The best writing tip I ever received was from a man who had fallen in love with the beautiful wilderness of Africa – Tony Park. A man who enchanted his readers with an alluring mix of adventure, danger and romance in books like African Dawn and Scent of Fear.

So it happened that, with much excitement, our book club arrived at his book launch. Time flew by as he spoke about his latest paper-and-ink adventure, the process of writing, and his love for all things Africa.

The precious minutes were slipping away, like sand in an hourglass. The crowd fell into a hush as people pondered Tony’s response to a journalist’s question. I finally had my golden opportunity. I had to ask Mr Park something. Yet my mind kept wandering. What would I ask? What is the one question that was burning my mind? Oh, there were so many! It’s funny how you always seem to have a list of questions ready when you think about meeting a writer… and when the big moment arrives they magically vanish.

Finally gathering the courage to ask, I raised my hand.

From the foggy mess that was my over-excited brain, a question appeared. ‘What advice can you give to aspiring writers?’ His answer was simple, but the impact was profound.

‘Write truthfully and simply,’ he said. When, for example, you ask a person to start a novel by describing the place or feeling, be careful in describing it. Many people would go on about the colour of the sunrise, maybe even use a fiery metaphor, but I wouldn’t. No, I would simply start with: ‘The sun rose over Africa’.

What he said is true, by simply setting the scene with a few words, anyone who knows anything about Africa will have a clear image burned into their mind right from the start.

Out of all the tips bestowed upon me by writers, friends, teachers and the motivational websites of the great internet, none was as amazing as the tip that Tony Park gave me.

It is good to know that your writing doesn’t have to be delicately complex musical crescendos or amazingly designed tapestries of words and ink. It can be simple, one-liner paragraphs. Bold, short-sentenced introductions can be just as beautiful as a setting that spans ten pages.

This one piece of advice has meant more to me than any other writing tip.

Therefore I will leave you with the burning image that greets me every morning that I get up, the picture that drives me to keep on writing – The sun rose over Africa.

About the Author

Theresa Brink matriculated in 2018 from Nelspruit High School in Nelspruit, capital city of the Mpumalanga province in South Africa.

She has previously entered writing competitions, mostly Afrikaans writing competitions.

  • FAK Expo Writing Competition 2017 and 2018
  • Radical Writing Festival 2017 and 2018

In 2018 Theresa was the main writer of the school’s drama script for their participation in the ATKV Teenage Acting Competition (Tienertoneel) where they won a bronze certificate.