Sunday, December 09, 2007

Christmas Gifts

Hi Everyone,
I'd like to suggest great Christmas gifts for the readers on your list, my books, of course. :)
You can find them on my website: http://www.telusplanet.net/public/go1c
or at Chronicler Publishing: http://www.chroniclerpublishing.com
I needn't say it, but I will: Books make great gifts; great books make greater gifts.
I do hope this helps with your Christmas shopping!!!:)

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Originals

William Hay's novel, The Originals, is the graphic story of a Canadian soldier of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry during World War I. Chronicler Publishing is delighted to present this well-researched novel to the reading public, especially to devotees of historical novels.
The Originals, although a novel, is historical accurate and brutally true to the battles that took place between the Allies and Germany during this war to end all wars.
The story is told through the eyes, ears, and mind of Bill Dawson, a veteran of the Boer War who believes that this new war will only last a few weeks, but to his horror drags on for four years and is like no other war that ever happened.
Although this is Hay's first novel, he is an award-winning author of short stories.
It is available from the publisher, Chronicler Publishing, and soon at Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and many other booksellers.
For you history buff, it is the perfect Christmas gift.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Forty Testoons

As editor of Chronicler Publishing I'd let to let everyone know that we have republished Alan Fisk's historical novel, Forty Testoons, which is the story of Father Ralph Fletcher who is hired by King Henry VII of England to go with the cod fishermen to Newfoundland in the year 1504 for forty pieces of silver know as testoons.
He overwinters with the crew that stays behind to take care of the equipment, etc. and becomes involved in a plot to replace the king with a Yorkist pretender.
Alan has recreated the culture and politics of the era with precision and detail including the Beothuk natives that lived on the island at this time.
The book is available from the Chronicler Publishing bookstore as well as Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Barnes and Noble, and may other online booksellers.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Draw Attention to the Words and Readers Squirm

Words that are not ordinary sound academish and snobby.

When writers spend too much attention to the words, they appear erudite and elitist; they make most readers uncomfortable and uneasy.

The best writers compose simply and plainly. They prefer the common word to the little known one; they choose the obvious to the obscure. In most cases this is the Anglo-Saxon derived word rather than the Latin originated word.

When writing, the writer must always keep in mind the intended reader. For the general populace that means simplicity, the common rather than the exceptional, the familiar rather than the unusual, the well-know rather than the strange. Of course this not mean the trite of hackneyed. It means a well-turned phrase, an appealing metaphor or simile.

This brings us to the concrete rather than the abstract; the exact rather than the approximate; the specific rather than the academic; the common sense rather than goobledygook. Simplicity reigns; complexity ‘sucks’.

What does all this mean? It means that the old adage “KISS” should be kept in mind at all times when writing. Keeping the choice of words simple and uncomplicated will keep writing powerful and potent. Good writing should not require the reader to run to the dictionary to find out what the writer meant.

Words that are not ordinary sound academish and snobby. They draw attention the words and make the reader squirm and uneasy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Concrete Words and Meaning

Concrete words of themselves are static and almost valueless; it is the connotations associated with words that give them meaning and significance. It is words’ connotations that the writer must be aware of and thus choose them carefully to pass on accurately and logically the import and gist of the writer’s notion.

Therefore, it is the implied meaning of the concrete word that must be considered and evaluate as the writer expresses the message to be delivered. In fiction, this can be subtle and clever as it impinges on the reader’s feelings and emotions. This is not to say that these choices are not important in non-fiction writing as well.

It is this intrusion and effect on the reader’s sentiments that give the writer’s ideas value and effect. Since each individual has a different connotation for words, the writer must choose them with care and circumspection so that the reader and the writer’s connotation have something in common.

Thus the concrete words must be chosen to express connotation as well as denotation. Denotation is, of course, the static sense of the word while connotation is concerned with all the peripheral meanings that only come by individual’s experiences and practices with the word.

It is the nuances of the words that give true meaning and sense to what the writer has written although this exchange can never be completely accurate as no two individual’s connotation of words is the same.

Great writers have this innate ability to choose words, particularly concrete words, that connect with the reader’s emotions. Of course, practice and thought can be developed.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Editor in Chief

Since I have become Editor-in-Chief for Chronicler Publishing, I have been too busy to do any posting on this blog. But I hope to be more regular now that the holiday season has begone.
So I am posting a short article that I hope will be useful to writers and future writers.

Concrete vs Abstract

Words can be classified into two categories: concrete and abstract. All writers use both type of words and both are appropriate depending on the writer’s purpose.

Concrete words are specific words that refer to definite persons, places, or things. The word ‘church’ refers to a general type of building, but ‘St. James Catholic Church’ indicates a certain edifice and thus it brings to mind a church that one can see.

Abstract words, on the other hand, are used to discuss general ideas as in the above example. The word ‘church’ does not bring to mind a specific building nor does it create an image in one’s mind. It is a common word but does not picture a particular image in the readers mind. Other abstract words generate an idea, an impression, or a concept that has no specific or tangible existence, so some words are more intangible than others.

Of course, all words have their use. The job of the writer is to use the words appropriate to the message to be sent. If a writer wants to engage the senses, then the choice is concrete words; if the author wants to deal with broad ideas, then abstract words are more suitable.

In today’s writing, fiction or non-fiction, the use of concrete words rather than abstract words is preferred, especially in literature or articles. Since concrete words deal with the senses, they are more fitting for fiction.

Strunk and White in The Elements of Style state “Use definite, specific, and concrete language.” because these words call up pictures that use the senses.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Back on Track

I was away on an European bus tour for most of April, and as a result my work piled up to the extent that I'm now up to date.
The bus tour was an interesting experience as we covered eight countries: Czech Republish, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Italy, and Austria. Actually, it was a little too much in such a short time, but for the most part extremely exciting as I had never visited any part of Europe before.
Now I'm back at work catching up on a number of projects as well as reviewing several submissions that came in while I was away; they require decisions of acceptance or rejection.
One of my greatest beefs is the number of submission that do not follow our guidelines or the genre of books that we publish. These, of course, are rejected immediately.
I will try to submit articles that I think writers should consider in their work.
It's great to be back!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Emotions and Thoughts

Most readers read for emotion, to satisfy an innate desire to feel as the characters in the novel. Too much attention to thoughts will weary the reader, but consideration of feelings will draw the reader in.

Thoughts are for the most part abstract and hard to pin down because thinking is an individual phenomenon, while feelings are universal. Everyone has experience and knows anger, frustration, elation, happiness, and all the other sentiments of the human condition, while thoughts, opinions, views, beliefs, and faith are personal and private.

Writers should concentrate on the emotions of the reader since they are easier to understand. Choose the right words to connect with those feelings is the author’s greatest obstacle. Great writers have that ability or have developed it. The classics are just that because they activate and generate our deepest passions through the choice of words.

Thoughts and ideas because of their ambiguity and uncertainty should be used sparingly. The views, beliefs, and opinions of the author must be transmitted through the emotions portrayed through the writing rather than by way of a simple statement of concepts and outlook.

Think of the great fiction books that one has read and the vision of the author comes from the emotions and sentiments portrayed because the focus is on feelings rather than thought. Why is Dicken’s A Christmas Carol still as popular as the day it was published?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Making the Reader Squirm

Words that are not ordinary sound academish and snobby.

When writers spend too much attention to the words, they appear erudite and elitist; they make most readers uncomfortable and uneasy.

The best writers compose simply and plainly. They prefer the common word to the little known one; they choose the obvious to the obscure. In most cases this is the Anglo-Saxon derived word rather than the Latin originated word.

When writing, the writer must always keep in mind the intended reader. For the general populace that means simplicity, the common rather than the exceptional, the familiar rather than the unusual, the well-know rather than the strange. Of course this not mean the trite of hackneyed. It means a well-turned phrase, an appealing metaphor or simile.

This brings us to the concrete rather than the abstract; the exact rather than the approximate; the specific rather than the academic; the common sense rather than goobledygook. Simplicity reigns; complexity ‘sucks’.

What does all this mean? It means that the old adage “KISS” should be kept in mind at all times when writing. Keeping the choice of words simple and uncomplicated will keep writing powerful and potent. Good writing should not require the reader to run to the dictionary to find out what the writer meant.

Words that are not ordinary sound academish and snobby. They draw attention the words and make the reader squirm and uneasy.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Meaning and Value

Concrete words of themselves are static and almost valueless; it is the connotations associated with words that give them meaning and significance. It is words’ connotations that the writer must be aware of and thus choose them carefully to pass on accurately and logically the import and gist of the writer’s notion.

Therefore, it is the implied meaning of the concrete word that must be considered and evaluate as the writer expresses the message to be delivered. In fiction, this can be subtle and clever as it impinges on the reader’s feelings and emotions. This is not to say that these choices are not important in non-fiction writing as well.

It is this intrusion and effect on the reader’s sentiments that give the writer’s ideas value and effect. Since each individual has a different connotation for words, the writer must choose them with care and circumspection so that the reader and the writer’s connotation have something in common.

Thus the concrete words must be chosen to express connotation as well as denotation. Denotation is, of course, the static sense of the word while connotation is concerned with all the peripheral meanings that only come by individual’s experiences and practices with the word.

It is the nuances of the words that give true meaning and sense to what the writer has written although this exchange can never be completely accurate as no two individual’s connotation of words is the same.

Great writers have this innate ability to choose words, particularly concrete words, that connect with the reader’s emotions. Of course, practice and thought can be developed.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Engaging the Senses

Words can be classified into two categories: concrete and abstract. All writers use both type of words and both are appropriate depending on the writer’s purpose.

Concrete words are specific words that refer to definite persons, places, or things. The word ‘church’ refers to a general type of building, but ‘St. James Catholic Church’ indicates a certain edifice and thus it brings to mind a church that one can see.

Abstract words, on the other hand, are used to discuss general ideas as in the above example. The word ‘church’ does not bring to mind a specific building nor does it create an image in one’s mind. It is a common word but does not picture a particular image in the readers mind. Other abstract words generate an idea, an impression, or a concept that has no specific or tangible existence, so some words are more intangible than others.

Of course, all words have their use. The job of the writer is to use the words appropriate to the message to be sent. If a writer wants to engage the senses, then the choice is concrete words; if the author wants to deal with broad ideas, then abstract words are more suitable.

In today’s writing, fiction or non-fiction, the use of concrete words rather than abstract words is preferred, especially in literature or articles. Since concrete words deal with the senses, they are more fitting for fiction.

Strunk and White in The Elements of Style state “Use definite, specific, and concrete language.” because these words call up pictures that use the senses.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Slippery Part

Writing is the process of expressing thoughts into words. Since a thought is that which is in the one’s mind and not necessarily related to words, that is the writer’s difficulty because words are not feelings. Therefore, the writer must choose words that will create emotions, sentiments, and passion in the reader.

This requires insight, which is the keen discernment or understanding of an idea, an impression, a concept, a belief and/or an objective, that is a thought process that does not require words because it expresses feelings that do not need language but require experiences. Of course, these experiences are different for each individual and certainly different for the writer and the reader. Words must be used to describe this insight. This sounds difficult and it is. This is always the writer’s quandary, choosing the appropriate words to express the thoughts or feelings that the writer wishes to convey.

Thoughts and feelings are interconnected, but they do not require a vocabulary to exist. To express a thought or a feeling adequately with words is the complicated part of writing since words can never completely convey all the nuances of a thought. Thus the writer’s effort is always inadequate although good writers have the ability to almost reproduce the insight that started the communication evolution.

Insightful writing almost approaches the complete understanding of the thought or feeling the author is attempting to evoke but it never achieves complete agreement. The reader can experience more or less than the writer intended due to interpretation of the experience the writer intended to communicate.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Mysterious Factors

Most authors write because they must; their need to communicate is a deep-rooted instinct that they neither understand nor even realize. The writer that possesses this quality is a born writer.

What are the factors that are involved in such a writer? They are many and mysterious, hidden somewhere in the individual’s psyche. One is a need to express oneself in a way that is satisfying and fulfilling; another is to release the tension that is present when expression is constrained—writing releases that pressure; another is the search for the meaning of life, its physicality, its philosophy, its spirituality, and its psychology.

In some writers all of these needs are present which makes for a great writer. If one studies their writing these desires are apparent, but more important is their understanding of their readers and the reason why they read.

Thus, the most significant feature is sensitivity for the inner quality of people, places, and things as well as the fleeting essence of ideas, thoughts, and feelings that circulate through an inquisitive mind. This ability to express this empathy gives the writer a connection with the reader.

Writing intuitively is an aptitude and a talent that is the soul of the writer. For some it is instinctive; for others is can be acquire by effort and analysis of their own work as well as that of other writers. But most important is to develop a deep feeling for the nature of things. This, then is the writer’s soul and his or her raison d’étre.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Continuing the first chapter

The first chapter of my latest novel is coming along well. the first chapter is The Decision, and my protagonist, sixteen-year-old Peter O'Liam has decided to quit school and join the work force although his parents, his teacher, and his friends advise against it.
My quota of a thousand words a day has been adhered to so the chapter is well on its way. Although this is the first draft and will require re-writing, it feels exhilarating to be writing a novel again.

Vivid Nouns and Verbs

Although adjectives and adverbs are indispensable part of speech, they should not be substituted for strong, exact, and precise nouns or powerful, animated, and specific verbs. The English language is replete with nouns and verbs that do not need adjectives and adverbs to embellish the language. Certainly, adjectives and adverbs have their place in writing, but they should be used sparingly for maximum effect.

Nouns have several forms: singular and plural, compound, possessive, and gender. Most singular nouns form the plural by adding “s” but there are exceptions: some add “es”, others change the “y” to “i” before adding “es”, while still others change the ending entirely as in “phenomenon” that becomes “phenomena”.

Compound nouns are two words written as one, as two, or hyphenated. Examples are football, pine tree, and father-in-law.

Possessive nouns are usually written with an apostrophe “S”, but plurals ending in “s” have only and apostrophe added.

Nouns often indicate gender with a different word such as “actor” and “actress” although today usually one word is used for both genders.

As well, nouns belong to several classes: proper, nouns, concrete, abstract, collective, mass, and count. Proper nouns are the name of a particular person, place, or thing and always have a capital letter while common nouns indicate a general person, place, or thing and are written in lower case letters.

Concrete nouns name objects that can be seen or touched; abstract nouns name qualities, actions, or ideas that are perceived mentally. Collective nouns name groupings of individuals, but mass nouns masses not defined as individual units. Finally we have count nouns that name things perceived as individual units such as “car,” “shelf,” or “pencil.”

An exact, precise noun does not need a supporting adjective; it provided the picture on its own. This is where the concrete noun rather than the abstract shines although abstract nouns are needed to indicate qualities, actions, or ideas, but they must be chose with care and precision.

Similarly with verbs, the choice of an exact verb in the correct tense is important for strong writing. Many writers have no trouble with the present tense or future, but the past and the past perfect do cause trouble. For immediacy in writing avoid the frequent use of the past perfect. Usually the simple past can be substituted to make for more powerful writing. Verbs are probably the most difficult words to choose for a variety or reasons; one, of course, is the tendency to convert nouns into verbs. Like the noun, an exact verb does not need a supporting adverb to express ideas adequately.

So the best advice is to edit writing so that it is mostly nouns and verbs and uses adjectives and adverbs sparingly.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Expository Prose

Expository prose is meant to expound, explain, or appraise analytically. Thus it should be concise, precise, and clear. It should use language that does not rely on qualifiers such as rather, little, pretty, very and others to make its meaning exact and meticulous.

Qualifiers are adjectives or adverbs added to another word to qualify or limit its meaning, but the common ones weaken the writer’s work. In the sentence “It was rather cold,” the qualifier does little to tell us how cold it was. ‘Little’, ‘pretty’, or ‘very’ are others that tell us nothing about how cold it was. So, writers should eliminate such qualifiers from their work, especially in expository prose.

As these common qualifiers do little to illuminate and clarify the author’s intended meaning they make the writing trite, commonplace, and dull. Of course, clichéd writing does not encourage the reader to appreciate what the author is trying to expound or illustrate so one must be careful not to go too far the other way and appear superior or snobby.

Well chosen nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs do a better job. They make the writing more precise, more vital, more original, and more unique. Like all good writing, the choice of words is paramount. Since more exact adjectives and adverbs do not require qualifiers, they reduce the verbiage making a style that is fluid and graceful.

Thus avoiding qualifiers improves the author’s style and reasoning.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The First Chapter

Today, I start the first chapter of my latest novel. Friday I wrote the first paragraph that turned into the first scene of over one thousand words, but today I will review that and continue with the beginning of a new book and the first chapter.
My protagonist is Peter O'Liam, a young Irishman who on his sixteenth birthday makes the momentous decision to quit school, leave his family, and seek his fortune elsewhere. The time is 1936 and the place is his parents' farm in central Alberta near the small hamlet of Evansburg at the height of the Great Depression.
That's what happened in the first scene.
Today his story continues.

No Bureaucratese

More and more in today’s writing one sees what is known as bureaucratese, the use of obscure and pedantic vocabulary. It can be found in government, corporation, and academic reports where it appears to be to impress rather than to inform. Pick up any government report, corporation memo, or academic thesis and one will find this kind of writing.

It would appear that this kind of writing is meant more to confuse, to befuddle, and to avoid clear, concise, and precise writing. Often known as ‘gobbledygook’, it rarely does little to clarify, to illuminate, and to elucidate the writer’s thoughts.

Perhaps it is not meant to.

If a writer wants to tap into the greatest readership, one must stick to the simplest word, the uncomplicated sentence, the plain paragraph, and shortest composition to get the idea, the point, or the action across. Writing for the Internet has made this design more prevalent than ever before because it is for the masses, the common reader so it must be exact, specific, and clear; readers today do not have time to decipher bureaucratese.

As always, good writing is simple and clear; if a simple word can replace an obscure word it should be used; if a simple sentence can substitute for a compound-complex sentence, then it should; if a simple paragraph can supplant a convoluted one, then it must. Wordiness and long-winded sentences and paragraphs should be avoided.

The old adage “Keep it simple, stupid” should apply to all writing.

Friday, March 02, 2007

A New Novel

During the past two week I have planned a new historical novel based on the history of the Province of Alberta covering the period from 1926 to 1950, a period in which the province saw an unprecidented growth in its economy, culture, and life style. This period takes in the Great Depression, World War !!, Oil Exploration and Discovery, all of which impinged on the daily life of its citizens.
As usual, I start with the historical events and then the characters that were a part of these happenings. After the characters, the plot and story line were developed and now comes the big decision of how and where to start the story.
That is today's challenge.

Colloquial Qualifiers

Colloquial qualifiers should never be used in writing for emphasis. Strong words—nouns and adjectives—are available. Using qualifiers such as very, real, rather, and little in phrases such as “very good,” “real cold,” “rather clean,” and “little early,” or similar phrases indicate laziness on the part of the writer to choose a stronger noun, a stronger adjective, or strong adverb.

These and other common qualifier used in colloquial speech weaken writing, making it trite and commonplace. Although these words have a place in writing, they should not be used for emphasis. They should be used for their genuine meaning and not as a crutch in place of a more meaningful and stronger word.

Use the word ‘very’ sparingly and seldom. Its overuse, both in writing and speaking, should be avoided as much as possible. There are better words to use.

Strunk and White, in The Elements of Style, say that these mundane qualifiers are like leeches that suck the blood of words. They even say we are ‘pretty’ sure to violate that rule, and they do so with tongue in cheek.

Every writer should check his composition for these qualifiers and make the necessary changes. This is always a part of re-writing and revising. Remember that good writing is precise and exact, avoiding the trite and mundane.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Allure of Words

Writers, when using description, often forget that the purpose is to create a mental picture for the reader and not to have words overwhelm that function. Often words overwhelm this function as the writer uses it to show their love of words for their own sake.

Description should not be secondary to word choice; it should serve its primary reason: to create a mental picture. Only when it creates the desired mental picture is it effective.

Some writers use description to show their erudition, their knowledge of words, their vocabulary, and ability. When words intrude upon this function, then they tend to decorate rather than illuminate. Thus a writer must be ever vigilant that one does not befuddle the reader with an obtuse choice of words. The old adage, Keep It Simple Stupid, is worthwhile to consider. All the best writers adhere to that rule so their descriptions are clear, exact, and effective.

Some writers feel that description must overwhelm the senses when in reality they should use them to draw the reader into the scene, the atmosphere, and the mood that the writer is trying to create. It must be done subtly, cunningly, and unobtrusively, making sure that the words do not draw undue attention to passage.

Words should not be used to decorate.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Agile Alliterations

Many writers like to show off their erudition with devices that confuse rather than enlighten. These writers use alliterations and foreign words, phrases, or expressions when good English equivalents are available.

Avoid the use of fancy alliterations. The writer may think that they sound learned when they do nothing more than bewilder the reader. That does not mean that all alliterations should be avoided; only those meant to dazzle and amaze the reader with the writer’s ingenuity. Obviously an apt alliteration can add pizzazz to a composition, but it must be used judiciously, not to overwhelm the reader.

Another fault is the use of foreign words or phrases that do nothing to enhance the writing but make it difficult for the reader to get at the crux of the writer’s meaning. Sometimes the English language has no counterpart; then such use is acceptable if it is obvious that the reader will understand the writer’s intent. Usually, though, the English language does have a comparable word, phrase, or expression and that is what should be used.

Avoid any language that does not serve the purpose of clear, precise, and concise communication. As well, it should place the writer in the background rather than draw attention to his or her persona. If you are writing for the general public, keep it unpretentious and straightforward without complex sentence structure and literary vocabulary as well as decorative alliteration.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Avoid Jargon

Words are the writer’s main tool, but they must be used with care and circumspection. Words should not be used to impress in a style that is stinted, obtuse, and academic. Pedantic writing is boring and unimaginative, lacking in imagination and fancy and usually means an unwise choice of words. Choose the simple, mundane word over the ambiguous, exotic to be understood and explicit.

The writer must remember that words are used for communication, be it narrative, descriptive, argumentative, or whimsical. Thus the content—the meaning, the message—is primary and must always be kept in mind when writing.

Information and meaning must take precedence over word choice. As E.B. White writes in The Elements of Style, use definite, specific, concrete language; this, of course, means using precise, simple words rather than obscure, vague words that require the reader to run to the dictionary to find out what the author had in mind. Clowning with words, and the overuse of jargon is not the way to improve one’s style.

Of course, this does not mean that flights of imagination should be avoided. Apt figures of speech—metaphors, similes particularly—can increase exactness as well as adding vividness to the writing. They are an effective way to make meaning concrete.

This kind of whimsy or fancy can elevate an article, an essay, a short story, or a novel to masterpiece status.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Choosing Words

The words that writers choose are always important because they involve syntax, style, and comprehension, and the latter is the most important. The others will follow if the author keeps that in mind. This means that writers should stick to words they know.

If writers has to use a dictionary or a thesaurus, that means that they do not know the word. They have not experienced its denotations and particularly its connotations. For a true understanding of a word it must be a part of the active as well as the passive vocabulary. One knows many more words than are used in speech, and these passive words are as important as the active ones. These are the words to use.

This does not mean that you should never use the dictionary or the thesaurus, but it does mean that they should be used to check, to clarify, and to refine the composition. If any doubt exists of the words appropriateness, it should not be used. The insight will not be there.

A study of the great writers will make it apparent that they knew and understood the words they used. They considered carefully the words, and they studied words until they became a part of their vocabulary, both passive and active. Of course, this means that the writer is always studying words, always interested in words, always using new words, maybe even creating some.

Nevertheless, the old adage “Keep It Simple Stupid” is an important one for writers when it comes to choosing words.

cgoulet@chroniclerpublishing.com

http://www.chroniclerpublishing.com


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Wearing Another's Shoes

A writer should never try to imitate another’s style because it will not work. Since each writer is a unique individual that includes how he or she puts words together to express ideas that are exclusive to them. That is his or her distinctive way of expression. This individuality comes from the writer’s background, education, culture, and lifestyle. All of these influence the way in which a person articulates.

It is essential and imperative that each writer finds and develops his or her manner of expression, acquires his or her own style. This is what gives the writing originality.

This does not mean that the writer should ignore grammar, spelling, or word choice. Although language is continually evolving and acceptable customs change, it is important to adhere to the basics if one is to be understood and comprehended. How one puts the words together is what constitutes style.

It is this distinctiveness that must be developed, not by imitation, but by practice. The more one writes without thought of simulation, the more one’s own style matures and becomes recognizable and distinctive, his or her own.

To develop one’s own style, one should read widely, but without the intention to ape or mimic any other writer’s manner. Of course, as important is writing; it must be practiced on a continual basis, every day, often. From this eclectic source will come the writer’s own unique style that will fit better than any duplication of another’s method.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Finding the Right Word

Finding the right word to express an idea or an emotion has always been the writer’s nemesis. Seldom does the word chosen seem right.

To chose the right word the writer must be convince of his or her own feelings. Unless the writer is sure of how he or she is convinced of an idea, or how he or she understands an emotion it is impossible to choose the exact word to express that idea or that sensation.

It follows that the writer’s sentiment about the idea or feeling must be intense and sincere. If they are then the words to express it genuinely and honest will come. But this does not mean that they do not require revision and circumspection. Each word must be thought of carefully and explored for naturalness.

This search delves into the writer’s experience, vocabulary, and then the thesaurus, but this is to recall words that have been experienced and are part of the active vocabulary. Words that are part of the passive or known vocabulary should not be used, as they do not have the familiarity of the active vocabulary.

The dictionary should not be used to find the right word unless it is used to augment the knowledge that the writer already has about the word. Just as the dictionary should not be used to dig up the right word, the thesaurus should only be used to recall the right word that is a part of the active vocabulary.

The right word must always be experienced before it should be used.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Style

The style is the author and results from his or her chose of words. Good style results from a wise chose of words while poor style occurs from poor word choice.

Since words are the language, the words used by the writer are important; they decide the author’s style that should be to convey ideas and feelings in the best way possible. Strunk and White condense it down to two rules: 1. Use definite, specific, and concert words. 2. Omit needless words.

What are definite, specific, and concrete words? Definite means explicit, open, and plain. In other words, the simple, ordinary word, the word that most people use every day should be used. Specific means exact, and what can be more exact than the word in common usage that has been tested in time. Concrete means real, and what can be more real that words that are used every day by millions of people.

Good style omits the needless words. It condenses writing to its most basic structure making it vigorous and concise. Avoid many common expressions such as ‘the reason why is that’ that can be reduced to one word ‘because.’

Thus good style requires that the writer consider carefully and revise wisely the words chosen. The way the words are put together is the author’s style.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Simplicity

The inadequacy of words becomes most apparent when the writer tries to express ideas and feelings that are deep and thoughtful, that touch the most intense human emotions and profound values.

At the time, words to express exactly what the author wants to convey become difficult to choose because the denotations and connotations of the words interferes with the feelings or ideas to be described, explained, or illustrated.

That is when words lack the intensity, the power, and the rigor that the author wishes to convey. That is when the writer struggles to find the right words, the precise words, and the exact words and yet cannot find them because that is the inadequacy of vocabulary.

Since the correct word cannot be found, often the author resorts to the obscure, the ambiguous, and the little know, the academic, or scholarly word to give the appearance of erudition, but which, in effect, does just the opposite. It clouds the meaning to be conveyed rather than clarify it.

Simplicity is the key. Simple word tend to be more exact, more understood, and with greater common denotations and connotations. Although inadequate, they are superior to the pretentious, elaborate, the coy and the cute as Strunk and White tell us.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Hopelessly Inadequate

As everyone knows, words are the main means of expression. For a writer they are his or her stock in trade, but they are hopelessly inadequate for the job expected of them. Why?

First, words have denotations that continually change due to the way people use them. Since language is always evolving with the progress of culture, new meanings are continually added to old words. As well, new words are coined to fit the changes in technology, in location, and in lifestyle.

Second, words convey different meanings to persons because their experience is exclusive depending upon their encounter with each word. These connotations are emotional responses to the word that can be positive, negative, or neutral although seldom are they neutral. That is why writers and speakers are partial to certain words and have an aversion to others. Writers, like all people, have favorite words and often use them indiscrimately.

As a result, words are hopelessly inadequate to express exactly what the writer is trying to convey; they can never express precisely the idea, the feeling, the view, and even the fact the writer wishes to relay to the reader. So it is very important that the writer choose words carefully and thoughtfully.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A Blunt Nail

A writer’s main tool is words, but words never express exactly the idea the writer has in mind because words have denotations and connotations. Connotations are what cause the trouble with exact expression as each individual experiences the word relative to acquired knowledge, thus the word has a different mean for each person.

Each reader will interpret what the writer has written due to the fact that his or her life experience is different for the words used. Shakespeare found words so inadequate, he coined his own and added many to the English vocabulary.

For this reason the writer must choose his words with care. Some words are too precise; others are too general. Words that are too exact do not convey the idea any more than do words that are too general. Getting the right word is all important, and that is the reason that most writers revise and edit their word until it almost conveys the idea that they have in mind.

Unfortunately the meanings—the denotation and connotation—change over time. A study of the etymology of almost every word in the English language will reveal this. One example is the word “awful” which at one time meant ‘full of awe'. Now it has almost the opposite meaning ‘ugly, very bad’.

Choosing the right word is most important if the writer is to convey exactly, or exactly as possible, the idea in mind.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Drastic Measures

A writer’s worst fear is writer’s block, the time when the mind goes blank whenever the time to write approaches. This can occur whether the writer is a freelancer or for hire writer. With the freelancer, the consequences may not be as grave as for the one whose job is writing and who depends on it for sustenance, but it can be just as traumatic.

Drinking hard liquor will not solve the problem although many writers have used that as a solution. Worrying about it is certainly not the answer, nor is fretting and being miserable. Telling friends and colleagues about your predicament may bring some sympathy, but no resolution. So what is one to do?

The most drastic measure may be to seek another vocation if it is your day job, probably far from the journalism field if you are a member of the press or from the advertising line of work if you are a copywriter. If writing is your avocation, then abandoning it may not be as drastic financial, but it may be just as traumatic, even more so. Thus any activity, other than writing is necessary.

If one is meant to be a writer, the desire will return; the ideas will return; the words will return; and the composition will be accomplished. So writer’s block may be a blessing in disguise. Either you are a writer or you are not, and in any case, writer’s block will be overcome.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Braking Writer's Block

Techniques for breaking writer’s block

Every writer, young or old, amateur or professional, will experience that dreaded of all possibilities—writer’s block— that time when ideas are absent, words will not come, and the writer’s confidence is shaken.

What can the writer do? Here are a few suggestions that might be fitted to each writer’s situation.

1. Writer fast and free—write anything. Even this will not work some time.

2. Write in a journal. Many writers use this to assure that they will have something to say.

3. Talk into a tape recorder and play it back; then write it down.

4. Review old material, a discarded article, or any other manuscript.

5. Switch to an entirely different genre.

6. Do something physical. Take a walk, play a game, do push-ups. Get you mind off writing.

7. Read a new article, a new story, or a new book.

8. Catch up on your bookkeeping.

9. Talk to a writer friend.

10. Work on your website, or build one.

11. Write your great ideas down.

12. Be careful where you stop—stop your daily writing before whatever you are writing is finished.

Not all these techniques will work for you, but one might although you must remember that writing involves hard work and dedication, seldom inspiration.

Keep writing!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Writer's Block

Writer’s block is the bane of most writers

All writers fear the curse of writer’s block—the inability to put thoughts to paper, the failure to compose a sentence that expresses a coherent thought, or the collapse of all mental activity dealing with composition.

Three reasons are the cause. The first is the result of the writer trying to express ideas and opinions that are foreign to the person’s background and traditions. When that occurs, the mind refuses to function.

Another explanation is that the author is trying to write about a topic or subject matter that does not interest him or her; it does not create a curiosity, an inquisitiveness that drives the psyche to explore.

Often it is because the writer has nothing to communicate to the intended reader. If the writer has nothing to impart, then no words can express that lack and as a result no words come.

And finally, the lack of enthusiasm for the topic is the most common reason for the lack of ability to put thoughts to paper or into the computer. If the writer lacks fervor for what he or she is trying to communicate, how can one become excite about the task.

Writer’s block is nothing more that beating one’s brains against a dead end.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Challenging Stories

A story that doesn’t challenge the writer won’t challenge the reader either.

Every writing whether it is an article, an essay, a short story, or a novel must challenge the author if it is to challenge the reader, and if it does not do this, then it will be ignored and disregarded.

How must it challenge the writer? It must do so on several levels. First the topic must be one that interests the author. If the author writes without fascination for his or her subject, it will quickly become apparent. The second challenge is to write in a style that is appropriate to the subject, and third, the information must be relevant, appropriate, and significant.

If the writing does all this for the author, then it will do as much for the reader. Of course, it is significant that not all writing will do this to all readers; much depends on the reader’s curiosity, attention, and beliefs. Nevertheless, the writing must appeal to enough readers to be acceptable.

That is every writer’s challenge: to excite, to inform, to convince, and to confront the reader with ideas that are stimulating, inspiring, and thought-provoking. If the writer does that he or she is successful.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Write With Enthusiasm

Put enthusiasm into your writing.

Writing that lacks passion and fervor is dull and uninteresting. The writer will be short of the desire to make the work the best it can possibly be. Of course, that will show through in the writing; readers cannot be fooled.

What is this enthusiasm? It is an expression of the writer’s worst fear, greatest anger, or deepest passion. These feelings must be apparent in the writer’s work. It can be in nonfiction and fiction. A sports writer must be devoted to athletics as a participant as well as an observer. A novelist must believe in the premise of his or her story.

This passion for the idea must be deep-rooted and original. It must flow from the writer’s experience and knowledge, but that does not mean that it cannot be cultivated and nurtured. With this affinity and empathy, the writer must dedicate him or her to development of the focus by continual practice. Nor does this mean that the subject matter must be narrow and circumscribed; it means that the writer must expose his or her worst fear, anger, and passion.

Where does this passion become apparent in a writer’s work? It appears in the interests of the author—his or her beliefs, convictions, culture, and life-style. From this comes the choice of record: article, essay, short story, novel, etc. Once the form is chosen, and then it is a matter of style, syntax, grammar, etc.

This becomes a love of expression, subject matter, issue and conviction. A writer must be devoted to words, their meanings, their denotations, their connotations, and their resonance. Through words the subject matter is expressed with the biases and the partiality that is the author’s passion. Without it writing lacks conviction.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Taking Risks

If a writer is to succeed he or she must take risks. What are these risks?

One of the first risks is the usage of time. If the idea of success is to write for one’s own satisfaction only, then writing is but a hobby, but if one is interested in being recognized as a writer, and then other risks must be addressed.

The first one is the fear of rejection—rejection by peers, rejection by editors, and finally, rejection by readers. The first can be the most important: if a writer presents his or her work to fellow writers and they are too critical, it can have a detrimental effect on the author, often to the point that the writer abandons his or her dream.

An important rejection is that by editors, but it must be realized that the editor has not rejected the writer, only that particular work. Many reasons are possible: not appropriate, not needed at the time, overlooked, and many others. All writers have their work rejected so one must look for another market.

If the work is published, then the reader comes into play. Will they buy and read it? If they do, will they consider it or simply snub it?

Another risk is writing what you believe in. If the writer is to succeed, one must be convinced that what he or she says is important to them. Otherwise, the writing will lack sincerity and authenticity.

Once the work is written, it is important to get it out to readers and that can involve sending it to appropriate publications whether in the trade online or otherwise. Do not give up. If the writer believes that the work is significant then it must be placed before readers.

This mean that the writer must promote it with every means at his or her disposal, and many exist: newspapers, word of mouth, business cards, brochures, web sites, blogs, etc., to name a few.

Probably the greatest risk is believing in one’s self. Most writers have vulnerable egos thus it’s important to develop a positive attitude to one’s work. If the writer believes in his ability and effort then the battle is won.

Friday, January 26, 2007

A Mode of Transportation

Great writing transports one vicariously to realms that the reader would not otherwise experience.

One of these areas is physical: ancient, modern, or futuristic. A great writer can bring the past into the present and make the reader experience the culture, the locale, the people of the time. Jean Auel’s great novels come to mind.

Another region is the pschological realm: Again great writing conveys us into the minds of characters giving us a better understanding of our motives, our passions, our wants, and our needs. Crime and Punishment is a good example.

Then there is the sociological realm where great writing gets the reader involved in the world of crime, or romance, or poverty, or wealth, and many other social situations, problems and solutions. Charles Dickens was such a writer.

The cultural region is another area where great writing has an impact, particularly authors from other ethnicities that help us to understand the mores and viewpoints that are different.

Finally we enter the political sphere. Here again, great writing points out the good and bad of different ideologies, political parties, governments. It introduces us to the search for power and influence, the good and the bad, the acceptable and the unacceptable.

Great writing occurs in fiction, non-fiction, poetry, etc. Great writers abound, and each reader has his or her favorite.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Signposts

All writers should use a plan whether written or reflection. This includes the initial idea, the content or main points, and the conclusion whether it is an article, a short story, a chapter, or a complete novel.

Let us look at the article. This starts with main idea that is engendered in the title. Then the content is considered: the main points that will make up the article. All that is left to do now is to fill in the details of each line of reasoning. Leave it for a few days before editing, revising, and rewriting. The article is done.

Similarly, the short story starts with the intent and then the character who has a desire or want that is stymied by some obstacle. As the character attempts to overcome the obstacle, more complications occur until defeat seems the only possibility, but defeat is turned into success or disaster, success if the short story is a comedy and disaster if it is a tragedy.

The chapter of a novel follows a similar plan, but it is not as complete as the short story, since the tale or narrative must go on. The chapter is like one event in the short story with its aspiration, its impediment, its complication, and its achievement or downfall.

Even the novel follows a similar development. Novels can emphasize plot or character but in either case, the protagonist meets an antagonist that can be another human, an belief, or nature that encumber and frustrated him or her. The effort to overcome increases the difficulty rather than alleviate it, resulting in further complexity until a solution is found or the protagonist is overwhelmed.

Basically, all writing follows a similar scheme. Thus, only the details are different for each composition, be it an article, a short story, a chapter, or a novel.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Open a Vein

If you want to be a writer, you must write and that requires sitting at your typewriter or computer and writing although it may not be easy. That also means avoiding all distractions that will keep one from writing—visitors, friends, relatives, television, radio, and anything that will keep the writer from concentrating on the task.

Although many writers wait for inspiration before they start writing, that is a sure way to bring about writer’s block. Inspiration only comes with dedication, concentration, planning, and visualization. If one looks at the work habits of successful writers, it is one of habits, habits established by determination and persistence that require surrender to a timetable of work, a forfeit of time to write. That time must be rigidly adhered to be it an hour or several hours a day.

Setting a time each day is not always easy, but it must be done if one is to become a professional, published writer. During that time nothing must interfere with writing. It is not the time to edit, rewrite, revise, or research. It must be set aside for writing, for putting words to paper or to screen. Discipline is the keyword here and self-control must be achieved inflexibly. Sounds tough? Well, it is! Some beginning writers get up earlier and spend and hour or two before their day job; others prefer time before retiring for the night; while still others steal a few minutes several times through out the day. Whatever is chosen must be adhered to strictly.

This, of course is where dedication and concentration become most important. One must decide if they really want to be a writer since it is a lonely introspection activity, it is not for everyone. Some think it is glamorous, but that part of the profession is not; it must be done alone and isolated, alone with one’s ideas and thoughts, isolated from other people in order to express those ideas and thoughts. Those who want to be, and that is almost every person the writer meets, envy writing and writers.

Writing is not easy for most writers. It is like opening up a vein and letting the blood gush forth…or dribble out. It can be painful or exhilarating. Fortunately, most of the time it is stimulating, heady, and more so when it is published and enjoyed by others.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Writing is Desperate 'Work'

Some writers complain that writing is arduous work requiring long hours and little pay, which is often true especially for freelance fiction writers. Today, everyone wants to be a writer and with word processors and computers it is easy to put thoughts down, but it is not always effortless to be published unless one self-publishes or uses a vanity press.

Nevertheless, writing although demanding, is not life threatening. Yes, it is a lonely occupation as the writer sits alone at the keyboard and pours forth his/her ideas. Many more occupations or vocations are more dangerous than sitting before a monitor and looking at the screen as letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, and composition unfold before the writer’s eyes. The most dangerous effects are eye strain, muscle fatigue, and carpal ?. Sometimes, back strain is an occupational hazard due to poor posture or poor equipment, it’s not like the military where digging a trench under fire can be common.

Writing, on the other hand, is fulfilling in some way. Some write for money, some for recognition, some for enjoyment, and others to leave a legacy, usually a book that will outlive them or be passed on to their progeny. Most write because the like to express themselves in a way that is unique and satisfying. In any case, the writer feels some need that must be satisfied.

Writing as a career does have it hazards. If it is needed to provide revenue to maintain life, it can be frustrating. Writers who are salaried find that the pay is low and usually insufficient although over time it may rise if the writer stays long enough with the employer be it a newspaper, a magazine, a trade, or other organizations that uses the services of a writer. Freelancers probably are more thwarted in their attempts to earn a satsifying income. Their earnings usually fluctuate greatly of a year.

Even so, all writers need to be fulfilled and satisfied by what they do whether they are salaried, freelance, or writing for personal gratification. They must feel that the writing life is a good life!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Take a Break

Writing is a strenuous creative activity, and like physical activity it produces fatigue that requires rejuvenation and renewal, so when the mind is blocked, it is time to rest it. Many writers call this ‘writer’s block’ but others claim that no such state exists.

One remedy of mental fatigue is physical activity. Most consider this to be participation in some competitive sport, but that is not necessary. Any physical activity will suffice: gardening, calisthenics, aerobics, swimming, skating, skiing, and most of all walking. Probably walking is the best physical activity for most people because it avoids injury, muscle soreness, and the purchase of elaborate equipment.

Physical activity rests the mind from the creative process of writing, at least of the mental process of placing words, ideas, and topics on the screen or paper. It frees the mind from the stress of thought that is a real tension and allows the imagination to escalate. Often, during these periods of physical activity inspiration flourishes with an epiphany effect; a writing problem is solved, a new market is realized, or a new project evolves.

So if you hate sports, take up walking, the best exercise, and one that the body is equipped to do. Unlike running, it does not jar the joints, it does not accumulate uric acid in the muscles, but it does develop the lungs and heart.

Try it, and you will see that the creative process is enhanced and developed by this break from writing.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Groundbreaking Work

Every writer knows that the urge to write is not always present. As a result, the dedicated writer writes anyway. Professional writers face the task without think too much about the actual activity. They have established the habit, so they sit down and put their thought to paper whether they are relevant to the project or not. They know that they can rewrite, revise, edit, and improve. They know that the first draft is not or need be the last.

The writer forces him or herself to write, usually at a prescribed time and in a set place. Most successful writers have an office, a place set aside for writing, and so they go to that place to write. Seldom do such writer’s experience what is know as writer’s block which is a state of mind that can be changed with a conscious effort.

And interesting thing about writing—putting thoughts to paper—is that the very act clarifies one’s thinking, and fosters more thoughts. The simple act of putting thought into words, sentences, and paragraphs causes the mind to sift, to correlate, to organize, and intensify thinking. From a blank mind to one teeming with ideas is the usual process that occurs as one writes.

Thus one sees that writing is related to mood, which changes from one moment to the next. During the day, one experiences many moods from joy to sadness, from calm to anger, from activity to idleness, while state of mind tends to be less volatile. Since mood is so capricious, it is only a matter of time until the urge to write takes over, and writing becomes a joy rather than a chore.

So what is difficult writing can be excellent and worthwhile. Often, after reviewing earlier writing, it is difficult to know what was arduous and what was effortless. Often the burdensome is the finest.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

First Priority

No matter what you are writing, the first priority is write the first draft.

Most writers procrastinate. Since writing is a demanding job requiring focus and dedication, most writers delay, dally, defer, and dawdle.

How does one get that first draft completed?

  1. Plan
  2. Organize
  3. Implement
  4. Write

Without a doubt, the most important step is to plan what one intends to write, be it a novel, an article, an essay, a short story, or a poem. The writer must have something to say and a desire to say it. The need to express, for whatever reason, is important. It may be self-fulfillment, it may be economic, or it may to leave a legacy, but whatever it is it must be strong enough to force the writer to prepare and develop a way to put words to paper.

Once the idea is generated, the second important step is to organize. This usually means time at a computer or typewriter. Time must be set aside, a place of work must be established, and distractions (whatever they are) must be eliminated. The professional writer writes every day and often everywhere, but the amateur may not have the same motive or drive. Time, of course, varies from person to person; some writers have a day job to contend with, others write only when the urge comes upon them, or whenever time is available. An ideal place to write will also depend on the individual; some need noise as a background; others require silence; and still other do not care—they can write anywhere. The elimination of distractions is different for each person. Writers have written with bustle and hurry all about them; others need a special place with a special ambience. Do what you have to do.

Putting thoughts to paper or screen is the most important part of the process. Start. Write quickly letting the thoughts flow from the mind to the paper or screen. Do not be too concerned about syntax, word choice, grammar, spelling, or capitalization. The most imperative act is to get something down; rewriting will take care of the technical aspects of writing. Today most word processors have grammar and spellcheckers, but do not rely exclusively on them. They do not find all errors; if you are poor at spelling and grammar seek the services of someone who is capable in these areas—a friend, a teacher, or if necessary a professional copywriter.

That is writing: planning, organizing, and putting words to paper or to screen. It is not difficult if one has a positive attitude about it.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Editing

Expect, allow, and accept that every first draft will represent your lowest standard and have at it.

A first draft is just that, a draft with its lack of organization, lack of cogent thought, poor syntax, grammatical errors, typos and spelling slip-ups, and other inaccuracies.

So it needs revision, rewriting, spell checking, and more research.

Thus, it needs editing.

How does one go about that?

Probably the first step is to use the word processor grammar and spellchecker.

Then it is time to look at the organization of the piece: Is it logical? Does it proceed to a climax? Are all the sentences relevant to each paragraph? Is each paragraph relevant to the overall theme and topic? Are the facts accurate? Do the paragraphs lead to the conclusion you intended?

What needs to be removed? What needs to be added?

Of course, the way it is edited depends on whether it is fiction or non-fiction, and then if it is fiction, what kind: novel, short story, poetry, etc. Each genre has its own characteristics, rules, and reason. Similarly, if it is non-fiction, what kind is it: informational, expository, descriptive, argumentative, or humorous.

Next comes sentence structure. Does it have a variety of sentences as to length and type: simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex? Do the sentences contain pet words and expressions? Do they contain colloquialism, slang, idioms, and trite language?

Is the language fitting to the subject matter? Formal, standard, informal, or common or avant-garde.

Finally, the work needs a re-read to be sure it is as perfect as it can be made, that it satisfies the writer…and especially the reader, the first one being the editor to whom it is sent.

If this sounds onerous, it is, but that’s what writing is all about-- to produce the best effort possible.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Thinking About It

Many writers spend more time thinking about writing than they do in actual writing. This, of course, is truer of the freelancer than the salaried writer although it can deter any writer from the actual job of writing.

Waiting or one's Muse is a favorite excuse for many writers. They wait for inspiration to come to them rather and searching for it. That moment of epiphany may never come so they remain wannabes with a plethora of excuses for not facing the typewriter or the computer screen. Perhaps this is truer of fiction or poetry than non-fiction writers. Certainly it's truer of freelancers and salaried writers.

Waiting for one's Muse is the primarily excuse for procrastination. The lack of a plan or goals can produce delaying the act of sitting at the typewriter or computer and putting words to paper. Probably, then, it is wise for any writer to set out goals and an agenda for achieving these goals. Most successful writers agree that stating aspirations and then devising a plan to accomplish them is the first step to success.

This brings us to next reason to avoid writing: the lack of purpose. Many writers dream of success as fame and fortune but with little thought as to how they will bring about that. It is nothing more than a dream, a fantasy, or even a chimera. So it is very important that the writer or would be writer decides on the reason for writing: is it for self-satisfaction, is it for affluence, is it for acclaim or recognition, and is it to fulfill some enigmatic need. Whatever the aspiration, it should be well though out if the writer expects to become an author.

One of the greatest deterrents to writing is the fear of failure. Most, if not all writers, feel this at one time or another in their career. Usually, of course, this is at the beginning of their writing career. They wonder if they are good enough to succeed; they wonder if readers—be they editors, agents, or publishers—will consider their work to be worthwhile for publication because that is the prime reason that most write. Always, at the back of their mind, is this ghoul that haunts them and often prevents them from producing.

Last, but not least, is humans' tendency to laziness. Writing is hard work; writing is arduous and demanding. It requires lonely hours when the writer is alone with his or her thoughts, molding them, synthesizing them, stirring them, and polishing them into words, sentences, paragraphs, and compositions. Naturally, humans seek the easy, the satisfying, the comfortable way, so that means that writing is avoided, even abandoned.

So do not let pondering, daydreaming, or fantasizing take the place of writing. Sit at the typewriter or computer and put words, sentences, and paragraph down. Once started the flow will continue, and one will be a writer!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Prolific Writers

Prolific authors write; they don't just dream about it. A good example is Georges Simenon of Inspector Maigret fame. He writes a book quickly, at one sitting so to speak. The first draft of each chapter is written longhand in a single afternoon. The following morning he transcribes it with his typewriter, revising and rewriting as he types. The afternoon is spent writing the next chapter, but before this happens he outlines a plan for the novel.

Perhaps one should do as Charles Dickens did. Early in his life he learned shorthand as a reporter and would write many of his novels first in this manner. He also was a prolific writer, in shorthand and longhand, no typewriter or computer for him. A man of great energy and vitality, he wrote voraciously but he did many other things as well.

Anthony Trollope, another 19th century novelist was also a prolific writer who adhered to a very strict schedule for work. He invariably arose at 5:30 am and wrote until 11:00 whereupon he breakfasted and spend the remainder of the day in personal activity. As a result, he was able to write 47 novels and 16 books. He was methodical worker who considered writing as a trade, probably one of the reasons his books have lost esteem.

Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) is another prolific writer of the 19th century who wrote from midnight to dawn almost every day of his life, thus turning out a million words per year. Although he was prodigious, he was always poor, and that might account for his abundant output.

Victor Hugo (1802-1885) like Balzac was a prolific French writer of the 19th century. He too spewed out poetry and novels at an unbelievable rate. His most famous novels are The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables, but they are a small example of the many works that he produced at the amazing rate of over a million words a year.

If these writers--with paper, pen, and pencil--could effect the volume of writing they did, then writers today should easily do as much. We have computers and word processors that make writing a charm rather than a chore with spell checkers and grammar checkers, and other aids that make the process easy and enjoyable. I suppose what is lacking is the focus and vision that these writers had. Perhaps our live are to full of computers, television, films, theater, music, and other activities that impinge on the writer's time. Yet is possible with planning and discipline to put ideas to paper in poems, stories, novels, articles, essays, etc. Although the competition to be published probably exceeds that of writer of the 19th century and the 20th century, the way to publication is more varied and available.

Traditional publishers are being replaced by electronic publishers who now print books on demand or to order. Soon the publishing industry and booksellers will have to wake up to this new phenomenon and change the way they do business to satisfy the new prolific writers.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Whatever Works

Writing is a singular job that requires a singular kind of inspiration that differs from individual to individual. Since the human mind is so complex and so different from person to person, this is shown in the way writers operate. Some write best in the morning while other do their finest work in the middle of the night. Some need a quiet, dedicate environment, while others are more inspired by the greatest activity around them. Still others need certain stimuli to help their creation, a favorite pet, a favorite locale, a favorite musical score, or a favorite view.

Of course, this is different for diverse writers. Often the problem is to find the milieu, the object, or the melody that will stimulate your muse. Once you have found your incitement, you must develop and use it to produce, but do not use it as an excuse to avoid writing. This is always a danger, as most writers are great procrastinators, putting off the writing of any manuscript. They start well, but seldom finish well. Beginning a project is usually the easy part, the middle is difficult, and the end almost impossible.

If you need a quiet location to produce, then you find one. For the freelancer, this is probably easier than for the salaried writer—the reporter, the journalist, the ad writer, the press agent, etc., but usually it is possible to find some corner that is reasonably isolated and away from the office bustle. Find it!

On the other hand, if you need the stimulation of the hustle and buzz of human activity, that should not be difficult to find in the office, in the café, on the street, etc. A number of great writers did their best writing in a favorite café or bar so it’s not unusual. Artists of all stripes have used human activity as the stimulus to create great works.

So for most writers, a special time, a special place, a special ambience, or a special object sets off their imagination, their psyche, their mental processes. For some it’s a ritual that must be followed—a certain rising time, a certain procedure, a certain deadline, and a certain controller that impels them to produce. Since most humans are creature of habit, it makes sense that writers establish practices that encourages them to write and to create even if these routines appear bizarre to other writers and non-writers.

Once this routine is established, writing becomes customary, almost an addiction. Dedicated writers must write, not to make money, not for recognition, but for self-satisfaction, the need to fulfill a compulsion that exists within them. Often they do not know or understand the reason why they must write. For them, little motivation is necessary; for them, almost everything works, but they are probably a minority.

Most writers, authors, playwrights, poets, etc. must use whatever works.