Jay Morris reports:
"Supernatural stories are much like stories in other genres, but they follow their own unique guidelines. Knowing the genre well helps you stay on track...Master the basics of storytelling. Many people have good ideas, but what separates a real storyteller from an amateur is knowledge of story structure. Before you embark on any writing project, you must know the basics. These include story structure, rising and falling action, protagonist, nemesis, climax, denouement and theme...Create an outline. Once you've organized your thoughts, it's often useful to outline your story, scene by scene, until the very end, to make sure you are actively moving your characters towards a climax. This is helpful for two reasons. First, you won't get lost halfway through writing if you have a map of your story. This will save you a lot of heartache and confusion, and it will make writing a pleasure. Second, you'll be able to answer any questions you may have set up in the beginning by clearly seeing how your story unfolds...Explore the genre. 'Supernatural' means anything out of the ordinary world--something unexplained by natural or scientific law. This is not to be confused with science fiction, which allows for seemingly extraordinary events...The difference is that science fiction is based on a scientific theory, however improbable. The supernatural genre includes ghosts, vampires, werewolves, demons or even comic book characters with supernatural powers...Structure your approach. What kind of world are you creating? How large is the supernatural element in your story? From whose point of view are you telling the story? Many stories are structured so that a normal person encounters or witnesses a supernatural being or event. The story then follows how that event affects the protagonist. You can turn that same story around and structure it so that it's the ghost who meets a normal person. Different approaches will dictate the story you tell...Establish rules and stick to them...In order for readers to maintain a suspension of disbelief, they must believe in the integrity of your story...Keep it new. It's been said that there are no such things as new stories, only old ones well told. Basically, does your story contain a fresh twist? Why tell the story of 'Dracula' when it's already been told? However, if your story is about a modern-day Dracula, that's a new spin on an old story...Make the supernatural element integral to your story. Supernatural stories are, by definition, about something supernatural. Supernatural things are not just thrown into the story to make it more interesting...Don't attempt a supernatural story if those elements are superfluous to the story. Ask yourself if the same story can be told without their inclusion. If you can tell the same story without those supernatural elements, leave them out...Writing a supernatural story is very much like writing in any other type of genre. You must still practice dedication to your craft, write and re-write, and gather feedback from knowledgeable sources, so that your final product will be as strong as possible."
Kyra Thomsen reports:
"At sentence-level (looking at each word and how it functions within the sentence it forms) you can usually cut, condense, or re-word to enrich your writing. There are many things that you could focus on when self-editing at sentence-level...but without even delving too deeply you can tighten and intensify your style. Before you email your writing to a friend, pass around the paper at a workshopping group, or send off your submission to a journal, take the time to focus on the following to wake up your inner-editor...There is almost always a way to show an adverb rather than telling it, and sometimes you can just cut them entirely and your writing hasn’t lost anything. The more adverbs you use, the less interesting and unique your descriptions become. So any time you can show your adverb, or cut it entirely, the more enjoyable your writing becomes to read...We pack our writing (as we do our speech) with ‘filler’ words, words that don’t add to the sentence but just take up valuable space. The main culprits to take note of include: really, very, just, so, a lot, pretty much, rather, quite, and sometimes. Sometimes these words are necessary, but you’ll know when to get rid of them and when to re-write them...Unnecessary words can also work their way into your writing by means of tautology or repetition. When you’ve said one thing but reiterate it in different words you’re creating unnecessary work for the reader, and using up your word count. Comb back through your writing and analyse [sic] the importance of every word at sentence-level, cutting the ones that are pointless. Be ruthless. This will tighten your sentences and give greater impact and immediacy to your writing...Clichés are used so frequently in our everyday language that it feels natural to slip them into your writing, and you don’t even notice. They’re often brilliant images or analogies, but when you’ve heard them all your life they become meaningless and dull. If you find the perfect cliché to sum up your character’s emotions or thoughts, cut it and re-write your own with images that are original and new. Creativity is refreshing, so use it to your advantage to wow your reader with new words in new ways."
Helen Akers reports:
"Business collection letters usually adjust their tone to the amount of time an invoice is delinquent. While the primary goal of a collection letter is to persuade the customer to submit payment, the collection process shouldn't jeopardize the business relationship. Companies may use collection letters as the only means of communication when they attempt to collect past due invoices. Some might use them as a supplement to collection calls...The collection agent should write the letter in a tone that is both firm and considerate, reminding the customer of the amount that is past due and that the business would appreciate a swift payment...The content of any business collection letter usually states the nature of the complaint and the steps that the recipient needs to take to resolve it...Business collection letters that are final notices will typically inform the customer that his debt will be referred to a collection agency after a certain date. In some circumstances, a final notice may also state that the company will file legal action or repossess unpaid property. Final notices usually occur with debt that is 90 days or more past due...A business collection letter that attempts to preserve the well-being of the relationship between the merchant and the customer may offer a revised payment plan. For example, a company may offer partial payments to a customer who is past due by 30 days."
Kevin Purdy reports:
"If you ever plan on being introduced as a speaker, web writer, or otherwise need a line or two to describe yourself and your career, you'll need a bio. Career writer Marci Alboher offers tips and great examples. Alboher notes that bios shouldn't be short resumes, and should never be outright boring...She digs novelist Laura Zigman's example of a human-sounding bio line that gets the job done: 'Laura Zigman grew up in Newton, Massachusetts (where she felt she never quite fit in), and graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (where she didn't fit in either) and the Radcliffe Publishing Procedures Course (where she finally started to feel like she fit in).'"
Angela Hoy reports:
"Consider the documents stored in your computer. Can you think of a common thread connecting some of them? Would it make a salable book? Writers sell compilations all the time. I have seen anything from essays on world travel to housecleaning. Why not rehash some of your previously published material to cash in on a book?...Of course, some topics really are too dissimilar to work together. I once considered slipping an essay on learning a second language into a book about writing. But I finally had to admit that the piece just didn’t fit. Another challenge with a compilation is that not all publishers will want to buy reprints, especially if they have been widely circulated among potential book buyers. And, you may be offered a reduced royalty for a compilation. But there ARE publishers who will recognize the value that a collection offers the reader, and they will give you a fair piece of the pie. You may also find success by self-publishing your material – especially if you are a savvy marketer. Whichever route you choose, never give up on a good idea until you have given it your all. Keep thinking up ways to resell your work...Remember that, when you work with individual pieces, you must also view them as a whole. It’s not that you necessarily have to connect the articles. You do, however, have to consider how they will read in book form...Besides viewing the book as a whole, you will sometimes need to do extra work to complete your book...You may need to change the angle of the material and/or you may need to broaden the scope. But compiling previously published essays into a book is often much easier than writing one from scratch. So, search your hard drive today and see if you can cash in on a book!"
Van Thompson reports:
"Writing a good climax requires more than just creating an interesting conflict with lots of drama. Instead, a climax is most exciting when the narrative has a steady, increasing conflict or action that draws the reader in...No matter how bold or dramatic your climax is, it won't capture your reader's attention if you don't create strong rising action. During the rising action -- sometimes called the exposition -- you introduce your main characters and then gradually build to a conflict. The conflict becomes interesting to the reader because the rising action makes the reader interested in the characters and what happens to them. Consequently, creating interesting characters and making it clear why the conflict of your narrative is important to your characters is a key to a good climax...The climax itself is the point at which the primary conflict in your narrative comes to a head...In some narratives, the climax is the point at which a conflict is resolved, often through a dramatic gesture...The falling action winds down the central conflict of a story and moves toward resolution...Falling action concludes with the resolution of the story, at which point the story's central conflicts are resolved. Some stories also use the resolution to address the aftermath of a conflict or dramatic action...Your climax doesn't have to be extremely dramatic or involve severe danger. Every story has a central conflict, and the key is to make this conflict seem interesting and important. The climax usually takes place more than halfway through a narrative, which means you'll have plenty of time to develop your characters. Focus on creating characters your reader has an emotional reaction to and a conflict that your reader wants to see resolved. This can make the climax -- however simple or dramatic -- more interesting to the reader."
Laura Woods reports:
"When asked what you do for a living, a person doesn’t expect a long response. If you ramble on about your company, you’re going to lose the attention of your audience very quickly. It’s important to have a strong 30-second sales pitch prepared, so you can fit the most essential details of your business the speech. A strong elevator pitch allows you to easily explain your business to anyone, anywhere...Promote what makes your business unique...Discuss the benefits your business brings to clients. Offer up the main problem clients come to you with and how you’re able to solve it. Make sure your pitch leaves your audience with a clear understanding of why what you do should be meaningful to them...Make your pitch easily adjustable, so [it] can be tailored to fit the needs of many different groups. You don’t want to have to start over for every different type of prospective client. That’s a lot of writing work and a lot to remember when the occasion to present your pitch presents itself...Maintain consistent messaging. When you adjust your pitch to fit different clients, you should still be promoting the same general message about your company...Keep your pitch respectable. Promote the benefits of your own company instead of bashing your competitors...Avoid using acronyms. It’s important for everyone to be able to understand your speech, not just professionals in your industry. If you include words and phrases that most people don’t understand, you’re not going to make a sale...Practice your pitch when you have the final draft written. Hearing it out loud will help you to find areas you need to improve before presenting to an audience. You’ll also need to memorize this speech, so practicing will help you to learn to recite it without the help of your notes."
Ann Handley reports:
"Business cards have unique potential for personal connections that can generate leads. Here’s how to optimize the space on that tiny paper canvas...Include relevant social outposts. Since most businesses regard social media as a way to tell their story and engage with customers, it makes sense to highlight your Facebook page, YouTube channel or Pinterest account on your card. Give curious new friends a chance to see what you’re about by directing them to social channels on which you’re active--but only those that are truly relevant to your business...While you may be tempted to offer a wide array of contact options...a better approach is to prune ruthlessly. Ask yourself: Where do you really engage with prospects? Where might they be most likely to get a sense of you and your company? And, by the way, the biggest real-estate hog is a full street address, when usually a city and state will suffice...Skip your homepage. This may seem counterintuitive, but hear me out. It could be that your homepage is not the best place to start a conversation. Your business might be better served by directing new prospects and tire-kickers to a company blog, an active resource page or a landing page with a free download or video that’s informative and/or entertaining. Many homepages are a fire-hose blast of information, but a blog or page of dedicated content could offer a more manageable taste of something satisfying...Be visual. A simple logo is a yawner. Try using images or graphics that spark conversation and connection. Moo.com allows you to put a different image on each card, sourced from uploads or Facebook...Inspire curiosity. One of my favorite cards was that of Michael Simon, CEO of LogMeIn: 'Connect with me at [e-mail address] or [phone number] to talk business, or if you need a recommendation for a great restaurant the next time you’re in Budapest.' Short and sweet? Sure. Curiosity-arousing? Definitely...A card can be a bridge between your online and in-person presence. Consider adding a QR code that digitally relays contact info or directs people to a web page...Think of your card as a call to action. Consider producing small print runs of customized cards tailored to specific events, campaigns or markets. Perhaps for a trade show, tote cards sharing a special download or show-specific offer. At a cocktail event, hand out cards that invite partygoers to check out photos of the gathering at a microsite or on Facebook...I’ve seen cards designed as mini-catalogs and brochures. Recently, Robert Nolan of Gold Coast Promotions in Hollywood, Fla., handed me his card--a mini spiral-bound notebook. Now that’s more than pretty to look at. It’s downright useful."
Jake Shore reports:
"Suspense is an emotion made of tension and uncertainty, and is a powerful way to create and maintain a reader’s interest. By examining the essential elements that build suspense, you’ll be able to invoke emotion in your reader and win his attention...At the heart of any valuable suspense narrative is an inherently good protagonist whose greatness is only matched by the intrinsic evil of the antagonist villain. Both hero and villain must be curious, layered and painfully human. The more capable you make these characters, the more engaging they’ll be, and the more your reader will be forced to wonder what these characters are going to do next...Establish what’s at stake, clearly and as early as possible. If your hero works in an office and must prove she’s worthy of her job, let the reader know the financial, social and personal ramifications for what’s at stake. This will heighten the tension, plant an element of uncertainty, and lay the foundation for a strong feeling of suspense. The higher the stakes are, the greater the suspense can be...Nothing heightens tension and suspense like an established, narrow time restraint...A ticking clock creates a heightened sense of urgency, and demands that your hero...perform under pressure. This element draws your reader closer to the action, and invests him deeper into what’s at stake and why...Keeping your reader guessing is at the heart of the uncertainty on which suspense is based. Also, a reader will measure the greatness of your hero by her ability to overcome obstacles. This means that the greater your villain is, the greater is the potential for a truly brave and strong hero. Force your villain to prove her value by highlighting the problems she overcomes. It will make the final showdown between villain and hero...that much more tension-filled."
"Marketing language can be very different than the writing style most long-form authors use...[W]hen a customer is looking for a book to pick up, her goals are much different than when she is actually reading the book. Thus, the goals of the writing should be different. Here are a few tips to keep your promotional writing under control:...Give the reader just a taste. You are trying to convey a feeling or a promise of an answer to a problem, not details. Leave that to the book...You may be able to think of a bunch of benefits, but don’t overwhelm your customer. Give them one hook. Whether this is a solution to a problem or a short explanation of why this book will entertain, the reader wants to know what is in it for them...Consumers don’t care why you wrote the book. They want to know what’s in it for them. What do they want to hear? How does your copy address them?...Use short sentences. Yes, this person wants to read. He is picking up a book after all. But he doesn’t want to read right now. He wants to put down money for a book. Let him! He’ll get on with all your fantastic writing later. For now, short sentences that read more like bullet points will help him make that decision...Simplify to Maximize...Your natural reaction will be to add more, tell more, and show more. Resist the urge and try cutting instead. What can you get rid of while still conveying your point? If it doesn’t absolutely have to be there, cut it to make better use of consumers’ very short attention spans."
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