By Jeremiah Mauti
Published August 31, 2014
Writing is a big challenge to many people, including media practitioners. This appears to be the driving force behind How to Write on 1001 Subjects! , a book that is useful to young writers as it is to any mass media practitioner interested in mastering the craft of communication.
To help writers excel in their work, the author, who has vast experience to share from a career spanning three decades, takes the reader through what writing is and how to write before defining journalism and then going on to tackle arts journalism and criticism, and approaches to appreciating creativity. The book even touches on the style, tone and format of communicating on the premise that “every publication has its own attitude, mannerism or slant of presenting its story or message.” It defines style as the physical construction of writing which comprises grammar, spelling and phrasing.
Author Ogova Ondego, who took to writing while in the 9th year of formal education, argues that “anyone who is determined to become a writer can learn” the craft as writing is an acquired skill. He however cautions that “writing is a game for neither the weak-kneed nor the faint-hearted; it calls for determination, hard work and discipline.”
Defining writing as “the articulation of thought and life changing creative process that calls for planning, drafting and countless revisions,” the author, who specialises in issues related to children, youth, creativity, media, culture and development, says “How to Write on 1001 Subjects! teaches any one how to think logically and coherently.”
Ondego contends that communicators using the art of writing are expected to take greater trouble to express themselves after verifying facts and checking data because they can be held accountable for what they have expressed through their craft.
In the field of arts appreciation and criticism the author–who also tackles culture and history on the contention that ‘literary, performing, visual and screen arts are a reflection of specific historical circumstances’–has simplified things by illustrating the general terms that apply to fine art, architecture, literature, music, theatre, history, philosophy and religion.
Having trained as a journalist, I, like many of my colleagues, find film analysis difficult. That is why I commend the author for devoting his precious time to ease our burden of film analysis.
“In film, the points of analysis include direction, editing, cinematography, musical, special effects, theme, plot, characters (as developed both verbally and non-verbally), and setting, as well as how the resources of cinematography, camera techniques, lighting, sound, editing, and so on, support the other elements,” Ondego writes.
The book helps media practitioners to analyse music critically because, according to Ondego, it should not be taken for granted. He insists that evaluating the singer (song-writer) enables us to understand his or her message, and context under which the song was written. He also advises critics to identify the personality of the singer by looking at characteristics such as gender, age, self image, and attitude to the issues raised in the music.
Ondego has made things easier for writers, journalists or critics interested in fine arts, too. He defines sculpture as the art of shaping materials whereas architecture is the art and science of designing, planning and building structures.
A committed writer, especially an arts journalist, cannot afford to work without How to Write on 1001 subjects! that I consider to be the backbone of arts and journalism in the media industry. I find the book to be user-friendly because it is precise, easy to understand and one can carry it anywhere in one’s pocket.
The book is divided into eight sections that tackle subjects such as How We Write, What Mass Media Are, The Role of Mass Media, What Journalism and News Are, Arts Appreciation and Criticism, Approaches to Appreciating Creativity, Perspectives of Criticism, The Vocabulary of Critical Appreciation and Analysis of Literary, Performance, Screen and Visual Arts.
With this guide, the writing problems I had before reading it are becoming a thing of the past. Words alone cannot adequately express my gratitude to the author.
As befits any good reference material, How to Write on 1001 Subjects! has used many and varied eclectic sources on writing, grammar and criticism that have been acknowledged.
If you want to unlock your full potential in writing and criticisms, keep How to Write on 1001 Subjects handy. Published by ComMattersKenya of Nairobi, Kenya, the 44-page reference guide costs a mere Sh300 (US$5) for its invaluable content.
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