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Mind Your Language

Language is the heart of short story writing in this month’s creative writitng masterclass from Helen M Walters

MASTERCLASS

Language is so important in short story writing, and I chose this month’s story because it is about language itself. Swimmer Among The Stars, which is from the collection of the same name by Kanishk Tharoor, is a story about the attempt by ethnographers to record and understand a dying language through a series of interviews with ‘the last speaker’ of the language. Reviews suggest that the whole collection is well worth a look, and as usual you will get the most out of this masterclass if you read the story for yourself. You can read it here: writ.rs/tharoor

The story slips important information in right from the start in a gentle and sophisticated way. Notice how we find out in the very first paragraph that it is not only the language that is dying, but the speaker as well. She has received this news in what she calls ‘a more common language’ since her own has fallen out of use. As we learn, she is surprised to find herself being the only person left as a keeper of her language, having thought there must be other speakers out there somewhere.

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About Writing Magazine

In the new issue, you can discover ten ways to make yourself more publishable, and learn how to bounce back from one of the hardest, yet most inevitable experiences for a writer – rejection. Also in August's WM, explore the philosophy of crime and the real Venice with bestselling crime writer Donna Leon in our star interview, check out £13,300 in writing prizes waiting to be won, and keep up to date with all the latest opportunities to get into print.