Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Success Principles by Jack Canfield

One of the first books recommended to me for my writing career wasn't a how-to-write book. It was a motivational book, "The Success Principles." This book produces the power of believability. I still suggest it as a tool to overcome low self esteem or the inability to dream big or rekindle lost passion.

When I thumb through my copy, I find several underlines, margin marks and highlights. When I receive a rejection, a bad critique or less than encouraging market news, I look through the pages until I find one that speaks to me. On page 23, the reader determines his or her life purpose exercise. After coming up with my stated writing purpose, I wrote it and posted the paper on the bulletin board in my study. On page 65, I make a daily to-do list, planning my day the night before and putting first things, first. On page 165, I learn to start with small, achievable goals. Page 273 starts telling me how to keep my passion and enthusiasm alive. Canfield gives me four powerful question to ask myself on page 327 to know how to direct my work and resources.

Scattered throughout the book are interesting true life stories, funny cartoons and short easy to follow instructions.

Nothing gets done without a plan and then a back-up plan. "Success Principles" is an important resource for the peaks and valleys of a writer's life.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White

The first writing conference I attended had a course for beginning writers. The presenter gave us a list of books she felt would assist in our quest for publication. The Elements of Style was on the list.

At the break, I stood in line with the other newbies and bought it. Since that first conference, other writers have mentioned this book when they recommend important books the writer should own. My copy has under one hundred pages including the introduction by E. B. White. The Tables of Contents contains chapter titles such as Omit Needless Words, Use the Active Voice, and Use Definite, Specific, Concrete Language.

Skimming through the index causes me to check on items such as lie/lay and that/which. Looking over the book to write this article, I've decided I'm going to revisit the book to refresh my memory on some grammar rules. Then, I'm going to look at the bookstore to see if there is a later edition which may reflect changes in the language.

As a tutor for Adult Literacy, I discuss the importance of using language correctly to understand and be understood. My Asian immigrant student thanks me each lesson when he learns a new fact about English because he wants to communicate effectively. I am grateful to the first instructor who suggested this book as a tool to being an effective communicator.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Roget’s Descriptive Word Finder: A Dictionary/Thesaurus of Adjectives by Barbara Ann Kipfer, Ph. D. © 2003 Writers Digest Books

Lexicographer Barbara Ann Kipfer has prolifically compiled reference texts, most of which can be found on my shelf within handy reach of my desktop computer. I fancied myself to be one of her biggest fans, but reviews I’ve read for Roget’s Descriptive Word Finder were all positive, and she is well spoken of. Obviously, many writers are taking advantage of her invaluable tools.

In my research, I found out that it was Paul Mark Roget, a physician as well as a lexicographer who compiled the original thesaurus for his own use. He went public with it nearly fifty years later. Can you imagine what a challenge writing would be if had he taken that gem with him to the grave?

What makes Kipfer’s text different from Roget’s original work or any of the other thesauri (yes, that is the plural for thesaurus) she’s compiled? This one is a Thesaurus of thousands of descriptive words and phrases listed under five-hundred and seventy-two categories. Each individual entry has a time saving definition so you can immediately determine its suitability without further research.

A simple thesaurus lists alternative words for adjectives such as happy. Referring to the“Happiness” category in the Roget’s Descriptive Word Finder puts the reader in touch with over a hundred words and phrase choices. The entries describe various concepts of happiness from playfulness to laughter.

Roget’s Descriptive Word Finder is fun to peruse, with categories from abandonment, with such entries as abrogated and unwonted to zoology. Kipfer usually adds helpful indexes and addendums. Roget’s Descriptive Word Finder includes a Quick Finder which is basically a thesaurus with some contrasting headings like Active/Passive and even one entry for Silly Sounding Words.

If finding fresh, evocative descriptive words is an exhausting task for you, this book may help add strength that will catch an agent’s or editor’s eye.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Presented by Margie Lawson

We at Books To Write By are avid fans of Margie Lawson's courses. Most of us has enrolled in more than one of her courses. The month of March was no different than when three of us joined the online course, Empowering Characters' Emotions.

This class is a benefit to all writers who want to advance their writing skills. Ms. Lawson explores empowering emotions through her EDITS system. This system color codes your manuscript so you can actually see if your writing is layered with the essential keys to a great read.

Look forward to learning:

  • The EDITS System
  • Basic, complex, empowered, and super empowered passages
  • Backstory management
  • Kinesics, Haptics, Proxemics, Facial expressions, Paralanguage
  • Proprioceptive stimuli, Involuntary physical responses
  • Ideomotoric shifts
  • Mirroring, Communication Accommodation
  • Levels of intimacy, Love signals
  • Nonverbal gender differences
  • Emotional authenticity
  • Backloading
  • In-trancing the Reader
  • Writing fresh . . .
  • Projecting Emotion for a Non-POV character
  • Carrying a Nonverbal Image Forward
  • Objective Constructs
  • Empowering Characters’ Emotions Checklist

At first, I became overwhelmed with the course and I think many people did, too. However, once I grabbed my highlighters and applied the EDITS system to my own writing...I got what I paid for. I discovered that I write no dialogue cues and that I hardly ever write setting information. There are also some minor things I noticed, which needs to changed. But now I know how to correct it.

I highly recommend any of Ms. Lawson's courses. In fact, another online class is coming up in May.

Here is the information:

MAY 1 -- 30 Deep Editing: The EDITS System, Rhetorical Devices, and More Offered by Writer University:

You want regret enrolling!

I'll see you in class.

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