a little less than the girl next door (in_transit) wrote,
a little less than the girl next door

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sunday off for once!

Some Useful Tips For Writing Your Secondary One Composition
Alfian Sa'at

“Don’t write zephyr when you mean wind. Don’t write fart when you mean break wind. Don’t write azure to describe the sky or the sea. Don’t write menacing to describe clouds or guard dogs. Don’t write plethora when you mean many. Don’t write altercation when you mean fight. Don’t write quixotic when you mean brave.

Don’ t use your finger to try achieving equal spacing between your words. Don’t be demoralized by the hidden word fool in foolscap paper. Don’t use more than three dots when you want to write your ellipses, it doesn’t mean that the more dots there are the more mysterious your sentence, nor does it mean that each dot is equivalent to the root of every hair follicle you expect to incite to horripilation. Don’t write horripilation when you mean standing on end.

Don’t make your ellipses rise and fall like the flight path of a butterfly. Don’t use three apostrophes as a quotation mark even if what is said was told by a friend of a friend. Don’t forget to use commas even if you have set the class record for holding your breath underwater.

Don’t write Suddenly at the beginning of your sentences when you want to introduce one surprise after another. Don’t write the full moon/the creaking door/the cobwebbed room/his bloodshot eyes/her cackling laugh in your horror story. Don’t write horror stories.

Don’t end with I woke up and it was all a dream. Don’t end with lying in a pool of blood your eyes growing heavy footsteps fading, which is the same thing.

Don’t write sleepy when you mean tuition. Don’t write fear when you mean forgetting to bring your PE attire to school. Don’t write jealous when you mean mummy has brought home a new baby. Don’t write longing when you mean daddy has not come home from work and you are counting the cars in the car park from the window. Don’t write loss when you mean the smell of the batik hammock stretched between mummy’s knees. Don’t write shame when you mean daddy heading straight for the bargain bin when he buys you your first pair of track shoes. Don’t write loneliness when you mean the woolly crayon scrawling in an alphabet book you once owned.

Don’t write about the saddest day of your life, unless you are able to dapple your sheet of paper with tearstains, as proof.

Don’t write about the happiest day of your life, even if this is the assigned topic, because it is possible that the experience exceeds language, your language. Don’t believe those who say write what you know, the more important thing now is to write what you have, so choose a day when you were moderately, not indescribably, happy.

Don’t assume however that your life means only the one that others have witnessed, and not the lives you have lived in your head. Don’t hesitate then to write about the hundred-balloon birthday party/the beach picnic where you swam to the horizon and touched it and swam back/the suicidal goldfish revived by water/the first prize, although it would be more convincing to the marker to say second prize, because there might be one more deserving of being first, but you are no less deserving of the happiness you feel by coming in second.

Don’t keep choosing to write the argumentative essay, again and again, unless you are certain that one day you will write fiction and find your freedom ignoring the tips above, again and again.”

beautiful. although, again, my sister says it's "too loose", as with most other singaporean writing. now you know where i get my "each new para must flow from and link back to the previous" and "conclu must tie back to the intro" obsession. as i've said, sisters are a very-good-to-have.
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