Friday, October 19, 2007

Self-reminder Tips #1

Sambil mengisi waktu sebelum pindah kerja ke markas, berikut adalah beberapa poin yang bisa saya bagi dari pengalaman sendiri, baik dari pengalaman menulis, penulis yang diedit, mengedit, juri lomba, dan mentor. Some are points that I need to remind myself constantly throughout this journey, and some are resulted out of my experience in reviewing manuscripts. Semoga bermanfaat.

Tips #1

1. To cut off excess emotion (and spare our readers’ eyes from suffering): Kurangi tanda seru, tanda baca berlebihan, titik-titik yang terlalu panjang, huruf yang dilipatgandakan untuk kesan dramatis (e.g., “aaaaaargh!”, “Iyaaaaaaaa… iyaaaaaa…”). Trust me, THREE is enough. We get it! Thank you! Tanda baca, I tell ya, is a very powerful tool. Use it wisely, otherwise we’ll weaken its meaning, thus kill our own writing.

2. You’re about to write a novel, NOT A 50 PAGES of SMS! Inserting an sms text can be cute, especially when there’s a special purpose behind it. If that’s the case, by all means, go for it. But too much of it will be… well, too much. Keep that sms style in your own cellphone. Don’t torture your readers any further, they had enough already from their daily cellular interactions.

3. We’re writers, but don’t write’em all down. Trust our readers’ ability to imagine things. And give them some inspiring and convincing description, bukan sekadar deskripsi harfiah akibat malas mikir. A person laughs, okay, but we don’t need to read the “hahahaha”. A person’s heartbeat is racing, okay, but we don’t need to read the “dag-dig-dug”. A person walks through a dark alley, fine, but we don’t need to read the “sret-sret-sret”. A phone rings, please, save the “KRING! KRING! KRING!” for a toddler’s storybook.

4. Keep the dialogue efficient. Sometimes we try to so hard to create a lively situation, we forget that universe favors efficiency. We don’t have to write each, small responses like: “Ha?”, or “APA?!”, or “Huh!”. Do it when it’s really, really essential, and when we don’t have any better way to describe the character’s state of being. All good movies or tv series are efficient with wordings, for every minute counts. Every minute has to be captivating. Blah movies are not, that’s why we usually want to go out of the theatre within the first 15 minutes, or change the channel after ten seconds. Unless it’s really necessary and it serves a certain purpose, cut all excessive responses.

5. I cannot begin to tell you, and to remind myself, how important editing is. No, bukan cuma editorial bahasa. Tapi ritme dan penataan tempo adegan demi adegan—khususnya jika kita mengerjakan cerita bersambung, or a great romance/novel. Membaca novel, apalagi yang ekstra tebal, adalah perjuangan. Bagi saya, ini adalah salah satu aspek terberat yang harus saya kerjakan. Bagaimana mengatur adegan demi adegan dalam sebuah bab hingga selalu menyisakan umpan yang membuat pembaca untuk terus melanjutkan. And that’s what I’ve tried to learn from Candy-candy, Pop Corn, Ke Gunung Lagi… yakni bagaimana umpan-umpan yang kita miliki dapat tersebar dengan tepat hingga perjalanan novel itu tidak membosankan, dan selalu ada sesuatu yang dituju. In short, we have to create an addiction. I think this also differs good movies from crappy movies. The first builds a magnetic ride that sticks our butt to the theatre’s chair, the latter builds an imaginary farm with all white and fluffy sheep for us to count to slumberland.

6. Do you like sad ending? I don’t. I know some people who are just so into sad, tragic, black endings, which is completely okay, really. Not every story in real life ends up with a happy ending. Sad, tragic, black endings are real. But I just hate it when I’ve spent so much time and energy to finish up a book, a thick one, and finally stumbled with a sad, helpless feeling at the end. It just SUCKS! I’d like to feel empowered, inspired, and satisfied at the end of my struggle. A happy ending doesn’t have to be like the typical Hollywood where they just… have to… kiss. Argh. Happy endings can be made classy and subtle. All in all, I just don’t have the heart to devastate my readers with a sad ending, especially after I’ve dragged them to finish hundreds of pages. You better not too. Well, it’s your choice at the end of the day, but please warn me before I spend my good money on your suck ending.


  1. Whoa! Thanks for the tips.. :D

  2. kalau soal mendeskripsikan suasana dalam tulisan, imho, kho ping hoo ga ada tandingannya... :)
    bisa lupa makan, lupa minum, serasa hilang di tengah pertempuran di dunia kang-ouw. blom berenti baca sampai jilid terakhir selesai... delicious to the last crumbs!
    Padahal nyata2 banyak tuh tips yg dibilang dee ga diikutin... hehehe

  3. Untuk penulis yang memang piawai dalam membuat alur, karakterisasi, dsb, extra "CIYAAAATTTT!!!" or "WATTAAAA!!" or "BRUK!!!" or "sret-sret-sret" wouldn't matter much. Tapi untuk yang memang tidak mampu membangun cerita menarik, those extra descriptions will not help, on the contrary they will be disastrous.

    I believe Kho Ping Hoo is a damn good writer, who creates a delicious black and white world like the good ol' fashion Wiro Sableng (which I collected, btw). They can be captivating indeed. And that explains why the mainstream Bollywood movies sell, and our black and white sinetrons got the highest rating. By all means, if you want to write in that path, be my guest. And be THE BEST!

    Unfortunately, although I'm a big fan of Sebastian Tito and learned a lot from Wiro Sableng, when it comes to my own work I'm into another stream. My tips may not work for 212 books, and vice versa. That's why I emphasized in my opening paragraph, first: decide where you want to go, what type of story you want to build, and be consistent with it.

    Once I grow an interest in writing cerita silat, I'll be writing different tips for sure! :)

  4. just teasing you a bit... :).. jelas tulisan dee berbeda dengan kho ping hoo dan tito... and still yours are delicious to the last crumbs too...

    gw tunggu deh cersil by dee.. :)


  5. Kho Ping Hoo lagi!! pertanda apakah ini? huahahaha.. ups! hahaha(3x)..

  6. Welcome to the web of synchronicity, Intan! :)

  7. Udah nonton "The Mist"? Sad endingnya keterlaluan tuh. tp gue doyan :)