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.!



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.



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.


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!




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!




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.






Pretend you’re a miner and “dig” for gold.  from anone else’s work.

It takes many hours of digging to produce even an ounce of gold; how many tons of rock to sift to find a diamond.  Read deeply and wisely; be willing to spend hours sweating over your words until they are not only grammatically correct but fresh and new and different from anyone else’s.

Keep improving:  No matter how good you get, you have still fallen short of the masters who went before. Improve by reading aloud to yourself. Join a workshop. Take a degree in creative writing, or at least attend a few classes.  Put in the effort.

Give them more than they ask for: With articles, do more research than you think necessary. Take more pictures. Do more interviews. The result will be that your work will shine. Then you’ll be invited back by the editor. Give the reader more than he expects too.

Make it personal: Publishing is built on personal relationships. Not just editors, but anyone in the office who’d be overjoyed to have you know their names, shake their hands and give them autographed copies of your books – editorial assistants, art directors, copy editors … as they go up the ladder, they’ll remember you.

Be ready to make changes: You may begin with small publishers, who want you to remain in their stable.  It’s perfectly acceptable to ask for a different editor if you’re not getting what you want. Or another layout person.  An old saying goes:  Be nice to the people you meet on the way up, because you’ll meet the same people on the way down.  When it’s time to say goodbye to an agent or publisher, treat them as you’d want to be treated – a face-to-face meeting;  a kind explanation of why you’re leaving; a sincere thank you – you owe it to other human beings.

Help other writers: We are artists, dedicated to bringing something new into the world, something that will enrich the lives of all who read what we have created.  The only way to repay writers who have inspired you is to pass it on to new writers.  My time is running out – I am 87. But when I go, I hope the world will be reading your writing instead of mine.

I am always happy to hear your comments, and to help you with any writing problems.

My latest novel “Searching for Sarah” is available direct from me – you can contact me at dwaysman@gmail.com    Happy writing!



It’s a cliche:  Write about what you know! But when you use your hometown for a setting, you have to distinguish what you know from what your characters know.  For example, suppose you go back to the hillside where you sat with your high school love (long since gone) and now you find it the site of a cluster of overpriced,  oversized homes.  You want your early memory to be something your character doesn’t know and learns about.  Maybe she’s living in one of those expensive homes, and she finds out that years ago, someone in the story used to sit on that very slope in her garden when there wasn’t a house in sight, and dream about the future.  Who was the dreamer?  Her mother? The girl who stole her beau? Her husband, with someone that he can’t forget?  You are sharing with the reader the freshness of her discovery, the scent in the air, the longing that you once experienced.

Conversely,  the other way you can bring to life a place very familiar, is by discovering something you don’t know, but your character does.  She has to know everything about this locale, and you need to research it in order to give your character authentic details and feelings about it.

What helps to bring a familiar place to life is finding out what new things people do there to make a living – changes in economics are part of conveying a sense of place.

Something else you should consider when writing about your own backyard: you must make this distinction … you knew people as they were; your character knows them as they might have been.     Sometimes we write about the place we grew up in to recover it; sometimes to redress it; sometimes merely to recall it. Remembrance of things past is a dialogue between you and your storyteller. Either you introduce her to that nostalgia for the hillside where you sat with your love under the stars; or she takes you to a country coffee shop, where – over coffee and cake – she tells you what’s new in your own backyard.

I’m always happy to hear your comments, and to help you with any writing problems.

Some of my 14 novels are now available from me at discount – “The Pomegranate Pendant”;  “Seeds of the Pomegranate”;  “In A Good Pasture”;  “Esther – a Jerusalem Love Story” and my latest novel “Searching for Sarah”. Details direct from me at  dwaysman@gmail.com     Happy writing!



“Once upon a time”…is how young readers are hooked.  with adults, it might take a formula to get you started, and to catch the eye of an editor.  Let’s take six easy steps:

Present your character with a problem.

Create an incident that intensifies the story.

Let your character react to it.

Devise an incident that thwarts all the character’s efforts and seems to make the problem insurmountable.

Terminate their efforts, either by their admission of failure, or a successful solution to the problem.

Let’s take an example. Jenny has been looking forward to her date with Mike. However, they have had a blazing row; she has stamped her foot and refused to go with him.

Intensifying the incident, Mike invites Jenny’s best friend to go to the concert with him instead. She accepts.

She retaliates by asking Mike’s best friend to take her to the concert.

He reacts by telling her she’s not his type – a blow to her confidence.

You have to reach a happy conclusion. Jenny is sitting alone in a cafe when Mike comes in and rather sheepishly joins her at her table. It seems that Jenny’s best friend can’t go in the end – dream up a plausible reason – he’s been too proud to come back to Jenny to see if they can settle their differences. He already misses her, and he’s still got the two tickets.

This is a very simple plot, but you get the idea. Successful writers write to a formula like this. It’s the result that counts.  Begin by thinking of a character, associate him/her with another character; put them both in a confrontational situation and work through the six steps.   My example is a very simple, women’s magazine example, but by using the same formula, you can create much more sophisticated plots, different settings, and traumatic problems.

Happy writing! My latest novel “Searching for Sarah” is available direct from me at a discount price. Contact me at dvorawaysman@gmail.com. I’m always happy to receive your comments, and to help you with any writing problems.




I’ve always loved the slogan: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression!”Nothing could be truer when submitting an article or story to an editor.  What sells a feature article?   Interesting content of course, but more important, instant appeal.   Readers have to be grabbed – to really want to read our work.

Next time you are in an airport terminal, railway station or large magazine shop, observe the customers.  See how they skim through a magazine,  flipping rapidly through the pages, pausing only when something grabs their attention.

Their roving eyes are caught by titles and illustrations. Once they pause, they will probably glance  at the opening lines.  If those first words interest them, they will probably want to read on.  So as a writer, you have those first three or four lines to grab their attention.   And remember, the first reader whose attention you want to grab, is the editor.

For maximum impact,  the opening paragraph should be about half the average length.  You have about 25 – 30 words to grab the reader.  Here are some hooks you could try:

A provocative question.

A simple, but interesting, statement.

A relevant quotation.

A shocker, or an anecdote.

All of the above are effective.  Start your next article with one of them.  It works for me!

My latest novel “Searching for Sarah” is available, direct from me at discount price.

Contact me at:  dwaysman@gmail.com.  I am always glad to hear your comments, and willing to help you with any of your writing problems.  Happy writing!







Almost every aspect of the craft of writing can be taught, except one.  Everyone knows those great shows like “Britain’s Got Talent” or “America’s Got Talent”. Why am I mentioning them in a writers’ Blog?   Because it’s all to do with teachers.

If you ask a writer, what was there favourite subject at school, you can be almost certain that they will say English.  But it goes further than that.  It would seem that most of us have been influenced by a teacher at some time, and often it’s their English teacher.

Yet I wonder how many of them know about their former students’ literary successes.  Be they great or small, I am certain they would be proud of you.   Many, many decades ago there was a Miss O’Donaghue  and a Miss Ryan back in Australia who introduced me to the magic of literature, that has stayed with me my whole life.   They encouraged me when others thought my wish to be a writer an impossible dream.


I’ve heard of students who came to my workshops in Jerusalem, who told me of teachers who discouraged them, or even made fun of them, but it didn’t stop their dreams.  And some have told me of teachers in their High Schools or even Elementary Schools who encouraged them.  And this is something I have tried to do with the many students who have attended the Creative Workshops I have given over the years.  Some of them now are published writers – either as journalists, and one or two have managed to have books published.  I am very proud of them.

I taught them many things – how to approach an editor;  how to do research;  the elements of fiction and short story writing … these are all things that you can learn. But no-one can teach that innate creativity which comes with talent.  That is something inborn, that can be nurtured and burnished, but is unique to each writer.  Believe in yourself and don’t let anyone divert you from fulfilling your dreams.

(I am always happy to hear your comments or to help you with any writing problems.  My latest novel  “Searching for Sarah” is available from Amazon, or at discount direct from me . You can contact me at dwaysman@gmail.com   Happy writing!)