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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NON-FICTION’S BENEFITS

Most of my Blogs have centred on Fiction, as that is my forte.   But I understand if you want to make money writing,  non-fiction is the way to go, and it’s also easier to find a publisher.  Most published writing is non-fiction – 90% in fact – articles, essays, fillers, features, travel articles etc.  It’s a huge market and I suppose I’ve sold 1,000 non-fiction pieces over the years.

Non-fiction suits every ability level. It allows writers in every stage of their development to sell their work and see their name in print. Even beginners can send their writing to the appropriate markets and occasionally it will sell.    Non-fiction covers the gamut of ideas. Everything you are interested in is covered in this genre – from hobbies, to a problem you solved, or your best friend’s interests. It encompasses every possible idea and concept in the world.

You broaden your information base with non-fiction., because you include facts and information.  You need to research information to add authenticity : facts from the encyclopedia, from your life experience, from eye witnesses, from books, from interviews with experts.  You are adding to your storehouse of knowledge.

In the U.S.A., 50,000  books are published annually, mostly non-fiction.  If you have an idea no-one else has thought of, a publisher will pay you in advance.  It is just as creative as writing fiction – you can use simile and metaphor, flights of word fancy , even development of character can come into play sometimes.

It also offers a wide variety. In one day, you can work on an interview, a profile, a how-to, a travel article, historical piece or a nostalgia article.  I am not intimating that it is always easy.  But if you satisfy an editor, and sound like an expert in the subject his periodical specialises in, you will be invited to submit more ideas and a mutually rewarding relationship will be established.

 

Happy writing.  If you are interested in my books, several novels are now available directly from me at dwaysman@gmail.com   – The Pomegranate Pendant, Seeds of the Pomegranate,  Esther – a Jerusalem Love Story,  In A Good Pasture and my latest novel  Searching for Sarah   – all at a discount price of 50 shekels or $20 including postage.  I enjoy hearing your comments, and am also happy to help with any writing problems.

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THE TIES THAT BIND

A story is something that happens to someone you’ve been led to care about.  If your readers don’t have emotional interest in your hero or heroine, then nothing else matters … not the plot, not the setting , nothing!    And if your readers don’t connect immediately, they probably won’t connect at all.

The way  to build an emotional bridge lies in the choices you make as you fashion the character and his fictional world.   Before you make these choices, you must get to know your main character better than any real-life person. First establish a fictional biography, just like a job application for an intelligence agency – everything from physical appearance to educational background, favorite hobbies to preferred authors. You must determine what lies at your character’#s emotional core.

Once you have a solid understanding of your character and his/her goal you can devise a plot that reveals your character’s attempt to achieve it.  What is it about him that will affect a reader immediately on an emotional level?   You must provide your main character with at least one attractive attribute .  Here are some specific character traits that create a bond with readers:

CURIOSITY : In John Updike’s “Flight” his character commands our sympathy by telling an incident with his mother when he was a youth. At the top of a hill overlooking their town she said: “Allan. You’re going to fly.” Everyone wants to know what she meant.

CONFLICTED CONSCIENCE: Readers relate to characters who try to do the right thing, even if they don’t always succeed.

ALTRUISM: Selfless characters who try to help others on an individual basis or involve themselves in worthy causes.  Sometimes you might appeal to your readers’ natural sympathies for the underdog.

Once you’ve chosen your emotional magnet, you can devise a plot that will best reveal this trait.  But don’t overdo the emotion. Excessive emotions seem unreal, so don’t drown your readers in emotion either.  In fiction, create not just characters, but “care-actors”. 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.

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My latest novel “Searching for Sarah” is now available direct from me at the discount price of $20. Contact me at dwaysman”gmail.com   I am always happy to hear your comments and to help you with any writing problems.  Happy writing!

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MINE FAMILY GOLD FOR FICTION

Many authors write about a  dysfunctional family, maybe because there are so many.  Tolstoy wrote: “Happy families are all alike. Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”  Of course there are truly happy families, but they don’t make such good fiction as mother-daughter conflicts; sibling rivalry; broken mother-child bonds; feelings of abandonment; marital strife … the list is unending.

Those thorny issues are explored very successfully in fiction.  And you can mine your own experiences – everything we know, feel, think or believe is colored by how we were brought up. Sibling rivalry that began in early childhood  continues undiminished into adulthood. Unrequited love looms large in the imagination. And somewhere amid this labyrinth of memories, experiences and conflicts lies the mother lode: the unique blend of fact and fiction, the alchemy that makes a story come to life.

This doesn’t mean it’s easy to translate it into your story.  But don’t think “My .life is boring. No-one would be interested in what happened to me.” Everyone’s story is potentially interesting. You don’t have to be a mountain climber, a lion tamer or a doctor to tell a fascinating story. Sometimes harrowing conflicts arise from extraordinary events in the lives of ordinary people.  When you imagine everyone else has a more exciting life, it’s often the case of the grass looking greener on the other side of the fence.

The death of a loved one can be the catalyst bringing submerged half-truths and unspoken resentments exploding to the surface.  How do you know which experiences and emotions to tap?  Start  putting it down on paper – if you can write it   dry-eyed, without a lump in your throat, maybe it’s not powerful enough.

I admit that what we write does have an effect on those around us, but we can’t keep thinking “What will he/she think” .  People don’t recognise themselves in your story as a rule, especially if the portrait is unflattering.  “To thine own pen be true” to paraphrase a cliche.  To create memorable characters and stories, you must be willing to travel deep into the mineshaft of your own memories.  You will be rewarded by the knowledge that redemption, in fiction as in life, is always possible and the human spirit is indeed indomitable.

I look forward to your comments, and am happy to help you with your writing problems. Contact me at dwaysman@gmail.com    My latest novel “Searching for Sarah” and an earlier one “In A Good Pasture” can be obtained direct from me at discount prices.

Happy writing!

 

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AN AMAZING AUTHOR

Can you imagine that there is an author who has sold 350 million books?  It kind of takes your breath away.  But Stephen King has done just that.  He has written more than 70 books of horror, science fiction and fantasy .    18 years ago, he wrote also the bestseller: “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.”  Even if you are not one of his fans, his strategies are worth taking note of.  Here are 8 of them:

TELL THE TRUTH:  You can write anything you want, but imbue it with life and blend in your own personal knowledge of life, friendship, relationships etc.  Be brave.

DON’T USE BIG WORDS when small ones work. It’s like dressing up your household pet in evening clothes.

USE SINGLE SENTENCE PARAGRAPHS. This more closely resembles talk than writing. Writing is seduction. Good talk is part of seduction.

WRITE FOR YOUR IDEAL READER:  I think that every novelist has a single, ideal reader; that at various points during the composition of a story, the writer thinks: “I wonder what he/she will think about this part?”

READ A LOT:  This is the creative centre of a writer’s life.  Read whenever and wherever you can.

WRITE ONE WORD AT A TIME:  In the end, it’s always that simple.

WRITE EVERY DAY:  No exceptions.

WRITE FOR THE JOY OF IT:  Don’t write thinking of being paid. Write for the buzz, because when you write for pure joy, you can do it forever.

Great advice.  Happy writing.   My latest novel (No. 14) “Searching for Sarah” is available at discount direct from me – dwaysman@gmail.com.  I am always happy to hear your comments and help with any writing problems.

 

 

 

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