Special Advice for Beginners
by Sandy Tritt
So you wanna be a writer when you grow up, huh? My first
word of advice is don't. Don't become a writer. Not for money. Not for
glory. Not for any reason unless you have a passion in your gut that is so
strong that nothing can prevent you from writing. Unless you have stories
in you that you must tell, and writing them is as important to you as
eating and sleeping and breathing. And sometimes more important.
With that out of the way, I assume you have passion. So,
what do you do with this life of yours to pave your way to the writing
world? Read. Observe. Write. Live. Those are the four main ingredients to
preparing yourself to write.
Read everything you can get
your hands on. Read classic literature, read literary fiction, read
commercial fiction. Read books on the craft of writing. Read books on
writers. Read dictionaries. Read cereal boxes. Just read.
Observe. If there is one
attribute a writer must have (other than his passion to write), it is the
ability to notice details. What is it about the way she walks that
captures your attention? Is it her clothes? Her figure? Her wiggle? What
words could you use to describe the preacher's snorts between shouts? What
do his eyes look like when he says "Hell"? What keeps his hair from
falling into his eyes (or onto the floor)?
Look at your surroundings as though you're showing them
to someone who's never been to your area. Notice the sounds you would hear
if you listened. Notice the smells, the colors, the textures, everything
you normally take for granted. Think of new ways to describe old things.
Write every day. It doesn't
matter if it's a dozen words or a dozen pages, write. And don't limit your
writing to your passion -- try writing poetry, fiction, journal entries,
essays. Keep a journal or notebook with you at all times and jot your
thoughts as you think them.
Live. Can you write about
New York City if you've never been there? Probably -- if you've seen
enough movies and read enough descriptions, you could write with integrity
about a city you've never seen. However, you would not be able to add any
new insight. For me, a small town girl, it was the vastness of the big
city that took my breath away. And that most of the thousands of people
all scurrying to some place would gladly pause a moment to give directions
Visit as many places as you possibly can, but also
consider actually living in as many different types of places as you can.
Yes, you can get superficial impressions of cultures during a seven-day
vacation, but to truly understand a culture, you need to experience it
more deeply. I've lived in small towns, large cities, suburbs, villages
and deep in the country. I've lived in apartments, houses, complexes,
dormitories, alone, with friends, with family. I've lived in Appalachia,
the Midwest and the Deep South. And each of these have left an imprint (as
well as an accent!).
Experience as many aspects of life as you can. Can you
really understand the pain of heartbreak if you've never been loved and
left? Can you understand the intensity of a mother's (or father's) love if
you've never experienced it? Can you understand the thrill of surviving
the bunny slope on down hill skis if you've never put your life at stake?
This isn't to say you must become an alcoholic to
understand alcoholism (although it does help) or a bank robber to
understand a thief. What it does mean is that writers need to take more
chances than the average Joe, need to experience more of life in order to
write more knowledgeably. It also means that writers must have empathy
to understand people and situations beyond their personal experience.
What kind of job should you hold while waiting to
publish? Well, many successful writers have had successful careers in
business, law, medicine, education or any area you can think of before
becoming published. However, I think it is best if you don't get too
comfortable in another career, if you work at something you don't like and
change jobs often. This way, you will never forget your passion for
writing or your drive to publish. (Just don't go into debt. Live humbly
and within your means, because once you sign that car loan, you are
obligated to your 8-5 job). Some suggestions:
- Work with people from diverse backgrounds, such as
you can meet in airports, resorts, hotels and restaurants. These give
you plenty of characters to draw on.
- Work physically. Manual work doesn't occupy your
mind. I do some of my best creative thinking while washing dishes by
hand and mopping floors.
- Work where you have free time to write, such as night
desk clerk, night guard at a business, bowling alley clerk (on the slow
shift), car lot attendant, and so on.
I am fond of saying that there are two aspects to
writing -- the craft and the art. The craft is that which can be learned
-- grammar, using active voice, the basics of dialogue and so forth. The
art is the God-given talent that a writer is either blessed with or isn't.
It is the ability to "see" the details in a setting and relay that in
interesting, unique words to make the reader feel the location. It is the
ability to understand human nature and empathize with even the most
dastardly villain. If you have that talent, and if you have that passion
to write no matter what the odds, you are a writer. And nobody can take
that away from you.
(c) copyright 1999 by Sandy Tritt. All rights reserved,
except for those listed here. August be reproduced for educational purposes
(such as for writer's workshops), as long as this copyright notice and the
url: http://tritt.wirefire.com are distributed with the pages. For use in
conferences or other uses not mentioned here, please contact Sandy Tritt
for permission and additional resources at no or limited charge.
- First ten pages free, and, for a limited time, all additional pages at
$2.75 per page (regular price, $3.50 per page). Just mention Publishing
New Writers Newsletter (August, 2002).
- Critiques by Sandy Tritt
- Unlike most editors, I consider my role to be a mentor or a coach.
Instead of just telling you what is wrong, I explain how to correct the
problem, and I work with you to teach you how to write effective prose.
More than 50% of my business is repeat business, and I relish
establishing long-term relationships with other writers.
- Treat you with respect and compassion. All criticism will be of the
"constructive" sort. My purpose is to improve your writing, not to
destroy your confidence.
- Mark your manuscript, correcting grammatical and spelling errors and
suggesting alternative wording where appropriate, line-by-line.
- Highlight areas that are especially well-written, so you will know
where your strengths are.
- Where appropriate, offer suggestions for plot development, character
development or other areas that could be strengthened.
- Return a two-to-four page written analysis of your work. This will
include evaluation of: plot, setting, characterization, dialogue,
special effects (flash forwards, flashbacks, etc.), voice, point of view
and any other areas particular to your work.
- If appropriate, recommend reading or resources to strengthen your
areas of weakness.
- Answer any questions you August have via email.
- Provide my telephone number for a personal follow-up, if you desire.
For Sandy's success stories, see
Write Sandy at firstname.lastname@example.org
(See Sandy's article above.)
Lynette's creative Writing Website
(type both lines in one)
Writing St. Nick's
by Jim Colombo
I am fifty-six years old and have
spent the last three years writing
St. Nick's Outlaws. I felt
overwhelmed and at times possessed to
write this novel. It was good therapy
because it opened holes in my past and
brought closure to restless spirits
that have roamed my sub conscience for
It is difficult for me to write a
biography. If you read St. Nick's, you
will know me better than any biography
I can write.
I began writing when I was
nineteen. It helped me find myself and
some of life's answers. Writing is a
joy like an experienced marathon
runner. There is reward to the
There is a discovery when going
though the exercise of writing. I have
leaned things about myself, created
characters, and chapters I never
planned in the outlines. Like Alice in
Wonderland, each day I jump into the
hollow of a tree and return to the
world and characters that I have
created. It is a world that I create
and control It is one of the most
gratifying experiences I have had.
Visit our new subject sections, which
we have adopted from popular demand
and, in one case, patriotism.
Read... Two-bit Dancing
Life's an onion. Not a new concept—Usually, what we reveal to others
about ourselves adds flavor, distinction…making us appear just a bit more
exciting. Assume for a moment, that someone is peeling your life apart,
onion layer by onion layer. Are you still adding flavor? Distinction? Is
at the heart of the onion really a heart? Is it, then, the onion crying —
or the one who’s peeling…?
Angela Louie, mother of a teenager and a disabled child, is entering a
fine hotel while fidgeting with the business card of an escort service —
lapse of common sense? Hanson Lee Ascano is a computer genius working for
a prestigious firm — he also dances in an exotic night club a few nights
each week. Tom Lawson is taking on what should be a routine investigation
to reunite a parent with his children — instead, it rouses monsters.
For more info, visit... http://www.twobitdancing.com/
About the Author
Evelyn Schneider was born and raised in Germany. She has written
"almost anything from plant-care tags to television sitcoms." She lives in
San Diego, California.
She says, Two-bit Dancing was inspired by a television talk show, and
laughs. Then, serious: "The true inspiration came many years ago while
visiting a police fair. I was a teenager then and should have been
impressed by the latest crime-fighting technology. But what remained in my
soul where the images of cubicles upon cubicles filled with photographs of
children -- not victims of some far-away war but sons and daughters of
modern families: burnt, starved, locked away.
Go Back in Time!...
our new all - immersion Life of Jesus (Part 1) from David C. Cook
III. You'll become a true believer. Visit...
is dedicated to the memory of David C. Cook III.
This Just In – From Paul the Apostle
By Kurt Schuller
inspired work recreating
The Plight of a Refugee Poet
by Rais Neza Boneza
There is nothing more difficult than writing in the troubled areas of
EAST AFRICA. Moreover, when you are 23 years old ,a refugee, a victim
of war ,have lost relatives ,parents and brothers in political
problems, tribal upheavals are greatly enhanced.
Alone surviving in
middle of hatred and madness, far from your home; a writer is
vulnerable to obstacles never even imagined by those who have the
peace and tranquility of a homeland without chaos and war.
Since the inception of war in my country, the Democratic Republic
of Congo, I have been shuffled from one neighbouring country to the
next, most of which Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda are at loggerheads with my
You can imagine, then, how difficult it is for an artist, a writer,
or a journalist to freely and creatively ply his craft.
I am not being nationalistic, but I know what I am talking about,
especially when I, myself, have been affected from near or from far by
that madness, inhumanity, and cynicism of this African thirst for war
in my region: the GREAT LAKES (East Africa).
When a writer has witnessed such cruelties as the burial of a live
woman alive, rapes, massacres of babies in hospitals, he is forced by
his conscience to reveal these atrocities in writing. By this he
shares with the world his memories of brutality that will haunt his
life in perpetuity. Therefore, I am compelled to write about all the
situations I experience in my society.
As a refugee in a land which is involved in external struggles, I
personally know many people who have perished in these struggles. But
I cannot always truly write concerning what is going on and certainly
I can not always freely write about it for reasons of security. I live
in cultural and intellectual embargo, a situation where no one can
publish your work, you are used without being paid for your work. Your
manuscripts are stolen and another man’s name appears on a published
book, the contents of which are clearly your own.
Since the September 11th suicide attacks in the United States, many
leaders in the Third World, especially in Africa ,have legitimated
their dubious actions and totalitarian tendencies by suppressing their
opponents under the guise of anti-terrorist laws. No one can write the
real truth, fearing laws that suppress freedom of speech. In my case
it is more dangerous because I have that identity “Refugee from a
hostile country.” According to the unofficial but real, a refugee is a
non-entity in society. He cannot have work, no rights, and most of the
time he is not even considered a human being. Every now and then
information surfaces about the sudden disappearance, or even
assassination of a refugee. The situation is confused; the United
Nations High Commission of Refugees (UNHCR) is unable to protect those
whose cares they are pledged to uphold. Even minimum security for
refugees is not seen. Many refugees have been killed while under the
protection of the UNHCR.
Now, imagine my own situation, no job, only writing over and over,
waiting and waiting for an opportunity that may never materialise,
sometimes without many meals, living the life of a beggar. Surely I am
poor and my situation is getting worse by the day. I live under
tensions, in a world where people do not care about the problems of
others. But I cannot keep quiet when with me and near me there is
misery, injustice, violence and daily increase of crime. All these
situations affect my very being, my emotions, my reason, and my
I have to write. I know however, I cannot live by my pen, which is
my deepest desire. I do, though, keep on writing and wait patiently
for the day when my star will reach its ascendancy.
All that I have shared with you gives me the strength to keep on
singing my song in poetic expression. For me, writing brings me to the
summit of satisfaction that I reach by my creativity, my words.
The inks of my pen some people fear and try to repress. I have to
spread truth, ideas of peace, reconciliation, understanding,
tolerance, justice and love among people. In my poverty my only tool
is the richness of language expressed in written form.
Sharing experiences and discussing with other writers our work, I
take on a renewed vigour, more objectivity in my struggle for peace,
more hope which nibs my ultimate victory.
I assure you in my weakness, my pen is powerful. I am in pain,
troubled by the uncertainties of my daily life, but I keep up my
courage. I will not let hopelessness overcome me.
I want to see the fruit of my works; the Bible said that the tree
which is not productive would be thrown into fire. Today, I am near a
certain fire (Poverty), but I know, even if my rights as a human being
have been sidelined; the solution is not to give up because my
greatest mission in life is to continue writing.
It's not that because I write I know all things, but because in
writing I can reduce ignorance and promote truth, justice and peace.
“Ars Longa; Vita Brevis”, life is brief but art is everlasting.
By Rais Neza
Instructor Name: Lynette Rees [Dip. Couns]
What is Writing Therapy?
Writing Therapy is a way of connecting with your emotions via pen and
paper, or the keyboard. I devised this course after studying the research of
James W Pennebaker, Head of Psychology, University of Texas. Pennebaker's
research shows that writing helps to lift the mood of depressed people. He
also found that students who wrote about how they were feeling coped better
with their exams.
I have devised 9 lessons in all - taking you from what writing therapy is
to covering the basic emotions we feel such as anger, grief, love, fear etc.
I've also added a lesson on dreams and how to interpret yours, and a bonus
lesson on creative writing. Each lesson has an appropriate assignment to
match the lesson's content.
Write your way to emotional health!
This is Dianne Ochiltree's
site for children, parents,
teachers and writers for
young readers. Dianne is an
author of books for young
readers (birth to teenage)
and she is also a children's
book reviewer. She's been
writing professionally for
over 25 years---about 18
years in public
and the last 7 years as a
children's writer. Dianne
has two books published to
date, with Scholastic and
with Simon & Schuster.
http://tritt.wirefire.com The Inspiration for Writers website offers help and encouragement to writers of all levels. Tips and Techniques give practical advice about frequent writing blunders. The Writer's Prayer, inspirational quotes, and essays about the writing life add insight and inspiration. The Fiction Showcase offers short stories for the reader's enjoyment. And, for those serious about improving their writing skills, manuscript critiques and coaching services are available. Visit http://tritt.wirefire.com today!