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The Eighth Round: The Cultivation of Storytelling Skills

Four writers, Svet Di Nahum (Bulgaria), Halina Pawlowska (Czech Republic), Huang Fan (China), who is also a poet and Zhu Wenying (China) have opened a dialogue on the topic of “the cultivation of storytelling skills”. They have made a deep communication with readers present on several specific problems, such as questions that how to form distinct characters, how to represent true dialogues to advance the story and how to catch and draw the details psychologically of the characters. Besides, they have shared some habits in the writing process of their own.

Zhu Wenying, a Chinese writer, said she was not a good storyteller, nor even a writer starting from storytelling. The best novel, in her view, is something like a fable, coming through the story itself to another level. That is because that a writer with certain experience will be very clear on her own framework. The characteristic of her as a writer determines the way she writes, and she can not change herself in nature even if she has been changed for a while. As a critic once said, “To be a writer, you could choose not to tell a story, but you shall can.” Like Picasso, he had created many works in the later stage, but he was also very good at depicting reality in the early days and this kind of depicting is very important for a writer. Zhu believed that all the writers had their own quirks, although they may seemed normal. For example, she can not stand others’ presence in her room when she is writing. Huang is more interesting for he even need to write in a place without anyone in the same floor. Some other writers may drink twelve cups of coffee a day, and some can not write with others when they are writing. Everyone has their own strange ways to express themselves. Usually, writers will experience four stages one by one: sensitivity, allergy, neuroticism, and mental illness, probably because writers are more sensitive to lives than ordinary people.

Svet Di Nahum stated that literature was a special pursuit. In the modern society, we may have a settled demands for novels, the Internet, even the screenwriters and films, but literature is different from something like mathematics. Literature can not be created by software. Unlike the science, literature has vitality. As readers are also creators in reading, he thinks that literature should emerge from life. You have to be sensitive and grasp every detail in our lives. These details are outbursts of your mind in writing. There are some rules, of course. You’d better to abide by some rules when you are writing a script and writing a word for a wedding or a funeral. In his opinion, however, even if you break the rules, you are still able to write an attractive novel. So he thinks it is necessary to combine the story and the form to inspire the reader and to inject the soul into your work, like embroidery. The reader will decode these things through reading, representing another kind of creation. This is just the magic of literature. In fact, people are looking for real self for their whole life. It may be wrong if you think that you have found real you, so is inspiration. All the writers are eager for inspiration. According to the Buddhism, there will be pain with desire. You are likely to deviate from the right track if you have no limitation on your pursuit of inspiration. What’s more, writers here also mentioned that the original story would be read completely in dozens of seconds, and the rest work was adjustment. It’s like fishing. If you catch a small fish, you have to let it go and wait for the big one. Although Nahum write in the evening, he is not alone. He not only writes for himself, but also for others.

Halina Pawlowska said that she was constantly talking about her experiences when she was writing novels and stories. For her, there are three important factors in writing: main characters, diction and plots. Sometimes these elements are beautiful like flowers floating on the lake, very clear while hidden in the story. When it comes to herself, she is major in movies and literature, but all her stories may be based on only dozens original tales. So she thought the structure is not the most important factor, and the most important one is our feelings. The most appreciated factor of readers must be the writer’s sincerity and earnest, so it would be better for a writer to admit that he would do something wrong due to his dishonesty and loneliness. Because her inspiration comes from her life, family, and observation of her feelings, the most optimal time for her to write is night. Sometimes, only keep staring at the TV would bring inspiration. If there is a contract, she shall be inspired for it is her job.

Huang said that metaphors and poetries became more important in twentieth Century. As novels consists of several plots, characters and stories are equally pleasing. Novels are similar to human beings. Because he is a little bit introversive, he do not like too much psychological description for loss of mystery. However, he also admits that he has not yet as capable as Hemingway, letting readers feel his feeling only through external description, which is only accessible for a master. In this way, limited scenes and conditions will become driving forces. He likes to walk and run, so he choose to take the subway instead of riding on the way to class as walking brings him a lot of inspiration. He often marks his inspiration in the notebooks when he arrives his destination, so he have a lot of notebooks. Sometimes, busier life would give him more inspiration while freer time less, so he would suffer from inspiration occasionally. Also he is not always a believer in inspiration for he is a disciplined person. He writes in the morning and delays his class to take at the night. Hemingway once said he wrote from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Huang didn’t understand it until he put it into practice. 20 years ago, when he started doing this, he didn’t have inspiration for the first half of the month. There was a great change after half a month. Life is amazing. He started to have a sudden inspiration at 9 a.m. and then sat down to write. At early stage of Huang’s writing, he have expressed himself through specific images, and later through more metaphors, because details and images are not that difficult for him. The so-called spirit of poetry plays an important role in the twentieth century’s culture.  As many paradox emerges from our spirits and the society is highly developed, peotry becomes a good way to relax ourselves for people have two sides. The poetic sense can be felt when you are confronting the reality and reaching the other side through a right way of gaze at the reality.