Again, great job! I am enjoying working with such a talented group of writers. It is fun to see how you are strengthening your skills. I can tell that some of you are stronger in using your creativity in the marketing and journalism field, while others of you are going to be part of the next generation of novelists. And of course, you can always do both! Never limit yourself as a writer.
Now, on to work…did you notice how each assignment had you use fewer and fewer words? Last week we were down to mere taglines and slogans. No, it wasn't because I didn't want to grade a lot of papers! I am trying to show you how each word matters. Even if you are writing a novel, a misused word can affect how the readers feel about your book. I picked up a book by a new author this week, but I never got past chapter two. For me, the descriptions were weak and uninteresting. I was not drawn into the story enough to relate to or care about the character. The images fell flat.
Similarly, someone recommended a book to me that I checked out at the library. For me the downfall of that book was the foul language. The story and images drew me in instantly, but then I kept coming up to a word that strongly offended me (and caused me to quit reading the book). The story could have been just as powerful without the foul language. You can express anger, pain, frustration, loss or grief through strong, well-chosen words without using words that may be offensive to your readers.
If you are a Christian author, you are not limited to what types of books you write. You can write wonderful mysteries, love stories, family dramas or espionage tales if you choose fiction. You can choose to write historical fiction or nonfiction also. Whatever path you take, the words you choose become your identifying style to your readers.
David McCullough’s nonfiction books become best sellers quickly. If you read through the NY Times fiction and nonfiction best seller list every weekend on their website, you will soon recognize author’s names that have a large following. Either their book stays on the best seller list for weeks, or they publish books quickly with each one hitting the best seller list as it is released. That’s not to say you need to imitate their styles. You have your own voice that you need to stay true to. But you can see that they have a consistent style that draws their readers back again and again. You can also see what is already selling if you want to study the writing market.
Now I’m going to ask you to think about your own writing style. Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain as artist once he grows up.” Here are some questions I want you to answer just for yourself. Do you consider yourself an artist or a writer now? Do you think you will be an artist in five years? Ten years?
Not all of you will answer these questions the same. Many people who go into other professional fields as a career still enjoy keeping alive their creative hobbies such as painting or writing. Others of you have expressed an interest in pursuing a career in writing. I am going to give two assignments for the next few weeks. You can choose which assignment will nurture your writing goals the most. Read both assignments to get a feel for your options.
Well, since this is October…Make a list of three “monsters” that kill your creativity the most (example: the time “monster” because it eats up your spare time and you never have time to write creatively; the blocked mind “monster” because your mind becomes blocked and the ideas and words just don’t flow like you want them to; the ink “monster” because you don’t have any supplies when you want to write or the sleepy “monster” because you think of your best ideas when you are trying to go to sleep and can’t write). Choose one of these “monsters” and write a story for children (about 300-800 words or so) that portrays this “monster.” How does the other character in the story defeat the monster? How does creativity win out? This can be somewhat scary or can be just funny.
Write a summary of a book you seriously want to write. Make the summary about 500 words. Think of this as if you are writing a book proposal to an editor. A good book proposal includes a brief overview of the book, like a summary that you would read on a back cover. It should be interesting with strong words (remember your last assignments) and informative. Tell the editor what the book is about and who your audience is. Break your audience down by gender and by age group. Make sure that you are clear what genre this book will fall into--is it a mystery, science fiction, historical fiction, etc.? Tell me why you want to write this book and why you think someone would want to read this book.