STORY STARTERS – Quick Ways to find Inspiration!

LISTEN CAREFULLY:  Eavesdrop – at a restaurant or on a bus, & record bits of overheard conversation.  Sometimes the dialogue will jump-start all kinds of ideas.

READ THE OBITUARIES:  Do you wonder about the part of a person’s life that isn’t reported in the death notices?  Use your imagination to fill in the gaps.

PUT YOURSELF IN ANOTHER PERSON’S PLACE:   Pick a character, maybe from the Bible, and read his or her story carefully.  Write a story as though you were that character.

TELL THE STORY BEHIND A PHOTOGRAPH:   Find a picture that intrigues you or stirs a memory – maybe an early photo of your mother.  You will be surprised at what memories are invoked.

LISTEN TO STORIES FROM FRIENDS OR RELATIVES OR EVEN STRANGERS:  I once sat on a park bench with a notebook when an old lady came & sat next to me.  She started telling me her life story, and it was one of the most fascinating stories I had ever heard.

START WITH A SETTING: Describe a setting in such detail that it can’t be mistaken for any other spot in the world, & then let people loose in it. This is a great story starter.

USE A MAP: Pick out towns with odd names, and think about what it would be like to live there.  I read recently a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald set in the town of Hades  called “A Diamond as Big as the Ritz”.  Hades & people’s reaction to the name was a big part of the plot.

THINK OF A COLOR :   For example, “red” might evoke russet apples, fragrant roses, scraped knees,  a flag  … ideas are endless.

The next time your are all out of inspiration, maybe one of the above suggestions can get you started.

Happy writing.  I am always glad to hear your comments, and help you with any writing difficulties.  My latest novel (no. 14) “Searching for Sarah” is now available direct from me at discount:  contact  dwaysman@gmail.com   ; also “In A Good Pasture” and some copies of “Esther” ; a Jerusalem Love Story; and “The Pomegranate Pendant” – now a movie titled “The Golden Pomegranate”.

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HOW TO END YOUR ARTICLE

There’s more to writing a good conclusion than many writers realise.  Don’t let it end with a whimper.  A good closing achieves three purposes:   it will emphasize the point of your article; it will provide a climax; and it will help readers remember your piece.

 

You can close by asking a question. This leads readers to keep thinking about the topic.

State a little-known fact.   This will make it memorable.

You can close with a quotation.

Try a bit of trivia – plant an off-beat fact in the readers’ minds in hopes they’ll remember your article.

Tug at the heartstrings.  A tear or two will make any article memorable.

Motivate them.  Maybe you want the readers to take some kind of action – maybe to join an organization; donate to a charity; mail a letter of support.

You can close by reviewing your main points. This will clarify things for your readers and reinforce the message you are sending.

What is important is that your conclusion brings readers to the end feeling satisfied that they have, indeed, read the last word on the subject.   Crafting opening paragraphs may get more attention, but perhaps the Biblical writer of Ecclesiastes knew the best way to satisfy readers:  “Whatsoever thou takest in hand, remember the end, and thou shall never do amiss! ”

Happy writing.  I enjoy your comments and am always ready to help with any writing problems.  You can get copies of my latest novel “Searching for Sarah” direct from me; and also copies of “The Pomegranate Pendant”;  “In A Good Pasture”;  “Esther – a Jerusalem Love Story” at a discount price by contacting me at dwaysman@gmail.com

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SNIPPETS OF ADVICE

From Dvora's Desk

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…

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DON’T BE DEPRESSED!

Receiving an occasional rejection is all part of being a writer.  You should regard the submission itself as an achievement.  You should be proud.  This is the first hurdle you’ve overcome. If you are sending out your work, you have taken the first steps to publication by finishing something, and being brave enough to send it out into the world. Pat yourself on the back!

Remember you are in good company. Many famous, successful writers were repeatedly rejected before finding favour with a publisher – think JK Rowling, whose first Harry Potter book was rejected 12 times before being finally accepted by Bloomsbury (only because the chairman’s 8-year-old daughter liked it so much.)

Look at your rejected work with a fresh eye, and not as a personal insult.  Perhaps in the joy of finishing it and sending it, you overlooked some flaws that are now apparent.  It doesn’t mean it is without merit. Looking at it again with more critical eyes might show you what you need to do to fix it.

Submit it elsewhere. You might have targeted the wrong publication or publisher. Do your homework.  Consult publications such as The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook for possible markets; study the websites of magazines, newspapers and publishers.

You might need to work on something different for a while, in a different style and genre,  will sharpen your skills . Then return to the other piece with fresh eyes that might spot exactly why it was rejected.

Check your timing.  Monthly magazines have a very long lead time and work months ahead.  Maybe another writer covered a similar idea recently.

Avoid seeking consolation from friends and family. They won’t take an objective view of your work.  And if they do criticise you, you’ll feel that the whole world is against you.

Above all, remember why you started writing. Persistence is a virtue in the world of writing.  You should write because you enjoy it, and publication is the icing on the cake.  Believe in yourself and celebrate the fact that you have such an enjoyable and rewarding hobby, with publishing success just around the corner.

Happy writing. I am glad to hear your comments and to help with any writing problem.  My 14th book “Searching for Sarah” is available at discount direct from me, at:  dwaysman@gmail.com – as are some other titles including “In A Good Pasture” and “Esther – A Jerusalem Love Story.”

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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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