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Friday, July 29, 2016

Writing Problem, Writing Solution: Telling an Animal's Story Via a Human Companion

Horse Face in Focus Phography
The roadblock a writing client and I faced this week was how to communicate a powerful message in the telling of an animal's amazing story. Our solution was to use a human, who journeys alongside the animal. 

But we realized that some of the ways to "show" and not "tell," through the human, will be more effective, and engaging for the reader, than others.

As you'll see, we discovered that the best solution is to show the character interacting with the animal. The worst if to have the human thinking about her insight. (#telling) 

Serving the Reader By Telling an Animal's Story Via a Human Companion...

1. (Best) Human discovers something by interacting with the animal herself.

2. Human interacts with others who are interacting with, or impacted by, the animal. 

3. Human observes others interacting with the animal.

4. Human notices, sees, overhears, others talking about their experience with the animal.

5. Human has a conversation with someone else where she describes how she's experienced the animal's actions and impact.

6. (Worst) Human reflects, internally, on the meaning of the animal.

What's worked for you?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

10 Tips for Writing Memoir

You have a unique story that only you can tell. And the way that you tell it matters. Even the world’s best story—winning the World Cup, walking on the moon, dipping into death and returning to life—needs to be told well

Here are a few ideas to help you write your story in the most compelling way.

1. Offer a Unique Angle

Your story—a difficult childhood, your cancer journey or disillusionment with church—must have a unique angle, or slant. This fresh angle needs to grab the reader. How is yours unique?

2. Meet a Felt Need

Your memoir needs to meet the reader's felt need. To keep the reader turning pages, there must be something in it for her/him. What's the benefit for the reader?

3. Ignore your internal critic.

Silence the inner voice saying you’re doing it wrong or should probably just stop and make a sandwich. Write now; edit later.

4. Tell the truth.

Notice your own resistance to truth-telling. Being bullied by an instinct to protect, yourself or others, deprives readers—and you!—of the surprising gifts truth brings forth.

5. Develop a clear theme.

Are you after adventure?  Hunting for healing?  Identifying your fundamental theme, or “red thread,” allows you to skim off extraneous material in the editing stage.

6. Exercise chronological creativity.

Sometimes telling your story from conception to the present moment works. Be open, though, to the ways a reordered narrative might serve the story.

7. Employ dialogue.

Dialogue lubricates the flow of the narrative.  It gives the reader critical insight into characters without telling the reader about them. 

8. Show transformation.

Throughout the book, the reader should be able to see the main character change, grow, transform. Have you done this?

9. Avoid painting yourself as the victim or the hero.

Abigail Thomas writes, “Memoir should never be self-serving, even accidentally.” Avoid “poor little me” and “good little me.”  Jeanette Wall’s Glass Castle does this beautifully.

10. Read memoir. But be you.

Notice when memoir makes your heart soar (or sore) and when you want to set the book down to take out the trash. Don’t try to sound like Anne Lamott. Be you. It’s better that way.

Cheering you on,

Saturday, July 9, 2016

24 Foolproof Strategies to Ensure Your Query Letter is Rejected

Here are 24 foolproof strategies to guarantee that an editor, agent or publisher says “no” to your query:
  1. Disregard the published submission guidelines.
  2. Begin your query with “Dear editor” or “Dear agent.”
  3. Don’t tailor your query to a particular editor or agent.
  4. Copy and paste your query without changing the name of the last editor or agent to whom you sent it.
  5. Write poorly.
  6. Permeate the query with multiple spelling and grammatical errors.
  7. Fail to offer a fresh angle on a topic.
  8. Fail to demonstrate that you're currently reaching readers.
  9. Pitch something the agent doesn't represent or the publisher doesn’t publish.
  10. Pitch something the recipient just published.
  11. Pitch “old news.”
  12. Pitch something no one cares about.
  13. Assure the reader that there’s nothing out there like this.
  14. Prove you’re unfamiliar with the genre by listing comp titles that bear no similarity to yours.
  15. Include no comps and claim your book is entirely unique.
  16. Drop the name of well-known authors, as potential endorsers, but misspell them.
  17. Use the sentence “This book is my memoirs.”
  18. Assure the recipient that you plan to start building social media, networking and seeking speaking engagements.
  19. Rather than offering fresh ideas for ways you will promote a book, simply let them know that you’re willing to do anything the publisher asks.
  20. Fail to include your name and appropriate contact information.
  21. Over-share, revealing too much personal information.
  22. Demand that the publisher publish your writing.
  23. Accuse the recipient of being terrible at her job if she doesn’t jump at the opportunity to publish what you’re pitching.
  24. Indicate that you’re unwilling to promote the work.
With very little effort at all, you can ensure that an editor, agent or publisher says “no” to your query!

But if you want a YES, check out this brief ebook buide for insider tips on Writing Query Letters That Shine.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

High School Seniors: All You Need to Write a College Application Essay That Shines!

Know a rising high school senior?

Now is the time to be working on college
application essays.

Will she?

Will he?

No, probably not. We all acknowledge this.

But hang onto this link, because this free college app essay review checklist is a great tool that equips friends and parents to offer valuable feedback on the essay.

And if students want to learn how to write a great essay, they can check out Writing College Applications Essay That Shine on Amazon! (Or the Christian College & University edition)

Highlights of the guide and the checklist:
  • How to choose a topic
  • Writing the essay that only you can write
  • Cliche essays admissions readers have seen twenty times today already
  • Taboo subjects to avoid
  • The purpose of the essay
  • Why a strong hook matters
  • Finding the right "voice"
  • What you do and don't know about your audience
  • Essential components of a great essay
  • How parents can be helpful and how they can't
For all you need to know: download the FREE college application essay review checklist!

*If your circle includes teens or parents of teens, please share this post! They'll thank you. (I will, too.)

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