Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Coaching 101

As a published writer, one of my interests is coaching other writers. I thoroughly enjoy coaching writers who are serious about getting published.

While I love coaching, I suspect the person being coached isn't having as much fun as I. When I coach writers, one of my jobs is to tell them what's wrong with their writing. While hearing tough, honest criticism can be hard, it's also vitally important.

Coaching is somewhat like editing, but more style than content is edited. For example, I recently coached a man whose initial writing was filled with sarcasm and guilt-provoking thoughts that would not get his point across, but would likely offend his intended target audience. I told him sarcasm does not sell; that he needed to say things in a different way or risk having his publisher throw it away without a second glance.

He revised his work, twice, and I'm happy to report that he got the piece published!

I was privileged to coach an elderly woman who had never been published before. She wrote her story out in long hand, on the back of a store ad, and gave it to me to see if I could "do anything with it" for her. Not only did I put it into a word document, I coached her on how to make it appeal to her intended publisher. She not only got that piece published, she went on to publish another, larger, piece. I was thrilled for her. She was 84 years old and being published for the very first time! Talk about thrilling!

How about you? Do you need a little coaching on the side?  Contact me here and I'll help you get published, too.  The vast majority of my students get published or have great success in self-publishing. Amanda Hocking is my most famous student, and there are many more.

My rates are reasonable and my results are beyond expectation.

Write often.
Write well.
Just write.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Why You Shouldn't Write How You Talk

We all talk funny. The English language is full of idioms and words with double meanings. Different parts of the country use words differently as well. When we write for publication, however, we are writing for a much broader audience than most of us talk to. If we publish a blog post, it has potential to be read across the world, not just by the people in our state or county here in the USA.

In light of this, I teach my writing students to never write how they talk. We have to write in a more uniform way in order to be understood by the most readers. We don't want our readers to have to work at reading our writing; it needs to flow effortlessly. If you write how you talk, it will not flow effortlessly for the reader, even if it seems to for you as the writer.

The bottom line is that writing for publication means you write for others, not yourself. Your motivation does not have to change, you can still get your point across, but you need to do it in the best way possible.

Here's an example:

Harry thought that he could go to the store and get all of his groceries in one trip without having any problems with traffic.

Rewritten, it looks like this:

Harry thought he could go to the store and get all his groceries in one trip, avoiding traffic problems.

I eliminated "that" and "of" from the first sentence and streamlined the comment about traffic, making it flow better.

Write how the reader will better understand, not how you talk. We use "that" and "of" quite often when we talk, but we can eliminate them in 99% of our writing.

When we talk, we use voice inflections and body language to help express our thoughts. In writing, we don't have voice inflections or body language to depend on, so we must make sure our writing, itself, is clear, free from assumed understanding, yet not cluttered.

Write well.
Write often.
Just write.