Since I need prayer time, some reading time, some listening time, I've decided to make this the last blog for the week and introduce you to another Abingdon author, Kay Marshall Strom, through one of her past blogs.
Kay had written 34 non-fiction books before her agent sent me her first novel proposal, a historical series titled Grace in Africa. You've already seen the first book in the series, The Call of Zulina, released last Fall.
The second book, Voyage of Promise, has just released and been selected for inclusion in Booklist's top ten Inspirational Fiction Books. It also will be featured in the November 15 issue of the American Library Association's Booklist Magazine.
I urge you to look for her books about the beginnings of the slave trade on your bookstore's shelf. Kay's passion is to end the slave trade today. Yes, the problem still plagues our world and has more than doubled since the late 1700s when this series takes place.
Now, here's Kay on her secret for writing . . .
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All the time, at writers’ conferences and on airplanes and just out doing my shopping, as soon as people find out I’m a writer, they want to pull me aside and whisper conspiratorially, “So, what’s the real secret to writing?”
Six Rules For Great Writing
Kay Marshall Strom
1. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short. It is true that short sentences and paragraphs feel comfortable while long ones feel threatening, and also that short ones give the feeling of something one can manage while long ones feel overwhelming, not to mention the fact that a shorter sentence is easier for readers to follow than a long, long, long confusing sentence in which they tend to get lost and wonder how it all started. Whew! Break up that sentence! When you have a longer sentence, follow it with a short one. And surround a long paragraph with shorter, punchier paragraphs.
3. Show, don’t tell. Yep, you’ve heard this one before. But it’s so true. In movies and on TV, we can see what’s happening. But a book author must paint the pictures with words. You can do this with anecdotes, with good dialogue, by writing out a scene rather than just telling us it happened. ”Show, don’t tell” is important in both fiction and non-fiction.
4. Tie in with the readers’ experience. If your reader can’t comprehend what you are saying, you may as well not say it. Here is a good example: “BP must set aside $20 billion for those who suffered damage and loss in the horrendous oil spill.” Yes. Um-hmm. Here’s the problem: that word “billion” is constantly being thrown around, but it is outside our actual experience, so it means little to us. How much more effective if you tie it to something to which we can relate: A billion seconds ago, it was the year 1959. A billion minutes ago, Jesus walked on the earth. A billion hours ago, our ancestors lived in the stone age. Yikes!
5. Give your reader something to take away. Remember, you are writing for your reader, not for yourself. You may feel better for having poured out the agonies of your gall bladder surgery, for instance, but what is in it for the reader? Why not reshape your personal experience article to something like: “10 Ways to Help Your Loved One Recover” using your experience as background?
6. Write, write, and write some more! Keep on writing. Everyone gets better and better. No one gets worse and worse.
“To write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write.”
Find more inspiration from Kay Strom at her blog titled Kay's Words. Here's the link: http://kaystrom.wordpress.com/
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Please let me know how today’s blog has helped you. This becomes a two-way conversation when you post a comment. Often I jump back on the blog during the day and will answer your questions or respond to your comments. I have both published and unpublished authors who read The Roving Editor, and we’d love to hear from you so that we can learn from your experience. Let’s talk!