You have been writing poetry ever since that first task in your writing class when you were in school. You are familiar with the rules regarding writing poetry, correct? Are there regulations? Fine, if you recurrent the poetry debates across the Internet to the extent that a few do, you’d locate that there are lots of amateur poets who obstinately claim that there are no regulations for writing poetry and if anyone even recommends reading poems or manuscripts on poetry, lots of the amateur poets will create a suspicious front.
In the opinion of many it seems to swing passionately towards the opposition. You have to be familiar with the regulations earlier than you break them; in any case that’s what it’s always said.
It is known that writing a verse in iambic pentameter is a skill that has been hidden in the crypts of the resurgence, but accepting it, together with the several other dying stopped forms of poetry, is a dominant tool as soon as writing that prosy current piece. Being a good poet demands a complicated understanding of the method in which language functions its limits into a reader’s sense of right and wrong. A poem is a medley of sounds, syncopations as well as imagery. All of the small remains of a poem ought to work mutually in a combined fashion to conclude in something new and refreshing.
Well regarding new and refreshing, you might be unsure how understanding such old features of poetry such as rhyme and meter might assist a modern poet craft new refreshing poems. It is all in relation to the sound and the novelty of it. Yet scientists rest on the shoulders of persons before them. You are not required to manage an ideal rhyme or a considered foot in a poem to be leaping from the motivation of Shakespeare’s sonnets, but including those rhymes and rhythms tottering in and out of the crumples in your brain will mail an incredibly subtle vibration of sound in the course of your personal pieces.
In summing up, study, study, study, know the regulations, and subsequently break the regulations. Decency helps you satisfy breaking them.
Here are a few references to assist you along the path:
The performance of Poetry: by Robin Behn
Writing verse: by Robert Wallace as well as Michelle Boisseau
A Poetry Manual: by Mary Oliver
(c) Ricky Hussey
When I wrote my recently released science fiction novel, Flight From Eden, I truly believed that I was writing a work of mere science fiction. I thought it was trashy, purely commercial adventure, bearing no relation whatever to reality.
Now I'm not so sure. The subconscious mind works in mysterious ways. Even 'way back in 1994, when I finished the original first draft of Flight From Eden, I'd already seen our federal government's appalling abuse of military and police power near Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and in Waco, Texas - the latter being fairly close to home for me.
I was not a political activist back in those days. I was just a mousy writer and computer nerd who sat very still, very quietly and hoped that the nasty three-letter Feds would stay far, far away from me. But I am sure those television scenes were working on me at some subliminal level while I was writing Flight From Eden - because even in those days, had someone burst into my second floor bedroom at night, already shooting, the way we all saw ATF do that awful night at Mt. Carmel, this very law-abiding lady would have done her absolute damnedest to send them straight to Hell in a pine box. Would that have been a crime? Not in my opinion, although I do suspect that several three-letter federal organizations would have a very different opinion.
In any event, I probably wouldn't have survived such an event long enough for my opinion to have mattered. You see, the only tool I had to defend myself in those days was a little five-shot Chief, with one little five-shot re-loader. A simple mathematical matter of insufficient ammunition. I've considerably more (and considerably bigger) ammo these days - although I doubt that any individual is going to be able to match the firepower of SWAT or the Feds - but the carnage would certainly be memorable.
If my government wants a word with me, let me gently point out that it really is much simpler and pleasanter to knock. I am much milder of manner than poor, dead David Koresh, and I am quite sure even he would have offered coffee and conversation while your three-letter thugs tossed Mt. Carmel. Hell, I might pass out some pretty decent cookies while you toss my house. Be a real shame to pass those up.
But don't - I repeat here for absolute clarity, do NOT - come through my door or window shooting. The result will be much too ghastly to contemplate for every single party concerned, no doubt including me.
Are we in a police state right now? That's an interesting question. I believe we are, although I'd be hard pressed to prove it as yet. But that is the problem with police states. They never happen all at once. They happen very gradually, over lots and lots of time, and most folks never even notice until it is far, far too late. My stepfather is a Holocaust survivor - a damned lucky one - who was a fifteen year old kid actually living in Vienna on the night of Hitler's invasion. Did his family see it coming? Of course not! They were uneasy, but if they had really known what was coming, they would have hauled ass long before they did.
Well, I'm uneasy now, right here in these United States. Very, very uneasy. And getting more so.
Flight From Eden is about a religious dictatorship, and the real life United States has separation of Church and State - or does it? Can anyone name for me one single public address made by President Bush that does not mention God more than once? What? Not even one?
How about the man who is to enforce all these wonderful new laws, Attorney General John Ashcroft? C'mon, guys, just one speech. That's all I ask.
Hell, Ashcroft is such a complete religious nutcase, he's offended by a giant brass teat!
So am I going to "haul ass" out of the United States? No! My stepfather's family was already disarmed and helpless when they became uneasy about the Nazis. I am sure as Hell not disarmed, and "helpless" is a state of mind I refuse to acknowledge. This is my country, and I love it, and I'm going to get it back, come Hell or high water. But I am just a little pressed for time. You see, if we are to get our country back using non-violent means - "non-violent" meaning words and the political process - we are definitely running out of time. History has shown that these police state things always reach a kind of critical mass sooner or later. Once that happens, only blood will end it.
We can't afford to let that happen!
I can't speak for my readers, but I am definitely not anxious to take up a new career as a member of some rebel militia. Even if I did not have a moral and ethical reluctance to kill save in the last extremity of self-defense, the retirement benefits really, really suck.
On top of which, if only one person, or two or three, or ten, starts the shooting, the three-letter Feds will use it as an excuse to try to disarm us. The operative word here being "try."
If that happens, blood will run ankle deep in the streets of every city and town in the United States! I guarantee it!
To be honest, I am afraid that is exactly what is going to happen. I'm no crazier than the next gal. I certainly don't want it to happen! I don't want to spend the last miserable days of my life killing young cops and/or soldiers, running and hiding from government troops, and burying my friends. But if we are going to prevent that nightmare, we do need to act now, and we need to act together.
It's time to get off your fat asses, people. It's stop to stop drinking that beer and eating those pretzels. It's time to write your representatives - daily - and let them know how pissed off you really are. It's time to let some professional politicians know that they are going to be out of a job - and probably unemployable and sleeping under a bridge - if they won't start doing what you elected them to do right now. It's time to march in the streets and wave signs - even get arrested if that's what it takes. Be as obnoxious as you can!
Refuse - always non-violently - to give up your rights and your liberties. Teach your children what America should be - don't leave it to the schools to brainwash them into accepting any "New World Order." Help them to understand that governments are just governments - only individuals can give up their liberties, and when they do, they might as well be dead. Teach them from real books, not the watered down pap that won't mention freedom, or the U.S. Constitution, or the founding fathers. Hell, they won't even use the word "war" in the schools anymore, and I've actually met several high school kids who'd never heard of Patrick Henry!
Of course, Henry would probably be locked up as a dangerous subversive today. Our leaders don't want any "Give me liberty, or give me death" ideas reaching our youngsters. Really scary stuff.
And since when has World War II become the "second global conflict"? My real father (who served during that "conflict"!) must be revolving in his grave!
Find those candidates who are not professional politicians. They do exist, because a lot of Americans are scared and unhappy with the status quo right now. Find them, volunteer your time and money - go stump door to door for them if you have to. These people are a treasure beyond price. They are our only - and I do mean our only - hope, Help them win!
Work with other organizations! My first loyalty is to Armed Females of America. I am the Texas Director, because this organization is about what I believe in, right down the line.
Yes, I am angry with the NRA for surrendering my rights for more than 35 years! But, dammit, they are 80 million strong, and most of the rank and file members are no fonder of compromise than I am!
Second Amendment Sisters also compromises more than I like. But, dammit, 95% of the time, we are allies!
The Libertarian Second Amendment Caucus is right down the line with every single thing that Armed Females of America stands for! It was founded by L. Neil Smith, the best (and most vocal) friend the Second Amendment folks have ever had.
The Brady idiots can work together - so why can't the gun people? We'd better learn, and quickly, too, or we are sunk, sunk, sunk!
Persuade your community to do what a couple of others have done - vote your city or town or even just your neighborhood into a "U.N. Free Zone." What a wonderful way to send a global message!
Own as many, and as lethal, firearms as you legally can. I do not suggest you use them. The very existence of an extremely large and well-armed populace has always been enough to give our government serious pause when it considers mistreating its citizens, and we have no reason to believe it won't work this time.
Wake up, people! Defense against tyranny was always the reason for the Second Amendment! Self-defense is a good thing. Prevention of crime is a good thing. But the real reason the right to keep and bear arms was considered sacred by the founding fathers of this country was to prevent tyranny! Nothing has changed today, except of course that the folks who want to control your lives (and not to your benefit!) are trying to deprive you of this right. Gee, I wonder why that would be . . .
Could it possibly be that they are trying to prevent large, leaky holes from appearing in their various anatomies?
I hear it from people every day. You're afraid these tactics won't work. Horse manure! The tactics I describe here ended the Vietnam war when our leaders most emphatically did not want said very profitable war to end - and without starting a civil war in the process - although I admit that we did come dangerously close a time or two.
Were there casualties? You bet there were! Most were on or near college campuses, as a matter of fact - kids the age of most combat soldiers the world over. Will there be casualties this time? Yes, there are sure to be. Will there be deaths? I truly hope not, but the lessons of history all say there will be. Can't handle that idea? I pity you.
I might even be one of those casualties myself. Or worse from my point of view, I could end up with yearly tax audits for the rest of my miserable days.
But I cannot - and I damned well will not! - sit here and do nothing while I watch the country I love wither and die from within.
My personal hero, Thomas Jefferson, once said: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is its natural manure."
So let's start spreading a little of that smelly stuff around, folks. It's time to cultivate a big, fat tree!
(c) Kathryn A. Graham
At a tiny 5'1", Kathryn A. Graham is a licensed private investigator, pilot, aircraft mechanic and handgun instructor in Texas. Also a prolific author, she has written numerous articles, short stories and a science fiction novel.
In setting out to write a short story, it doesn't hurt to know that the short story is a fairly young form, dating back only to Nathaniel Hawthorne and his 1837 book Twice-told Tales. For Edgar Allan Poe, who called them "prose tales," the fact that short stories could be read in a single sitting was key to the form. It allowed the reader to have an uninterrupted experience of the fictional world.
As a recent genre, the short story has few formal elements that are not shared with the novel. The challenge for the short-story writer lies in developing the major elements of fiction — character, plot, theme, point of view, etc. — in about ten to twenty-five pages. (The cut-off for most journals is 10,000 words.) To meet this challenge, short-story writers generally follow, consciously or unconsciously, a pretty standard list of rules.
1. Use Few Characters and Stick to One Point of View
You simply will not have room for more than one or two round characters. Find economical ways to characterize your protagonist, and describe minor characters briefly.
Having only one or two protagonists naturally limits your opportunities to switch perspectives. Even if you're tempted to try it, you will have trouble fully realizing, in a balanced way, more than one point of view. (Click here for information on choosing a point of view.)
2. Limit the Time Frame When You Write a Short Story
Though some short-story writers do jump around in time, your story has the biggest chance of success if you limit the time frame as much as possible. It's unrealistic to cover years of a character's life in twenty-five pages. (Even a month might be a challenge.) By limiting the time period, you allow more focus on the events that are included in the narrative.
3. Be Selective
As with poetry, the short story requires discipline and editing. Every line should either build character or advance the action. If it doesn't do one of these two things, it has to go. William Faulkner was right to advise writers to kill their darlings. This advice is especially important for short-story writers.
4. Follow Conventional Story Structure
The standard rules of narrative we all learned in our high school literature classes apply to writers as well. Though you may not have room to hit every element of traditional plot structure, know that a story is roughly composed of exposition, conflict, rising action, climax, and denouement. However much you experiment with form, something has to happen in the story (or at least the reader has to feel as though something has happened). Things like conflict and resolution achieve this effect. Storytelling may seem magical, but the building blocks are actually very concrete.
As with any type of writing, the beginning and the end are the most important parts. Make sure your first and last lines are the strongest in the story.
5. Know When to Break the Rules
As with all rules, these are made to be broken. Alexander Steele points out in his introduction to the Gotham Writers' Workshop's Fiction Gallery that the short story lends itself to experimentation precisely because it is short: structural experiments that couldn't be sustained for three hundred pages can work beautifully for fifteen.
And today, the lines between genres such as the short story and the poem are blurred in exciting ways.
Keep in mind, however, that telling your story is still the most important thing. If breaking a rule allows you to tell your story more effectively, by all means, break it. Otherwise, think twice, or at least be honest with yourself if the innovation fails.
Following these rules should help you complete your stories successfully. If you find that your story overflows these boundaries no matter what you do, consider expanding it into a novel. The short story isn't for every story — or for every writer. For more on this, see Six Signs Your Short Story Wants to Be a Novel.
(c) Ginny Wiehardt
Writers writing about writing may seem to be a highly conceited act. Since I am not reeaaally a writer, or at least I don't claim myself to be one, I guess me giving tips on writing can be taken casually. Preferably with a pinch of salt. I may not have contributed much to the world of print but I do know a thing or two about being a connoisseur for writing. Apart from blogging and writing articles currently, I used to write award winning poems and short stories during my earlier days.
Overtime everyone develops a style of doing something; anything. For writing, I know I have a certain style by now, though there is way too much room for polishing up.
The initial stage is the creative process which is something that we do not need to understand. There is nothing to understand because creativity does not have to make sense.
Creativity starts with a feeling. The kind of feeling to do something on an instinct. Artists, just like writers, start off by doing a piece of work randomly. It may not make any sense for a start, but at most times it triggers off a new idea in the artist's mind to create something creative. Same thing happens to writers, initial works may be shown the path to recycle bins but end up being useful by sparking off something of value in the writer's mind. Probably that is why recycle bins are named as such, to be recycled. Anyway, once we get an idea, we have to grab it quickly, just like grabbing a seat in an extremely crowded bus, and hold on to it in order to use it.
The creative process may seem complex. To ease the complexity we can simply develop the good old habit of reading. Actually not can, but we should read. Unless we read, we can't write. It is as simple as it gets.
The next simple, or maybe not so simple, task is to write frequently. As frequently as possible as much as time permits. Okay that seemed like a redundant statement but you get the point. The more we write the lesser the chances of getting a writer's block. When I mention writer's block, I don't mean getting some column to write in a magazine but I am refering to a mental block in terms of writing. The more we write, the more we learn to write in a fluid manner and develop a style of our own along the way if we have not got one already.
As we continue writing, we will slowly discover our voice. When that happens, we get to know about ourselves better.
Oh and one more thing, of course the nitty gritty details like grammar and spelling errors have to be avoided. That's right, totally avoided. For people like me *ahem*, it has become a habit long ago but that is because I made sure I was conscious of that. Proofreading is of high importance. Proofreading one more time after proofreading is of high recommendation. Most people don't enjoy it but fortunately I do.
Speaking of which, I just got to know some time back that there is actually a job for proofreading alone. Hmm, I am seriously considering it. Anyway, if you find the above useful, try it. If you don't, hmmPsychology Articles, try it anyway because there is something to be gained along the way I am sure.
Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com
http://www.worthofwordplay.blogspot.com to visit his main blog.
Much as I love Jack London -- I just reread The Call of the Wild for the eighth or tenth time -- I disagree with one bit of his advice to aspiring fictionists.
In his famous 1903 article "Getting Into Print," London offered several sage tips for writers, including his command to work hard at what he called "the dig", the daily output of a given number of words. In London's case, 1,000 words a day, every day, for 20 years. "Don't loaf and invite inspiration," he warned, "light out after it with a club."
But in the same article, London says this: "Concentrate your sweat on one story, rather than dissipate it over a dozen." Uh-uh.
When I started writing fiction in late 1993, that's exactly what I did. I started a story and stuck with it until the damn thing was done. Between conception and completion, however, were many days -- many days -- when either a) I sat down and produced nothing because the muse was out of town, or, b) I found something else to do -- take a run, hit a bookstore, vacuum, organize my closet -- anything so I didn't have to sit down and work on a story for which, on that day, I had neither ideas nor inspiration.
Yeah, yeah, I know. Sit down and hammer out something. Put in the requisite hour or whatever at the galley oars. That's how writers work, right?
Well, I did this for my first two years as a fiction writer, during which I finished 17 stories, published five. Then I found a better way. In the last two years, I've cranked out 39 stories, 21 of them published. Call this method the Fiction Factory, the Anecdote Assembly Line. Whatever. The important thing isn't the name, it's this bottom line: KEEP A MINIMUM OF THREE STORIES GOING AT ONE TIME. Is more than three okay? Sure. Maybe better. So, go right ahead and ignore London: Dissipate that sweat. Set up a "Fiction in Progress" file on your computer and always -- always -- have at least three stories in progress on deposit in there.
What constitutes a "story in progress"? Let's say something between 150 and 500 words. Once you have an idea -- any idea -- for a story, start it (See below, "Producing Pod Stories"). Any mix of setting, narrative and dialogue you can summon up. Then repeat this process again . . . and again, until you have at least three new stories underway. How come? Because, now when you sit down to write, there is always something there to massage or tweak or polish up, a narrative to pick up on and add to, choices to move among as inspiration and interest dictate that particular day.
The last three stories I've finished started as ragged 100-word beginnings in my "In Progress" file. One pretty much wrote itself in under a week. The others were the product of dabbling -- dipping in and out for a few minutes to half an hour here and there over the course of several months. But when I sat down to write I did so without resistance or trepidation (well, okay, there's always some), because I knew that even if I was all sails up but standing still in the creative Horse Latitudes that day, I would still probably be able to write something on at least one of the half dozen or so "pod" stories that are always on file in my starter kit.
In this same file, under "Launch Pads", I also have twenty or so opening sentences, lines that came to me at odd times during the day -- during a run, driving around running errands, sleepwalking with my wife through a mall -- or, sometimes, right after I woke up. I wrote them out, and each sentence became a new embryonic file, even though at this point the file title was nearly as long as the text it contained. Several of these lines -- "It was in the early fall of the third year of his marriage that Hooper first began to suspect that his wife was having an affair," and "Abby liked to record on her computer the names of the insects she killed, for example -- grew into finished stories. Others -- "A box of live mice arrived each day at apartment 7C." and "I turned twelve a week back, and my daddy says it's my time." -- are still in the gestation period.
The important thing is this: Get stories started. A bunch of them. A line grows into a paragraph, a paragraph into a page, and one day -- voilà! -- it's lift off for another story.
Producing Pod Stories: Here's How
Like most new-to-fiction writers, there were times (many) when I would avoid writing for weeks because I didn't have an actual "story" in mind --- you know, the whole thing. Beginning. Middle. End.
Moreover, I felt that I had to write my stories in that order and often, too often, gave in to "sequence frustration" -- that is, not knowing what happens next and unable to move ahead or go back and write something new without first having in mind some kind of "connection" to the story I'd already laid out. Most rookie fictionists I know speak of the same kind of part-way paralysis. And, like me -- the old me -- they fall back on the ever-reliable "writer's block", as if it were some kind of virus that regularly afflicts the creative mind: proof of their status as real writers.
Well, I don't write that way any more. I don't fret about linearity when I start a story. My output has tripled -- in both quantity and quality. Yours can, too. How? Two words: Write Scenes. Not stories, not at first, anyway. Scenes. They are the key to writing every day -- and sometimes actually enjoying it.
So, create a character, even if it's just a name, and have him/her do something immediately. Anything. Could be something you've done, something you just witnessed, something you read about in the newspaper, something that just sounds funny or creepy or interesting, something you'd like to do, something you cannot ever imagine yourself doing. Whatever. Just get it down. Even if you don't yet know what this new person looks like or how old he/she is or whether he/she is nice or nasty, write or type out a name -- whatever comes to mind; you can change it later if you want -- and get that character moving. I'm going to start one right now. Here goes.
"Sheila walked off the bus and into an ankle-deep puddle. 'Goddamnit!' she screamed, stepping out of the muddy water and stomping one foot, then the other on the pavement. 'Sonofabitch!' So this was how her first job interview in eight months was going to start."
Next, you'll add another half dozen lines -- right away if they come, tomorrow or the next day or the day after that if they don't -- and you have another pod story for your Fiction in Progress file. A new narrative line started to call up a look at from time to time. A story start you will remember, whose character and setting will bubble around subliminally from the moment of creation on (trust me on this), and whose next line(s) will come to you when you expect -- seated at your desk with the story right there on the screen. Or when you don't -- out on a run or in an aerobics class, grocery shopping, watching the evening news, driving to work: Yes! That's why she's been out of work for so long! Yes! That's the kind of job she's interviewing for today! Yes! That's the guy who hires her. Beady turtle eyes. Loose, wet lips. Yes! That's who's going to be sitting at the desk next to hers that first day! Guy who doesn't blink and speaks in a monotone and has a coffee cup with the words "Gotta Have It Every Day" printed out on it.
The important -- make that vital -- thing is this: Get that first line down. Once you do, more will follow. Guaranteed. If not that story, that particular day, then in another of your pod stories. Remember: You are writing scenes, not stories, at this point. Don't worry about where this scene will ultimately "fit" -- or even if it will ever be part of a complete story. Just keep adding to it. If you suddenly find yourself thinking about your character at some other point in his/her life -- even if it doesn't seem to immediately connect to what you've written -- then go with that.
Suddenly have this image of Sheila on a date? Go with it. Put her across the table from some guy (maybe the oddball at the adjacent desk?) or in his car going to/coming from a movie/dance/restaurant/AA meeting/reunion (did they go together, or meet there?). Suddenly have a clearer picture in your mind of what she looks like, what she wants, what she is afraid of? Whether she is confident or shy, whether she lives alone or with her mother or with a roommate? Get it down. Create a new scene -- people talking, thinking, moving -- or fill in a scene you¹ve already written.
Don't worry where the scene is going to "go" in the story already underway. Connect the dots later. Maybe this new stuff will appear at the beginning. Somewhere in the middle. Maybe you find yourself thinking "Ah, so this is how it's all going to end." But perhaps it won't fit at all. Maybe you'll eventually dump it.
So what? Even if you never use a scene, think of it as you would piano practice. You've done some some skill-honing on setting, character, dialogue, diction, language rhythms. But it's also possible -- and, in my limited experience as a fictionist, this has happened far more often -- that this new scene will open up heretofore unknown areas of a character, or even suggest an new story line that goes galloping off in some direction you never thought of until you started this particular scene.
And on those days you're having trouble and just cannot focus, do this: Pull up every pod story in your Fiction in Progress and commit yourself to adding at least one sentence to each. If you have to, do this for several days. What invariably occurs is that you will take off on one and the thing will, for a while, write itself; other times, oddly, a sentence you add to one pod story stimulates some new idea for another.
Write scenes. Turn them into pod stories. A lot of them. Once you do, you will never again have to fear sitting down to the blank screen and thinking "What am I going to write about?" "Where's my next story coming from?"
Try it. It works. You'll see.
(c) Doug Rennie's short stories have appeared in the anthologies American Fiction: Best Stories by Emerging Writers, Traveler's Tales: Italy and Summers Loves and Winter's Discontents as well as Chicago Tribune Magazine, The Quarterly, Sycamore Review, Whetstone, Grain (Canada), Vignette, Rosebud, Green Hills Literary Lantern and many others. Next year, Creative Arts Books will publish a collection of his short fiction (tentative title: Badlands). He lives in Portland, Oregon. Doug Rennie can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you're just breaking into the writing business, you may be wondering if you should start by offering your work to nonpaying markets. Do new writers need to serve some sort of "apprenticeship" in such markets before moving on to those that pay? Are nonpaying markets the only way for a new writer to break in?
Sadly, some writers don't ask this question at all, assuming (for various reasons) that the answer must be "yes." Too many talented writers end up wasting considerable time writing for free, unable (or refusing) to believe that they could be paid for their material.
At the heart of this issue are two misperceptions. The first is the assumption that one must somehow pay one's dues, "crawl before one can walk," in the writing business -- and that this involves working for no money. The second is the phrasing of the question itself. Instead of asking "Should I write for nonpaying markets?" many writers should be asking "When should I write for nonpaying markets?"
The Apprenticeship MythMany writers believe that one's career must begin with nonpaying markets. Many articles extol the value of such markets for building clips, enabling one (theoretically) to move on to paying publications. Writers often assume that without a history of publication, no paying market will consider their work -- and thus, that they have no real choice.
It isn't true. My own experience offers a good example: In the beginning of my career, I wrote exactly three "unpaid" articles. The first (my first-ever publication) was for a monthly community paper. The second and third were for a weekly newspaper -- and these were based on the editor's promise that he would pay me once he had a freelance budget. By my fourth article, he did, and I was earning a whopping $15 per feature!
Did those unpaid articles help me break into better markets? No. My first magazine sale was to Omni -- and was due to a chance meeting between my boyfriend (now hubby) and the editor at a conference. My second was to Quilt, and was due to a query that described my enthusiasm for, and knowledge of, crazy quilts. (My career has been a bit of a patchwork ever since...)
Omni, alas, is dead, but specialty magazines like Quilt abound, and are more than ready to welcome new, unpublished writers. All you need are a good idea, the ability to turn that idea into a well-written article, and the confidence to send that article to an editor. If you can do all of the above, many editors truly do not care whether you've been published before or not.
In short, if you have a choice between offering your material to a paying or a nonpaying market, there is no logical reason to choose the latter. The nonpaying market will always be there if you fail to sell the piece -- but it need not be your first choice, or even your second or third. If your goal is to become a paid professional, it's far better to exhaust all possibilities of payment before turning to markets that don't pay (rather than the other way around). After all, you only have to "break in" once to be considered a paid author!
When Should You Write for Free?Does this mean you should never write for free? Not at all! There are many excellent reasons to do so; it's just that "being new" isn't necessarily one of them. Here are some better reasons:
Find Out More...
Ways to Profit from Writing for Free - Audrey Faye Henderson
Copyright © 2001 Moira Allen
Moira Allen is the editor of Writing-World.com, and has written nearly 400 articles, serving as a columnist and regular contributor for such publications as The Writer, Entrepreneur, Writer's Digest, and Byline. An award-winning writer, Allen is the author of eight books, including Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer, The Writer's Guide to Queries, Pitches and Proposals,and Writing to Win: The Colossal Guide to Writing Contests. In addition to Writing-World.com, Allen hosts VictorianVoices.net, a growing archive of articles from Victorian periodicals, and The Pet Loss Support Page, a resource for grieving pet owners. She lives in Maryland with her husband and the obligatory writer's cat. She can be contacted at editors "at" writing-world.com.
There are some strange folks out there who don't like fiction. Or rather, they don't understand its purpose.
Robert Mitchum -- otherwise an actor I greatly admire -- said he never read fiction because it wasn't true, so there was no point.
To any budding novelist this attitude is as heinous as it is incomprehensible. Unfortunately it is also surprisingly common.
My father for one thinks that novels are too hard to follow so he never bothers with them.
'If it's any good, they'll make a movie out of it,' is one of his favorite lines.
How many times have you heard this?
The implication here is obvious. To non-readers, it's not the writing that's important. It's the story.
Whilst great writing might profoundly impress you or me, most people just want the message, rather than the medium.
People like stories for 4 main reasons:
4. To gain hope & salvation
These reasons have been the 'point' of telling and listening to stories since the beginning of time.
As a species, we need them.
They divert our attention from the mundane and take us out of ourselves for a while.
They can show us things we didn't know about ourselves and others. We may gain valuable new perspectives to help us to better understand our neighbors, foreigners, even our enemies.
We need stories to make us feel better about ourselves -- as human beings, as well as personalities. That's why we like to identify with heroes and warriors -- indeed, anyone who can show us how to overcome obstacles.
Finally we need stories to help us make sense of life and the world around us.
In real life, there are no beginnings and endings, just infinite sequences.
You know how it is. You listen to the news. Everything is a segment, a teaser, a sample of every day life. Nothing makes sense because there's no structure.
Without the confines that fiction offers us, we are drowning in a bewildering sea of actions and feelings and urges with no meaning.
Stories 'frame' real life into manageable chunks that have tangibility, involvement and purpose, whether for us individually or as a race.
Surely that's what we were placed on this earth to do!
To make sense of who we are and why we are here.
THAT'S why fiction matters!
(c) Rob Parnell... is the writer and founder of the enormously popular 'Easy Way to Write' Web resource http://easywaytowrite.com
Remember that scene in the film Throw Mama From the Train which depicts a writer/professor (Billy Crystal} having trouble finding an adjective for "The night was..."? As the crumpled pages mount in his waste basket, so does his frustration with the whole thing. We laugh, of course, because it's funny; even non-writers can relate to the feeling of 'being stuck'.
For writers that feeling can be a very scary thing. It is frustrating, even suffocating. It is as if we have just switched off the part of ourselves that is able to create, to make sense, to write.
We hear a lot about the causes of Writer's Block: stress (related and non-related to what you are writing), fatigue, burn-out. There are as many causes for it as there are writers, because everyone works and deals with life in his or her own way. We all deal with block in our own ways as well. What I would like to offer here are some ideas for avoiding block altogether, and some for dealing with it.
The stock answer for getting through a block is to "write through it". The theory here would seem to be that getting yourself over the hump, so to speak, will help you to keep your work moving along. Going back and fixing up the rough edges is for editing and rewriting. This has worked for me in the past. One writer friend is what I call a note taker; she writes notes to herself within the piece when she hits those patches that she is not sure about. For example: "The rain fell like a wild horse, beating down fiercely, dancing off the ground (Note: Not sure this presents the vision I need here...work with it)."
While this has never worked well for me (I have a hard time feeling out my work as whole given the breaks in continuity caused by constant little notes in the text) she has had great success, and only minor periods of block. And that, I believe, is the most valid measure of a technique to deal with this type of problem. It has to work for you.
But how about the Block the freezes you? The kind that leaves you staring at a blank monitor wondering what to write. You know what I mean. The Block that makes you wonder why you write. You know you have myriad things to say, you have notes upon notes, you know what you want to do, but it just won't come. This is what we all fear. Lets take a minute to put things in perspective.
For many of us, writing is not our primary career. We are out there working our day jobs to pay the rent, and we come home at night and on weekends to write our freelance articles, our private masterpieces. It is a fact of life for writers today. And no matter how little our day jobs may mean to us, most of us need to keep them. The key, I think, is to not make it your Life. Leave work at work. Give yourself time to relax after work. Have dinner with a loved one, a friend. Talk about your day, your frustrations. Allow yourself to slip into "writer mode". Forcing it will jeopardize the quality of your work. I find that writing before my work day begins is a great way to start my day. It puts me in a good frame of mind, and it keeps the work I need to do at home that night in the front of my brain.
Before getting into one other means of overcoming a block I would like to address avoiding it altogether. What we write and why is based on our observation and interpretation of the world around us. And while the Internet, television and the print media are great tools for keeping abreast of the world out there, they are someone else's interpretation.
As writers, chroniclers, we need to Live. We need to experience nature and business, love and hate, anger and joy. We need to make time within our sometimes overwhelming schedules to pursue Life. Be spontaneous.
How many times have you read about a favorite author who writes only at regulated times, uses the same kind of pencil, eats the same lunch at precisely the same time, etc. etc.? Not that these things are bad. Not at all. Many people work very well under this kind of regimen. Personally, I'd rather be watching the sun rise over Lake Superior at 6:00 a.m. then hammering away at my keyboard. But then, these things inspire me and fill me with breath to go on. Some people get that inspiration from finger sandwiches.
The point is, always make time for you. If you have children, play with them and take notes on their reactions to things. Spend time with your spouse or a loved one tonight instead of writing until midnight. Contemplate the immortal lines of Shakespeare and why Sting keeps stealing them. Look at your high school yearbook. Take pictures of as many of those people as you can find and make a reunion book. Enjoy your Life, and exploit it. Make the highs the highest and the lows the lowest because that is your job as a student of the humanities, and as an artist.
Being a student of the Theatre and a director of various plays has allowed me to formulate a technique which has worked well for me over the years. I call it Incubation. Now we all know what an incubator is, but consider what it is to incubate an idea. When directing a play, my period of incubation is vital. And it serves a purpose other than helping me to cope with block; it also allows me to take on more than one project at a time effectively. You see, one can incubate an idea while working.
I approach directing a play much like writing. I learn the material and then I decide where I want it to go. I take lots and lots of notes. I make myself familiar with the period of the piece and of historical events and people which may have impact on the story. For example, if I were to direct My Fair Lady, I would re-read Pygmalion.
After I have voluminous notes, an idea of setting, and a general outline of what the play will be, I Incubate. I put it all away and go on to another project for a little while. I keep a notebook handy for the daily revelations that will be coming during this time. Or I grab some of my notes, go to a beach or a place of quiet and ruminate and erase and generally re-think everything. This process allows me to round out the technicalities and begin to create.
Thus it is when I write. I find that character sketching and outlining generally help me to structure what I am doing. It is during incubation that I ask myself, "Why?". Why do I need to write this, and what is my goal? Why does Jack want to be a football star? And why does Diane yearn to be a debutante, back-seat, of Jack's car?
Not to make light of all of this (or of John Cougar). If I give myself the time and the space to make many of my decisions, and answer many of my questions, I can jump into the writing confident and focused. And this helps me to avoid block.
And this may not work for all people. Maybe you are "writer through-er". Or maybe, unlike myself and many others, you can make the right choices for your work during the initial write, or during editing. If so, I envy you. For you are not cursed.
Any way you look at it, writer's block is difficult to cope with. It saps energy and inspiration. It makes us question ourselves and our ideas. It makes us afraid to try, because we become afraid to fail after the struggle to create. I believe that if you work to develop a system of your own, one that may combine all of these ideas, or shun all but one, you will help yourself to become a more effective, thoughtful and evocative writer.
(c) Troy M. Hughes is a theatrical director and critic residing in the Detroit metropolitan area. His credits include: A Chorus Line, Broadway Bound, The Fantastiks, Ain't Misbehavin, Lend Me a Tenor, Pump Boys and Dinettes, and Eleemosynary. He can be reached by email at email@example.com
Think of writing like karate...it's about DISCIPLINE.
Writing, like other forms of art, work or talent, requires discipline. It won't ever be enough that you say to yourself that you are a writer. Only when you write and write with discipline can you call yourself one. Before you can earn a black belt in karate, you have to dedicate yourself, practice and instill discipline in yourself to learn the moves and techniques.
The same goes for writing. Don't just read books. Devour them. Ray Bradbury, author of Zen in the Art of Writing, suggests books of essays, poetry, short stories, novels and even comic strips. Not only does he suggest that you read authors who write the way you hope to write, but "also read those who do not think as you think or write as you want to write, and so be stimulated in directions you might not take for many years." He continues, "don't let the snobbery of others prevent you from reading Kipling, say, while no one else is reading him."
Learn to differentiate between good writing and bad writing. Make time to write. Write even though you're in a bad mood. Put yourself in a routine. Integrate writing into your life. The goal is not to make writing dominate your life, but to make it fit in your life. Julia Cameron, in her book The Right to Write, sums it best: "Rather than being a private affair cordoned off from life as the rest of the world lives it, writing might profitably be seen as an activity best embedded in life, not divorced from it."
Believe that EVERYONE HAS A STORY -- including you.
Extraordinary things happen to ordinary people. As a writer, your job is to capture as many of these things and write them down, weave stories, and create characters that jump out of the pages of your notebook. Don't let anything escape your writer's eye, not even the way the old man tries to subtly pick his nose or the way an old lady fluffs her hair in a diner. What you can't use today, you can use tomorrow. Store these in your memory or jot them down in your notebook.
Jump in the middle of the fray. Be in the circle, not outside it. Don't be content being a mere spectator. Take a bite of everything life dishes out. Ray Bradbury wrote, "Tom Wolfe ate the world and vomited lava. Dickens dined at a different table every hour of his life. Moliere, tasting society, turned to pick up his scalpel, as did Pope and Shaw. Everywhere you look in the literary cosmos, the great ones are busy loving and hating. Have you given up this primary business as obsolete in your own writing? What fun you are missing, then. The fun of anger and disillusion, the fun of loving and being loved, of moving and being moved by this masked ball which dances us from cradle to churchyard. Life is short, misery sure, mortality certain. But on the way, in your work, why not carry those two inflated pig-bladders labeled Zest and Gusto."
Attack writing with PASSION.
The kind of writing you produce will oftentimes reflect the current state of your emotions. Be indifferent and your writing will be indifferent. Be cheerful and watch the words dance across your page.
Whenever you sit down to write, put your heart and soul in it. Write with passion. Write as if you won't live tomorrow. In her book, Writing the Wave, Elizabeth Ayres wrote: "There's one thing your writing must have to be any good at all. It must have you. Your soul, your self, your heart, your guts, your voice -- you must be on that page. In the end, you can't make the magic happen for your reader. You can only allow the miracle of 'being one with' to take place. So dare to be you. Dare to reveal yourself. Be honest, be open, be true...If you are, everything else will fall into place."
Copyright (c) 2004 Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ
Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shery is the creator of WriteSparks! - a software that generates over 10 *million* Story Sparkers for Writers. Download WriteSparks! Lite for free - http://writesparks.com
It's one of those bizarre phenomena - the way writers see-saw between a love/hate relationship with their own writing.
You're in the throes of a story or an article - you don't want to stop because you're feeling inspired. Each word and phrase seems to resonate with profound meaning. The drama and/or the thought process seems to be unfolding well - and you're on a high. Finally, it seems as though the hotline between your thoughts and the page are in sync - you're writing well and all is right with the world.
This feeling can last a few hours, even a few days...
... until you look back at what you've done.
Then the angst sets in.
The writing you thought was superb suddenly seems clunky and inadequate. The phrases you particularly liked now seem awkward and ill-formed. Worse, your intellect seems exposed: you feel as though your writing shows you to be the hack you never wanted to be: the metaphors lack depth and the imagery is weak. The writing doesn't work. It's just, well, awful...
"The horror, the horror!" to quote Joseph Conrad who, irritatingly enough, wrote in several different languages and still managed to look like a genius in all of them. Gah!
What's a writer to do?
First take comfort in the fact that all writers go through this.
There's not a one that at some point didn't think they were the worst writer in the world (even Joseph Conrad.) It's got nothing to do with talent or dedication or practice or experience. Every writer goes through periods of self doubt. It's part of the landscape.
Next, take stock.
What have you got?
At the very least you've got some words on paper. You can congratulate yourself that you've at least done something 90% of would be writers struggle with - actually doing it.
If you're working to a, usually self imposed, deadline, this is good. At least you don't have to go through the pain of starting. There's something down. The rest is surely just editing...
If only it were that easy.
Sometimes I wish I was more easily satisfied. It would be wonderful to write a few lines and think, Now that's cool. Perfect, I don't need to change a thing.
But that's not how it works.
I have a semi-finished novel I've been editing for months. I do a little every day if I can. It's around 85,000 words altogether and do you know what?
Every single time I sit down to work on it, I end up reworking the damned opening paragraph!
I can't understand why but every time I open up the file, I feel the need to edit the beginning. Is that perfectionism? It doesn't feel like it. Seems more like insecurity - or simply frustration that I can't find a bunch of words that work for me every time. I mean, how hard can it be?
We have to be patient.
We have to take our time.
As you know, I'm all for writing the first draft of a novel in around thirty days. Or around 30000 to 50000 words a month.
Stephenie Meyer says she wrote Twilight in just three months. Makes you want to throttle her, doesn't it?
If there's any justice it took at least a couple of years to edit.
Because editing is where the work is. My novel has around ninety chapters - and after beating myself up over the final manuscript for the last week, I've made a few decisions.
1. It's not really ready to send out. (I have actually sent it out twice and received two rejections. I can handle it - not.)
2. If I'm going to edit it again, I need to do it slowly, taking care over every singe word. Only then will I be happy - won't I?
3. At one short chapter a day of around 1000 to 2500 words, it will take me about three months to edit the whole novel (again). But that's okay. What's three months when the final, final, final version will last forever, right?
Fiction in particular I think is hard to get right. Easy to write, hard to get right. Fiction needs to look effortless - which ironically requires more effort on the part of the writer.
But in my own case, I'm sure it will be worth it.
I want this next novel to be perfect - to impress everyone who reads it. I want it to be a bestseller...
Is that asking too much?
Maybe. You can't expect everyone to like a story.
Okay, I can accept that.
It's just that I have to like it first!
Thank you for letting me vent.
I hope this little rant helps with your own writing demons.
At least now you'll know you're not alone...
(c) Rob Parnell