Nathan Bransford reports:
"[D]ialogue is one of the very most crucial elements in a novel. Great dialogue can make a novel sing. Bad dialogue can sink it like a stone...When the dialogue is carrying exposition and trying to tell the reader too much, characters end up saying a lot of very unnatural and unwieldy things...Exposition and dialogue only really mesh when one character genuinely doesn't know what the other character is telling them and it's natural for them to explain at the moment they're explaining it. Otherwise, if you're just trying to smush in info, your reader is going to spot it a mile away...A good conversation is an escalation. The dialogue is about something and builds toward something. If things stay even and neutral, the dialogue just feels empty. Characters in a novel never just talk. There's always more to it...good writers leave out the boring parts. This goes doubly for dialogue: it's usually best to cut to the chase rather than spending time on the pleasantries that normal people use in everyday conversation. In real life our conversations wander around all over the place, and a transcribed real life conversation is a meandering mess of free association and stutters. In a novel, a good conversation is focused and has a point. And in a novel, dialect, slang, and voice is used sparingly. Just a hint of flavor is enough...Human beings are not very articulate creatures. Despite all the words at our disposal, words tend to fail us at key moments, and even when we know what we want to say we spend a whole lot of time trying to describe and articulate what we feel without being quite able to do it properly. We misunderstand, overemphasize, underemphasize, grasp at what we mean, and conversations go astray. So when two characters go back and forth explaining precisely what they are feeling or thinking to each other, it doesn't seem remotely real. Good dialogue is instead comprised of attempts at articulation...[T]his shouldn't be taken too far and a conversation shouldn't be an endless string of misunderstandings...but the way in which characters express their feelings and how they articulate what they're feeling is one of the most important ways of revealing character. Are they reserved? Boisterous? Do they bluster? Hold back? Characters who say exactly what they mean are generic. Characters who talk around their emotions and objectives are much more interesting...Interjections and grunts are kind of like carpet cleaning concentrate. They must be diluted or you'll burn a hole in the floor...Out there on the Internet it has lately become trendy for people to advocate stripping books of dialogue tags so that the person who is speaking is solely apparent through gestures and context...As long as you mainly stick to said and asked, your reader won't notice they're there, and they'll be way better able to track who is saying what. Yes, don't overdo dialogue tags and look for ways to add meaningful gesture and action to back and forths, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater...There's nothing worse than reading a stretch of dialogue where the characters are saying precisely what we think they're going to say. The best dialogue counters our expectations and surprises us."
Informatics, Inc. reports:
"Blogging is one of the big 'musts' of digital marketing. The benefits of maintaining a blog are endless. Blogs improve your SEO, they position you as a subject matter expert in your industry, and they encourage search engines to crawl your site more often!...To help you get started with blogging for your medical organization, we have outlined 5 keys to maintaining a successful [health care] blog...First and foremost, know who you will be talking to. Typically with a [health care] blog, you will be targeting current and prospective patients. If you work for a medical center with a niche market, you will obviously want to stay in that niche. However, if you work for a less-targeted practice, such as a University Hospital, pick a few topics that are more important to you. While you want to stay moderately focused, you don’t want to get too focused so that you run out of topics in a month...When it comes to blogging, it is very important to keep a schedule. This means posting on a regular basis and knowing ahead of time what your blog will be about. Doing so will help you avoid writer’s block down the road. If possible, outline all of your blog topics for the next quarter and on which dates you will be posting them. Need help coming up with 3 months of ideas? This is where your SEO comes into play. Determine what your website’s targeted keywords are and go from there...Once you have 5-7 of these keywords or phrases identified, you can begin coming up with tentative blog titles...'If you build it, they will come' does not apply to blogging. Rather, you need to push your blog out into the world if you want people to see it. Posting it on your website is not enough. Come up with a strategy for how you will get more people to view your blogs and make it part of your regular posting checklist...Blogs about [health care] mean a lot more when they are coming from credible and verifiable sources. While you can pen some blogs as 'X Hospital' or 'Dr. Smith’s Office Staff', not all of them should be as such. Ask the doctors and nurses at your hospital to write blogs about their specialty. If they feel they aren’t good writers, you can always add your twist during the editing phase. Another option would be to write the blog yourself and ask the [d]octor to edit and review...Finally, you could reach out to vocal current and past patients to share their stories. Just make sure you get proper sign-off!...That last idea reminds us to be cognizant of [HIPAA or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] and other privacy regulations. While such privacy regulations can make blogging a bit more difficult, they shouldn’t deter you completely. Just make sure you understand the laws and what is okay to say. Avoid including any personal information about patients that they haven’t fully consented to sharing and always include a disclaimer explaining that your opinions are your own and that patients should contact their doctors with any health concerns."
Donny Gamble reports:
"If you run a small business, [write] a blog, or work in any type of field that requires writing, you’ve most likely experienced writer’s block at some point in time. Writer’s block is being unable to either think of a topic to write about or move forward with a predetermined idea...Writers can agree that their best ideas usually come to them when they least expect it, such as in the shower, while driving or even while sleeping...[but] it’s pertinent, as a writer, to always jot down your ideas (and some notes) as they come to you. You can refer to this ever-growing list [any time] you’re stuck on what to write...The best writers are inspired by their everyday lives. If you’re constructing an article on turning your business idea into a reality, for example, your final piece will be much more relatable if you actually test these methods out yourself...Who is your favorite author? What’s your favorite website on your topic of choice? Research what others are saying about your given topic to find inspiration for your own work. Most likely, whatever you’re working on is not 'new' information, but rather a new way of presenting and sharing strategies and tactics that work for you...Next time you find yourself staring at a blank screen, take a break and spend 30 minutes reading. You can read a fiction book for fun, read articles online on the topic you’re writing about, read your favorite blog or read a magazine...Once you’ve spent 30 minutes reading, it’s time to focus in on your task at hand. The best way to do this is by eliminating all of your surrounding distractions. Turn off the television, log out of your email, stay off of social media and retreat to a quiet, relaxing room...Sometimes the only way to combat writer’s block is to simply sit down and write. Let go of expectations and instead, let the words flow naturally. You can always go back and edit your piece a few hours or a day later...Instead of worrying about the beginning and the end [of your piece], focus on the middle. Outline your article and fill in the pieces that are easiest for you. Coupled with the strategies mentioned above, the rest of your article should start to flow naturally."
Kara Page reports:
"If you're applying for a scholarship that will help you attend a graduate studies program, you might need to write a cover letter as part of your application. The cover letter will likely be the first information about you the scholarship committee reads, and will therefore serve to form the committee's first impression of you...Start a new document and create a single-spaced header at the top with your name, address, phone number[,] and email address. [Double-space] and type the date, then [double-space] again and type the name of the recipient...the name of the graduate studies scholarship foundation, and its address...[Double-space] and type a formal salutation, greeting the recipient by name...[Double-space] and type your opening paragraph. Explain who you are, what field you are studying and at what point in your education you are at. Explain how you learned about the scholarship and that you wish to apply...Write the middle paragraph and briefly explain why you believe you are a strong applicant for the scholarship. Make a connection between what the scholarship foundation supports and what you would use the money for...Write the closing paragraph and mention that you would welcome an interview with the committee to discuss the opportunity. Thank the committee members for their time and consideration, then type a formal closing salutation and your name. Print the letter and sign your name in between the salutation and your typed name."
Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen reports:
"Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, there are words and articles and books in you that only you can write. These tips for being more productive aren’t about changing who you are…they’re about figuring out who you are, so you can be a better, more prolific writer!...Extroverts may have more difficulty finding time to write because they like to go, go, go! They love being around people, which can make it difficult to write. In contrast, introverts generally like their time alone, which may give them an advantage in terms of productivity. To write more, do a little self-exploration and get a little 'touchy-feely.' What personality traits make you a more effective writer…and what traits are holding you back?...Not being able to 'find the time' to write is essentially deciding you don’t want to be a writer. If you really want to be a writer, your behaviors must match your intentions or writing goals. It’s all about 'walking the walk – not just talking the talk.' To increase productivity (and your ability to earn money as a writer or blogger), you need to decide that you’re not just a [wannabe]…you’re a writer, and writers must spend time writing...Refuse to play until you’ve achieved certain writing goals...Set your specific, measurable, achievable writing goals – preferably daily goals – and do not let yourself leave the house until you show up for your writing self. If you don’t reach your goals, you cancel your plans...Refusing to party until you’ve written X number of words per day or emailed Y number of pitches to editors are examples of habits that support your writing goals. Make it a habit to get up every morning at 5:30 [AM], or meet with a writing group every second Wednesday. Make it a habit to research possible literary agents on the first Monday of every month, or read a new book about writing every two months. Your habits form your life...Find ways to write while surrounded by people...If your extroverted personality traits drive towards loud boisterous places, flow with your urges. For example, take your writing utensils and plant yourself in a busy [coffee shop], the commons area of a university or library, or the food court of a mall. You may not need to actually interact with people to get your socialization fix…just being around crowds may energize you and give you time to write. Two birds with one stone!...If you simply must attend all the parties, dinners, and events you planned this week, then use those experiences to guide your writing progress. Don’t compartmentalize your life by spending time with people, and then trying to write about things that don’t relate...[W]riting what you know can increase your productivity by saving time and energy...Remember how fast time flies...[T]o write more, remind yourself daily that your days are numbered. If you don’t write now, you won’t likely be writing later."
"Review articles in medical journals inform and enlighten physicians and other readers by summarizing the research on a given topic and setting the stage for further studies. In an article in the journal Academic Medicine, William McGaghie, PhD, of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine identifies the five main strategies scholars use when writing review articles: narrative review, systematic review, scoping, critical-realist and open peer commentary...Writing a review article involves a type of scholarly work called integrative scholarship. The late educator Ernest Boyer, PhD, wrote that integrative scholarship puts isolated facts in perspective, makes connections across disciplines and illuminates data in a revealing way. Integrative scholarship, Dr. Boyer wrote, is 'serious, disciplined work that seeks to interpret, draw together and bring new insight to bear on original research.' Research integration involves seven steps: formulate the problem; search the literature; gather information from studies; evaluate the quality of studies; analyze and integrate the outcomes of studies; interpret the evidence; and present the results...Until recently, [narrative review] was the most common, influential and widely endorsed approach. An author or authors [will stake] out an area of published writing and [aggregate] the evidence based on expert opinion or judgment. Data are abstracted from the reviewed articles and compiled into evidence tables. An 'expert' summarizes his or her understanding of the issues in a review article. Systematic review...is a distinct, reproducible research method requiring a testable hypothesis or focused research question. The literature search is systematic and comprehensive; articles are selected for inclusion according to criteria set in advance. As in narrative reviews, data are compiled into evidence tables. Data then are interpreted in the context of all relevant studies. Scoping...is a relatively new strategy. The intent is to produce a quick, narrative, descriptive account of the scope of current literature addressing a key research question. Critical-realist...is a hybrid of the narrative, systematic and scoping review methods. It relies simultaneously on both professional judgment and rigorous methodology. [In] [o]pen peer commentary...a journal solicits or commissions an article that is provocative, controversial or at the leading edge of science or scholarship. The peer-reviewed article is followed by commentaries that may endorse, refute, amplify or refine its methods, substance or conclusions. The author of the target article has the final say in the form of rebuttal, summary remarks and comments. Dr. McGaghie writes: 'Reviewers and editors should recognize and respect the five integrative scholarship traditions and also be ready to embrace new approaches to research synthesis such as network analysis now on the horizon.'"
Francis Pandolfi reports:
“In the private sector, corporations achieve their goals by carefully designing business operations that are reflected in a budget and then regularly reporting on how actual profits compare to that budget. If mission accomplishment is as important as profit attainment, why do most nonprofits not spend equivalent time in mission creation and monitoring? In reality, nonprofits often completely mess this up. As important as missions are, nonprofits frequently go off in ineffective directions by relying on mission statements that can be little more than slogans...Because they are not carefully constructed, most mission statements cannot be used for regular and rigorous analysis, as is the case with corporate sales and profits. Furthermore, many nonprofit managers do not instill the discipline in their organizations to use the mission on a regular basis as a tool to make decisions and achieve goals. Quite the opposite is true with the sales and profit budgets of successful corporations...An effective mission statement must be a clear description of where an organization is headed in the future that distinctly sets it apart from other entities and makes a compelling case for the need it fills. Furthermore, this mission must be short, memorable and appropriate for a variety of organizational stakeholders…The process of creating a mission statement, often as important as the final result, may take several months; but well done, a mission statement can last for years…[Strategy description] defines the actions that make the nonprofit unique. In the private sector a clear and effective strategy…facilitates attraction of customers, and that results in a profit. In a nonprofit a clear and effective strategy facilitates attraction of funds and provides the ability to take smart action...A well-crafted mission statement allows an NGO to operate with focus and discipline. It provides consistency in decision making over both time and geography. In other words, used as a tool to decide between various courses of action, the statement will be understood by employees in the same way over time and from location to location...The process of creating the mission statement is just as important as the end result. Why is this? Because the staff and the board will have embraced this definition of strategy. Over time it is the board that is the keeper of the mission statement and the board will challenge the staff regularly to see that the statement is being achieved...One organization that has gotten it right is the Nature Conservancy with its mission 'to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.' This mission has been unchanged for years and the organization has been highly successful because its mission is simple (only 26 words), crystal clear and compelling. For a nonprofit, in the end it is smart action that is equivalent to making a profit."
J. Hirby reports:
"The goal when writing a contract addendum is to only change the parts that all parties want to change while not creating any loopholes or unintended consequences in the agreement as it stands in writing...You should make sure that your addendum looks like and is connected to the original contract. It should use the same typeface, margins and font size, and it should be titled, 'Addendum to _________ of (date).' The beginning section should list the parties to the original contract and should specify what certain terms mean...The addendum should specify the date at which it comes into effect. The most important part of the addendum is to list the terms and parts of the original contract that it modifies. Write things like, 'The Contract shall be modified as follows,' with the old written portion and the new written portion side by side so that the differences are obvious. You may also use the strikethrough and bold styles to emphasize the added and removed parts, but be sure to identify what each style means. Any deletions from or additions to the original contract should be listed in the body of the addendum as well...Finally, you should add a signature line at the end of the addendum so that all parties in the original contract may sign it. The original contract should be affixed to the addendum and filed by all parties...If the contract is a serious agreement with a lot of money at stake, it is highly recommended that you consult with an attorney to look over your original contract and addendum to make sure that it is airtight and that there are no loopholes created by the new additions. This is especially the case for long contracts where a change in one definition or term may affect the meaning of another."
Johnny Kilhefner reports:
Carey Dunne reports:
“Top style bloggers are joining the 1%, reports Women's Wear Daily, with some earning as much as, say, neurosurgeons might hope to make after years of medical school. Eager to drive sales, luxury brands and retailers are offering outsize appearance fees to Internet-famous trendsetters. Fees have gone up from a minimum of $5,000 five years ago to $10,000 to $15,000 today, WWD reports. On top of that, bloggers earn money from affiliate sales (essentially, commissions from retailers for online customer referrals); brand collaborations (which usually involve teaming up with designers on capsule collections); launching their own clothing collections; and ad revenue from their sites…RewardStyle, an invite-only affiliate marketing network that helps bloggers (as well as YouTube stars, magazines, and websites) monetize their content by making commissions off the items they write about, keeps tabs on top performers, who they say can make more than $80,000 a month from affiliate sales alone…Increasingly, it’s [some] bloggers' social platforms—especially their Instagrams—that boost their followings into the millions…RewardStyle launched LikeToKnow:It, [a] tool that lets bloggers make their Instagram posts shoppable. Users sign up to receive emails with direct links to where to buy that cute skirt they saw in their favorite blogger's Instagram post…Perhaps consider quitting your day job to write about shoes.”
Writing and editing can be pretty rigorous processes if you want to do them well, but that's what this page is here for. Check out the latest tips here.