SNIPPETS OF ADVICE

All my life as a writer, I seem to have collected bits of advice from experienced authors.  Many of them are cliches, but nevertheless some of them just might serve as an inspiration for you.  Off the top of my head, here are a few of them:

 

Write a book you’d like to read.  If you wouldn’t read it, why would anyone else?

Make yourself a place to write , no matter how small – a quiet space where it’s just you, your pen and a notebook or laptop/computer.

Agatha Christie wrote that the best time for planning a book was while you were doing the dishes.

Trust your reader. Not everything needs to be explained. If you know something, and breathe life into it, they’ll know it too.

Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader – not the fact that it’s raining, but the feeling of being rained upon. (E.L. Doctorow)

Don’t hold on to poor work. If it was bad when it went into the drawer,  it will be just as bad whet comes out.

Even great writers admit to poor first drafts – so you’re in good company.

Try to read your own work as a stranger would read it, or even better, as an enemy would.

The less conscious one is of being ‘a writer’ the better the writing.

And my favourite:  Forget all the rules.  Forget about being published.  Write for yourself, and celebrate writing.

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I’m always happy to hear your comments, and to help with any writing problems.  My latest novel (no. 14)  is “Searching for Sarah” and is available from me direct at discount. I also have copies of “In A Good Pasture” and “Esther” available. You can contact me at:

dwaysman@gmail.com.   Happy writing.

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THE JOY OF WORDS

 

 

There is a beautiful Chinese quotation: “Keep a green tree in your heart, and maybe the singing bird will come.”  For me, the green tree stays alive because of the joy I get from writing – a gift that took root when I was a little girl of seven and had my first poem published in a children’s magazine.  Now, more than seven decades later, I have nurtured it through 5,000  published articles, poems, stories and fourteen books.

 

If you have an ambition to  be a writer, you should realise that talent alone is not enough. Determination is necessary, but what you really need is compulsion.  Writing must be such an integral part of your life that if you are breathing, you are writing. You want to share your eyes with your readers, and all your other senses too, enabling them to hear, smell, taste and touch the world you have created for them.  If your words speak to them and you can make them feel joy and pain, smile and weep, feel empathy and compassion, then you are indeed a writer.

 

As a teacher of Creative Writing, I have also taught  my students to be salespeople because you need to learn how to get your words out to the reading public.  They must learn, as you did, sometimes to face rejection and not give in to despair.  My way was always to give myself periodic encouragement rewards.  When I write a book, the time to complete it and find a publisher can be awesome, so during the writing I submit short stories or magazine articles.  These are easier to sell, and the temporary triumphs are confidence-boosters for the stamina you need to keep working on much longer projects.  Usually with articles, I suggest that students do not invest time in writing and researching the whole piece until they have  sent out a few query letters.  Only when an editor indicates that he/she likes the idea, should you complete the work.  However you must make your query letters as creative as you  can, and give the projected article a title as irresistible as you  can make it. I tell my students that the only way  that they will never be rejected is never to submit anything, and that every achievement in life begins with two small words: “I’ll try.”

 

Joy in writing also springs from joy in reading. They are inseparable.  Time and again I travel back to the leisurely, masterful narratives of Somerset Maugham and Evelyn Waugh; revel in the humanity  and poetic descriptions of John Steinbeck; chuckle at the rapier wit of Noel Coward and Dorothy Parker; and dream with yesterday’s poets who didn’t write of politics and technology but were lyrical – Byron, Shelley and Keats; W. B. Yeats,  Rupert Brooke and A.E. Housman.  All these authors probably date me (my grandchildren have never read them) but their works are timeless and remain an inspiration.

 

Sometimes our own words disappoint us. Edith Wharton wrote: “I dream of an eagle, I give birth to a humming-bird.”  So we try and try again, sometimes managing to capture just a little bit of heaven in our quest to be crowned with stars.

 

And when we do, there is nothing to compare with the joy of accomplishment. Our spirits soar along with our words, and the singing bird builds its nest in the green tree we have kept alive in our heart.

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I am always happy to hear your comments and to help with any writing problems. You can also buy some of my books direct from me at discount prices, including my latest novel “Searching for Sarah”. Contact me at:  dwaysman@gmail.com

 

 

 

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FINDING INSPIRATION

 

 

 

 

When you are a writer, inspiration comes from lots of unexpected sources.  Maybe you consciously plot the main theme, but often the characters, setting, scraps of dialogue, reflections enter your sub-conscious without your even being aware of it.

 

Jerusalem has inspired me so many times that it is like a dominant character running through all my writing.  Unique, it is like no other city I have ever lived in nor visited.  But apart from the city itself, weighed down with prayers and dreams and spirituality, there are impressions on the periphery that you absorb almost unknowingly.  There are pine trees outside our building, and if I stand on the balcony at night, the wind in the branches seems to be sighing tragically, yet in the early morning, the boughs are filled with birdsong.

 

On my early morning walks, I meet many of the same people every day.  There is a kind hearted woman who feeds the street’s stray cats, notwithstanding the wrath of her neighbors.  There is an elderly lady who walks her dog, chatting to it affectionately as they go, and stopping patiently for it at every tree.  There is a young Asian girl, jogging in shorts and tank top no matter how low the 6 a.m. temperature – maybe she is someone’s care-giver getting in her exercise before her day’s duty begins.  Then there is the couple walking briskly along the same route I take, who always smile “boker tov”.  I don’t really know these people, but as we all live somewhere in Beit Hakerem and like to start our day early, we nod at each other and maybe make some comment in passing.

 

My walk takes me up the hill in Hechalutz, along Sderot Herzl and down Ruppin Street towards the Knesset, past Sacher Gardens.  On the way I pass the Givat Ram campus of Hebrew University and the Bloomfield Science Museum, outside which small windmills are whirring like a flock of silver birds flying.  I take a short cut home that takes me down a track leading to a beautiful park and playgrounds, with its own promenade – a delightful walk through trees, flowers and fragrant shrubs.

 

All the time I am walking briskly, I am absorbing these sights and sounds.  There are bushes of purple and crimson bouganvillea in some gardens and a few nasturtiums and red geraniums pushing up from the cold ground.  I pass hotels with big tour buses already lined up waiting to take their passengers to beauty spots all over Israel.  The drivers are already seated, smoking a cigarette or reading the paper while they wait.  Some have their radios on, so I get bursts of music as I pass them.

 

This is early morning Jerusalem.  Maybe I will weave some of the sights, smells and sounds into my next story.  Even if I don’t, I know they are entering the fabric of my being, and making me proud to be living in such a special and spiritual city.

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Happy writing.  I’m always happy to hear your comments, and to help you with your writing problems.   My latest book (no. 14) is “Searching for Sarah”” – available at discount by contacting me at dwaysman@gmail.com

 

 

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Dvora Waysman 5 / 5 Karmon Street, Beit Hakerem, Jerusalem 96308  Israel

Tel: 972 2 6513096 e-mail: ways@netvision.net.il     : website: www.dvorawaysman.com

 

 

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GENERATING SUSPENSE IN FICTION

Suspense can be defined as the reader wondering what will happen next. But for the writer, it is much more. Suspense is not merely curiosity. That keeps the readers turning pages by holding out the promise that they will eventually get answers to questions. In mystery novels, this happens in the last chapter.

But suspense is more – it is emotional. The reader experiences vicariously what the hero/heroine is experiencing. He identifies with the character, when the character feels tumult, so on a certain level will the reader; and when he suffers physical pain, maybe sympathy will cause the reader’s grip on the book cover to tighten.

How to get the reader to identify with your character? You give more than mere description of him and his surroundings. You make the reader think “Yes, I understand. I’ve been there. I know exactly how that feels.”

Once you’ve established the hero-reader identification, you can heighten suspense. One way is the ticking clock. He has a time limit and must accomplish something difficult and dangerous, maybe life and death situation, and time is running out.  Another way to create suspense is to let the reader know something your character doesn’t suspect.  Perhaps a time bomb can be ticking away in a minivan full of children, while the car-pooling mother drives, happy and unaware, towards school.  At this point the reader should already care about your character and in addition will be concerned for the children, and drawn deeper into the story. In the reader’s mind should be silent screaming: “Stop the van. Take the children and run!”

Another way to create suspense is atmosphere.  Maybe the reader knows that a killer lurks in the apartment of an unsuspecting woman arriving home – a woman the reader knows and likes. If we like her, suspense is generated not only by atmosphere, but the fact that we’re aware of something terrible and momentous that she doesn’t suspect.

There are plenty of variations and combinations of these techniques. The secret is to reach beyond curiosity and engage the reader’s emotions, It’s not easy, but it’s possible.  The effect is worth the effort.

I have never actually written a mystery/murder novel, but I like to read them – especially Jonathan Kellerman’s that are masterpieces in suspense.  If that is what you want to write, then read him like a text book, because he is a master.

Happy writing. I am happy to help you with any writing problems, and welcome your comments.  You can buy some of my 14 books direct from me at discount by contacting me at e-mail: dwaysman@gmail.com – including “The Pomegranate Pendant” (now a movie) or my latest novel “Searching for Sarah”.

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ARE YOU READING ENOUGH?

We take it as a given that those who long to see their words in print love to read, but are you reading enough? We’d be surprised if an art student rarely visited museums; or a would-be actor turned down free theatre tickets, yet it’s a common lament among editors that many aspiring writers have scant acquaintance with existing wonderful literary works.

If you aren’t nurturing yourself as a reader, you are short-changing yourself as a writer.  Here’s how to invigorate your reading:

READ WIDELY: Don’t limit yourself to just one genre. Read widely and discover galaxies of exciting worlds to explore.  Don’t neglect poetry, a magical realm of vivid imagery.  It will encourage you to weave more artful tapestries with your prose.

ALWAYS HAVE A BOOK WITH YOU.  How often have you been in a crowded waiting room and wishes you’d brought a book?   Choose slim books to read on your dail;y travels.

LISTEN TO BOOKS ON TAPE: Audio books a wonderful for boring car trips;  or for people too tired to read in bed at night.

READ TO A FRIEND: Enjoy reading out loud to a child, relative or other book lover. It’s a rewarding way to share a book.

FIND BOOK BUDDIES:  When a friend recommends a book she’s just finished, try to read it soon after so it will still be fresh in her mind for discussion.

JOIN A BOOK CLUB: As a member, you can share the joy of books with others.

GO ONLINE: The internet is an amazing resource. Amazon.com features every literary offering you can imagine, including author interviews and even free e-mailed book recommendations.

WHEN YOU CAN’T READ A LOT, READ A LITTLE:  Read plays, poems or short stories, even children’s stories.  Or books that you can just dip into now and again instead of having to read cover to cover.

You never know when someone else’s words  will give you the inspiration you need to put a little magic into your own.  There is no better way to enrich your own writing than in reading authors who show you how to evoke emotion. I have always loved something my sister taught me when I was a child:

“Writing is dreaming, head in the skies,  Reading is sharing another man’s eyes.”

Happy writing. Send me your comments . I will be happy to help with any writing problems.  Some of my 14 books are available direct from me at discount prices – contact me at   dwaysman@gmail.com

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THE TIES THAT BIND

A story is something that happens to someone you’ve been led to care about.    If  readers don’t have emotional interest in your protagonist, nothing else matters – not a clever plot, not a detailed setting, not a finely tuned tone.  Nothing.

And if they don’t connect immediately, they probably won’t connect at all.   How do you get your readers to build an emotional bridge?  How do you make them concerned right away about your creation’s joys, fears, successes and failures?

The answer lies in the number of choices you make. First, you must get to know the hero/heroine better than any real-life person. Establish a fictional biography, like a job application – a full spectrum of details from physical appearance to educational background, favorite hobbies, preferred authors.  What is the one thing that defines your character? What is his primary goal in life?   Once you have the answers,you can devise a plot that reveals his attempts to  achieve these goals.

Even if your main character  is not altogether admirable, endow him with at least one attractive characteristic. Here are some specific traits that create a bond with readers:

CURIOSITY:   CONFLICTED CONSCIENCE.  ALTRUISM.  Perhaps the most attractive trait is LOVE. If your character demonstrates the ability to love someone, readers will put up with many sins.  Or you might appeal to readers’ sympathy for the underdog.  Given your choice of the “emotional magnet”, you can decide on a plot that will best reveal it.    Ultimately in fiction, one major truth is revealed and proven time after time … create not just characters but CARE-acters.  If you establish an emotional bridge between your chief character and your readers early on, your  audience will willingly cross into your fictional universe and want to stay.

Happy writing!  I enjoy your comments and am happy to help with any writing problems.   Some of my 14 novels are now available at discount price direct from me at dwaysman@gmail.com – including “The Pomegranate Pendant”;  “Esther – a Jerusalem Love Story”;  “In A Good Pasture” and “Searching for Sarah”.

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WRITING A BOOK PROPOSAL

 

A book proposal should never be more than 20 double-spaced quarto pages.  The primary function is as a selling tool.  It uses as few words as possible to generate the maximum enthusiasm for your proposed book.  It must answer every question an editor may have , so that he has no reason to say “no”.

 

A proposal is a map. A solid outline will enable you and the publisher to see where you are going. Writing 2 sample chapters will show whether you can and really want to write the book.  If you prove that you can research, organize and write non-fiction, you can sell a book with a proposal consisting of an introduction, a chapter-by-chapter outline, and 2 sample chapters.

 

With fiction it is more difficult.  You need an exciting synopsis of not more than 1 page.Another page should be your bio … what work you have had published up to now,  and your accreditations if any.

 

A paragraph should cite what genre it will belong to – e.g. romantic fiction, historical, sci-fi, thriller etc.; who your target audience is and why you think you are the person to write it.  You must also state the length (50 – 60,000 words is an acceptable ms.)  You must also state how you will help promote it  – e.g. lectures, book signings, TV or radio appearances etc.

 

The cover page must give all your contact details.  Finally, you can send 1 or 2 sample chapters so that the publisher can assess your style.  Never send a complete ms. – it will simply go in the slush pile.  If it interests them, they will ask to see more.  If you want your ms.  returned, you must send stamps to cover the postage, or if it is overseas, you send International Reply Coupons that you buy at the Post Office.

 

You can send multiple submissions.  Don’t worry – more than 1 publisher will probably not be interested.  You can use an agent, but I have only had an agent find me one publisher – the other 13 books I approached publishers directly although my New York publisher often gets me better deals on the contract.  Read books like The Artists & Writers’ Year Book (U>K>) or “The Writers’ Market (U.S.A.) to research which publishers are interested in your genre and any specific requirements they have.  Then be patient – you rarely get an answer in less than 3 months.  Good luck!

I am happy to help you with any writing problems, and always enjoy your comments. You can also purchase many of my books at a big discount direct from me, by contacting me at  dwaysman@gmail.com    Happy writing.!

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