A Good Writer Has Five Eyes!
- by S. M. Zakir Hussain
Do you know that you can learn to write very well without even learning to thank in the so-called ‘efficient’ way? In other words, do you know that you can think deeply without thinking at all, and just by using your five eyes instead? If you don’t, you’ll have a lot of pleasure now.
What do you Express when you Write?
Just have a look inside your memory and experience. In your writing, especially if it is imaginative or descriptive or narrative, you just express what we can generally term ‘information’. Do you collect this information or just create it in the mind? Actually, we all collect information from the environment – first from the external environment, then from the inner. Now let’s see how.
Collecting Information is like Collecting Flowers and Fruit in the Garden:
When you look at the environment, you collect information with your eyes. There are bits of visual information. The types of information gathered are: DISTANCE, SIZE, HEIGHT, WIDTH, COLOR, and so forth. When you use your touch or feeling, you know whether something is HOT or COLD or SMOOTH or ROUGH and so forth.
So, How Should You Look?
Form now on, whenever observe anything outside or inside, simply keep in mind that you’re just LOOKING – with your eyes, ears, tongue, nose and feeling. Also bear in mind that the moment you’re doing so, you’re adding a number of words (adjectives, and verbs etc.) to your database. So start enriching your Vocabulary of Experience (VOE) by re-directing the ways you have so far built your Vocabulary of Words (VOW). Here’s how:
* Close your eyes and learn to ‘see’ the visible things with the other senses, which are: NOSE, TONGUE, TOUCH, and EAR.
* Use the above technique in the case of each of the other senses: for example, learn to HEAR the visible things by totally avoiding any kind of visualization even in your imagination. That’s because we, as far as we’re concerned with this article, haven’t yet known what imagination is.
The Real Power of Imagination:
If you do some homework in the above-mentioned way, the verbal-sensory database, which is very dynamic and has unlimited potential and will evolve or get enriched in you, is what we call IMAGINATION. So keep the following in mind:
* Every bit of sensory information is an IMAGE.
* The amalgamation of all types of such information is IMAGINATION.
* The ability that can fill in the gap of the absence of a sensory organ is called CREATIVITY.
The Beginning of CREATIVITY:
Real creativity begins when you keep one sense-organ stopped and start performing its actions to achieve your objective with the help of the others. In fact, if you have an objective before you can develop your imaginative ability, then, even if you accomplish the objective, you will probably not gain much. That is because a mind that can’t imagine effectively formulates unpromising objectives.
Just keep in mind that you are always ‘reading’ the book your senses are writing on your nervous system. Now get them to ‘write’ things for you. Make it happen that seeing is thinking.
The author of the above article is the author of the following book:
Secrets to Getting Published
By D.L. Wilson
Author of Unholy Grail
Getting published in today’s competitive fiction market is as easy, or difficult, as learning the 3Rs—Reading, wRiting, and Research. But it also involves three words that are key to the process—persistence, persistence, persistence. Just as a budding musician doesn’t get to play at Carnegie Hall without tremendous dedication and practice, a writer doesn’t get into print without similar commitments.
Master the Craft
Creating a marketable novel requires learning and mastering the craft of writing. Many budding authors have studied English and writing in high school, or even college, and assume that’s a sufficient platform for writing a blockbuster novel. To reach the level of quality required to be published in today’s competitive market, writers must re-visit the basics of grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, prose, and dialogue.
Interviews with three top fiction editors provided a sneak peak at why mastering the craft of writing is much more important than it may have been ten or twenty years ago. Back then, editors were responsible for publishing 12 to 15 novels a year. That gave them almost a month per novel to review submissions, select manuscripts for publication, line edit, copy edit, work with graphic designers to create cover designs, work with interior text designers, and work with marketing teams and publicists. If editors detected potential in the creative work of manuscripts that didn’t meet their craft standards, they could work with new writers to hone their craft over a few novels. In today’s high pressure publishing empires, editors are often responsible for 30 to 60 novels a year. That can leave less than a week for editors to perform all of the functions necessary to bring a novel to bookstores. Increased focus by publishers on higher earnings for novels has also put a crimp on editors being able to guide new authors into developing a large enough readership to get out of the mid-list. Editors no longer have the luxury of sufficient time to develop the blockbuster novelists their publishers crave. They need high quality, well-written, nearly craft-perfect manuscripts from the first submission. This requires manuscripts to be highly edited and close to publishable when editors receive them.
A key factor in mastering the craft is READING. Read successful novels in your genre to determine what makes them "must reads." Analyze their structure, writing style, plotting, and basic concepts to get a feel for what makes a successful novel in today’s ever changing marketplace. Reading should be an important element in the work habits of writers. In order to analyze the structure of a novel, an analysis form that identifies: chapter and scene including the number of pages per scene, time frame, basic story line in the scene, point of view character, characters on stage, tension/conflict, setting, and general comments can be very helpful. Such an analysis form allows a writer to get a feel for the structure and content of a novel. As a thriller writer it is important that I include powerful tension/conflict in each scene and that each scene ends with a hook to keep the reader engaged.
Joining writing groups or critique groups that include writers in your genre is an excellent means of getting valuable input for improving your craft as well as evaluating your creative skills. It is important to remember that writing is a subjective art form. There can be dramatic variations in reviews of a writer’s work. That’s why it’s important for writers to be open to all forms of constructive criticism. Criticism can be painful, but it is vital in fine tuning a writer’s efforts to become a successful author. The bottom line is in the hands of the writer, the author of a work of fiction. The end result which will make or break a work of fiction was well expressed by a highly successful agent, "it boils down to the words on the page." Every word is a creative expression by the author. A writer must evaluate any critical comments and should compare comments by as broad a segment of readers as possible. This allows placing appropriate weight on any constructive criticism allowing the writer to make an informed decision on what he/she determines to be in the best interest of making the novel a great read.
Develop a Writing Technique
Different authors have different techniques in the way they approach creating their masterpieces. Some authors develop detailed scene-by-scene outlines while others work from a basic concept and let their muse guide them. Writers must find the writing format that works best for them. There is no "best technique." But it is important to develop a technique that has a structure that results in the best possible novel. The only way to do that is by WRITING. Very few authors I have met have had their first work of fiction published. Just like a surgeon works on many cadavers before making the transition to a live human patient, writers must practice, practice, practice before turning out the gem that transforms them into a published author. Once they have learned the craft, they must merge it with a successful creative concept. This may require a few efforts to fine tune the entire process.
Before starting down the road to writing the blockbuster novel, a writer should create a short, one page, concept sheet for the proposed work of fiction. This could turn out to be the hardest aspect of writing a novel, but it is the most critical in today’s market. Most readers have been conditioned by our current sound-byte mentality. Just like TV or radio ads, authors must get their point across in a fifteen or thirty second sound-byte. This involves a tightly structured one-half to one page easy to understand synopsis. This short synopsis will be the key to capturing the attention of an agent, and later, an editor. For a thriller, the concept should be simple, yet dynamic. It must capture the fascination of anyone who reads it, drawing them into wanting to read the entire novel.
Once the concept has been fine tuned, it’s time to put into practice the writing technique that works best for the author. If it’s the scene-by-scene outline, it may take a lot of work to develop and fine-tune the material before the actual writing process begins. But the end result may minimize the countless hours spent in editing and re-writing. For the writer who works from a basic concept, the writing may begin immediately after the concept sheet is finished or from an expanded five to ten page synopsis.
No matter which method is used, when the initial manuscript is finished it is critical for the writer to put on the editing cap and carefully analyze the manuscript for content, consistency, grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, prose, and dialogue. Since today’s market is so competitive and the focus on perfection by agents and editors so great, it is well worth the investment to hire a freelance editor with good credentials to edit your work before going to the next phase in the publishing process, finding an agent.
Find an Agent
In today’s fiction market, you need a good agent. Almost all editors with the best publishing houses DO NOT accept unagented submissions. To quote a top editor, "Writers absolutely need to find an agent, and they need their agent to help them address the basic protocols. It’s because a writer’s manuscript is going to get a very limited number of opportunities. Within each house there are many editors, and if you submit a manuscript to the wrong editor, you’ve just blown your chance. It’s the agent’s job to get to know the editors well enough to know exactly who to send each manuscript to."
To find the right agent requires the third R, RESEARCH. You should know some of the clients the agent represents, and particularly those who write in a vein similar to your own. From your reading, you should check the acknowledgments pages of the books in your genre that you enjoy reading. Authors often acknowledge their agents. Another good resource is the Internet and sites like Publishers Marketplace (www.publishersmarketplace.com) that identify the agents and contract information for books that have been sold to publishers.
When you have identified agents who have a respectable reputation for selling novels in your genre, research their submission requirements and follow them to the letter. Be sure your manuscript is as good as it can possibly be. Don’t use any gimmicks when sending out chapters or entire manuscripts. The bottom line is; gimmicks don’t sell novels. An agent must like your work if he or she is going to represent you with a passion that will get you published. When you start soliciting agents don’t forget the other three words—persistence, persistence, persistence.
D.L. Wilson - Wilson worked his way through the ranks of engineering and management to become president, CEO, and Managing Director of US and international companies, consultant to industries and governments, and a university professor. Wilson’s foray into the publishing world started in nonfiction with The Kitchen Casanova – A Gentleman’s Guide to Gourmet Entertaining for Two, which resulted in a national book tour with features on CNN, Regis & Kathy Lee, and Evening Magazine. Wilson is also the coauthor of a university textbook on the fashion/apparel industry, Apparel Merchandising – The Line Starts Here. His first novel, Unholy Grail, (Berkley, April 2007) will be available in all major retailers.
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10 Ways to Increase Your Book Fiction or Nonfiction Sales
By Patricia L. Fry
The success of your book depends on your willingness to promote it. Following are ten ideas that will surely get the customers’ attention.
- Market By the Season. You probably intensify your promotional efforts during the Christmas/Hanukah holidays. But do you give any thought to the other seasons? Push gardening and travel books for summer reading and novels during winter when people like to curl up with a good book. I market my Hawaiian luau book for Father’s Day in June and my grandparenting book for Grandparent’s Day in September. For more seasonal marketing ideas go to: http://www.brownielocks.com
- Email Press Releases to Newspaper Column Editors. Find newspapers listed online http://www.newspapes.com. Locate the appropriate editor for your category: cooking and foods, outdoor living, fitness and health, the arts, family or spiritual, for example. Write a brief press release about your book and include your phone number so the editor can call you for an interview.
- Make News. Go out and do something newsworthy. If your book is on dog training, offer to teach volunteers at a local animal shelter to work with the dogs that are waiting for adoption. If your novel features the homeless community, spearhead a program for the homeless. And be sure to tell the press about it.
- Target the Right Audience. This sounds elementary, but sometimes the best laid plans… I planned to market my book, Write On! Journal-keeping for Teens, through public schools and youth organizations. I discovered after publication, however, that it’s too spiritually oriented for mainstream educational and youth organizations. My new focus audiences for that book are Christian schools and church youth leaders.
- Publish an Online Newsletter. If you have several books in the same genre, a business or advocacy group relating to your book and/or an endless supply of information on the topic, consider publishing an online newsletter. Most online newsletters are free and many of them have subscribers numbering into the thousands. Karen Stevens advertises her book, All For Animals, in her monthly newsletter, which is designed to educate and inform readers on cruelty-free living for animals. I also know novelists who circulate newsletters relating to their book characters.
- Create a Line of Books. Producing a series of books gives you more credibility in your field. And, it’s easier to market books on the same topic. Instead of writing another full-blown book, however, you might offer customers additional or relating material in the form of pamphlets. Publish a small collection of poetry or short stories to accompany your book on writing. Produce booklets featuring various types of crafts and activities for kids to enhance a book on parenting.
- Talk About Your Book Everywhere You Go. I’ve sold books at the baseball field, in line at the grocery store, at my class reunion, while waiting at the doctor’s office and even in church. It’s not necessary to make a pest of yourself. Just be prepared to talk about your book should the opportunity arise. Just this morning, while at my hairdresser’s, I asked if anyone needed autographed copies of my local history book for Christmas gifts this year. I sold four. Contact http://www.toastmasters.org for information about honing your communication skills.
- Give Incentives to Buy. Offer a free chapter or two on your Web site or nicely bound as a handout. Give away advertising bookmarks. Package your book with an interactive CD or some other item. I’ve thought about packaging my Hawaiian luau book with a lei-making kit or uli-ulis (feather gourds). I could include a journal and a pen with my journaling book.
- Give Seminars, Workshops and Demonstrations. Teddy Colbert, the author of The Living Wreath, often demonstrates how to make wreaths from live plants. Debbie Puente is the author of Elegantly Easy Crème Brulee and Other Custard Desserts. She frequently gives demonstrations in how to make crème brulee. Do these authors sell books through these events? Absolutely. For a book of poetry, offer a fun interactive demonstration whereby the audience gets to practice writing a haiku, for example.
- Ask For the Sale. Raven West is the author of two novels, Red Wine for Breakfast and First Class Male. I heard her speak recently on the subject of book promotion and she told the audience that she sells more books when she asks for the sale than when she just sits back and waits for it. Be bold. Say, “Please buy my book.” Or “How many copies would you like?” You might be surprised at the response.
Patricia Fry is the author of 25 books including “The Right Way to Write, Promote and Sell Your Book,” www.matilijapress.com/rightway.html. Enjoy her publishing blog at www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog