Treasure, how do you define a thing? I love to keep things, a lot of them, stamps, bus tickets, bookmarks, books, etc, and I can keep them for years. If you ask me to choose a single thing that I treasure most, I do not know which to choose. Finally, I decide to write about my family.

First of all, I must emphasize that my family is not a thing. For me, my family consists of my immediate family members, my car and my future family.

My immediate family members are my father, my mother and my two younger brothers. When I was younger, I always thought that I was important to my family. I was the one who read the manual of every electronic appliance, I was the one who read my parents’ letters and I was the one who translated their letters. I am the eldest; I contribute a lot to the family. Without me, I wondered if the family would fall apart.

Then, I went to a university at a place where it is far away from my home. The travel time by car is 4 hours. I always told myself, there was a “distance” of 4 hours between me and my family. I missed my family. I wished I could reduce the “distance” to zero hour. At that time, I realize that my family is important to me, not the other way round.

Nonetheless, the “distance” did not become shorter after I started working. I worked hard from morning to night. I grabbed every chance to earn more money. I lived with my family, but there was little communication. Until one day, my father was hospitalized and died after a few days. Then, I ask myself, are you happy to be with the money? Or are you rather to be with your family?

I cannot turn back time. I can only live at present and cherish my relationship with my mother and my two younger brothers. I do not want to lose anyone of them, they are part of me.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Why do I call my car my family? It is because I call her my daughter. Men like to call their cars their wives, but I do not want my car to be my spouse. A spouse is a person from another family which you do not share the same culture and environment. But my car lives with me, walks with me and accompanies me everywhere, just like a daughter.

The instalment that I pay monthly for the car is as much as the cost for a nanny. Thus, it is appropriate to call her my daughter. She has beautiful eyes (the front lights). You know what? I love her shape too.

Once, I accidentally knocked my car on the wall when I was turning into an indoor car park. As a knee jerk reaction, I said sorry to my car. (It was only me and my car.) Later, I told one of my male friends about the knee jerk reaction. He called me crazy. He said the car is not a human, why should I say sorry to it? But… but… I treat her as my daughter, I whispered. He did not need to know that.

joyfulyue.com_Writing-Challenge

Satria

Until now my daughter is still with me. She is 12 this year, some parts of the paint are coming off but the engine is still in good condition. She will always be my precious daughter.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A future family? That’s cheating! That’s mean I do not possess it, them, whatever it is. Yes, I can’t even find a pronoun for the future family. Still, my future family (my children) is part of my family. I have always wanted a younger sister, but my mother wanted a son, because of the Chinese tradition that the children of the son carry the surname of the family. Since there is not possible to have a biological younger sister, I change a younger sister to a daughter. Of course, the best picture of a future family is a couple with a son and a daughter. No matter what, I already have a daughter (my car).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I may not define my family in a good way, it is not a thing, yet it is a combination of people and thing that I treasure. Without them, my life would be incomplete.

Note to myself

Time spent: A lot! I write section by section on different days.

Word count: 1041 words!

I wonder if longform writing is suitable for me. I can do it. Whether I want to do it or not is another question to ponder. It takes a lot of effort and time to complete a longform writing.

Retrospection before The End

I have never tried free writing before. At school, teachers or the exam papers tell you to write a composition based on a specific title. I am always good at that. Of course, at primary school, we do not need to write so many words.

After so many years of leaving my primary school, I think my writing has become worse. I remember once an English teacher asked me to read in front of the class because of my composition was well-written. Now, no one has ever asked me to read in front of a crowd.

Thus, I join the Writing Challenge, hoping to find the fire of writing inside me again. So far, not much encouragement because the views are just slightly higher than my maximum views before I join the Writing Challenge.

Before I start this post, I check out how long is a 400-word post. I hope that does not count as cheating. I am good at estimation of words if I write on paper but I have never estimated the words in a page of typing. Who needs to count the words manually when you have the computer to help you?

This retrospection of the Writing Challenge is divided into three sections:

Past

I have written 18 posts. I do my best to use the twist and I find that twist is a good way to write the post better. I like the serial killer series very much. Before I even read the whole prompt on the first serial killer series, I already have an idea what I want to write. Thus, the second post is ready even before the prompt is out. The third prompt comes as an unexpected one but I manage to link the last post to my main point — anti-smoking.

The first few posts were written in a hurry because I was overseas and wrote two posts in a day to catch up. Luckily, I manage to write to every prompt up to Day 19, though most of the time, I am behind schedule. Better late than never, right?

Along the way, I actually find myself writing better despite the dissatisfaction of the statistics.

Present

I am writing retrospection for Day 19. I have been thinking of writing retrospection after the Writing Challenge though I do not know if time permits. Since the prompt for Day 19 is free writing, I take this chance to write retrospection. The writing style is quite academic, breaking down into an introduction, three main points and a conclusion.

Future

I have not read the prompt for Day 20 yet. Nonetheless, I plan to complete the whole course of the Writing Challenge. I hope to publish the post for Day 20 within 24 hours after this post is published.

Other than writing better, I have also find out other things about my writing:

  • I can write two posts in a day. Previously, I was just too lazy to write anything.
  • I write better with a specific idea in my mind. If I resonate well with the prompt and the twist, most of the time I am satisfied with my writing too.
  • I was a perfectionist. I read again and again, edit again and again, think again and again before I publish a post. That’s why my productivity is always slow. Now that I know, as long as it is well-written, people will read it, no matter how short or long it is. I am more open to short posts now, though I have never written a very long one.

That ends the retrospection.

Note to myself

Time spent: 25 minutes of continuous writing.

Word count: 599. It is more than 400 words and I still have some ideas in my mind. Never mind. No editing required; I will just leave it as it is. If I have a chance to read this post after a few years, I believe I will learn something from this post.

I am a Big Boy

Today is my birthday. I am 12 today. Mum says I am a big boy now. The birthday party is tonight. I am so excited that I can’t wait for the party. Oh, maybe I should just go outside to calm my nerves.

It is a sunny day. A great day for a birthday. Wait, what is the policeman doing at Mrs. Pauley’s house? Policeman is supposed to catch the bad guy and Mrs. Pauley is not bad. Her eldest son, Mikey, has been giving me tuition. I know how to count better because of him.

Mikey did mention something about not being able to pay the rent last week. Yes, it must be about the rent. I remember the man in yellow shirt. He comes here every month to collect the rent. Do you need a policeman to collect rent? This is too much. Two men are bullying a helpless woman. I am not going to let this happen.

I rush to my room and take the $200 that grandpa has given me for my birthday. I rush again to Mrs. Pauley.

“Hello there, what’s the matter here?” I say this confidently to the two men.

“Boy, this is not your business. Go and play elsewhere.” The man is trying to chase me away.

“I am a big boy now. I want to know what’s happening here. Mrs. Pauley is my neighbour and we should look out for each other.” I insist for an answer, though the answer is obvious.

“Jacky, you should be out of this.” Mrs. Pauley says in a sad voice.

All of them have underestimated me. I am a big boy now, you know.

“Don’t worry, Mrs. Pauley. I am here to help.”

“What can you help? Little boy? She owes me three months of rent. Three months!” shouts the man.

“There, there, you are being harsh to the lady. Three months of rent? Here is $200, keep the change.” I say proudly. Do I sound like an adult?

The man laughs. Mrs. Pauley smiles a little. They really belittle me. $200 is a lot!

Finally, the policeman speaks.

“Mr. K, let’s give Mrs. Pauley some time to get the money. There’s no point keep forcing her if she really cannot pay.”

“I will be back!”

The two men leave.

“Thank you, young man. You can keep the $200.” Mrs. Pauley is relieved, for now.

“No, Mrs. Pauley. You keep the money. This is the tuition fees for Mikey. My mum forgot to pay him last week.”

“Thank you…” Mrs. Pauley hugs me.

“Mrs. Pauley, I need to go home now. Oh ya, you don’t have to bring me any gift tonight, your hug is the best gift for me!”

I run home happily. I am a big boy now, you know.

 

Note to myself

Time spent: 35 minutes of writing with some distraction.

Another post that is written from the view of a boy. I like it. Hope you like it too.

I use repetition to emphasize the point of his wanting to be a grown-up and the dialogue is written as if he is imitating adults.

The length is another bonus to me. I have been writing short posts for previous assignments.

Grow Old Youthfully

Slim.

Small size.

No eye wrinkles.

Those make me look 10 years younger than my actual age.

10 years ago, I was happy that I looked young. People always asked whether I was just graduated from university. I had some “privileges”, like free meal. I was really happy.

10 years ago, children called me “sister”. I wished children would call me “aunty”.

10 years ago, I wanted to do a plastic surgery to make my face look old. My mum laughed at the idea.

Now, some people still ask whether I am just graduated from university.

Now, some younger children call me “aunty”. Though a bit shocked at first, I am slowly getting used to it.

Now, I no longer want to do a plastic surgery to make myself look old.

Now, I still look 10 years younger than my actual age. But, fear slowly comes. I start thinking about different scenarios:

  1. What if, when I am 60 years old, I look like 50 years old? I am too old to work but the look is too young to be out of work.
  2. What if, when I am 60 years old, I look like 30 years old? That freaks me out. I will be the subject for some scientific experiments for youth medicine.
  3. What if, I wake up one day and find myself suddenly grow 20 years older than my actual age? I die of heart attack.

I admit that it is a blessing if you look young. But, the disadvantage is, people doubt your credibility when you do not look your age. Also, I do not wish to be part of some scientific experiments.

My wish is simple; please let me look my age, whatever age it is. I start to imagine myself with silver hair…

 

Note to myself

Time spent: 22 minutes of writing with 2-minute toilet break.

The twist is to write in a different style. When I first have the idea, I have many drafts, but all are rejected because they have the similar style as my old posts. Finally, I have a different style of starting the post and I manage to complete it.

The use of past tense is so not my style.

The Serial Killer — Part 3

Wow! She is driving a sporty car. I wonder if she is as sporting as the car. By the way, my car model is the same as hers.

After being briefed by the HR personnel, my manager brings me to the department. She is in the same department too. What a coincidence. Though she is small in size, but that does not make her less sporting. She is always cheerful and helpful. Best of all, she does not have a boyfriend.

I purposely let other female colleagues know that I have a crush on her. She must have known it by now. I want to show her how manly I am. I help her whenever I can and spend time with her whenever I can. She smiles more towards me. It is a good sign.

Still, there is no improvement on the love relationship. I wonder why. Is she too shy? Girls are generally shy in this aspect. They want boys to take the initiative. Maybe I should take the initiative to ask her out.

“Hissss…” the smoke in the dustbin is slowly dying out. She pours water on the smoke! How can she do that? I am talking to other male colleagues and enjoying our smoking time outside our office. And, there she is, holding a cup of water and pours into the dustbin. What is she trying to do? Is she crazy?

Thus, the love relationship never blossoms. She is the one who puts out the fire.

After a year, I resign. On my last day, I go through the stuff in my drawers. I find some sweets with a note.

“I am allergic to smoke smell. Furthermore, smoking is bad for your health. The sweets are for you to clean your breath, to think of me.”

Ah, what have I missed? If I quit smoking, will we be together now? I lose, because of smoking. Everything is too late now because she has resigned one month earlier.

 

Part 1 and Part 2

 

Note to myself

This is the final part of the anti-smoking serial. Though the last assignment is unexpected, but I manage to write about the lost of love because of smoking. I write it from the view of a boy, who is a smoker. Though I am not a smoker, nor a boy, I hope it brings out the message. For smokers out there, which is more important? Smoking, or the love of your life?

Is This My Voice?

I am a subtle person. People often misunderstand me because I do not give opinions. They do not know whether I like or dislike something, someone, somewhere, etc. Nonetheless, if I do give opinions, that means I care a lot and that makes my voice louder.

12 Jun 2030, just another day for me. I am browsing through Facebook news feed and find this saddening news:

This year is the last year for Penang Bon Odori Festival.

What! What’s happening? I have only been there once, but I love it. There are Japanese dances, Japanese food and some Japanese games to play. Best of all, there are fireworks later in the night. How can they just stop the event? Many people like the event too.

When my husband comes back later in the evening, I tell him about the news.

“Shall we fly to Penang and join the festival for the last time?” asks my husband.

“We are not young anymore, you know. And we have children to take care of.”

“We can bring them together. It is in July, we still have time to plan.”

“The kids need to go to school.”

“Are you kidding me? The festival is on a weekend.”

“I am busy on weekends …”

“I am going to book flight tickets now. Take out your passport … and the children’s passport.”

“Ok, here you are,” out of nowhere, the passports are ready to be given to my husband.

“I knew you wanted to go there desperately,” whispers my husband.

 

Note to myself

Time spent: 20 minutes of writing with some time spent on finding the right name for the festival.

Yes, I am subtle, I love the festival but I do not say it. I wrote it in a future date because I really do not want to see it ends one day.

To My Idol

Dear super-achiever Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,

Despite the famous Sherlock Holmes, I have not read any of your books. Unbelievable, isn’t it? Then, you ask, how do I know your name?

I know your name because of Detective Conan, a famous Japanese detective manga series. You do not know how famous you are, do you? Even the Japanese has made a manga series using your name. I believe there are a lot of Conan fans out there, both Conan from England and Conan from Japan.

So, I am just an accidental idol, you say. No. I am writing this letter to you because I am reading a book, Success Secrets of Sherlock Holmes — Life Lessons from the Master Detective. On Page 29, there is this sentence

“What super-achievers like Holmes understand is that paying attention to the details even when it doesn’t seem to matter — especially when it doesn’t seem to matter — is the key to succeeding when the stakes are much, much higher.” by David Acord.

The word super-achievers with the little hyphen jumps off the page. And I need to do a writing assignment on this word. Since young, I do not believe in perfection. There is no perfect human being. Even the famous (Japanese) Conan has his own unsolvable personal problem despite his ability to solve many mysteries.

You know what? When I read the introduction of the book, I feel unbelievable, to say the least. How can a person be a doctor, a writer, a detective and an adventurer at the same time and do well in whatever he / she is into? This is near-perfection. I do not know if you have anything that you regret doing or not doing?

I have been trying a lot of things, but it seems that I do not succeed in anyone of them. I am far from perfection. There are a lot of people out there who are better than me. I am reading the book because I want to learn from Sherlock Holmes and I accidentally find another treasure — you, a real character in life that proves perfection is not a dream.

I wanted to write to 221B Baker Street in London, to Sherlock Holmes. But I know he is just a fictional character. Even if I receive a reply, it is not from Sherlock Holmes himself. Thus, I write to you. Will you reply me? Any form will do, email, phone call, or in my dream.

Wishing you a great life even after your death.

 

Yours Sincerely,

An accidental fan

 

Note to myself

Time spent: 43 minutes of writing, with my mind wandering.

Page 29 is the last page for Secret 3 and the length is only half a page. When the word “super-achievers” jumps off, I was like, what? What can I write on super-achiever? I don’t even bother to search for it on Google.

I like the twist of the assignment, a book review with a twist next time?