Three Tips: Get some style, tell it short, be inspired

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It doesn’t have much of a plot, but if you want to know the proper format for all kinds of things, including dates, addresses, numbers, titles, and much much more, invest in a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style, the most popular guide used by editors. It’s handy to have the actual book on hand (I bought mine used), but if you don’t want to put out the money, you can subscribe to the online version at http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org. Give it a try and make your editors smile.

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Can you tell your life story in six words? The folks at sixwordmemoirs.com think so. Click on the site to find inspiration and regular challenges. You may find you don’t need as many words as you thought.

 

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Do you know about Pinterest? It’s a popular networking site where people post pictures of all sorts of things. Looking at pictures and “liking” and reposting is fun, but you can also find ideas there. Click on www.pinterest.com, look at the pictures that come up and write about one of them. Or several.

Now Go Write

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Three Quick Tips for Writers #3

Once a week I am offering three quick tips that you can take and use right away. For those of us who would rather be writing than reading blogs, this is a place you can grab something useful and get back to work.

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Writing-World.com has been offering great advice, information and markets for writers for 12 years and is still one of the best sites I’ve seen. Whatever type of writing you do, it has articles to help you do it. Click here and give it a read.

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While we’re talking about Writing-World.com, editor Moira Allen has some books you might want to read. I’m proud to have contributed sections to two of them. Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer focuses mostly on nonfiction writing and covers everything you need to know to run a freelancing writing business. The Writer’s Guide to Queries, Pitches & Proposals tells how to approach agents, editors and publishers with all types of writing. Her latest is Writing to Win: The Colossal Guide to Writing Contests.

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Have you noticed how most of the headlines on magazine covers seem to have numbers?  12 ways to please your man, 5 foods that fight cancer, 8 romantic getaways. Numbered pieces sell and are easy to write. So, fill in the blank and starting: 10 ways to _______________________. It can be a how-to article, an essay, a humorous column, a poem, a short story, whatever suits your fancy. Remember Paul Simon’s song “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover?”

Now Go Write.


Three Quick Tips for Writers #2

Once a week I am offering three quick tips that you can take and use right away. For those of us who would rather be writing than reading blogs, this is a place you can grab something useful and get back to work.

Read

Writing Metrical Poetry by William Baer, Writer’s Digest Books, 2006. Remember how boring it seemed when your high school teachers forced you to read and analyze poetry? Well, this isn’t. Read some of the world’s most famous poems, see how they work, then try writing some yourself.

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At her Practicing Writer newsletter and blogs, Erika Dreifus offers a steady stream of advice and resources, paying markets, jobs and opportunities for writers. Don’t miss it. Click on http://www.erikadreifus.com/blogs/practicing-writing.

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Stuck for a writing idea? Reach into your purse or pocket and pull out one thing, anything. Set it on the desk or table in front of you. Study it. What does it bring to mind? For example, a key might make you think of the door it opens or how you got that key or how you lost your keys on a special occasion. A receipt might bring to mind what you bought and why you bought it and who you met at the store . . . Give it a try. In live classes, I let students pick one more thing if they just can’t stand their first choice. Don’t have a purse and there’s nothing in your pocket? Try the junk drawer.

Now go write.


It’s raining writing ideas

Have you noticed that today, Oct. 31, 2012, is loaded with subjects to write about? No matter whether you write, poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, articles, blogs or even screenplays, if you can’t find something to write today, you aren’t looking.

Hurricane Sandy has been amazing and horrible. When nature comes at us full force, there’s nothing we humans can do to stop it. Please join me in praying for all those suffering from this super-storm with its rain, wind, floods, fires and the subsequent destruction and shortages of electricity, water, food and everything else.

Now, let’s put on our writer hats. My 90-year-old dad said last night that he keeps imagining what he would feel if this happened to him, if everything he owned was suddenly wiped out. What would you do? Can you imagine yourself in that situation and write a poem or story about it? Might a character in your novel encounter a flood or hurricane? Take notes on what’s going on and use it in your writing.

Does this event bring up memories of something that happened to you or a loved one? Has there been something about Hurricane Sandy that especially horrified or inspired you? Something that made you angry? Write about it. Can you think of article ideas for how to cope with a disaster such as a hurricane, how to be safe, how to decide whether to evacuate, how to stay in contact with loved ones, how to deal with insurance, bank accounts and other matters? Write an opinion piece, research an article, or pull together a query letter.

While the hurricane has occupied most of our attention, did you know that British Columbia suffered a huge earthquake over the weekend and it triggered tidal wave warnings all along the Pacific coast, with measurable surges in Hawaii and the western U.S.? So many stories could be told there, maybe even making a connection with the hurricane or with previous earthquakes and tsunamis. Remember Japan?

If that isn’t enough to write about, the election is less than a week away, and it’s Halloween.

Get off the Internet, grab your keyboard or your pen, and start writing.