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    Home Articles

    Why Your Writing isn't Working

    Wondering why editors and publishers are saying no? Discover the seven writing problems that keep books from being publishable in the diagnostic tape, Why Your Writing Isn't Working and What to Do About It. Once you've identified your writing problem, move on to a week long seminar-in-a-box, The Writer's Tool Box, which covers these problems in depth and gives examples and exercises for correcting them.

    Look at the following excerpt:

    "The Hookless Beginning:

    In writing fiction, your opening should accomplish three things:

    1. establish the scene
    2. introduce the main character
    3. let readers know what the character wants or needs - what the character will be reaching and struggling for that determines the action and direction of your story.


    If you're writing non-fiction much the same applies. Your beginning should be as clear, concise and straightforward as possible and it will still have to accomplish the three things that fiction must do:

    1. it needs to establish the scene, but in this case instead of creating a fictitious scene your job is to report the scene - to ground readers immediately so they'll know the who/what/why/when/where of what you're writing about.

    2. non-fiction often has a main character, a protagonist who will be featured in your work. As with fiction, you'll want to introduce this person early on. That introductory hook you need could well be an image of your protagonist at some dramatic moment. It could be:

      • a president being sworn in
      • a prospector discovering a big vein of gold
      • a scientist receiving the Nobel Prize
      • a woman giving birth
      • a man dying
      • a lost child finding its home

    3. such an image is an excellent way to start a story that will be about the protagonist's long hard struggle to the point of success.


    There are essentially eight different types of openings for either fiction or non-fiction. The first of these is the SUGGESTIVE SETTING:

    If you'll be working with a setting that lends itself to a vivid opener, start with a description of it. This will set the tone and mood of your work and give readers an immediate mental picture to get involved with:

    It is still dark outside her window. But she has been unable to sleep. Her fear is now a continual inner roar. "I don't want to die," she thinks.

    She cannot see the flag outside, drooping in the dark, but she knows it is inscribed, "Central Vermont Medical Center." She knows every detail of the view from her window, every item in her room....


    Does this sound like an interesting fictional opening? Guess again. These are the opening lines from "The Quality of Mercy," an article about nurses who practice compassionate medicine. The article appeared in the April 1998 Smithsonian magazine.

    Let's look at what this opening accomplishes:

    We are put inside the heart and mind of the woman in the hospital room ~ seeing what she sees and remembering with her what she cannot see in the dark. We are grounded, knowing we are in the Central Vermont Medical Center, and we are intimately aware of her fears. Of course she doesn't want to die. Now that we're there with her, we don't want her to die, and we want to know what this threat to her life is. So we read on, hooked by the somber setting.

    This opening has accomplished the three main jobs of an opening:

    1. It establishes/reports the scene
    2. It introduces the subject character at a dramatic moment, grabbing readers' interest
    3. It informs readers what that character wants -- to live! -- which is such a universal longing that we are immediately in empathy with her situation.

    This is a wonderfully successful lead-in. Having gotten our minds and emotions into the character's situation, the article then explains how such thoughts and feelings are dealt with through compassionate medicine.

    Copyright © Patrika Vaughn

    This article is an excerpt from the audio book: THE WRITER'S TOOL BOX, Patrika Vaughn, $45, A Cappela Publishing.

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ



    WEEKLY WRITES: 52 Weeks of Writing Bliss! Kick start your imagination, ignite your creativity, and begin your journey towards becoming an outstanding writer.

    Grab a copy of WEEKLY WRITES: 52 Weeks of Writing Bliss! from Amazon.com and receive 2 free e-books to encourage and nurture the writer in you. You'll also receive Write Memories, a journaling workbook available for free only to WEEKLY WRITES book owners. And finally, as a WEEKLY WRITES book owner, you'll have free access to e-mail courses such as JOYFUL WRITES: Celebrate Your Life through Writing

    For excerpts, reviews and what you need to do to receive the 2 free e-books, Write Memories and sign up for free e-mail courses, just head on to the Weekly Writes Book Official Site. (Clicking on the link will open a new window.)

    FOR JOURNALERS

    The Journaling Life: 21 Types of Journals You Can Create to Express Yourself and Record Pieces of Your Life

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