Thursday, January 31, 2008

Stimulate Your Writing With Some Creative Exercises

Abandon your frustrations and get a fresh start by trying some writing activities to spark your creativity.

Exercises in creativity can improve your aptitude as a writer and inspire ideas for new writing projects.

The benefit of attempting any of the following activities is that you can complete the exercises from the comfort of your home, at your own pace, in solitude (hopefully) without outside distractions or the pressures of working with a group.

I've compiled the list of exercises suggested below over the years - from college professors, editors and fellow writers. Some of them have helped me to grow as a writer. Hopefully they will help you in some way too!

  1. Write your own obituary.

    (I know it sounds somewhat morbid - but it will require you to think about what you've accomplished thus far - and what you wish to achieve in the future.)

  2. Write a 400 word description of your favorite place.

  3. Write a brief biography of someone you know and love. Or write about someone famous you admire.

  4. Write a list of questions you would like to know the answers to. Then try to list the people or resources you could contact to get your answers.

  5. Read a newspaper or magazine article about something you're interested in. Re-write the article in your own words to make it better.

  6. Listen to the conversations of others in a crowded mall or restaurant. Write 200 words about your reaction to their conversation.

  7. Write 500 words describing a special time in your life. Write it so that other people could understand and appreciate it.

  8. Take a 15 minute walk around your neighborhood. As soon as you get home, write 300 words about what you saw on your walk.

  9. Think about your closest friends, your relatives, your boss, or your co-workers. Choose the person you like the most and the least; the person who has had the most positive and most negative influence on you; the person who has changed the most and the least since you've known them; and then write a write a brief paragraph on each explaining why you feel this way.

  10. Write the first ten words that come to mind. Then write brief definitions and/or explanations of why you thought of these words.
Resource Box -Danielle Hollister is the Publisher of BellaOnline Quotations Zine - A free newsletter for quote lovers featuring more than 10,000 quotations in dozens of categories like - love, friendship, children, inspiration, success, wisdom, family, life, and many more. Read it online at -

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Write a Thousand Articles This Year? Sure You Can! Here's How

As writers, teachers, article marketers, sales, speaking and other professionals we well know (or should know) that being able to produce consistent, quality writing is an essential to our profession. But come on, a thousand articles in a year? You're thinking, "Whoa Nelly!" Hold on there though now, partner. I'm going to show you - yes you, thick of tongue and fat of fingers though you might seem be, how you can approach this - for now - seemingly daunting goal.

First though Hoss, One Quick Question

The question is this: "Can you write a 1200-word article in a day or two?"

Think now.

If you answered in the affirmative, then you could write a thousand articles this year if you wish to. I repeat: Yes, you can. Not only is it quite doable, but it's not anywhere near as difficult as you might presently think. To help readjust your paradigms, we're going to break the process down into seven process stages or steps that will ultimately allow you to truly understand that you really could produce one thousand or more articles this year.

A Stash of One Thousand Articles

Just think, what could a stash of one thousand articles do for you? Are you kidding? Do you now personally know of anyone who has those kinds of bragging rights? If you do, you know what it does for them. You could be in the "Inner Circle" with them later this year. If you don't know anyone with a stash of articles like this, then later this year YOU Bunky, could be the pace-setter and "Guru", "Queen Bee" or "Head Honcho" of your writing circle. Can you imagine what a blast that is? But that's not all:

Think of what a boost your writing skills will get from that much targeted practice. Want to be recognized as an "expert" in your field, hobby or personal interest? Do you want to explode your article marketing stats through the ceiling? Would you like to really get the attention of your boss, prominent editors in your area, or the big guns in your area of interest? Do you want a Space Shuttle trajectory blast to traffic on your website or blog? Are you thinking of establishing or expanding your online or web presence? Don't you think that writing and publishing one thousand articles would do that and more for you?

You darn Skippy it would! So let's get started.

In the upcoming part two of this series, we'll go into a more detailed breakdown of the production steps and processes needed to write a thousand (or more) articles in a year.

If you'd like to join my FREE "Write a Thousand Articles This Year" program, just contact me at and we'll get you started, put you on track and keep you going along with the other dedicated writing professionals in our rapidly growing group. (I've just put some freshly re-charged batteries in my Uncle Buzzy's cattle prod) Just think, a year or less from now, you'll be the proud author of a thousand or more articles. And your "writer" friends? Gosh, they'll just be sick with envy. And you? You'll love every moment of it, you thousand-article-writing devil you.

Article Source:

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Billy Wilder : 10 ScreenWriting Tips

Billy Wilder was one of the greatest writer/directors in film history, having co-written and directed such classics as Sunset Boulevard, Some Like it Hot, The Apartment, and Double Indemnity. What screenwriter wouldn’t want a little advice from him?

Well, here are some of Wilder's screen writing tips:
  1. The audience is fickle.
  2. Grab ‘em by the throat and never let ‘em go.
  3. Develop a clean line of action for your leading character.
  4. Know where you’re going.
  5. The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer.
  6. If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act.
  7. A tip from Lubitsch: Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you forever.
  8. In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees. Add to what they’re seeing.
  9. The event that occurs at the second act curtain triggers the end of the movie.
  10. The third act must build, build, build in tempo and action until the last event, and then—that’s it. Don’t hang around.
Source :

Monday, January 28, 2008

Namibia: Children Learn Serious Writing

The Ministry of Education is to receive books from the American Embassy this morning during the launch of the educational programme, Writing by Kids.

The Ambassador of the United States of America Dennise Mathieu will officially hand over the books this morning to the Minister of Education, Nangolo Mbumba. The Writing by Kids activities started early last year with a training session for teachers in six target regions on developing personal journal writing in fourth grade and seventh grade classrooms. The participating teachers conducted intensive, regular writing lessons and activities in their classrooms. The result of those lessons is an anthology of personal journal entries, which have been collected in the book titled "My Journal".

The final book in the series of Writing for and by Kids has been sponsored by USAID. The book will serve as a supplementary reader to improve reading, writing and life skills in primary schools.

Source :

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Writing Tips - Singular or Plural?

Writers, especially technical writers, often have to contend with writing about concepts or things which, from the reader's perspective, might equally be singular or plural: "Open the Printer window to check the pending print job." (Jobs?)

In the past, one way of dealing with this conundrum was to show the possible alternatives in parentheses: job(s). But what happens if the word has an irregular plural form? For example, penny [penny(ies)?] or (in the mathematical sense) index [index(ices)?]. And what happens to accompanying verbs and pronouns? For example: "The pending print job(s) is(are) shown in the order that it(they) was(were) sent to the queue." (!?)

Possible Retreats
Traps such as those described above have placed the parenthesis method of marking plurals into considerable disfavour. The best solution to the problem of "one or many?" is to write around it. Here are some possible alternatives:

  1. Use the plural (the singular is assumed). This is the preferable alternative and the one most likely to work in very constrained formats, such as tables and charts. For example:

    The Printer window shows your pending print jobs.
    (The number of jobs is really immaterial. The reader will know whether one job or many jobs are at issue.)

  2. To emphasize the dual possibility, use or and both versions of the noun. For example:

    NIVA will be hosting the representative or representatives from each company.

    (The number is still immaterial, but you emphasize the possibility that one or several can attend.)

  3. To emphasize the "many" possibility, use one or more ... (or a similar phrase). Notice that the noun agrees with the closer (plural) adjective, and the verb, in turn, agrees with the noun. For example:
One or more representatives from each company are expected.
(Numbers are uncertain, and you emphasize the fact that several might attend from each company.)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Author claims writing can aid in process of healthy dieting

Composing said to help face emotions, healthier than consuming foods

Want to keep the "Freshman 15" a myth? Well, look no further than the nearest…pencil?

Author Julia Cameron claims writing can actually lead to healthier lifestyles, working in very similar ways as diets.

Cameron wrote the 1992 best seller "The Artist's Way," but it is her recently released book titled "The Writing Diet: Write Yourself Right-Size" that is really getting people thinking.

Basically, Cameron's idea is that writing can have similar benefits to a dieter that exercising has. Writing does not burn a lot of calories or release endorphins - at least it has not been proven to do so.

What writing does is block food, according to Cameron in a recent article. She claims some people turn to food as a way to not face feelings. Writing, however, can help or force people to face their feelings.

Read More Article

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Writing is Talking Like Mime is Opera

A couple of readers were kind enough to ask me to elaborate on a point I made in My Last, Best 10 Tips On How To Make It As A Writer, about how talking and writing are "exact opposite uses of the language." So here's my case for why writing is no more like talking than mime is like opera:

Spoken language is very much about maintaining societal mores; it's basically about not offending people. Speaking to others is (duh) how we get along with them, so it's deeply grounded in ancient, at-this-point-instinctive ambiguity. The core, formative idea when you're talking to people -- especially in any kind of group setting -- is to keep things friendly, to accommodate the thoughts and feelings of the others in your group, to be ... well, social. Talking is about cooperative give-and-take, sharing, keeping things open-ended in such a way that no one involved in the conversation feels too threatened or challenged.

Read More Article...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Whom Are You Writing For?

One of the key issues when crafting any piece of writing is who your audience is. If you’re writing for a newspaper or magazine, you’ll probably be able to find some statistics about your readership profile. Most publications rely on advertising to keep them going, and in order to get the best ads, they need to know who their readers are so that advertisers know where their dollars will be spent. The information available might include:
  • The average age of readers
  • whether they are male or female
  • What kind of education they have had
  • What kind of job sector they are in
  • What they earn
Many publications also undertake more in depth reader surveys to find out about their readers’ special interests. So how does that help writers? It’s simple. Knowing who your readers are helps you to create content that they want to read.

When researching an article on cars recently, I came across two versions of the same website, owned by the same company. One was intended for men, and contained lots of technical details about the cars’ performance. The other was meant for women, and had a lot more information about accessories. They may have been stereotyping, but they were also writing for their readers.

If you’re blogging, then it’s even easier to find out what readers like, provided you get some traffic. You can tell when your audience responds to a particular post because there will be comments and links that show that people thought that your content was worth reading.

I find that a good technique for deciding on new content is to look at what readers’ interests are and write articles that cater for those interests. When blogging, I look for posts that got a good response, as well as for the questions that readers have asked. These provide a good starting point for thinking of new material.

Source :

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Writing off cursive

Ask a high schooler to instant message four friends while updating her MySpace page and typing a history paper. No problem. Ask her to sign her name? Problem. Cursive handwriting, a style so familiar to previous generations, could be going the way of the slide rule and the typewriter.

“Shorthand has been forgotten, longhand will soon be forgotten,” said Sargur N. Srihari, a UB professor who has studied pattern recognition and handwriting for 30 years.

Students today are spending less time in the classroom learning how to write with pen and paper, and more time learning what to write.

Cursive writing is not required on state assessments or the new essay portion of the SAT. With e-mail and text messages, there’s not a lot of writing outside the classroom, either.

Read More Article...

Friday, January 18, 2008

Writing A Lead To Open Your Writing

This past year, we've started adding a LEAD to our writings. A lead is a short story or anecdote (or part of one) at the beginning of your writing. Often in narrative form, this short story may be fictional or true, or even from the author's personal experience.

The lead may even be an excerpt or scene from a story, book, movie, or TV show. These are good because your reader may have read or watched the scene already. This creates a connection, a bond, between the reader and the writing by sharing common ground.

The key to a lead is to provide a short story your audience can relate to the subject of your writing, or to the mood or tone you wish to establish. You may want the reader somber, compassionate, joyous, or expectant.

The lead does act as an attention getter, drawing your readers into the writing. It also connects the reader's personal experience to the writing. The quicker and more deeply you can connect to the reader, the greater the chance your writing will be read and your message will be remembered.

However, the lead is different from your topic sentence. A topic sentence introduces the subject of the writing, and sets up the structure of the paragraph. The lead, on the other hand, is independent of the content of the paragraph. It could be removed from the writing without affecting the overall message (it could be totally deleted and the paragraph would still maintain its integrity). It is used to set the mood or tone in the reader, or to elicit a response toward the overall subject.

The leads may be as short as a sentence fragment, or as long as several sentences (maybe even a paragraph) in length. Sometimes we require specific lead lengths, and other times we leave it open to the students to decide.

The lead must be extremely vivid, using specific actions and descriptive words to effectively paint a picture in the reader's mind. You cannot use enough adjectives. The lead should also leave the reader wanting more. We sometimes use fragments to leave the reader hanging. This is accomplished by an ellipsis ( ... ) after the last word of the fragment.

The lead is an advanced technique in writing, and its proper use shows a maturity in the author's style. We strongly encourage you and your students to practice story telling and narrative forms of writing. Have students start small, using single sentences and fragments, and then working up to more complex leads. This, we've found, also impresses the scorers on those high stakes state/national tests. You'll find your students writing becoming more rich and complex as they master this technique.

Here are a couple of leads:

The gigantic, drooling hound snarled and barked as it backed me up against the rough bark of the oak tree. (descriptive essay on fear)

The dark, angry clouds pushed their way across the gray sky as the crisp wind bit into my skin. (survival story)

As I ran, gasping for breath, through the midnight blackness of the eerie forest, I could hear the snapping and cracking of branches as my pursuer closed the distance ... (scary narrative).

About the Author:

Did you find this article helpful and useful for your classes? Interested in more information on teaching writing, or writing ideas you can use (and adapt or change for your classes)? See our website or click the following link to access our NEW writing page: For this article, and more on teaching and education, be sure to check out our website: Frank Holes, Jr. is the editor of the StarTeaching website and the bi-monthly newsletter, Features for Teachers. Check out our latest issue at: You can contact Frank at:

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Key Letter Writing Tips

  1. Keep it short and to the point.

    Letters involving business (personal or corporate) should be concise, factual, and focused. Try to never exceed one page or you will be in risk of losing your reader. A typical letter page will hold 350 to 450 words. If you can’t get your point across with that many words you probably haven’t done enough preparatory work. If necessary, call the recipient on the phone to clarify any fuzzy points and then use the letter just to summarize the overall situation.

  2. Focus on the recipient’s needs.

    While writing the letter, focus on the information requirements of your audience, the intended addressee. If you can, in your “mind’s eye” imagine the intended recipient seated across a desk or boardroom table from you while you are explaining the subject of the letter. What essential information does that person need to know through this communication? What will be their expectations when they open the letter? Have you addressed all of these?

  3. Use simple and appropriate language.

    Your letter should use simple straightforward language, for clarity and precision. Use short sentences and don’t let paragraphs exceed three or four sentences. As much as possible, use language and terminology familiar to the intended recipient. Do not use technical terms and acronyms without explaining them, unless you are certain that the addressee is familiar with them.

  4. Re-read and revise it.

    Do a first draft of the letter, and then carefully review and revise it. Put yourself in the place of the addressee. Imagine yourself receiving the letter. How would you react to it? Would it answer all of your questions? Does it deal with all of the key issues? Are the language and tone appropriate? Sometimes reading it out loud to one’s self, can be helpful. When you actually “hear” the words it is easy to tell if it “sounds” right, or not.

  5. Check spelling and grammar.

    A letter is a direct reflection of the person sending it, and by extension, the organization that person works for. When the final content of the letter is settled, make sure that you run it through a spelling and grammar checker. Sending a letter with obvious spelling and grammar mistakes looks sloppy and unprofessional. In such cases, the recipient can’t really be blamed for seeing this as an indication as to how you (and your organization) probably do most other things.
Above all else, your goal in all letter writing, regardless of the subject, should be to keep it short, factual, and to the point. Don't write it more than one page in length, unless there is some compelling reason to make it longer.

Studies have shown that busy business people do not like to read beyond the first page. If your letter is longer, there is a good chance it will be dumped in a "read later" pile, which often ends up never getting read.

The above basic letter writing tips are mostly common sense. Nevertheless, you would be amazed how often these very basic “rules of thumb” are not employed when people are writing letters.

Letter Writing Resources
If you have come directly to this page you may have missed my main letter writing resources page. To go there click on this link:

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Good Writing

When my teenage son picked up Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Good Writing, it fell open to Rule 3: "Never use a verb other than 'said' to carry dialogue."

"I wish my teachers could read this," my son said. "They tell us not to use 'said.' They think other words make us sound better, like we have a bigger vocabulary."

Which is precisely Elmore Leonard's point: Good writing is not about the writer (and the way he sounds or the size of her vocabulary), but about the story.

The writer must remain invisible.

Leonard explains Rule 3: "The line of dialogue belongs to the character. The verb is the writer sticking his nose in ... '(S)aid' is far less intrusive than 'grumbled,' 'gasped,' or 'cautioned."'

Read More Article...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Become a Successful Freelance Business

Writing about business, your major challenge will be injecting some life into IPOs, P/E ratios, 401(k)s and numbers, numbers everywhere. You’re often in the position of having to educate readers, yet you don’t want your article to read like a textbook or the small print of an annual report.

I recently spent some time in my library’s periodical room finding examples of business articles that were quite the opposite of dry. Here are some techniques skillful business writers use to make challenging intellectual material come alive with human interest and drama.

Read More Article...

Monday, January 14, 2008

The art of writing an essay

Writing a university essay involves a lot of careful thinking about beginnings, middles and ends.

Some students begin thinking about it the day before it is due, find themselves in the middle of a nightmare, and end up putting down whatever they've scrabbled together at about 5am the next morning. This leaves too little time for thinking about the structure of the essay itself.

Instead, you need to have done enough reading and research beforehand to enable you to make a plan. It helps if this reading is directly linked to the topic of the essay, rather than whatever books you happen to have lying around.

Read More Article...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Writing an Article That Sells

Now that you have completed all your research, it's time to write the article. In the beginning, you may struggle for hours over every word, trying to get the piece perfect. This is normal and part of the learning process. Your best bet is to go back to your outline, fit your research in, and write from that framework. If you didn't create an outline, compose one right now, and follow it faithfully in your work.

Before you write, be sure you are thoroughly prepared. First, type up your notes from interviews and other research so that you won't have to waste time puzzling over your handwriting during the writing process. Then, position your style guide close by as a ready reference. Finally, sit down and briefly analyze the articles in your target publication. Gauge the tone of the articles, and see how much emphasis they put on research, how heavily they use quotes and statistics, and what length the sidebars are, if any. Keep these points in mind as you write, referring to the publication as necessary to refresh your memory and to look at particulars--the headlines, leads, etc.--as you work on those portions of your own piece.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Some Basics on Magazine Writing

Blank page. You roll the paper into the typewriter and sit there poised with your hands on the keys. Or maybe you turn on your computer and sit with an empty screen. What do you write?

Many writers and would-be writers have told me how that blank page petrifies them. In this article, we'll explore my technique for putting together a magazine article from idea to finished product.

Getting over the Hump
It's a rare day that I have trouble putting those initial words on paper. I always do some preparation ahead of time, then use a slight trick. Ideas for magazine articles are everywhere and the places to write are just as plentiful. Maybe you have an interesting personal experience story that you can capture? Possibly you have been involved in a ministry and created some unique materials that you'd like to tell to others through a how-to article. Maybe you've compiled some teaching on a topic from the Bible and would like to get that into print.
Or if you don't have any material from your own experience to write about, consider interviewing some interesting people around you and writing their story for publication.

Read More Article...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Get it write: writing rules for IT professionals

IT hiccups, I've had a few, and usually an IT expert has fixed them for me. Problems have arisen only when the said expert has advised me in writing.

Take a recent letter I received from the technical services department of a well-known telecoms company. The letter included an extremely comprehensive breakdown of the technical issues blighting my firm's telephone system, together with some convoluted instructions on how to resolve the problem. The letter was appallingly written, which means I will be equally clueless about what to do should the problem occur again. More future work for the technical services department in question, then.

Technical jargon and unfathomable abbreviations were the biggest culprits in my particular letter. Then there were the never-ending sentences that I had to keep rereading, intertwined with the odd burst of "text speak".

Read More Article...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

7 Deadly Sins of résumé writing

  1. Pride:
    Résumés may proudly represent your successes, but back them up with numbers so those reading your résumé can understand how you were able to accomplish your professional successes. It is key to be proud of your accomplishments without taking credit for the entire team’s work. It is not a good idea to include photos of yourself in the résumé, unless you are acting or modeling.

  2. Envy:
    Résumés should never mention you did your boss’s job on a regular basis or acting “Acting Vice President” because you did all the work anyway. Be humble. The truth will come out in the interview. Too many acronyms can immediately get your resume in the circular file if the HR person reviewing it cannot understand your successes. Spell out acronyms at least the first time if they are uncommon.

  3. Anger:
    Résumé writing must be completed without emotion. Even if you were fired, mistreated or sexually harassed. There is no place for this information in a résumé. Keep it to yourself. Focus on the good things, your successes.

  4. Greed: It is important that a résumé not list any sort of salary requirement. A cover letter could mention a range only if required. If you are forced to give a salary requirement, give a $10,000 range to an employer.

  5. Sloth (laziness): Be sure that you articulate how you made a difference specific to your background. Do not use a friend’s résumé with the same title with your company. It is uncommon for a position to be exactly the same as another person’s. Take the time to make your résumé strong and based on your personal information.

  6. Gluttony: Do not take all the credit for projects you worked on in your résumé. Give credit where credit is due. You will be called on this exaggerated information in the interview most of the time.

  7. Lust: The only place in a résumé where lust could come through to a reader is in the e-mail address. Many people put e-mail addresses that are inappropriate for a résumé (making sexual references in one way or another). Be sure that your e-mail is professional.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Tips for Outsourcing Article Writing

When I talk to people about my busy schedule, I was often told “Why don’t you outsource your writing to someone else?”

Well, outsourcing can be one of the best ways to get work done… if you do it correctly. Lately, I have given it a go, and frankly, I didn’t really get what I want.

There are many portals for outsourcing, or finding freelancers, like Elance, or RentaCoder, or Design Outpost. But from my experience, here are a few tips you need to watch when you use these portals, to make sure that you are happy with your outsourced job.

Read More Article...

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Three fundamental ingredients of good writing

First of all, ideas are hard-to-cage elusive creatures. And then once we have been fortunate enough to secure a collection of thoughts to work with, we need to wrestle them into some sort of coherent order, all the while deciding which to keep for further development and which we need to discard.

Understandably, many never get past this initial pre-writing stage.

This does not need to be the case. The most talented, so-called natural writers schedule regular time to work at the craft. They know that writing is a skill that can be practiced and mastered the same as any other. They treat writing much the same as many of us approach golf, cooking, or any other hobby.

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Friday, January 4, 2008

'If you're going to despair, stop writing'

He was one of Britain's most shocking, uncompromising playwrights. Then he fell out of favour. But now Edward Bond is back. He grants Michael Billington a rare interview

'I'm an extremist," says Edward Bond, sitting in the study of the Cambridgeshire house where he has lived for the past 40 years. "I call myself an extremeophile." This leads the playwright into a series of pronouncements about life and drama that positively invite disagreement: "before 1956 all English plays were Home Counties rubbish", for instance. In an odd way, I am reminded of William Blake. Like Blake, Bond had little formal schooling: his agricultural-labourer father couldn't even read. And, although he doesn't share Blake's mysticism, Bond is a peculiarly visionary English artist who, like the poet, might claim: "I must Create a System or be enslav'd by another Man's."

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

Writing Tips - Respect Your Audience

A writer who wants to lead an audience towards a conclusion must refrain from clipping on a leash and pulling too hard. Being human, the audience is likely to resist being told what to think unless already perfectly in tune with the writer's thinking ... and how often does that happen?

A writer who is very close to a subject being written about may fail to notice that the facts presented are open to alternative interpretations. If the writer's interpretation is presented as the only logical or only possible view, readers whose interpretations differ—possibly a considerable majority of the audience—could be irritated, or offended, or worse. As Sherlock Holmes said, in A Study in Scarlet, "I ought to know by this time that when a fact appears opposed to a long train of deductions it invariably proves to be capable of bearing some other interpretation."

Techniques to Use and to Avoid
A good approach is to lay out the facts in the most logical and cogent manner possible, then trust the reader to draw the appropriate conclusions. This technique is particularly applicable to fiction writing, in which character and setting are demonstrated by description, conversation, and situation. One hallmark of a less-developed fiction writer is dependence on narrative that bluntly tells the reader—in a sentence or two—what to think of a character or living space, instead of providing evidence to draw the reader to the desired conclusion in longer descriptive or situational passages. For example, rather than say "The Smiths had low-class tastes", the writer might describe how the Smith family's house was decorated.

When conclusions must explicitly be stated, make sure that the presentation is neutral and respects the independence of the reader to take them or to leave them. Trust to both your power of persuasion and your audience's common sense.

Avoid making value judgements based on certain facts or conclusions. Values are best judged by each reader independently. For example, a newspaper story leads off with the statements: "Students at Smith High School achieved the highest test scores of all the high schools in town. The school is also consistently rated "better than most" by a majority of its graduates." Do not follow up by a statement such as: "Smith High School is the best in the city." The question that is sure to be asked is: "Best at what?" Smith may be the best academically (or maybe it is simply located in an affluent neighbourhood). Maybe other schools have better remedial reading programs, sports participation, or drama and chess clubs. Value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Avoid placing the reader on your side of an us-versus-them statement: "We now can see that....", "We recommend that...." Statements like these vaguely imply the superiority of the "we" (author) who is dictating to the "they" (reader). Rewrite the statements to emphasize the benefits of agreeing with the conclusions or advice being presented. For example, rather than use "We recommend that the Whizzbang be placed on a hard, flat surface", try "For best operation, place the Whizzbang on a hard, flat surface."

When to Force the Issue
Finally, ignore most of the preceding advice when writing cautions or warnings about hazardous materials, products, or processes. In these cases, you must be blunt and explicit about the hazard; you must ensure that the reader will understand the consequences of failing to heed the good advice being provided (value judgement); and you must emphasize the credibility of the "we" (expert) who is giving advice to the "they" (assumed novice) by stating credentials, as appropriate.


Five Tips for Writing Blog Articles the Easy Way

Blogs need content: short snippets, articles, and longer feature articles. Here are five tips to improve your article-writing skills; within a few days, you’ll be writing content like a pro.

  1. Outline before you start writing - a few points will do

    Jot down a few points before you start writing.

    Many articles follow this simple format: an introduction, a few points (around four, in an article of 500 words), and a conclusion.

    Writing a short outline before you begin the article will help you to stick to the point.

    Every article you write should include a “takeaway” for your readers: at least one nugget of information that’s not available elsewhere.

  2. Know your audience - who’s reading your blog? Why?

    Before you begin writing, think about your reader. Who’s your typical blog reader?

    For example, if you’re writing a blog about digital photography, ask yourself whether your current article is aimed at beginning photographers, or at experts. If your typical reader is a beginner, you’ll need to add explanatory material (or links) to your article.

    Knowing who your typical reader is will help you to write content that’s appropriate for your blog. Staying with our digital photography example, you could write several series of articles for beginners; these articles would become “evergreen” content on your blog; they’ll always be popular.

  3. Create an inviting title: make it a “must read”

    When you’re creating article titles, there are two audiences you need to remember. The first audience is your readers. Make your titles intriguing, so that when a reader sees the article in his newsfeed, he’ll read it.

    Your articles’ second audience is the search engines. Use keywords in your article title so that they can be found.

  4. Use short sentences and short paragraphs - make your articles easy to read

    On the Web, you don’t read. You scan. So make your articles scannable: use short sentences, short paragraphs and lists. The easier your articles are to read, the more readers you’ll get.

  5. Add links to your articles

    Links are important for every article you write. If you’re creating a blog on WordPress, there are several “Related articles” plug-ins you can use on the blog, but especially for longer articles, you’ll want to add your own links too.

So there you have it: five tips which will help you to write a steady stream of informative and entertaining articles for your blog.


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Workshop on thesis writing, scientific paper publishing

CHENNAI: The Science City, an autonomous organisation functioning under the State government’s Higher Education Department, will organise a two-day workshop on ‘Thesis writing and scientific paper publishing’ on January 3 and 4, 2008.

According to a release, the workshop is aimed at guiding students pursuing Masters, M. Phil programmes and research, and acquaint them with career opportunities in the field of academic scientific publishing.

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