Writing Style and Structure of Flashpoint
Contrary to what I was taught in English Language classes about writing essays, I never develop a skeleton of what I want to write and then flesh it out. I just begin to write. Developing a skeleton is too boring and rigid. Instead, I just start writing. The opening paragraph is the most difficult and time-consuming part of the essay. I need a good opening to hook the readers and keep them interested. When I start off with a weak opening, invariably after three paragraphs or so, I am compelled to go back and get the tone-setting, opening paragraph right; otherwise, I struggle and get stuck. The next difficult part is closing. It is almost as difficult as opening. But the force and flow of the entire body of the essay sort of naturally propels you to a conclusion.
Some people say “some of the stuff you write goes over the head of people.” I like to pretend that I am writing for The Economist magazine. Writing is an art form; an essay is sculpted just like another form of art. If I didn’t write the way I write, it wouldn’t be me. I’d have no fun doing it. If I don’t like a novel I am reading, no matter how popular, I put it aside. I have to enjoy doing it. Okay, I admit, the latin and foreign phrases aren’t really necessary, but I get a kick out of doing it anyway. And so do a few other people. Though I didn’t plan it or consciously think about it, Flashpoint, from the first piece, developed a certain structure: the opening, a bit of background, setting out the different angles on the usually controversial issue and then a process of reasoning to come down on one side or the other. That is still a bit too structured for my liking. I hope that after more practice and developing confidence, I will be able to do more free-wheeling. But that takes time. For the moment, the structure provides me with a certain sense of safety.
Thinking and writing tires me more than physical work or exercise. It normally takes me about five hours to complete a piece. I normally get the headline for a piece after two takes. If I go to bed without finishing a piece, I sleep, but all through sleep my mind works. I never worry if I don’t finish by bedtime or if I get stuck. I know that by morning with a fresh mind, new ideas and energy will come. But I usually wake tired. I always keep my dictionary beside me to refresh myself on the meaning of the most basic words, after all, words have meaning.