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Writing for Profit, Issue #012, Word Power
July 27, 2003
Issue Number: 0112
Date: September 2003
Thanks for subscribing to the Writing for Profit Newsletter and welcome to my growing band of enthusiasts. The aim is to provide you with useful insights into the disparate aspects of writing for profit in your spare time and in this edition I’m putting the spotlight on word power: how simplicity of use adds credence to style and execution.
If you’d like to add something yourself by way of feedback for inclusion in a future edition please do contact me.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Spotlight on word power
SPOTLIGHT ON WORD POWER
Word power is awesome. When you get it right the results are magic but when you go astray the results come back to haunt you. In the words of Aprocrypha: "Let thy speech be short, comprehending much in a few words.'"
Simplicity is the key to it all. Here is an example of what I mean:
WHY BULLETING KEY WORDS AND PHRASES STIMULATES INTEREST
Just as headings and subheads introduce the reader to strands of information, bullet points serve another useful purpose by highlighting and crystallizing core elements in the text of your niche non-fiction book. You can bullet key words or phrases and by so doing, you will stimulate the reader's interest. Compare this paragraph with the bulleted list immediately following.
"You can create unlimited profits from one-page web sites when you discover the real secret behind FFA link pages. Then as you unleash the power of your email list building, you will leave the competition standing. Finally, turn your fax machine into a cash machine and explode your web site hits"
- Create unlimited profits from one-page web sites
See the difference in impact when you bullet the benefits?
TIP OF THE WEEK
"Contrary to what some people seem to believe, simple writing is not the product of simple minds. A simple, unpretentious style has both grace and power. By not calling attention to itself, it allows the reader to focus on the message."--Richard Lederer and Richards Dowis, Sleeping Dogs Don't Lay, 1999
FEATURED GUEST ARTICLE
Brought to you by the Purdue University Online Writing Lab
Planning (Invention): When you start to write
You can try the textbook formula:
I. State your objective
Instead, you can try one or more of these strategies:
Ask yourself what your purpose is for writing about the subject There are many "correct" things to write about for any subject, but you need to narrow down your choices. For example, your topic might be "dorm food." At this point, you and your potential reader are asking the same question, "So what?" Why should you write about this, and why should anyone read it?
- Do you want the reader to pity you because of the intolerable food you have to eat there?
Ask yourself how you are going to achieve this purpose
Start the ideas flowing
Talk to your audience, or pretend that you are being interviewed by someone -- or by several people, if possible (to give yourself the opportunity of considering a subject from several different points of view). What questions would the other person ask? You might also try to teach the subject to a group or class.
See if you can find a fresh analogy that opens up a new set of ideas. Build your analogy by using the word like. For example, if you are writing about violence on television, is that violence like clowns fighting in a carnival act (that is, we know that no one is really getting hurt)?
Take a rest and let it all percolate
Nutshell your whole idea
Diagram your major points somehow
Write a first draft
You may find yourself jumping back and forth among these various strategies.
You may find that one works better than another. You may find yourself trying several strategies at once. If so, then you are probably doing something right!
You may have read on my web site the snippet about Krishna Valdez and his niche non-fiction project: The History of San Francisco. Well, that little fragment of news has turned into a success story. Krishna emailed me recently with an interesting update. His text has been accepted for publication by a major New York publishing house and not by a local concern which is the target he’d set himself. I took the opportunity of asking Krishna which section of my tutorial he reckoned was of most benefit to him in the preparation of his topic. He had no hesitation in responding. ‘The chapter of preparing a proposal for publication; without that sort of guidance I doubt I would have had my book accepted.’
Krishna is right: the preparation of a professional proposal is germane to success in placing your book with a responsible publisher. Chapter 10 of my tutorial Writing for Profit in Your Spare Time reveals the secrets.
FAM OUS QUOTATIONS ON THE SUBJECT OF WRITING
Aprocrypha: "Let thy speech be short, comprehending much in a few words.'"
Christopher Buckley: "The best advice on writing I've ever received was from William Zinsser: 'Be grateful for every word you can cut.'"
Truman Capote: "I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil."
Winston Churchill: "Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words when short are best of all."
Samuel Taylor Coleridge: "Words in prose ought to express the intended meaning; if they attract attention to themselves, it is a fault; in the very best styles you read page after page without noticing the medium."
Albert Einstein: "If you can't explain something simply, you don't understand it well."
Get yourself up to speed on writing for profit in your spare time.
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