With ten years and counting of communications and storytelling, here are three things I’m sure of about effective writing.

A storyteller who sits on the picket fence, in reality has nothing to say. Writing can and should challenge perspectives or agitate some discussion. This doesn’t mean you go spitting fire on everything and everyone, but you should have well-formed opinions to make an interesting narrative.

If your views are contentious, there should be well-made arguments or at least, very good explanations to back up your standpoints. …

My tips and tools of the trade to keep you writing.

Inspiration will come to you from anywhere, at strange hours of the day, and sometimes, not at all conveniently. This is why you should always carry a notebook. I cannot stress enough how much better a notebook is compared to a notes app on your phone at times. I am not an archaic traditionalist of a writer, and in no way deny that phones have their functional time and place, but it’s not a good look to whip out your phone in certain situations. Nor is it any help…

Yes, I know. This first piece of advice may seem completely unprofound but I promise you, this isn’t just a bland statement.

When you first start out, you’ll have every reason to doubt yourself and question whether your voice is even worth exploring. You’ll torture yourself over a sentence. You’ll revise entire pages twenty times over. Hell, you’ll do full re-writes because you will be so unhappy with your work. Call it what you will — writer’s block or crippling self-doubt — these aren’t justifications to keep you from writing. …

Real stories of real people in 100 words or less.

Sometimes late at night near Shida night market, you’ll find an old man selling hand-grilled corn from a rickety street cart.

He makes them made-to-order. The cob is layered with three sauces, slathered with a wooden paintbrush. He regrills the corn with each new layer, controlling the flames with his wrinkled but nimble hands. Once blackened enough by the coal (though never burnt), he hammers a bamboo skewer into the centre, and presents it to his waiting customers with a semi-toothless smile.

This is his only trade, selling corn on…

I was already out around Taipei with a friend for a late-night snack before the great earthquake struck the southern city of Tainan. We ended up discovering some amazing local imagery as we watched vendors get ready for the market day ahead. Lunar New Year festivities is around the corner and no doubt the haze of over-indulging on epicurean delights will bring plenty of cooks vying for fresh ingredients.

Large vats of broth were simmering in makeshift portable kitchens; plump, whole chickens hung precariously on thin steel hooks, and even freshly cut pigs’ heads lay on the sterile tables. But…

Quyen Tran

Journalist and communications specialist. Spilling stories and insights on writing with authenticity.

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