Query and cover letters are not expository, a form we learned in school, and intended for school reports. Expository writing is defined as “serving to expound, to set forth or state in detail” (www.dictionary.com). This form of essay writing is perhaps the simplest of the four we will examine. Writers give their insight or opinion on particular issues, situations,…
A Solid Foundation Is Essential: Article Three
An essay is “a short literary composition on a single subject usually presenting a personal view of the author” (The American Heritage College Dictionary). Remember the first day of English Literature class when you were in middle and high school? Did your teacher ask you to write the stereotypical assignment, “What I Did on My Summer Vacation?” It was the popular topic for the first writing sample when I was in school, and perhaps it still is. That paper was most likely your first time your wrote an essay. I, too, used this topic as a measuring device when I was a teacher, and I used it for two reasons. First, everyone did something during June, July, and August. Second, this initial assignment showed me where the class as a whole, and each student in particular, was in his/her writing experience.
A Solid Foundation is Essential: Article Two
In the previous column we defined a foundation as “the basis or groundwork of anything; the natural or prepared ground or base on which some structure rests.” For the purpose of this fourth series, I want to whittle down that definition specifically to include only those most essential parts of a foundation that will hold up your story. Those parts are a beginning, a middle, and an ending.*
The Writer Within
A Solid Foundation is Essential: Article One
In this fourth series, we will begin our journey into the actual “writing” process, allowing our writers within to take the wheel and spearhead that trip to the finished manuscript. In “What Kind of Writer Are You?” we met our personal creative souls and established a relationship with them. “Embolden Your Writer With a Plan” gave them direction. Then we looked at providing them with the proper tools in “Give Your Writer Resources.” If you’ve followed the steps at the end of each column, you have done everything possible to prepare your writer within for the road ahead…now it’s his/her time to begin working! In “A Solid Foundation Is Essential” we will look at why a rock-steady base is so important, discuss in general possible footprints on which to build stories, and end with the example of “how-to-write-an-essay” as an illustration of one possible foundation.
Give Your Writer Resources: Article Ten
We have accumulated quite a number of resources! Visualize sitting in your workspace and assessing your stockpile. I’ll use my office as a guide, but let’s refer to it in the third person “Janice,” my writer within because it has been designed for her working style.
Janice’s workspace is a “U” shape. Her computer sits in the center of the setup with two long areas where she can spread out her writing to either side. Shelves line the wall above her computer, and the area between the desktop and shelves is a bulletin board.
On the lower two shelves Janice has placed her writing reference books, some resources useful to all writers, others specific to what she writes:
Give Your Writer Resources: Article Nine
The term “first readers” is exactly what it implies: the first individuals who read your story when you feel it is absolutely perfect and has arrived at the ready-to-submit stage. I firmly believe no writer can effectively proofread his/her own finished piece. At least, I cannot; I am too familiar with the story and proof it the way I want it to read. These first readers will change from story to story as you understand what it is exactly you need to look for in a first reader. If each person is carefully selected, this particular reader will enhance your writing because he/she may contribute something you didn’t know you needed or solve a problem you had no idea how to correct. While these readers may not know the individual reasons they were chosen, you will have them look for a specific “exactness” in your finished manuscript. I didn’t learn this until after I had presented several stories for a first reading.
Give Your Writer Resources: Article Eight
Writing classes instruct writers on particular topics. These topics can be as broad as “So You Want to Write a Book? What a Novel Idea!” (the actual name of a course I took at Emory University through its continuing education program), or as specific as “How to develop Characters through the Use of Dialog.” Classes may address other issues: “Finding an Agent,” “Promote Yourself through Facebook,” or “How to Write a Query Letter.” Writing classes usually begin and end on a certain date, last a definite period of time, and have a syllabus that addresses a new aspect of the topic at each session. Writing workshops are similar in that they, too, address general and specific topics related to writing, but as a rule they meet in a concentrated time block. Critique groups differ from writing classes and workshops. A critique group is an interactive session where writers read and discuss each other’s work. As with writing classes, I’ve had good and bad experiences. If used correctly, a critique group can strengthen your writing.
Give Your Writer Resources: Article Seven
Up to this point we have discussed how to provide your writer within with resources by building a library. However, a writer needs resources beyond his/her personal writing space and the Internet. For articles seven, eight, and nine, we will look at groups in the writing community that are valuable resources. I will divide these groups into professional organizations, writing classes, critique groups, first readers, and personal contacts. Article seven will focus on professional organizations and writing classes. These groups can be accessed from your computer or in “live” settings.
Give Your Writer Resources: Article Six
While a grammatically perfect and readable story should be a top priority for every writer, a truly finished product needs much more. I call that “much more” the qualities that place your unique mark on the pages…the fingerprint that identifies your work to your writer within. Initially as readers, we are drawn to writers such as Stephen King and Dean Koontz because they write horror, or we gravitate to John Cheever or Alice Munro because we like short stories. But in the end, why do we stay with them and continue to buy their books and be loyal readers? It is most likely because we enjoy their style of writing.
Give Your Writer Resources: Article Five
Markets are the places available for you to publish what you write. If you are not writing with the intent of publication, then this column will not be for you. When you write for your enjoyment only, you need not worry about the submission process. However, if you want to share what you create with others, then you’ll need to understand the many places available to showcase your stories.
Years ago the task of finding a good fit for your work was tedious, expensive, and oftentimes hit or miss. Writers mainly sought out book and magazine publishing houses to print their fiction and nonfiction. University and special interest presses were other possible sources. A writer needed to send off for guidelines and/or sample copies for each place he/she intended to submit a story, supplying a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope). A sample copy added more expenses…and all of this was before the manuscript was submitted. It took weeks…sometimes months to receive that information.