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Rules of Good Writing

A few days later we met again at the Rainbow Hotel1). This story continues where the last ended. The surroundings were the same, so I decided to not repeat that the Rainbow Hotel is a live music hub in Melbourne; that I sat in the sofa; Hakuna was late as usual; that he carried his Latin American shoulder bag when he entered from Gore Street, whilst the barman was counting coins and occasionally checking if the toucan poster still hung above the door leading towards the meals area.

rainbow-hotel-phasade

Rainbow Hotel Brick Wall

‘The more something is repeated, the more it sounds like a truth’. – Hakuna told the barman who waited to take the order.
Then the gypsy girl with green hair walked between us, juggling three apples and giggling to the sounds of her barefoot steps.
A few minutes later Hakuna broke the silence.

‘Are you still writing?’
‘Yes.’ – I confirmed.
‘What is the point of writing in this non-metaphysical world?’
‘Or why would anyone think, when we can just take the time – and drink.’ – I replied as he ordered two gasses of the same.
‘Why do you write?’
I thought ‘Why is it so hard to impress people these days?’

His question was the one I had always dreamt of being asked. I named three reasons.

1) ‘To communicate what’s on my mind.
I tend to identify the fragments of real or virtual reality that qualify to be told and then formulate the story, following the rules of good writing.’

2) ‘To create an artistic experience, with the emphasis on style and elegance.
I prefer to follow minimalistic principles, which are easy to understand, but quite complex to explain. ‘

3) ‘To provide comments and references from a historical perspective and to promote the irresistible charm of paradox and the excitement of walking along the lines of contradiction. And to let myself be provocative, ignorant, cynical and sarcastic.’

‘Not bad for a first draft. Sounds like an old-fashioned manifesto.’

The gypsy girl with green hair returned to our room, juggling three apples. We heard the steps of her naked feet. She moved like a flamenco dancer, displaying a rhythmic succession of quick, sharp and unpredictable gestures.

‘And what are the rules of good writing?’
‘The first rule is to try to avoid common mistakes.’
‘Such as?’

‘Repetition!’ – yelled the gypsy girl with green hair from the other room.
I could not remember that I ever understood something better when it was spoken in a raised voice.
I tried to continue – ‘As she said, … ‘

‘Donna!’ – yelled again the gypsy girl with green hair from the other room.
Repeating the same word introduces an element of unnecessary distraction, like an annoying itch from mosquito bites. If you listen carefully, in one of my next answers I am going to repeat the word unnecessary, to illustrate what I mean.

‘Over-explaining’ – we heard the interfering voice. It did not affect us much, because we were getting used to it.
This is just another kind of repetition. Sometimes writers get carried away by the notion of assisting the reader to better understand important points of the story. So, they try to further clarify the meaning using different words, without realising they are spoiling the work.

‘Loose ends!’ – we heard Donna scratching her safety pin over a whiteboard, whilst juggling her apples.
‘Details that never appear in the story again, are usually not worth explaining because it doesn’t move the story forward. By removing unnecessary information, one not only reduces the word count, but also streamlines the story to the essentials of the plot and keeps it moving forward.’ – I finished my answer.

‘Except in the case of travelogues.’ – Hakuna observed.
I had to agree, but then I looked at the beer glass in front of me and realised that it was full again.
‘Looks like a magic glass.’ – I thought absorbing the power of silence.

ct-collage-timber-giftHakuna lifted his bag and took out a small piece of roughly cut, left-over timber.
‘This is for you.’ – he said. A newspaper photo of Pete Townshend (from his early days) 2), was glued on the surface and surrounded by feathers, seashells and strokes of glittery paint. There was a wire on the back, indicating that the object was meant to be hung on the wall.

Hakuna walked to the bar and waited for the barman to lift his head, then asked:
‘Have you heard that Big-Kev3) and Dick-Smith4) are going to merge and that the new Company will be named Big-Dick’?
We all laughed, except for the toucan.

It was late afternoon. Hakuna and I walked out of the building, put our sunnies on, shook hands and walked away in opposite directions.

 

Footnotes:
1) Rainbow Hotel – A well-known live music venue in Fitzroy, in Melbourne
2) Pete Townshend (1945- ) – Solo guitarist from ‘The Who’ (other band members were Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle and Keith Moon). More on Wikipedia
3) Big-Kev – Australian home goods retail company which used to be listed on Australian Stock Exchange (ASX)
4) Dick Smith – Australian electrical retail company which was listed on Australian Stock Exchange (ASX)

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