MARKETING YOUR ARTICLE

Sorry not to have written my Blog for awhile. My husband had a pacemaker installed, so looking after him took up a lot of time.

Now I want to talk about getting into print.  In a sense you have been a producer.  Now you must be a salesman.  First, study markets to discover the needs of possible buyers.  Then you offer your wares where there is the best chance of their being accepted, by your customer – the magazine editor.

Editors deal in articles, and as the middle-man, he links the writer with the ultimate reader.  He/she naturally chooses articles to help sell as many copies of the magazine as possible. Articles are first read by a reader, who rejects and returns unsuitable material if a stamp-addressed envelope has been enclosed; or just deletes it if it comes in by e-mail.

Manuscripts which survive this elimination process go to the editor. His is the final responsibility… what he accepts must be paid for and published. He is always searching for ms. to delight his readers, and will accept them instantly and gratefully.  He works to a fixed schedule, planning in advance, and has most accepted material in place far ahead of time.  He tries to plan a variety – not more than one or two stories of a similar type in any one issue. These considerations govern his choice. Articles are not always rejected because they don’t measure up – often it’s just because he has already accepted something along similar lines, or else is stocked up for months.He selects the best content for the space he has at his disposal.

The usual reason for rejection, apart from poor quality, is that the material is not adapted to the particular needs of the publication. You can eliminate this by constantly studying each publication.  Buy copies of a great variety of journals, or read them on-line.

Their pet aversions are long, flowery introductions; an overlong article padded with hackneyed phrases; unrelated material written with no idea of the policy of the journal; old ideas that are just a re-hash of someone else’s work;  too  much personal touch or the writer’s life history. If an editor wants to see more of your work, even if he rejects one article, he will tell you so and leave the door open for the future.

Although publications need big name authors to sell them, they also need first-rate articles from unknown writers.  You may get lower rates of payment at first, but you will be encouraged if you show promise.  Big names are always in print because they supply what is demanded.

Often the best time to sell an article is before it even gets written. Many are written only after preliminary negotiations between editor and writer.  Once you have an idea, you  can write to several editors sounding them out to see if it interests them. It does not commit them to buy your story, but if the idea is acceptable, the length is right, the style is suitable, you have a 90% chance.  Your suggestion should crisply outline the feature and indicate the authoritativeness of the material and any special qualifications you may have in that area.

 

Good luck and happy writing!

If you are interested in my latest novel “Searching for Sarah”, you can contact  me at dwaysman@gmail.com

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IS FICTION YOUR FORTE?

If you have decided fiction is your medium, this takes just as much hard work as a well-researched article, because fiction, to be successful, must be believable.  You don’t just get an idea for a story or novel and then rush to start writing. First, make notes about your characters. Transfer their looks, thoughts and conversations on to paper. Decide on their backgrounds. Write about the setting – but choose a place you have lived in or really know intimately.

Start with one giant character – the hero or heroine – then build your satellite characters. Some authors first decide on a subject, then they invent a story, or plot, as the framework.  The main impetus of any short story or novel is the drama, moving from crisis to crisis.

Most novels contain or or more of these dramatic elements:

MAN AGAINST NATURE: (Robinson Crusoe; mountaineering books of J.R. Ullman etc.) Don’t make the story too grim, put the hero through unbelievable paces or treat nature solely as an enemy.

MAN AGAINST MAN: The chief danger here is to make your hero all good and his opponent all bad – every human is a little bit saint and also a bit sinner.

MAN AGAINST SOCIETY:  This was the classical theme of writers like Victor Hugo, Emil Zola and James Baldwin.

MAN AGAINST HIMSELF: This theme is exploited by Bernard Malamud and many contemporary writers. Don’t overburden your story with psychologizing, and can avoid this by dramatizing your story elements.

The plot refers to what happens – the arrangement of the events in the story. It is the plan or design and should be planned so that events at the beginning prepare the reader for the future.  These are the questions you should ask in devising your plot:

What conflict is there?  What is the basis for the conflict? What does the hero want? Does he get it?

Next you should ask: How does the story create suspense? When is your curiosity aroused about what is going to happen?  When is it satisfied?

Plot shows the cause and effect relationship between character and event. e.g. If you hear that a woman jumps from the fifth storey of a luxury apartment building, the incident is not meaningful until it is placed in a plot, in which you perceive how her character  and previous events in her life led her to suicide.

In a good story, every detail contributes to the plot, but you must omit details which do not further this purpose. Choose those which best produce the effect you want. You must also choose scenes which show most effectively the relationship between character and events.

The climax is the when the outcome of the conflict is decided, and who (or what) will win the struggle. Involve the reader emotionally. Conflict, suspense and incidents in a well-constructed story build up to this final climax.

 

Happy writing.   My new novella “Searching for Sarah” is now available on Amazon, or direct from me (dwaysman@gmail.com ); as well as some of my earlier books e.g. “The Pomegranate Pendant”; “Seeds of the Pomegranate” ; “In A Good Pasture”;  my memoir “My Long Journey Home”  etc.  I am always happy to hear your comments and to help with any of your writing problems.

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TRAVEL WRITING

There is a growing market for these features.  All airlines today have their own magazines for passengers, detailing where to go and what to see in their particular destinations, and most are written by freelancers.  If you have a particular place in mind that you’d like to write about, send the editor of the appropriate magazine , an outline of what you have in mind. Give any qualifications you have for writing it,  any specialised knowledge or experience.   Do your research carefully, if they show interest.  This is one travel feature I had published a few years ago, about Ein Gedi – a beautiful place in Israel which is  where I live.  El Al Magazine featured it for several issues:

FIND  MAGIC  IN   EIN GEDI

If you are familiar with the most beautiful love poem ever written, the Biblical “Song of Songs”, then you’ll know that Ein Gedi is the oasis King Solomon described:

 

“My beloved is unto me as a cluster of henna flowers in the

vineyards of Ein Gedi.”

 

The name means “Spring of the Kid”, the animal we know as the ibex which can be seen roaming in the valley.   It is a world in itself, and easily accessible today, being only an hour’s drive south of Jerusalem.  It is in the Judean Desert on a plateau, overlooking the Dead Sea which is the lowest place on earth (420 metres below sea level).  It has been described as “a slice of heaven” where the air is pollution free and dry; there are 330 sunny days a year, the temperature soaring in summer but never colder than 10 degrees in winter.

This summer fires destroyed much of the beauty of the Nature Reserve, but the plentiful water supply is slowly bringing it back to life.  The water bounces from rocks to riverbeds, fills the crevices to become clear, blue pools. This wealth of water comes from the rainfall on the Hebron mountains to the west of Ein Gedi.  Water from the springs flows the entire length of the reserve.  Towering above are brown-red cliffs, bare like the landscape of the moon.This tropical oasis is home to trees such as Jericho balsam, moringa and acadia, as well as shrubs and unusual bushes and grass.  The Dead Sea Apple, or Apple of Sodom grows here too, named for the city God destroyed together with Gomorrah which were located nearby.

 

Nowhere else in Israel is there such a wide range of wildlife. It is  paradise  for bird-watchers … the bulbul, the blackstart (shahor-zanav in Hebrew); sand partridges, Tristam’s grackle and the raven can all be found here.

You can also see ibex and coneys and the occasional leopard and wolf.  The coneys are small  animals with short ears and legs and no tail.  The male ibex has long horns that are bent back and rounded at the ends. The female’s horns are shorter.  The ibex is the official symbol of the Nature Reserves Authority.

 

Kibbutz Ein Gedi is distinct from, and situated on the edge of the Reserve.  Before the founding of the kibbutz by a group of young army recruits in 1956, Ein Gedi had not been inhabited for 500 years.  The first dwellers lived there in the Stone Age 5,000 years ago.  The kibbutzniks  made vegetable gardens and date plantations and raised turkeys.  They soon learned that they also had natural treasures in the black mud, hot sulphur springs, the Dead Sea and water that promoted feelings of tranquillity, health and peace.

 

So they founded Ein Gedi’s Country Hotel.  Today you can enjoy the Spa, restaurants, Botanical Gardens and hire 4 x 4 desert terrain vehicles, as well as buy arts and crafts in the many souvenir shops.  For archaeology buffs, there is Massada to the south, the Qumran Caves to the north which housed the Dead Sea Scrolls, and there is a Byzantine Synagogue with a wonderful mosaic floor.

 

In the Ein Gedi Botanical Gardens there are 800 unique species of trees and flowers and such exotic Biblical plants as Myrrh and Frankincense, tropical plants from the rain forests, date palms and unusual cacti.  You can have a guided tour (free for guests of the Country Hotel). Included in the modest entry price is a film about the settlement and information on the flora of the Gardens.

 

The Country Hotel focuses on the natural, healthy life.  There are both indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and all the rooms are located on ground level in the fabulous gardens.  You can even rent their “Romantic Room” which has a private Jaccuzi.  All guests have free entry to the Ein Gedi Spa. Available also are many holistic treatments to balance mind and body through the use of therapeutic plants, minerals, nutrition, meditation etc. There are facials and massage and, at the Spa, Peeling, Mud Wraps and Reflexology.

 

Ein Gedi also offers a choice of restaurants …. Pandak Ein Gedi on the public beach; the Botanical Gardens’ Restaurant which is buffet-style and kosher; nd “At Haya’s” also in the Botanical Gardens.  This is a private home that accepts only 8 guests and must be booked in advance.

 

The Jewish village of Ein Gedi was inhabited in Biblical times, destroyed and rebuilt many times over the centuries.  It is where King David hid  in the caves from King Saul  who pursued him with an army of 3,000 men.

 

Today it is a feast for the eyes and the senses, a place to be rejuvenated and feel peaceful and tranquil in the pure air of the Judean Desert.

__________________________

Some things to keep in mind. Assume the reader is new to your destination and wants to see the best attractions in a limited time. Detail the best area in which to stay, the best time of year to arrive, and any special local events.  If you can supply photos, you increase your chances of acceptance.

My new novella “Searching for Sarah” is now available on Amazon; or from the publisher Chaim Mazo (Chaim.Mazo@gmail.com) or direct from me at dwaysman@g.mail.com  Be in touch for details.  I always enjoy your comments, and am available to help with your writing problems.  Happy writing!

 

 

 

 

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DIALOGUE IN YOUR STORY

The first rule in writing your story:  Don’t ask yourself “Do I have something to say?”  Ask instead: “Do my characters have something to say?”

In Hemingway’s ‘Hills like white elephants” (about a man persuading his girlfriend to have an abortion she doesn’t want) – he could have made grandiose statements about morality, maturity, selfishness, sexual responsibility etc. Instead, he sticks to the tiny sounds, signals and pauses which people in intimate situations send to each other. e.g. “I’ll go with you and stay with you all the time. They just let the air in and then it’s perfectly natural.”

“Then what will we do afterwards?”

“We’ll be fine afterwards. Just like we were before.”

“What makes you think so?”

“That’s the only thing that bothers us. It’s the only thing that’s made us unhappy.”

The story takes place between the lines, in the silences between the characters. Action can be speech. Action can also be silence – the silence that punctuates speech.

If you have created characters you want to use, and have decided on the setting and the period, but are stuck for the plot, one idea is to take familiar trends, ideas and situations and simply reverse them. “Visit to a Small Planet” by Gore Vidal reverses feeling that people from other planets are inferior, showing “visitor” far  more intellectually advanced.  “Paths of Glory” reverses admiration for military efficiency.  “Bad Seed” reverses romantic concept of children as innocent darlings.

“Teahouse of the August Moon” (Vern Sneider) – civilised, sophisticated Americans occupying primitive Okinawa, learn more from natives than they teach them.  In Sloan Wilson’s “A Summer PLace” , the adults are the delinquents, while the teenagers are stable, moral and mature.

There are no real rules in writing your story, none that is, that cannot be disregarded when the circumstances demand it.  But here are some do’s and don’ts that may prove helpful:

Study stories published in recent issues of your favorite magazine.

Sketch main characters that come to life.

“Hook” the reader with attention-snatching opening.

Introduce action immediately – physical or psychological.  Maintain suspense so that the reader cannot guess the exact ending.

Stay in one viewpoint throughout. The protagonist must solve his own problem through characterization that is clear to the reader from the outset.

Now for some Don’ts.  Don’t be condescending or write down to the reader.  Don’t be too intellectual or philosophical in theme, style or content.  Don’t narrate when you can dramatize in-action scenes with dialogue or emotion.  Don’t write frustrating or inconclusive endings.

Here’s an exercise to practise writing dialogue: “They sat in the hotel room, perspiring in its airlessness, staring at his packed suitcase which lay on the bed.”  Force your two characters to talk to each other. Try not to use adverbs such as “he said sadly; she replied angrily”. Their actual words should convey the emotions they are feeling.

Read your words out loud to see if they sound the way people actually talk.

Happy writing!  Remember you can buy my new novella “Searching for Sarah” through Amazon, from the publisher  chaim.mazo@gmail.com or direct from me at dwaysman@gmail.com   I’m always happy to hear your comments or help if you have a query.

 

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CORRECTION

I do apologise. Made a silly error in my Blog yesterday.  The title of my new novella is, of course, “|Searching for Sarah” – not as written.  when you get to my age, you start to lose some of your marbles!  It is available on Amazon, direct from the publisher –

Chaim.Mazo @gmail.com or from me: dwaysman@gmail.com

Thank you to Dorothy O’Brien in Australia, who noticed the mistake and was kind enough to e-mail me.

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IMAGE AND SYMBOL Imagery

Imagery is the most important element of descriptive writing, since it makes possible the communication of what one sees, hears, feels, smells and tastes.  An IMAGE is an expression in words of a sense experience.  Settings of stories are made up of sense perceptions. Images are more than a descriptive function; they also convey feelings to the reader and create an atmosphere appropriate to the major elements of the story – plot, character and theme.  Images can convey strong feelings such as inhibition, tension, passion etc.

Dark colors convey a feeling of doom or danger.  A red rose can be more than part of a garden description, it can be used as a symbol of beauty or love. Darkness can be literal or suggest evil.  The act of planting and caring for flowers can be symbolic of maternal instincts.

 

A SYMBOL is an emblem or sign representing something else through association. For example, an insurance company uses the Rock of Gibralter to suggest reliability.  A film studio is represented by Liberty holding the Torch of Truth etc.    John Hersey’s novel, “A Bell for Adano” shows the human need for a symbol of peace and sanity, when the people of the Italian town prefer a replacement for the bell which the Fascists took from  the Mayor’s bell tower, to food and clothing.

A symbol can have different meanings to different people and you must think through your symbolism before planning your story and know how and when to introduce it.  A bridge may represent the transition between ages, between wealth and poverty, enslavement and freedom.  A bridge was used as a symbol in “Land Without Moses” by Charles Curtis Munz – about the oppressed sharecroppers and their toll bridge (symbolising that the down-trodden must pay a high price to achieve liberty).

“The bridge Over the River Kwai” suggests British superiority and knowhowm transforming defeat into victory.  Thornton Wilder’s “Bridge of San Luis Rey” says in its last line: “There is a land of the living and a land of the dead; the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”

Effective symbolism must also be emotional; universal enough to apply to the reader’s problems; subtle but unmistakable; graphic and vividly described; planted early in your story, then referred to later; important to the plot and solving a crucial problem.

Many authors make effective use of symbolism.Paul Gallico used “The snow Goose” to represent a staunch spirit in a crippled body.  Poe used a raven to symbolise death; Coleridge an albatross for conscience; Shelley freedom with a skylark and Maeterlinck chose a Bluebird for happiness.In the beautiful O. Henry story “The Last Leaf”, a girl with no will to live likens her life to the last ivy leaves clinging to the wall outside her window. When the last leaf falls, an artist neighbor paints a leaf on the wall outside her window, and belkieving it has clung on bravely through the storm, she recovers her will to live.

 

Happy writing!  You can buy my new novella “Searching for Susan” on Amazon or by contacting me at  dwaysman@gmail.com

 

 

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CREATING CHARACTERS

We spend most of our working hours with people – fascinating, maddening or unpredictable people.  It is through our understanding of others that we mature. A person reveals his character by what he says or does – in even his/her most trivial speech and action.  The way he walks or speaks, the way he puts on his coat, the way he hangs it up – or carelessly throws it down, all show something about his character.

When you write a story, the reader not only wants to know what happens, but also to whom it happens. We reveal character through what a person does, says, thinks,  how he or she looks;  what other characters say or think about a person, what the author says about him.  Each speech or action is revealing. If a girl stops to look at her reflection each time she passes a mirror or shop window, we infer she is vain.  If a man kicks a cat, we infer that he hates animals, or that he’s taking out his anger on a helpless animal, or that he’s vicious and cruel – maybe all three.  You, the author, choose the speech and actions that suggest the total character of the person.  You must give your character a motivation for his behaviour and supply a reason for his actions.

A story often centres on just one character, but the minor characters are also important.  There is continual inter-action … what do they say and think about the hero?  How do they solve their problems, and what does their solution tell you about the wisdom or folly of the hero’s solution?

One of the most graphic descriptions I ever read of a character was contained in just one sentence:  “His face was lined with broken Commandments.”  It says it all!

Successful authors are those who have created fictional people who are more real than they are themselves and often outlive them (Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, David Copperfield, Tarzan etc.) Once you have created real-life people, you are stuck with them. You can’t forget them, you can seldom control them, and you cannot kill them if they want to keep on living.  Sometimes they will upset the plot you have in mind for them and write their own stories.

Once a beginner writer sent his story to an editor stating: “The characters in this story are purely fictional and bear no resemblance to any person, living or dead.”  The editor sent it straight back with the notation: “That is exactly what’s wrong with it!”

You should know your character as intimately as you know your spouse. Before you write your story, work out a complete profile of background – birthplace, age, education, religion, experiences, financial status and politics. Understand his emotions – how he feels about people, things situations, his thoughts and philosophy.  Setting – clothes, hairdo, car, home, surroundings and environment.  How and what he says reveal his character – compassionate, impatient, selfish, critical, bigoted, brave etc.

It is also important to remember NOT to do certain things.  Don’t give them just any names. Choose them as carefully as you would for your real-life children.  Don’s use confusingly similar names like Phyllis, Philip and Filbert.  Don’t begin with minor characters, making the reader think they are going to be important. Don’t add characters unnecessary to the plot. Don’t create all-good or all-bad characters – they won’t ring true.

My latest novella “Searching for Sarah” garnered a wonderful, full-page review in the Jerusalem Post last Friday, beyond expectations.  In my next Blog, I’ll send you a link to it.

You can order it on Amazon, buy it at Pomeranz Bookstore in Jerusalem, or direct from me. Contact me at  dwaysman@gmail.com  for details.

I welcome your comments and am ready to help with any writing problems.

Keep writing!

 

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