Friday, December 07, 2007

Are You Limiting Your Writing Creativity?

Creative Writing Secrets - 7 Ways You Limit Your Creative Writing Potential Without Even Knowing It
By Dan Goodwin

All of us have an ocean of creative writing potential waiting to be discovered. But having the potential to do something, and actually DOING it, are a world apart.

There are many reasons why we don't write as deeply, as freely and as consistently as we're capable of. So here are 7 of the most common ways you may be limiting YOUR creative writing potential without even knowing it, and what you can do to turn them around:

1. You don't capture your new ideas. A major complaint of creative writers is they don't have enough good ideas. Having the ideas though is not the issue. How many times have you had a great idea appear in your head at the most unlikely moment and thought: "wow, what an interesting idea, I could really develop this into something..." and then forgotten it as quickly as it appeared?

Capture your ideas as soon as they come to you, using a small notebook. Carry it with you wherever you go, and you'll soon realise not only how many ideas you've been having and just not noting them down, but you'll also see that the more ideas you do capture, the more ideas appear to fill their place.

2. You don't write everyday. Creating each and everyday is one of the fundamental building blocks of a consistent creative life. When you say you'll create "when you have time", guess what happens? Yep, you never seem to have time, and so you never write much.

Sit down and write for a minimum of 15 minutes each and every day at the same time each day. The power of this habit has so many benefits, not least of which that you give your creative mind a regular space and a place to, well, create!

3. You don't seek out inspiration. If your daily routine involves seeing exactly the same surroundings and few places, and you never go anywhere different or try any new experiences, you're writing will be similarly monotone and limited.

Keep your inspiration topped up by regularly making time for yourself to visit new places, see things you've always wanted to see, and absorb a little more culture and nature. The change in surroundings will stimulate your senses, which in turn feeds your creative mind with new ideas and inspiration.

4. You don't believe you're creative. Although on the surface you might think you have strong beliefs in your creative ability, often just below the surface a whole gaggle of limiting beliefs are conspiring to hold you back without you realising.

Honestly question what you REALLY believe about your creativity. Write out a few positive statements like "I believe I am a creative writer" and "I have an unlimited potential for new ideas" and notice your instinctive reaction to these statements. If they feel uncomfortable or untrue, it's time to work on making your underlying beliefs more positive.

5. You don't have a place to create. We all need somewhere to create, a place where we feel comfortable and can get into our writing without major distraction. Without this kind of space, we'll never get into any kind of flow with our writing.

Make a space that's just yours for writing. It might be a whole room, it might simply be a cosy chair in the corner of a room. But make it special to you, personalise it, do all you can to give yourself the best chance of writing as freely as possible when you come here to write.

6. You don't set any creative goals. Before your run away screaming at the word "goals", claiming an artist can't possibly be tied down with such limiting concepts, think about this: A goal doesn't need to be complex, rigid and suffocating. A goal is just something you'd like to do, with a date when you like to do it.

By setting goals as clear and simple as: "This Sunday, beginning at 10am I'm going to spend at least 2 hours on writing my new short story" you'll get SO MUCH MORE done than if you just say "I might try to fit in a bit of work on my short story sometime this weekend"... Try setting a few goals - it works!

7. You don't acknowledge your progress. Because you live with yourself day in, day out, it's very difficult to objectively view how much you're developing as a writer. Which means most of the time it feels like you're writing exactly the same stuff you were writing 5 years ago or that you hardly write very much at all.

By taking the time to review how you're evolving - every 3 or 6 months is a good period of time - you can gain huge confidence from realising not only that your writing style has developed, but that actually you've also written far more than you thought you had.

These are 7 of the most common reasons why you're not writing to your creative potential. Which do you most relate to?

Which one area can you choose to work on from today, to start unleashing more of that creative writing talent within you that's bursting to get out?

And you can get your creative writing kick started again right away with the FREE 5 part creative writing ecourse at http://www.YouAreACreativeWriter.Com

From Creativity Coach Dan Goodwin

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Start Your Writing with a Creative Bang!

There are exceptions to almost every rule, so take any advice with the proverbial grain of salt. For instance, some of the greatest writers in history have started books with dialogue or description. However, unless you have excellent skills in description or dialogue, you should probably think twice before building your whole book on that foundation. I found Ms. Zimmitti's advice excellent on most counts, and hope you will, too.

Hook Your Reader from the First Sentence - How to Write Great Beginnings

By Lucia Zimmitti

Let's face it: when you send your writing off in the hopes it will be published, every word is important. You wouldn't give yourself permission to get sloppy after page 37, assuming the editor can handle choppy prose or "inventive" spelling if she made it that far. But what you may not realize is that the beginning of your manuscript is by far the most important part because it will encourage an editor to read on or to toss the whole thing aside. After all, you may have crafted an admirable middle or a breathtaking ending, but no one will get there if your beginning is mediocre.

Despite the fact that more books are being published than ever before, the publishing world is more competitive than ever before. Agents and editors are inundated with staggering heaps of unsolicited manuscripts, and it is physically impossible for them to plow through -- in their entirety -- every one. The beginning is the only chance you have to make the right impression.

Face it, unless you have to, how often do you push through a book when you're under-whelmed by the beginning?

Which brings us to some rules for great beginnings. There are exceptions to every rule, of course, but often those exceptions are only successful in the hands of experienced writers or those with multi-book deals. For the typical writer, it pays to heed what the current market demands.

Make your beginning shine:

~Start with action.

"Action" doesn't necessarily mean a fist fight or an explosion or a sky-dive gone awry. Action means starting your book or story at a compelling place, with a scene, with something at stake for your characters. Look closely and you may find that you have pages of material that shouldn't start your book. They may fill in some important blanks for readers, but those pages of backstory can safely be moved to a spot in chapter two or later (or, better yet, spread out in smaller chunks throughout the work).

Don't start your story with history -- start it with a riveting now that grabs the reader by the collar and doesn't let him/her turn away.

~Never put dialogue or straight description in your opening lines.

To clarify: Dialogue is fine in the first scene. Actually, many experts agree that first scenes without dialogue don't achieve their potential. This is because the most compelling reading material involves tension between people, and people usually talk to each other. However, if your very first lines are dialogue, it's impossible for the reader to understand who is speaking right off the bat (or why s/he as a reader should care), since the reader hasn't had any history with the characters.

Similarly, description right up front will not pull your reader into the story. Not because it confuses or disorients them like dialogue does, but because static description can be dull and plodding and doesn't tell the reader anything about the story (the action, the story problem) itself. If the setting is somehow crucial to your first scene and you feel you must start there, limit it to one or two sentences and then get right into the meat of the scene. There will be time for description later.

~Make sure your writing is accessible and engaging.

Your beginning is not the place to try out some experimental stylistic device or to stump your readers with a puzzle. You want to make your readers think, but you don't want them to feel stupid or say, "Huh?" If the reader feels frustrated and confused right away, you can bet they won't sign up for 300 more pages of it.

~Set up the story promise.

You've seen shoppers at bookstores. They scan the bookflap for a description, and, if that intrigues them, they'll flip to page one and skim the opening to see if it's the kind of book they want to read. Immediately make it clear what kind of story yours is. Don't start with a knock-knock joke if it's an essay about a serious subject. (Although there's room for humor in almost any piece, it must be appropriately woven into the work and not tacked onto the wrong place. But that's a subject for another article.) Don't start with the point of view of a character you're planning to kill off by page three. You get the idea.

Readers like surprise -- they don't like to feel disoriented.

~Always remember that boredom kills readership.

If you're bored when you write the opening, if you fall asleep at your desk when you reread it, and if trusted readers can't stop yawning when they review it, what makes you think strangers you send it to will be riveted by it? Readers have more choices than ever before (in print and online), and they will not stick with you past a few dozen words if they're bored. Make sure your beginning glues your readers to the page, wide awake and eager for more.

To discover more ways to give your writing the best odds in a highly competitive market, visit and sign up for "Write Through It," a free, monthly e-newsletter that offers tips on writing more clearly and effectively.

Lucia Zimmitti, a writing coach and independent editor, is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and the Editorial Freelancers Association. Her fiction and poetry have been published in various national literary journals, and she has taught writing at the high school and college levels.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Creative Writing Vocabulary: Prose vs. Poetry

This is a handy, if simplistic distinction between poetry and prose. Even if you don't consider yourself a poet, you should still consider learning poetic techniques for use in prose. I think I've mentioned before that a good knowledge of poetry and poetic devices can spice up your prose. If nothing else, it's a great creative writing exercise to try to write the different poetic forms.

Prose vs. Poetry
by: Terry J. Coyier

Prose - a simple word that confuses so many people. What is it exactly? According to

1.the ordinary form of spoken or written language, without metrical structure, as distinguished from poetry or verse.

2.matter-of-fact, commonplace, or dull expression, quality, discourse, etc.

Prose encompasses most of the writing and speaking we engage in today, including what I am writing here. It is everything from novels to blog entries to television/films and everything in between. Prose is simply a fancy literary term used to separate general writing from poetry or verse. (Though, just to confuse you, we do have prose poetry, the halibun and free verse which can muddy any clear distinction.) Prose is typically written in plain language, follows the standard rules of grammar and punctuation and is arranged in paragraphs. It often reflects ordinary speech patterns. In fiction, writers do develop different styles of writing and employ various techniques to add interest for readers, but the writing is still considered prose.

Now that you understand a little about prose, let’s discuss poetry. Most people recognize poetry if they see a traditional poem. For instance, writing that has lines similar in length (each starting with a capital letter, of course), is arranged in stanzas, and has rhyme at the end of the lines. Most of us were taught about this type of poetry around the third or fourth grade. But poetry is so much more complex and varied than that simple example. In fact, those few things don’t necessarily define poetry at all.

Poetry is much more than just a few basics such as the form in which it is written, some general meter and rhyme. Modern poetry often deviates from traditional poetic form and rules. Poetry presentation has, once again, become somewhat artistic for some poets who write in everything from couplets to verse paragraphs. These lines can also be arranged on a page to enhance the visual appeal of the poem (as in shape poems), to aid in the rhythm of the poem (adding space between words to create longer pauses while reading aloud, for instance) or to add to the meaning or irony of a poem by causing words to appear in specific places. Standard punctuation and capitalization practices are falling by the wayside, as well, for many contemporary poets.

This still has little to do with poetry itself. So, how do we define poetry? I think Iowan, Paul Engle, had the right idea with is explanation: “Poetry is ordinary language raised to the Nth power. Poetry is boned with ideas, nerved and blooded with emotions, all held together by the delicate, tough skin of words.” That, to me, is what poetry is, but I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t break it down somewhat. I am not providing definitions, they are easy enough to come by.

Basic Poetic Devices


A quick internet search will provide you with reading material on each of these devices. Some are easier to hone than others, but all are useful if you wish to write interesting poetry verses writing simple poems.

Hopefully the lines between prose and poetry are now a bit clearer than before. Sometime in the future, I will have to address those other pesky fellows I mentioned that muddy the waters between the two. For now, whether you chose to write prose or poetry or both, I wish you the utmost success.

About The Author

Terry J. Coyier is a 37-year-old college student studying for an Associates of Applied Sciences degree. She is also a freelance writer who writes about a variety of topics. She lives with her son in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex. Terry is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ which is a site for Writers.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Painless Writing?

I don't know if The advice in this article will take the pain out of writing, but it bears looking at, regardless. While Leila Morris' advice is geared toward report and article writing, much of it can be applied to fiction or any kind of creative writing. I'm never in favor of dumbing down your writing, but it often takes more creativity to be concise than it does to ramble.

How to Take the Pain Out of Writing
By Leila Morris

Your stomach tightens as you stare at your computer screen. You keep redoing the first paragraph because you just can't get it right. You are probably making the writing process much harder by trying to sound intelligent with obscure words and long, complicated sentences. The key is to write as you speak.

The first step is to get your thoughts and facts on paper. Then go back and fix it. It doesn't have to be pretty. If you are really stuck, dictate your thoughts onto a tape recorder and type them up. Here are some more tips to make you a better writer:

Keep it Organized

A lot of writers go off on tangents. They also repeat concepts throughout, which is very confusing. This is why you need to go back over your draft to see if you need to move paragraphs around. Using an outline can help you stay organized from the beginning. Write your first paragraph, which describes what your report will cover. Then make headings for the topics that you will cover. Organize your thoughts and facts under those headings.

Trim Excess Words

The most aggravating thing for a reader is to wade though your report to get to the point. Go through your draft and trim any words that do not add meaning. Pretend that you save a $100 for every word you cut. In the following example, I put brackets around the words that we can take out:

We are [currently] launching a [new] corporate sales team that will [have a specific] focus on increasing sales [specifically] in the Duluth branch and [also] in the Stratford Branch, which will [ultimately] increase [overall] corporate revenue and [or] profits [both] domestically and internationally.

I just saved $1,100!

Also, cut repetitive sentence. Here is an example of some copy that I edited:
Before: The presence of gum disease increases the risk of poor blood sugar control. Gum disease is an infection and infections worsen blood sugar control in people with diabetes.
After: As an infection, gum disease increases the risk of poor blood sugar control in people with diabetes.

Avoid the Passive Voice

When you put the subject of the sentence after the verb, you take all of the life out of your writing. Instead of saying, "She was kissed by him," say, "He kissed her." Doesn't that sound more romantic? The grammar feature on your spell check can be a great help in identifying passive phrases.

Put that $2 Dollar Word Back In Your Pocket

What the heck does "nascent" mean? Your vast vocabulary will not impress your reader. Anybody can look in a thesaurus. Instead, your reader will be annoyed at having to crack open a dictionary. Also, use the most common forms of words, such as "help" instead of "assist" and "people" instead of "individuals."

Break up Long Sentences

Some writers try to fit a hundred different concepts into one sentence. But our brains get overwhelmed. Here is an example of something I edited:

Before: A team approach is used including the PCP, specialist, member, family, caregiver, healthcare provider community, and internal programs to coordinate care, with a focus on member education and maximizing quality outcomes.

After: We use a team approach. The team includes the PCP, the specialist, the member, the family, the caregiver, and the healthcare provider community. We also have internal programs to coordinate care. The focus is on educating members and maximizing quality outcomes.

Don't Interrupt Yourself

Don't stick a phrase in the middle of your sentence. It's like adding a speed bump.
Before: Employers, more than ever, are looking for a retirement savings vehicle.
After: More than ever, employers are looking for a retirement savings vehicle.

Drop the Gimmicks

Some writers capitalize all the words that they think are important or, worse yet, they put words in all caps. This is won't get your point across any better and it's distracting. Another mistake is to highlight words with quotation marks. There are specific grammatical uses for quotation marks and this is not one of them Also, do not use quotation marks for common nicknames, terms that readers are likely to know, or well-known expressions.

All of these tips point to one thing: Think about your reader. Don't we all have too little time to read everything that comes into the inbox and over the e-mail? If you get to the point, you will get through to your reader.

Leila Morris is a professional business editor. Her hobby is her website,
Wed Cheaper is an ezine with fun and creative tips to slash your wedding costs.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Apostrophes: End the Abuse!

Hear! Hear! The misuse of the apostrophe is one of my pet peeves, so I'm glad someone else is finally mentioning it.

End Apostrophe Abuse
By David Bowman

We feel sorry for the little apostrophe. It is so abused, so often made to do what it shouldn't and so often forgotten when needed. The apostrophe is a proud punctuation mark with specific purposes and does not deserve to be misused. Again and again we see the same two abuses of this punctuation mark, not just in the pieces we edit but all around us in the "real" world. We'll discuss two of those abuses here, and we'll hope to restore some of the respect the apostrophe deserves.

Abuse #1: Plurals

To say it plainly: don't use apostrophes to make plurals. Sentences like Get your hamburger's here are simply wrong. The little apostrophe was not meant to make one hamburger into multiple hamburgers. Here are a few other other samples of the apostrophe being pressed into the wrong service:

These paper's need correcting.

Some writer's make a lot of error's.

Apostrophe's are not complicated.

Why do people do this to the apostrophe? The construction 's is meant to show ownership (or a contraction, as in the second abuse discussed below), not a plural. Perhaps people abuse the apostrophe in this way because they don't know the difference between ownership and plurals. Perhaps they see this abuse occurring so often that they don't even realize it is wrong (much like using data as a singular noun although it is really a plural.)

Villainous sentences like People living in the 1990's bought a lot of CD's certainly don't promote virtuous use of the noble apostrophe.

Abuse #2: Contractions

To say it plainly: put the apostrophe in place of missing letters. The little apostrophe is very powerful. It can stand in for all the letters of the alphabet without breaking a sweat. Do you want to leave out part of a word? The apostrophe is on hand to take its place. The apostrophe is mighty in this way and should not be forgotten. Here are a few correct examples of the apostrophe doing what it should:

We don't forget the apostrophe in contractions.

Here's the correct use of an apostrophe.

You're abusing the apostrophe again.

This is also the rule that explains why you don't put an apostrophe in its when using its as a possessive, as in: The apostrophe can take its place. In this sample sentence, its isn't a contraction for it is so you don't use the apostrophe.

The rules for using apostrophes are very simple, so our editors are often surprised that many writers (not writer's) make this mistake. The two cases where apostrophes are most often forgotten, in our experience, are in the words you're and they're. Sometimes the apostrophe is there, but it's in the wrong place.

End Apostrophe Abuse Now

Poor apostrophe. It can do so much for you when you use it correctly. In fact, knowing how to use apostrophes correctly is a sign of being a professional writer. Let's end apostrophe abuse and restore its dignity as a powerful and important member of your punctuation arsenal.

David Bowman is the Owner and Chief Editor of Precise Edit (, a comprehensive editing, proofreading, and document analysis service for authors, students, and businesses. Precise Edit also offers a variety of other services, such as translation, transcription, and website development.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What's in a Genre?

Uncovering Genres
By Karen Gross

What do they mean by "genre"? There are two distinct lists that cover the area of genres, writing genres and fiction genres. The first describes what the writing's purpose is and the other describes a targeted group of readers of specific fiction. You won't find an Expository section in your local bookstore; Romance and Horror sections are more likely to be displayed. When a publisher asks if your memoirs are Descriptive or Narrative he's searching for the category that best describes your writing, not the story.

Let's take them one by one. First the Writing Genres:

Descriptive writing appears almost everywhere and is often included in other genres, such as in a descriptive introduction of a character in a narrative. This genre attempts to describe a person, place or thing in vivid detail.

Expository writing appears in and is not limited to letters, newsletters, definitions, instructions, guidebooks, catalogues, newspaper articles, magazine articles, manuals, pamphlets, reports and research papers. The goal of this genre is to give explanation or directions to the reader.

Narrative writing appears in and is not limited to novels, short stories, biographies, autobiographies, historical accounts, essays, poems, and plays. The goal of this genre is to tell a story of an experience, event, or sequence of events while holding the reader's interest.

Persuasive writing appears in and is not limited to speeches, letters to the editor, editorials, advertisements, award nominations, sales letters, petitions, scholarly writing, and opinion pieces. The goal of this genre is to give an opinion in an attempt to convince the reader that this point of view is valid or tries to persuade the reader to take a specific action.

Poetry appears almost everywhere, and examples include haiku, couplet, quatrain, limerick, ballad, lyrics, sonnet, etc. Poetic writing is a written art form that helps the writer express an imaginative awareness and is arranged to create a specific emotional response, sometimes employing the use of repetition, meter, and rhyme.
The goal of technical writing is to clearly communicate a select piece of information to a targeted reader or group of readers for a particular purpose in such a way that the subject can readily be understood. Examples of technical writing include, warranties, contracts, blueprints, etc.

It is now readily apparent that Writing Genres describe the purpose of a piece of writing.

Now we'll look at the fiction genres. These determine certain elements that readers have come to expect.

Mystery/Suspense/Horror is a fiction category for stories, usually realistic, about a mysterious/horrible event that is not explained or a crime that is not solved until the end of the story to keep the reader in suspense. Detective and Crime Novels fall into the Mystery/Suspense genre.

Poetic writing is a written art form that helps the writer express an imaginative awareness and is arranged to create a specific emotional response, sometimes employing the use of repetition, meter, and rhyme. Books of Poetry are frequently published with a theme that all selected poems share.

Fantasy fiction contains elements that are not realistic, such as talking animals, magical powers, etc. The Hobbit and The Dragon Lance Chronicles are classic examples of fantasy genre.

Science Fiction stories include futuristic technology -- a blend of scientific-fact and fictional elements. Star Trek is an example of the science fiction genre.

Historical Fiction stories take place in a particular time period in the past. Often the basic setting is real, but the characters are fictional. Historical Fiction can cover any time period. "Memoirs of a Geisha" falls into the Historical Fiction genre.

Myths are stories that explain something about the world and involve gods or other supernatural beings. Although, myths are fictional stories, in most libraries they are found in the non-fiction section of the library in the 290s.

Writing Genres

1. Descriptive

2. Expository

3. Narrative

4. Persuasive

5. Poetry

6. Technical

Fiction Genres

1. Mystery/Suspense/Horror

2. Fantasy

3. Science Fiction

4. Historical

5. Myths

6. Poetry

So there you have it...writing genres describe the purpose of the writing and the fiction genres describe a targeted writing market with pre-supposed elements.

About the author: Karen Gross is an article writer for the Affiliate Work Home resource web site. Please visit our web site for more information and advice on work from home!

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Flowing with Creative inspiration

Creative Inspiration For The Everyday Writer
By Roslyn Randle

Have you ever been a person who has had trouble starting a writing project or keeping with the lines of thought that first inspired you to write? You are not alone. Writing can be a difficult task to undertake for the writer who has trouble becoming inspired or staying inspired. There is much to think about when writing; such as capturing and keeping the attention of the audience by developing a good story. Effectively translating striking images with words into the minds of readers can take its toll on writers who indulge in too many distractions. It's easy for writers to fall into the traps of distractions. Those distractions usually produce with it babbling, lack of cohesiveness, and fleeting narratives.

Writers, as with all artists hinge the success of their livelihood on being able to flow creatively from inspiration. Because inspiration is the key to success for the writer, here are a few helpful tips that can begin to spark the imagination to the wondrous world of the mind.

Tip 1: Be observant to the senses by Journaling

By keeping a journal or diary, the writer can begin to record those sudden bursts of inspiration that come during a day. Perhaps a scent or fragrance may spark and imagination or the writer may physically and literally walk into a situation by taking walks or jogs. And speaking of walks and jogs.....

Tip 2: Keep a small recorder, if possible while taking....

Tip 3: Nature Walks

Walking meditation is a powerful way for inspiration to flow. And while you're walking, you can talk and record those moments of inspiration. There are various types of meditation; and your time spent thinking or looking within does not have to be closed up in a room with candles or in a relaxed lotus position, although it does help to incorporate a routine of.....

Tip 4: Yoga

Or some type of exercise that caters to uniting Mind, Body, and Spirit. Mental and physical practices of this type can clear the clutter of the mind. Yoga, Qi-Gong, Tai Chi, are wonderful examples of practices that will relax and inspire.

Tip 5: Create Your Space

Take inventory of your current space. Our environment usually tells us what is going on with our lives. If our space is cluttered, our life is usually screaming disorder. By creating a harmonic environment, one can begin a journey of self-discovery. Look at your environment. Listen to your space. It will speak to you. You can begin to create your space by....

Tip 6: Setting the Mood with Scents and Objects

Quite simply, you have to feel good to produce goodness. Scents, fragrances, perfumes, incenses and beautifully looking objects will begin to inspire and bring out your best creatively. And since you're going to be incorporating scents and looking at beautiful things, don't forget about....

Tip 7: The Inspiration Of Clothing

Pilar Audain Reed, a beautifully gifted designer and owner of the chic Chicago boutique Kreative Souls by Pilar, was a vision built on complete faith and courage. This artist uses her designs of jewelry and clothing to allow the Source of Creation to inspire wonder- filled designs and accessories. She was quoted as saying:

"...Since I can remember, I have always looked for that one "spot" that had the cool stuff I could wear that allowed "me" to be "me," know what I mean? It wasn't at the mall. It wasn't at the local clothing stores. For the most part, it was either in my mother's "old stuff" or my nana's jewelry box. The outer body houses the inner soul, so for me the things that I adorn my body with must be expressive and free, because I am expressive and free-spirited. The body has to "breathe" because the soul has to breathe. As long as my creative juices are flowing, so will the cool stuff I am able to create."

As so it is for the writer. Be inspired by the clothing you wear. Be inspired by the objects you surround yourself with. And finally be inspired by life. Allow life to flow. Allow inspiration to flow freely from you with the adornment of jewels and precious stones. Let the beauty of your environment uplift you to heights that you've never experience; and then write. And most importantly, relax into your gift and create.

To learn more about creative inspiration and tips geared to the writer visit Headline Articles at . Also, discover your creative soul by learning how to access the Universal Laws Of Abundance. Visit Abundance Training 101: The Universal Law Of Abundance at

Roslyn Randle is an accomplished writer, Author, and Internet Marketer. She is editor-in-chief of Headline Articles, co-publisher of Pro-Internet Biz and co-instructor for several online courses, including the popular wellness course; Lose Weight While Becoming A Wellness Coach at

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Writing Passionate Articles

Ken Nelson brings some good points about using passion in writing. I'm not sure what he intends with his "Write Truthfully" section--I can't think of many articles with room for profanity, for instance--but the point is still well taken.

Writing Passionately
By Ken Nelson

Let’s be honest – nobody wants to read a dull article. And there are plenty of them floating around! The truth is, we all have too much on our plate as it is, and if you want to get our attention, you’d better give us a good reason to listen to what you have to say. People will listen to those who are passionate about whatever it is they’re discussing. So, how do you convey that passion in your writing? Here are three good tips:

Be Passionate About Your Subject

Okay, right now many of you are saying, “Duh! How stupid is that? To write passionately, be passionate? Please step forward and receive your Certificate of Redundancy Certificate.” Ah, but not so fast my friend! In this day of internet marketing too many people are writing articles about whatever they think will make them money. Even if they don’t care a thing about Bavarian milk bottles, they will write article after article about them if they’re convinced there’s a niche market in there somewhere.

Find a topic that grips you – a topic that you can sink your teeth into and write about with fervor. Follow supposed trends and you’ll get bored and frustrated. Follow your passion and the money will come.

Write Quickly

Once you’ve found that gripping topic, sit down and pour yourself out onto the keyboard. Start venting on paper! Use plenty of exclamation marks! Don’t worry about editing the first draft – just tell it like it is! You can go back and fix the wording and the spelling and the grammar on the rewrites, but for the first draft let it fly! Writing quickly gives your prose a sense of breathlessness that will leave your reader gasping as well.

Some people like to disable the automatic correcting function on their word processor. Those squiggly green or red lines can distract you from your primary purpose of writing.

Write Truthfully

Telling the truth means not pulling any punches. You can’t write compelling articles if you’re constantly wondering what your mom or grandmother (or spouse or children, for that matter) will think about what you’re saying. Don’t be needlessly offensive, but don’t allow yourself to be silenced by the social proclivities of others either.

If you will follow these three simple but powerful tips, you will take a dull, insipid article and infuse it with infectious life!

Ken Nelson is a freelance writer and cartoonist. He markets his unique brand of humor at the Flogwear site where anybody can purchase t-shirts, mugs, aprons, calendars, and many other items printed with his cartoons and writings.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Grabbing Your Reader's Attention--With a Bang

Start With a Bang
By Vivian Gilbert Zabel

According to Les Edgerton, many good and even brilliant stories never get read past the first paragraph, or perhaps first page, because of a poor beginning.

If the first part of a story does not "grab" the reader and cause him to want to read more, the author has failed no matter how wonderful the rest of the story may be. Begin with a vivid scene.

The opening of a story should successfully set the stage for the reader, "hook" the reader, create with words the desire in the reader to want to read more.

At the start, the problem should be introduced. That means the problem is an event that changes the protagonist's world in some way, and the problem may not always mean trouble.The reader may not realize that what happens at the beginning is even a problem, only that it triggers a desire to know more.

For example, if Johnny is a character in a children's story (yes, writing for children follows the same guidelines and contains the same needs as any good work) and has never walked to school by himself before, only with an adult by himself, he starts his first walk with excitement and trepidation. If the author writes:

Johnny had never walked to school by himself before. His mother or grandmother had always walked with him. This example "tells" the situation, but it does not "show" the story.

So, let's try showing and creating a "hook."

Johnny opened the door a crack. As he peeked out, he thought, Everything looks the same. He swallowed and opened the door farther. He stuck his head completely outside and searched the walk leading from the porch.

"Johnny," his mother said from behind him, "do you need me to walk to school with you again today?"

Johnny glanced over his shoulder. "Momma, I'm big enough to walk by myself." He picked up his back pack and marched out the door. "I'm five years old now."

Dialogue in the first few paragraphs helps catch a reader's attention and helps the reader to "see" what is happening. Melissa Stewart says, "Put dialogue to work." A good way to engage the reader immediately is to have captivating dialogue.

Excessive narration, expository, or text causes the flow of the story to stop anywhere, but when needless narration begins the story, the reader loses interest immediately.

Grab his attention by using a vivid scene; "show" the reader what is happening; hook his interest immediately; and start your story with a bang.


Sources used in this newsletter include notes I've made over the years as well as
Harvey Stanbrough, "Stop interrupting," November 2006 The Writer; Les Edgerton, "HOOK, GRAB and PULL," August 2007 Writer's Digest; and Melissa Stewart, "Write for children -- 12 steps to success," June 2006 The Writer.

After teaching composition for twenty-five years and becoming an author on http://www.Writing.Com/ a site for Poetry, Vivian Gilbert Zabel produced Hidden Lies and Other Stores, Walking the Earth: and The Base Stealers Club, which can be ordered through most book stores and on

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Friday, July 13, 2007

So You Wrote a Book--What About Getting Published?

Get a Book Published? The Road to Publication Might be Getting a Little Rougher

By Dee Power

Is it getting easier or more difficult for an unpublished writer to get their first book commercially published? We asked nearly 60 literary agents about the outlook for the next generation of authors. Their comments are in quotes.

Agents do not envision a great deal of change on the horizon. They are mildly negative about the next 12 to 24 months. When asked the reasons behind their forecast, the most common responses were:

Industry Consolidation, Changes Within the Publishing Industry Itself

Changes in Book Retailing

Publishers are Becoming More Risk Averse

The Pessimists

The Optimists

The Impact of the National Economy

Industry Consolidation, Changes Within the Publishing Industry Itself

“Editors no longer rely on their instincts and passions as selection criteria; instead they go by such formulas as, Bad Numbers, Author has no Platform etc.”

“Continuing consolidation and conglomeration of industry.”

“For non-fiction works, in particular, publishers need credentialed writers, which leaves out the many individuals who have great ideas but nothing to back it up. With fiction, they are more likely to take a chance on an unpublished writer IF it is in an area (genre) they are seeking at the time and the writing is passable enough.

Changes in Book Retailing

“Because of the pressure of the chain buyers, publishers are increasingly locked into publishing only the brand new authors with no record, and best selling authors.”

“Because as long as the retail market continues to consolidate in the hands of fewer and fewer retailers, the entire industry becomes dependent on the taste of a small handful of 'buyers' who choose which books get shelf space.”

Publishers are Becoming More Risk Averse

“It just seems like it's getting harder and harder to get people to take a chance on an unknown.”

“Editors are buying fewer books, they are reluctant to take chances.”

“What does keep projects from being bought is the fact that lists are shrinking, and in a marketplace in which it’s terribly hard to win anyone’s attention – from buyers all the way to customers – everyone up the editorial chain is anxious about making the wrong bet … more often than not, ‘No’ is a safe answer.”

The Pessimists

“I base this on the number of rejection letters publishers have sent for well-written, well-plotted novels by new authors that would have sold if given the chance.”

“I don't see the market picking up much, and if the current trends continue, it will only decline.”

The Optimists

“Because I don't agree that the publishing industry is either for or against unpublished writers. They are FOR unpublished writers who have a brilliant first novel to offer or a nonfiction platform. They are AGAINST unpublished writers who are bad writers or (in the case of nonfiction, are not credentialed in their field, have a new original, high concept idea etc.)”

“The Industry is not a monolithic thing. Some genres (nonfiction especially, which more and more requires the author to have a major platform for promotion and media attention) will continue to become more difficult; some genres (upmarket fiction) exalt first-time writers. The “first novel" for literary fiction represents a unique marketing opportunity for the publisher; it's the second and third novels that tend to be far more difficult to publish well if the first novel doesn't take off.”

“Some trends favor new writers and new voices, however the money is often discouragingly small, so there is not the sense of a career being launched.”

The Impact of the National Economy

"Publishing is an increasingly tough biz in tough times--fewer people read."

So What Can a Debut Author Do?

1) Study the elements of a good query letter.

2) Make your contact letter succinct, positive, but not obnoxious. Stress that you understand the market for your book and how to address that market.

3) Learn what types of manuscripts individual agents are looking for and send yours out to the agents that match up the best with your topic or genre.

4) Don't give up.

Avoid scams and still get your book published. Get our free report Perils and Pitfalls of Publishing for Writers just visit [] Free Report

About The Authors

Brian Hill and Dee Power have written several nonfiction books including The Publishing Primer: A Blueprint for an Author's Success and The Making of a Bestseller: Success Stories From Authors and the Editors, Agents, and Booksellers Behind Them. Read Dee's blog or Brian's blog The Packer Literary Corner

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Online Tips for Offline Writing

Here are a few practical tips for those marketing copywriters among us.

10 Online Writing Concepts That Work Wonders Offline Too
By Suzan St Maur

After all the agonies we suffered some years ago when people tried to make offline text work online, we’ve finally turned the tables. Now we can borrow back a number of online writing concepts and use them to sharpen up our paper-based marketing communications.

Remember how early website text could make you cringe? Squinting at all 2000 solidly crammed words so obviously lifted straight from an equally cringe-making corporate brochure? Peering at that fat, uniformly grey column of garbage scrolling hypnotically up through the browser window?

Well, nearly all of that has gone to the Great Delete Tab in the sky, thanks to people like Jakob Nielsen (and many others) who showed us how to get real and write for the web as it should be done.

What goes around, comes around

Now, though, there’s evidence that Dr Nielsen’s chickens are coming home to roost back in the old offline barn.

First of all, there’s a cosmetic trend for online notions to powder the nose of paper-based communication ... web and email jargon, smiley faces, text abbreviations (U h8 txt 2?) and more are turning up in printed material every day.

More usefully, many of us who write for a living are applying some online writing techniques and approaches to our offline work, too. In fact the very “fashionableness” of all things online has given us the excuse we needed to clear out a lot of the awful old junk that’s been cluttering up some clients’ offline text for years.

Online to offline: key connections

1. It’s essential to have clear objectives. Any piece of online communication that doesn’t have clear-cut objectives comes over as chinless and indecisive. Many printed documents have got away with being chinless and indecisive in the past, but no more – possibly due, in part, to online influences. If they’re going to be taken seriously today, printed comms need clear objectives too – driven by what you want to achieve, not just what you want to say.

2. People often prefer to scan and go back to get detail later. Although online text has championed scanning, people have been scanning offline text like brochure copy since long before the www came to be. Online, to facilitate scanning we break up text with highlighting, bold type and crossheads which enable readers to get the gist of our message in a few seconds. Paper-based messages can be improved dramatically when given the same treatment.

3. People do not always read in a linear fashion. We don’t expect people to view our website pages in any particular sequence. This is not new. For years people have been leafing through brochures starting at the back, skipping to the front, dipping into the middle and back again. Longish offline content benefits greatly from being organized on a non-linear basis to cater equally for the linear readers and the grasshoppers.

4. Not everyone needs or wants the technical stuff. Even with high-tech business, we often put the techie details in their own little cubby-hole on a website, or in a downloadable PDF file. That way they’re there for those who are interested but don’t obscure the main marketing messages. Offline messages gain in the same way, when you box off technical data or append it to the back of a document.

5. Visual clutter confuses readers. In the same way that people loathe website home pages that bristle with shouting headlines and graphics and other grinning gargoyles, they hate cluttered print and press ads that shriek “busy, busy.” If it’s hard to find your message in amongst garish junk, online or offline, they’ll just flip or click over to your competitors’ information.

6. BS is boring. Everyone sees through hype now. The online environment makes it look even sillier than ever. Readers of any marketing communication, online or off, expect your writing to talk directly to them, as one human being speaks to another. If you wouldn’t insult a customer by using boastful, pompous hype face-to-face and online, why do it offline?

7. Complex thinking doesn’t work. Although the long copy often works online, the writing style itself needs to be very economical and uncomplicated. Every word has to earn its keep. Sentences and paragraphs should be short and free from convoluted notions. And that’s an approach that also works wonders to clarify and enliven text for brochures, print newsletters, and other longer marcomms.

8. Lists in the form of long sentences don’t get read. Online, if you have more than two or three items to list you’re advised to create bullets, rather than run them together in a long sentence. If that makes them quicker to absorb online, think what a beneficial effect it can have on lists in offline text...

9. Headlines and crossheads must be relevant, not cutesy-clever. In the online environment these lines often have to stand alone - e.g. as email subject lines – so must be directly relevant. Although abstract headlines are acceptable in some press ads, in longer offline text the headlines are what people latch on to while scanning. This means they also have to be directly relevant, so they’re instantly understood.

10. Cut the c*** and get to the point. Not only do online comms demand uncluttered information, but also relevant information. People haven’t got time to wait 10 minutes while your incredibly creative animation downloads, and equally they haven’t time to figure out the meaning of a literary quote over an arty picture when they’re in a hurry to find out about your diesel generators. In our high-speed business culture, direct is beautiful.

This article first appeared on the US website,

Suzan St Maur is a leading business writer, author, editor and writing coach. Check out her website

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Writer's GMC

The Writer's GMC
By Beth Barany

Know What You Want
You have a dream: to write a book. Congratulations! Now what? How do you go from great idea to great reality? With The Writer's GMC*. Answer the questions below to uncover you writing goals, motivations, and conflicts. You can do it! This next step requires your handy tools of creativity, honesty and perseverance.

G is for Goal
What is your current writing project? What are your long-term writing projects? Describe each one, as applicable, in as much detail as possible, addressing for example, genre, length, and audience.

M is for Motivation
What is your main motivation fueling you? What are your secondary motivations? Peer deeper, and find another reason, if you can. Some write because their day isn't complete with out it; others write to communicate a message or a dream, make a point, or impress others. There is no right answer—only clarity achieved—by knowing why you write.

C is for Conflict
Focus on your perceived obstacles -- both internal and external. Allow any negative or limiting self-talk to be recognized for what it is -- an obstacle to be overcome. No need to judge, just acknowledge. Notice what external factors interrupt the path to your writing time, be it busyness, work and family obligations, or TV watching. Don’t judge, just notice that these obstacles are often there by our own choosing and that by recognizing them we can choose differently. What strengths can you use to achieve your writing goals? Include inner qualities like humor, intelligence, curiosity, drive, and outer benefits such as a space to work, a regular schedule to write, a nice computer, or no pressure to make money at your writing.

Now that you are clearer on your writing goals, motivations, conflicts and strengths, share them with a supportive writing buddy, writers group, teacher or coach. Sharing helps you stay accountable for your goals. A success buddy can cheer you on and validate you. Also, a buddy or writing group, coach or teacher, can ask you "What next?" and encourage you to plan and execute your next step.

Next Step
So what is your next step in your writing project? Do you need to sit down and write? Do you need to create a project time line? Do you need support to review and activate your GMC? None of us achieves a dream without the many people helping us along the way. Welcome to the Writers Community!

* Thanks to Deb Dixon and her book, Goal, Motivation and Conflict, for inspiration for this article.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Want to Write a Novel? Advice for the Aspiring Novelist

How To Write A Novel
By Donna Grisanti

Before starting the exciting journey of writing a novel, check the true level of your enthusiasm. In an informal survey of writers, the “why are you considering writing a novel” factor strongly affects the success of completing the “how to write” factor. On average, writing a novel is a 2+ year task, which requires a strong positive attitude that you’ll not only start the novel but you’ll also have the drive, passion, and belief in yourself and the project to see that adventure through to completion. Your motivation must be very strong -- always thinking of interesting plots, characters or things you want to write about, as if you can’t help yourself; longing to put everything down on paper or computer screen. Bridging the gap between thinking and writing is as much an artistic adventure as the finished manuscript.

If novel-writing isn’t near the top of your life goals or objectives list, perhaps you need to reconsider the size of your writing project (change to short stories or articles) or investigate honing separate skill sets necessary to novel writing (plot formation, character development, dialogue and setting). Learning novel-writing is a process, so there’s nothing wrong about starting in increments and building small success upon small success. Taking the task in manageable chunks, with your goal of a novel in mind, brings confidence and possible pages ready to be incorporated in the final product -- your novel.

In gaining information about learning the craft of novel-writing, not every author, article or writing class will benefit you, just like everyone doesn’t like every type of food. But they do have the advantage of “getting published,” so accept and discard advice advisedly. You’re still the amateur. Fortunately, the Internet, libraries, bookstores and writing groups are no-cost or low cost sources of gathering useful information which can help, or convince you, of proper technique in your efforts to learn (or get back on the right track) in your writing.

Authors need a clear idea of their story as a foundation for their task. Do you know what you want to write about? What genres do you read or do you have favorite authors? Although you are not limited by your answers nor should you slavishly “mimic” another author’s style, your responses might help you identify or hone your original idea to begin the process.

Before starting, determine the “success” quotient of the idea for your novel. It must interest you, in order for you to spend the time and effort to write well, but, most importantly, it must be able to interest others, in a fresh, entertaining way. Always keep in mind, there’s a lot of competition out there for a reader’s time. The adversaries are the quality and availability of the 24/7 stories in broadcast and cable television and Internet as well as print media. So you have to craft the idea well and carefully; the potential reader of your novel is very busy and very sophisticated. Ask people who aren’t “yes men” for a critical analysis of your idea to ascertain if the idea is clear, manageable and gripping.

Now, the plot plan is next as you try to think of mixing the characters, settings and situations into a pace that will keep your reader entertained and entwined with your characters; wanting to turn the page or not wanting to turn the nightlight out before bed. Like an extension ladder whose rungs allow the worker to climb in incremental steps, the plot and subplots, must, overall, direct the reader in a cogent path to the last sentence.

In real estate where the watchword is location, location, location, the other necessary part inherent the best plot plan is conflict, conflict, conflict; by which the reader is able to see and experience the change in the characters and situations. With so many other books on the shelf or manuscripts begging to published, what attributes set your plot plan above the rest?

With the idea in the forefront, a writer turns attention to time span, setting and characters. The writer has the final say, of course, but for the first effort consider things you already know in your work, pastimes or hobbies because you must be completely knowledgeable in these areas. Research, especially time span and setting, are crucial in determining the accuracy of your writing which cascades into your plot, dialogue and believability of the characters themselves. Be expert without being boring, redundant or preachy. Accuracy in your research flows into the writing, which gains the trust of the reader; proving your words have the same beauty and excitement as watching a professional musician, athlete or actor.

Setting a schedule to gain information on how to write and actively writing are two more critical action steps. Perhaps you can’t write every day but commit to a realistic number of hours per week, if you are not enrolled in a writing class. A “learning” writer is just like anyone trying to become skilled at a profession or craft -- it takes time, effort and sweat.

“Birthing” each page, scene or chapter may be painstaking, but writers have to be willing to be tough on their work, but not too tough. Again, show your work to trusted critics, writing group members or editors, if you can afford them. Give close attention to their critiques and carefully gauge the consistent areas they feel you need work. Polish those, so you can stop problem areas before they become unfortunate habits. Judicious “sculpting” early makes things easier in the long run and impresses editors and publishers as well.

Writing can be anything in-between a lonely landscape of you and a white page getting larger and larger in its blankness or the sheer joy of words flying from your ideas faster than you can get them down. Care, preparation, a clear idea and plot plan can help push things into the latter category. Don’t get discouraged. Good luck.

Copyright © 2007 Donna Grisanti

Donna J. Gristanti is a Tucson, Arizona based fiction writer. Wandering Hearts, her first published novel, was written over a five year period. A former senior nursing administrator, she now divides her time between writing, family, and church.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Editorials: Sound Off or Sound Like an Expert?

All right, maybe you've gotten the chance to do an editorial. You're thrilled, right? After all, this is simple. Editorial = opinion. All you have to do is put your opinion in the allotted number of words, and you're done. Easy money.

Not quite.

I always thought that, too. Then I had the fortune to have to take a class on editorials in graduate school. If I remember nothing else, I took away the fact that editorials are more than the rantings of an opinionated writer. Rather, a good editorial shows the reason behind the opinion. That's right, you have to change your formula to: Editorial = informed opinion.

Say you want to do an editorial on the dangers of fluoride in city water supplies. Option 1 is to spout off:

"Let's face it; fluoride is bad for us. There have been lots of studies proving it, but not one supporting its value."

Aside from the problem of how you're going to get an entire column out of that, it sounds weak. It's just your opinion, so why should readers pay attention? In fact, at this point, you sound like an enraged kook (all right, I wrote I sound like an enraged kook). Try Option 2:

"Many cities put fluoride in their water supplies because someone out there has gotten the idea it helps us.

"A Stanford study by Hawkins and Cladell has proven just the opposite. They studied five cities with fluoride in their water supply and compared them to five cities without fluoride.

"The cities that used fluoride had a 57% higher cancer rate than those that didn't. In fact, their findings indicate that fluoride is more toxic than lead. Yet, there's not one study supporting the benefits of fluoride to teeth when taken internally."

Okay, there's no Stanford study. I made that up. Don't do that when you're writing a real editorial. However, you can see how much stronger the editorial text is when you have facts to back up your opinion.

Even from here, I can hear the wheels turning in your head. What about all the writers and broadcasters who publish columns or spout off on TV backed up by nothing but their own thoughts? They're professionals, and they're not "supporting" their opinion.

True, but who do you trust more--someone who spouts off their opinion, or someone who spouts off their opinion with seven different studies to back them up? Of course; the person with facts. There's no reason to listen to the other person unless you already agree with them and want an ego boost.

In the course of finding facts to back you up, you may find there are none. Or, you may find that you change your own mind because opposing evidence is more compelling. That's okay. Journalism is about finding the truth, and that means not lying to ourselves, either.

Make that part of your column.

Shameless Self-Promotion

I try to keep this blog strictly informative, but it's time for some shameless self-promotion.

I recently self-published a book of short stories through You can purchase it through the button to the right. The price is $7.95. Hey, folks, I'm excited!

Buy it! Buy it!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Devil Is in the Details: Too Much Detail in Your Writing?

Detail is good, but when is it too much? Here's an answer by Vivian Gilbert Zabel.

Too Much Detail Stops the Flow
By Vivian Gilbert Zabel

Writing a good story requires the author have enough detail that the reader knows who, what, when, where, why, and how without over-loading with unneeded information. A novel can contain more detail than a short story, but paragraphs filled with exposition loses the reader’s attention. For example, read the following paragraph:

The angry man strode toward the French doors. The tall windows reflected the fire burning in the fireplace. The antique furniture shone with a high gloss. Candles provided the only light other than that of the fire. A glass of liquid sat beside a cut glass container on a small table in front of one sofa. A Persian rug covered high gloss wood floors.

The above paragraph describes a lovely room, doesn't it? What it doesn't do is move the story along. Unless all those details are needed for plot, then they don't belong in a story. Any that are needed should be woven into the story in such a way that the flow of the story isn't disrupted.

The angry man strode toward the French windows. His anger blinded him, but even if he wanted to see outside, the windows reflected only the fire burning in the fireplace.

"What were you thinking?" He whirled to face the woman who sipped from a glass before placing it on the table.

Two of the details are included into the action, giving enough detail to help the reader "see" what happens without de-railing the plot. As the story progresses, more of the details, if needed or wanted, can be included as part of the action or storyline.

Sometimes I've received reviews wanting to know more details than given or needed in the story. Short means just that, short. Everything cannot be included that would be found in a novel. An author needs to know what to include and what to eliminate to make the story alive and moving. Readers need to realize that wanting to know more about the characters doesn't mean that more information is needed, but that the writer did a good job of making the characters believable and interesting.

In a novel, when too much information in included at one time, those details that don’t “move the plot” forward, reader will skip those paragraphs to find where the story line continues. Just because one writes a book doesn’t mean that every single detail be included.

Therefore, we need enough detail to give readers a sense of where the action or story is taking place, but we shouldn’t include so much that the flow of the story is disrupted.

Vivian Gilbert Zabel taught writing for twenty-five years, honing her skills as she studied and taught. An author on Writers (http://www.Writing.Com/ ), her portfolio can be found at http://www.Writing.Com/authors/vzabel. Her books, Hidden Lies and Other Stories, Walking the Earth, and The Base Stealers Club, can be found through book stores or

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Selling Yourself as a Freelance Writer

Here is some nuts-'n-bolts advice on how to sell yourself...and therefore, your writing.

You may not be selling your services in the marketing arena, but the basic principles hold true: Keep it brief, show the editor/prospective client you know their market, show them what's in it for them (wait; didn't I write a post on that a while back?), and give them a call to action. Remember, the call to action doesn't have to be as urgent as Yuwanda's example if you're dealing with a magazine editor whom you already know has a 6-month lead time, but you should still place the idea of
taking action in the editor's mind.

Freelance Writers: How to Increase Your Business with a Simple One-Page Letter
by: Yuwanda Black

When I owned my editorial staffing agency and would put out a job opening for freelancers, I would get a ton of responses. If I asked for work samples, I would get slammed – even if the ad specifically stated to send, for example, “one writing sample on real estate investing.”

To quickly get through the pile of resumes, the first thing I would do is weed out anyone who sent more than I had requested. The point of this little story – more is not always better.

BUT, you may lament, “I want to show the client what I can do for them.” You can do this very effectively via a simple one-page introductory letter.

SECTION I: About you. In this paragraph, you simply want to state your name and give a very brief background summary and niche specialty. Eg:

I am Yuwanda Black, the publisher of A freelance copywriter for over 13 years, I specialize in increasing the referral rates of real estate agents, mortgage brokers and insurance agents via newsletters, brochures, e-books, etc.

Whatever your written marketing needs, I can deliver measurable results. Samples of my writing/portfolio can be found at (you do have a website, right?).

SECTION II: You know them. Illustrate to the client that you are familiar with his product, service, specialty, etc. and how you can improve it, supplement it, overhaul it, etc. for better results. Eg:

I noticed from your website (brochure, postcard, sales letter, etc.) that you have been in business for 5 years and service the xxx market. I can help you increase your sales by at least 15% over a year’s time (maybe more). How?

Studies (cite a source) have shown that consistent contact is the number one way to get clients to call YOU – and not your competitor. According to xxx (here you would input a reliable marketing stat), in your industry, only X percent of mortgage brokers do this.

Imagine how many more clients you can add to your business by becoming the go-to expert in your sector? I can position you for this – bringing in referrals for years to come!

SECTION III: The wrap up. Here, repeat their number one benefit of using you, eg, to increase their bottom line. Eg:

My job is to increase your bottom line. As a results-oriented professional copywriter, I know how to move prospects into your (not your competitor’s) paying customers when they’re ready to buy.

SECTION IV: The call to action. Ask them to do something – now!

Call today for your no-obligation consultation. I can be reached at:
PH: 000-111-1234
CELL: 111-222-3333
FAX: 222-333-4444

SECTION V: The P.S. (EVERY sales letter should have a P.S.). In this section, you can give a way a freebie (e-books are great for this) and/or reiterate a major benefit (eg, increase your bottom line by 15%).

Feel free to use a P.S. and a P.P.S.P.S.: With your free consultation, you receive a free e-booklet, “For Real Estate Professionals: 10 Ways to Turn Referrals Into Paying Customers.” This e-book is free, even if you don’t use my services.

5 Copywriting Tips for Your One-Page Letter

a) Use lots of white space and bold headings. Eg, between each section, create a bold heading that clues the reader in to what they’re about to read. Most people skim copy – especially from unfamiliar sources – this makes it much more likely to get read.

b) Write from a “what’s in it for the client” point of view instead of a “what’s in it for me” point of view. At every turn, reiterate how you can help them make more money, save more time, reach more prospects, etc. In business, most people either want to make more money or increase their referral ratio – these are safe objectives to state that you can help them with.

c) Make a connection: Eg, I read on your website; I heard in your seminar; I see from your brochure – everyone likes to feel that you have at least taken the time to know their business.

d) Give stats: This lends credibility to your “sales pitch.” It’s not just you saying x, a noted source can back up your contention.

e) Use a call to action: If you don’t ask them to do something, they may do nothing. So, use phrases like call today, log on to our website, subscribe to our newsletter, register for your free gift.

I guarantee you, if you follow the format outlined above, your direct mail and/or e-mail conversion rate will be higher, garnering you clients for years to come.

About The Author
Yuwanda Black is the publisher of THE business portal for and about the editorial and creative industries. First-hand freelance success stories, e-courses, job postings, resume tips, advice on the business of freelancing, and more! Launch a Profitable Freelance Writing Career in 30 Days or Less -- Guaranteed! Log on to to learn how.