Archive for the ‘Today Show’ Category

Does It Sound Like Writing?

June 12, 2007

I’ve been reading Jurgen Wolff’s book, Your Writing Coach. It’s broad look at various types of writing from fiction to nonfiction from books to screenplays to magazine writing. I’ve appreciated his vast writing experience and his solid bits of advice. Because Wolff comes from a film background, he has included online bonuses for each chapter. Of course, you have to go to his website and register (smart) plus type a key password from the book to access the bonus film clip (also wise because it forces people to purchase the book to have access). I’ve only looked at a few of the bonus clips but plan to look at more in the days ahead. This book is loaded with practical and tested advice from a practicing writer who has helped other writers.

As an example in his chapter called Watch Your Language, he includes a brief look at novelist Elmore Leonard’s ten rules for showing and not telling. I found the expanded list online at Leonard’s website. They are fascinating and helpful rules. After these rules, Leonard writes, “My most important rule is one that sums up the 10. If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative. It’s my attempt to remain invisible, not distract the reader from the story with obvious writing.” I loved that line: if it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. It’s good advice from my perspective.

A bit later in this chapter, Wolff writes about how to master dialogue saying, “The most useful skill for someone who wants to write good dialogue is eavesdropping. By listening carefully to how a variety of people speak, you absorb a lot of useful information. There is a fantastic website for any writer who wants to get a sense of the voices of real people: http://www.storycorps.net/. It features more than 10,000 recordings of people talking to each other about aspects of their lives.” It’s another resource for you to use in improving your dialogue. It makes it easy to eavesdrop.

I recommend Your Writing Coach as a solid investment in the future of your writing life.

Gimmicks Can Work

June 2, 2007

The Weekend Edition of the Today Show was reviewing books to read at the beach and one of them caught my attention. It was a book called Poolside, or 14 stories from a number of well-known authors about their experiences around a swimming pool. The gimmick for this book is that it’s waterproof. In fact, they had a little plastic pool and fished it out of the water on the show.

I have no idea how the short presentation affected other people but I went to my computer and ordered one. It worked to get me and purchase the book. It’s definitely different and I’ll be curious to see what it looks and feels like–then to read the book. The real test is not going to be the gimmick. It’s going to be what is contained in the pages. If the writing and content is excellent, then I will probably be telling even more people about it.

With the proliferation of books, media and product in the marketplace, it is a challenge to get someone to purchase the book in the first place. The next step is to produce something so excellent the user becomes an evangelist for your product. You want to enable that person to actively spread the word about your book any chance they get the opportunity. It’s some of the principles of Greg Stielstra’s excellent book, Pyromarketing. If you don’t have it, get it and I recommend you read his introduction. I’ll be watching my mailbox for my copy of Poolside so I can check it out for myself.

One more thing: Numerous times in these entries, I’ve recommended snipurl.com. Their site has undergone a major overhaul. They say they are in beta mode but I applaud their improvements to the site. If you’ve never used it, register and log on to the site because then you can create your own private abbreviations for various links. It’s a terrific resource that I use throughout my day.