You Can Become A Successful Writer: Intro
March 28, 2008 by 48 Comments
You Can Become A Writer !! We are happy to note your interest in becoming a writer. You are invited to study the course in this Ebook and also share them with others to your heart’s content. We want to assure you that if you are willing to commit at least thirty minutes every day for this profession, you will see success very soon. (All CRG Ebooks can be shared with others without making profit). Before you begin your studies, do take the self-test shown below and note down your score somewhere as we will be asking for it. This Creativity Self Test will show you exactly where you are on the spectrum of creativity in writing. The higher the score, the faster you can succeed, and the lower your score, we urge you to work the harder towards attaining your goal. Here is your Creativity Self-Test. Please answer YES or NO to following questions: 1–Have you ever written letters to others ? 2–Have you ever taught in Sunday School ? 3–Have you ever participated in any extra-curricular activities during school or college ? 4–Have you ever participated in debate competitions ? 5–Have you ever participated in extempore speeches ? 6–Have you ever delivered any kind of lectures ? 7–Have you ever participated in any kind of symposium ? 8–Have you ever participated in any kind of poetry recitation ? 9–Have you ever participated in any activity that required you to speak in front of a group of people? 10-Have you ever performed in dramas. 11-Have you ever taught a Bible class in your church, hostel, or any other place? 12-Have you ever preached in church, in a smaller group, or in a camp or conference? 13-Were you able to write essays without much difficulty during your student life? 14-Do you ever wonder about the boring speakers ? Has it ever occurred to you that you could have presented the subject in a more interesting way ? 15-Are you good at narrating jokes ? 16-Have you been longing for God to use your time in a meaningful way ? 17-Do you want to use your pen to glorify God ? 18-Do you want to have a ministry that blesses thousands of people every month ? 19-Are you a pastor who wants to bring blessing to a greater number of people ? 20-Are you a missionary or evangelist who wants to bring the message of salvation to a greater number of persons ? 21-Are you a housewife, retired person, physically handicapped person, or anyone mostly confined to home but with a desire to do something for the Lord? 22-Are you a student who can spare some time now for the Lord ? 23-Are you employed and yet desirous of using a small amount of time every day to help others? 24-Are you good at imitating others ? 25-Are you able to see the funny side of things ? 26-Have people ever told you that you have very interesting ideas ?
27-Have people ever told you that they were blessed by your message, conversation, counseling, advise, suggestions? 28-Do people enjoy your letters ? Do they feel blessed, excited, encouraged, or motivated by reading your letters ? 29-Do your friends ever seek your advise ? 30-Do you think that you can discipline yourself to shell out at least 30 minutes every day to glorify God through your pen ? EVALUATION: 1–For each of the questions you answered YES, give yourself two points; For each question you answered NO, give yourself one point. Find out the total points. 2–Add 20 points to it if you love reading. 3–Add 40 points to it if you love writing. 4–Add 20 points if you have written more than 5 articles, poems, stories, or other items — but not published yet. 5–Add the following points if you have already published anything (articles, stories, poems, tracts, or anything else in print): Up to 5 published works, 20 points Up to 10 published works, 40 points Up to 20 published works, 60 points More than 20 published works, 80 points Now Assess Your Creativity Level: 1–If your score is below 50 points: please forget about becoming a writer. Your gift lies somewhere else, and you should better be exploring those things. 2–If your score is between 51 and 100, then you are a creative person. Do not wait. You can become a successful writer with training and self-discipline. 3–If your score is between 101 and 150, then you are a highly creative person. What are you waiting for? Get on to training and you will achieve unbelievable success through your pen. 4–If your score is above 151. Wow ! You are an exceptionally creative person. With training and self-discipline you will be able to do things you could never imagine. Even Clumsy People Become Outstanding Craftsmen With Proper Training !! Syllabus: Some of topics discussed In our Ebooks are shown below. This is not exhaustive because the course material is subject to constant revision to make it better. Thus new subjects are added regularly. (Introduction To The Art Of Writing) 1–Introduction Why should you become a writer Who can become a writer How to become a writer 2–Communication 3–Types of writing 4–Manuscript preparation
5–How to get published 6–How to improve your language 7–A writer’s reading habits 8–A writer’s note keeping habits 9–A writer’s obligations 10-A writer’s self-discipline (Development And Training) 1–Let us fix the goals 2–What is good writing 3–Christian writing and its importance 4–Improving your language 5–Improving your sentences and paragraphs 6–Improving the presentation of ideas 8–Improving the article (story, essay, etc.) as a whole 9–How to develop themes for writing 10-Editing your work This Course, Properly Taken, Has Helped Many To Discover The Pot Of Gold !! (Consolidating what you have learnt) 1–What can the printed page do 2–Marketing your writings 3–Managing your time 4–Choosing the stationary 5–Using published sources 6–Rules, regulations, conventions, and ethics (Specialization) 1–Specializations and fields of writings 2–Christian writer in the no Christian marketplace 3–Biblical writing 4–Apologetic and creationistic writing 5–Newspaper journalism 6–Creative writing (stories, poem, fiction) 7–Technical writing 8–Script writing (TV, Radio) 9–Evangelistic writing 10-Other specializations This Course, Properly Taken, Has Helped Many To Discover The Pot Of Gold !! Some Questions ! (FAQ) Question: Who are the people who offer these courses ? Answer: These courses have been initiated by Dr. Johnson C. Philip, ThD, PhD, DSc. In addition, he was trained in journalism in India and abroad. He has over 2500 articles and 50 books to his credit, in addition to numerous courses that he has developed in the fields of apologetics and communication. He is also the chief editor of Insight India, Science And Faith, and Biblical Expositor three professionally published magazines. He is on the editorial board of numerous other magazines. He has in past served on the editorial boards of the following periodicals: Quest, Jigyasa, Anjali, Vaichariki, Brethren Voice, Asian Christian. He writes a regular column on computers
in one of the leading computer magazines of India. A group of writers and editors help this work as advisers. All of them have vast secular as well as religious writing and publishing experience in India and abroad. Question: What is your affiliation ? Answer: Calvin Research Group is theologically conservative. We will want the students to show the same attitude of reverence to the Bible. The certificate and diploma granted by us stand upon the merit of our own achievement and excellence. We refuse to affiliate it with any institution or movement that does not embrace the same respect for the Bible. Question: Are you sure that I can become a writer ? Answer: If you speak a language, if you are able to express yourself using that language, and if you have scored more than 50 points on the Creativity Self-Test, then you have all the ingredients to become a writer. With training and self-discipline you can definitely become a writer. Question: Who will ever publish me ? Answer: The Christian world is flooded with magazines. India alone has an estimated 2000 Christian magazines and newsletters. It has several thousand unregistered periodicals. In addition to all that, there are over 40,000 registered periodicals. Thus the worldwide number of Christian and secular periodicals desiring articles is mind boggling. There is no shortage of opportunity. (In addition, there are several thousand net-based periodicals on the Internet, and most of them invite article submissions). Question: But I have not seen many of these magazines ? Answer: That is because you have not been looking for them. They are there, and plenty of them are facing a shortage of quality writings. You will discover them when you start looking for them. In one of the lessons we will explain this subject in great detail. Question: Can I get published in both spiritual as well as secular publications ? Answer: Yes, if you are willing to discipline yourself and if you are willing to look for opportunities, you will be able to publish in Christian as well as secular publications. Many of our students are already doing it. Question: What is the use of becoming a writer ? Answer: Writing is a special hobby, ministry, and profession. It enriches both you as well as the thousands of people who read you. What is more, almost anyone can develop into a writer. Systematic Training Can Help You Communicate Your Ideas Better, More Accurately, And In A More Acceptable Manner !! Systematic Training Can Help You Communicate Your Ideas Better, More Accurately, And In A More Acceptable Manner !! Question: Will you help me to get published ? Answer: We have put a lot of information in the lessons to help you get published. Most students start publishing even before they complete the first module !! We will be happy to give additional help when needed by suggesting additional free resources. Question: In what all languages can I publish in future ? Answer: Even though we offer this course in English, the principles that we teach apply to all languages. Therefore using these principles you will be able to write in any language that you know. Question: Can I earn a living through writing ? Answer: The purpose of our training it to develop your God-given talent of communication.
The primary aim is spiritual ministry, and not income, though some people might be able to earn some money through writing.
Why Should You Become A Writer !!
March 28, 2008 by 5 Comments
Since you have already passed the Creativity Test with reasonably high scores, it is clear that you CAN write. Still you might wonder why you SHOULD write. After all, not everyone develops all his hidden talents! True, not everyone develops all his hidden talents. Nor is it humanly possible to give attention to all of one’s abilities. Consequently everyone has to decide what he is going to develop and what he is going to leave. The ability to write does not come in what is to be ignored. Nobody loses much, for example, if a person decides to ignore his acting or mimicry skills, but everyone in the society loses if a person ignores his gift of writing. This is an ability that helps not only the person who writes but also the thousands who read him. We could, therefore, suggest dozens of reasons why you should become a writer, but we are confident that just the five reasons given below will be more than enough for the purpose. The FIRST reason for becoming a writer is to help, motivate, and guide others. Everyone has a conscious or unconscious desire to help others. However, in this busy world where everyone seems to suffer from a chronic shortage of time and resources, it seems difficult to help many others. Yet almost everyone can play a definite role in the lives of others through their pen. Your writings can help people in need, motivate the tired, uplift the depressed, and give direction to the lost. The ultimate aim is the welfare of others, and writing is a perfect tool for doing this. Improper Communication Kills, Proper One Motivates Generations !! SECOND, you should become a writer because writing is a very special hobby. Everyone must pick up a hobby so that his free time is used properly, and also so that he has a method to refresh the mind. Writing is a unique hobby because it provides many extras, compared to other hobbies. It not only refreshes you and channels your time into a productive activity, but also helps people who are in need. There cannot be a better hobby that combines both self-fulfilment as well as helping others into one and the same activity. THIRD, you should become a writer because this provides a convenient means of earning some extra income. We are not implying that all writers become rich. They never do. What’s more, writers do not get a single penny for many of their writings. Yet once you get established, it will surely bring you some income. This will ensure that instead of draining away your money, this hobby will sustain itself and also supplement your income. FOURTH, you should become a writer to sharpen your way of thinking. While it is true that we all do a lot of thinking, we have to accept that most of it is not done in an efficient way. Productive thinking requires a lot of skill, but that does not come automatically. However the way a writer has to grapple with understanding and expressing issues is so exacting that this hobby soon sharpens his thought process, refines his capacity to evaluate, and increases his understanding of complex issues of human life.
People Everywhere Are Looking For Answers, So How Can A Christian Neglect So Great A Need !! FIFTH, you should become a writer, and become one now, because these days a tremendous explosion is taking place in the print media. A few decades ago many prophets of doom predicted that the death of printed material is at the door. On the contrary, the explosion of TV, VCR, photocopiers and computers has brought a simultaneous explosion of books, magazines, bulletins, souvenirs, and handbills. So much so that today the available opportunities are far more than the number of available writers. This means that there are plenty of openings everywhere, waiting to be filled by the right kind of writer. If you make it to the print media now, you will be a well known writer in less than a decade ! Think of the five points above ! No other hobby or occupation in the world can promise all these things together. If you become a writer, you will be able to help and motivate others, you will be able to earn a name, fame and money too. What’s more, you will be the proud owner of a unique hobby that enriches not only you but also others. All the while it enriches and sharpens your thinking, understanding, and expressions. The best time to develop this hobby is NOW because the exploding number of printed periodicals has created an unusual demand for writers with all kinds of specializations.
Who Can Become A Writer ??
Many people harbour this erroneous idea that only special and uncommon people, who live in ivory towers and who speak only the exotic languages of angels, can become writers. They couldn’t be mistaken more. While it is true that a minority of writers live in seclusion, and a few do not speak in comprehensible language, they do not represent the majority. Most of the successful writers are just common people like me and you, but with one difference: they exploited the opportunities available to them, and became well known or well loved writers. Only about five per cent of the successful writers were born that way. They did not need external training or motivation. However, the remaining 95% of the writers did not come equipped from their mother’s womb. They learnt the art, science, and economics of writing through the hard way. Therefore, you do not have to be born a writer to become a successful author. Anyone who is literate, has the desire to write, and is willing to pay the cost, can become a successful writer. Not all of them can become millionaires, but all of them can become successful and well respected writers. The cost is to be paid not in terms of money because that makes up only a minor fraction of what one spends. The major cost comes in the form of self-discipline. The person aspiring to become a successful writer has to discipline himself in three matters. First of all, you should be willing to invest time to get training. You should join a good correspondence or regular course where you acquire the linguistic tools that writers need. Second, you should be willing to spend time regularly to put your training into practice. Third, you should be willing to keep studying all your life. You have to continue studying both the craft of writing as well as the subjects on which you write. You will agree that this is only a reasonable cost for the mental and spiritual blessings, self fulfilment, and the name that your writings will bring you. Many Writers Stumble At A Good Opening, And End Up Losing Potential Readers !!
You might wonder if there is any special profession to which most writers belong. When it comes to specialized writings like textbooks and monographs, the writers must surely be connected to that discipline of study. However, there is a great diversity among people who write material for day to day reading. The majority of writers fall into this category. Among the successful writers you will discover students, housewives, businessmen, office clerks and people from almost any profession that you might imagine. Self discipline and commitment is what goes to make a good writer, irrespective of his profession. Thus, whatever your profession, you can become a writer !
How To Become A Successful Writer
March 28, 2008 by 6 Comments
The explosive increase in the number of newspapers and magazines and the resulting shortage of good writers will allow almost anyone to publish something good or bad! If you want to become just an average and mediocre writer, you can churn out any amount of trash and can get published somewhere or other, but the net result will be a waste. Careless writing wastes both your as well as your reader’s time, and in the long run you lose the name and respect that you could have received by helping others through good writings. You must follow certain sensible practices if you want to rise above mediocrity. You must always keep you eyes upon success as well as excellence, and both of these goals are within the reach of any writer willing to pay the cost. I’ll now give you six tips on how to enter this profession. These are tried and proven methods, and you should give due weight to each one of them. They are: 1-Start writing immediately. 2-Develop your skills through a course and apprenticeship. 3-Desire perfection but be practical. 4-Begin humbly and progress. 5-Develop supportive habits. 6-Persist. Let me explain each of the above points in some more detail. I-Start Writing Immediately: Many people would like to wait till they achieve perfection before they begin. This is foolish because none can achieve perfection without first beginning to write. Further, by the time an aspiring writer might feel that he is ready to write, he might have lost several special opportunities. I remember the story of a friend who aspired to become a famous writer. Over the years he collected a host of interesting clippings for illustrating his writings. The material was sufficient to provide two lifetimes of quotations. All the while he kept dreaming for a great assignment, insisting that he would begin writing only when this dream materializes. This was a stupid approach, but by a rare stroke of luck he got a coveted assignment one fine day. Time And Opportunity Wait For None. So Do Not Wait. Start Immediately ! He immediately purchased a filing cabinet, enlisted the help of his wife and children and embarked upon a massive campaign to classify his clippings. The collection was so massive
that it took six months and fifteen days to finish. What’s worse, the tas k was so absorbing that he didn’t notice that his contract for the writing had lapsed exactly fifteen days ago. It is rumoured that he continues to collect clippings, and is waiting for another stroke of unusual luck. Opportunities do not wait for anyone. Nor do they drop into one’s lap at every imagination. You must both be ready as well as be prepared when it knocks at the door, and the only solution is to begin writing IMMEDIATELY!
2-Develop Your Skills Through A Course And Apprenticeship: Only five per cent of the successful writers are born with the necessary skills. The rest have to acquire and polish their art and craft through systematic training. Several good writer’s training programmes are available and what you are reading right now is one of them. Such courses share with you the accumulated experience and wisdom of a host of successful writers. They teach you the five W’s (What, Why, When, Where and Who) of writing. They explain the ―How‖ of writing and the methods of correcting and even publishing of your writings. Without this combined wisdom of generations available to a writer, he would be forced to waste a lot of time before he discovers even elementary information related to success in this field. Most writer’s training programmes assign a lot of homework to students. It’s here that you put your newly gained theoretical knowledge into practice. Thus you should learn to appreciate assignments even if at times they do not look very enjoyable. While the training given through assignments is sufficient to make you a successful practical writer, you should always supplement that with more work as your time allows. For such work you should find out a successful and trained writer who can read your work and offer critical comments. If you are unable to discover such a person, then you are always welcome to contact us for enrolling in our apprenticeship programme — after you complete the course. Anyone Desiring To Produce Quality Results Needs To Study The Art Of Production! 3-Desire Perfection But Be Practical: Every piece of writing is a work of art and therefore the first version of your penmanship will never be perfect. This means that you should always revise the first copy of your writings. If writing is a work of art then the writer is an artist — a wordsmith. This means that as you continue practicing your art, your writings will become more and more mature as it happens in any other craft. Thus every writer should aim towards perfection both in the way he writes and also in the written work that is produced. However, there is nothing like ultimate perfection and therefore he should set practical limits for his quest for perfection. Else, the whole life will become an impractical pursuit for perfection, effectively preventing the writer from producing anything. Desire perfection, but not to such extremes that it kills your talents even before others see them.
4-Begin Humbly And Progress: Some people aspiring to become writers set their eyes too high. They dream of publishing directly in Readers Digest or publications of only that level. They will never succeed in this profession till they start thinking more realistically. Just as writers range from beginners to achievers, publications also range from amateur to professional in level. Obviously a magazine of high standard will publish only writings that come up to their level. Writers new to their profession should, therefore, aim humbly at amateur publications first. They can then gradually work their way up to the level which their abilities would allow. 5-Develop Supportive Habits: The art of writing can be enhanced by developing habits that support the creative activity that writing is. For example, many people know that one gets inspiring thoughts, ideas, and expressions, etc., suddenly and in a moment of illumination. But such thoughts vanish as fast as they come. Good writers should therefore develop strategies to record such inspiring thoughts before they are lost. As you progress with writing, you will discover numerous suppo rtive habits, but you don’t need all of them at this stage. The beginner should try to develop three very important practices mentioned below. FIRST, you should try to read as much as possible. This is necessary to stimulate your mind and make you mature. The more you read the better it is. No amount of reading is overreading for a writer. SECOND, you should ALWAYS keep a diary and pen with you. Note down every inspiring thought, quote, anecdote or data that comes to your attention. Do not allow the idea be lost, and do not let the presence of others discourage you from writing it into your diary. THIRD, make it a practice to write one full page every day. Write whatever comes to your mind. It could be a summary of an argument you heard, an observation you made, or an inspiration that hit you. What’s important is to write something regularly, not the subjects upon which you write. A stage will come in about three years of such practicing when you will be unable to find time to write down all the inspiring thoughts that you get every day. Start it today itself. Buy a diary and a lot of paper or notebooks. Then, Read, Record and Write! Persistence Is The Secret Of Success In Any Competitive Field ! 6-Persist: Whatever your profession or hobby, you cannot succeed in it without persisting. This is much more true of becoming a writer. Most people harbour this misconception that everything written by a writer gets published! Nothing could be farther from truth. Not everything written even by famous writers gets published. Further, many of their writings see the light of the day only after repeated submissions or revisions. Thus, right from the beginning you should expect a lot of rejections. Do not be discouraged. This happens even to the most experienced writers. Persist and one day the rate of rejection will decrease to tolerable levels. Rome was not built in a day, nor is successful writing developed in one sitting.
How To Begin Writing
March 28, 2008 by 8 Comments
Even the best instruction in the world is worthless till it is put into action. Therefore, beginning with this lesson, we will ask you to write a lot. Do not be discouraged by the initial difficulties. Persist, and you will be a different person by the time you reach the last lesson. In this lesson we will first tell you about the types of writing, and then guide you into ―how to begin writing‖. All writings (essays, poems, stories, novels, etc.) can be classified into two broad categories: factual writing and creative writing. All factual writing will have a lot of creativity going into it and all creative writing will be aided by factual information, yet they are clearly distinguishable one from another. One does not read a novel and a dictionary alike because they belong to two entirely different categories of writing.
Essays, news, textbooks, research reports, any other kind of writing that deals with facts is called factual writing. Almost everything in print that can be classified as ―non-fiction‖ is factual writing. The aim of factual writing is to present facts in a captivating way. The purpose is to educate, entertain and even motivate the readers towards a specific action. All Factual Writing Begins With Collection And Statement Of Factual Information. Creativity Is Limited To The Way Information Is Presented — Which In Itself Is A Great Art !! The field of factual writing is very broad. The number of subjects available are uncountable and the opportunities to write upon them are unlimited. These statements might puzzle or surprise many who have not launched yet into the field of writing, but I assure you that the above statements are not exaggerations. Consider a very simple and commonplace topic like ―Water‖. A beginner might consider it nonsense when I suggest that dozens of articles can be built around this subject. But before you become too sure that I am wrong, consider the following titles: Water: The source of all life Water: The greatest tonic for health Water Pollution: Causes and effects Water-loss (dehydration)– the greatest killer in summer Drinking Water: How to purify it The chemistry of water The physics of water, the wonder liquid I have suggested only seven topics, and that also by spending only three to five minutes for thinking. Further, I have not mentioned many obvious and interesting subjects like, Conserving Water For Summers, Water As Source Of Hydro and Tidal Electricity, Water And Industries, Water And Transportation, etc. Thinking up for an hour or two per day will bring up at least a hundred interesting subjects, and just a month of such effort will swell up the list to at least 3000 subjects ! Believe me, even the most successful writers find that too many titles for their whole life.
I’m not suggesting that you spend the next month filling your diary with possible subjects. On the contrary, the above illustration has been given to show you that the field of factual writing is so vast that all the writers of the world together will never be able to exhaust the available subjects. All what you need is a bit of self-confidence, a little creativity, and a desire to find subjects. I guarantee that in three to five years you will wish that you could write with all four of your limbs. Believe me, you could still not exhaust your own list even if that wish were granted!
All writings classified as fiction come into this category. Songs and poems can also be placed into this category because their creative part is more dominant than their factual one. Stories, novels, most poems, songs, many satires, dramas, etc. are included in creative writing. They have been given this title because they are ―created‖ almost out of non existent material. While the main attempt in factual writing is to explain pre-existing facts, the main attempt in creative writing is to produce an entity that did not exist previously. Creative Writing Begins With Brainstorming, Assimilating, Writing Down, And Polishing The Output !! Even though the creative writer creates a story that did not exist before, he needs an idea or a ―plot‖ to create it. Since plots for stories do not drop from the skies, the creative writer has to develop skills necessary to capture, conceive, and develop new ideas. Both factual as well as creative writing are challenging jobs, and each has its own unique difficulties. Most writers confine themselves to one of these fields, and only very few try to produce both kinds of materials. You must evaluate your natural talents, inclinations, and abilities before you choose whether you will write fiction or non-fiction. Whatever the field you choose, you should never ignore the techniques of the other side. Non-fiction writers can always benefit from the techniques used by the fiction writers and people who produce fiction can always benefit from people who produce factual writings. In the present course our stress will be upon factual writing. These are two reasons for it. First, the majority of writers produce only factual material. Second, creative writers have to follow most of the basic principles of factual writing, and therefore this is the right starting point for writers of all kinds. We will offer you specialized information about producing fiction in another module of this course.
How To Begin Writing
Beginners in the field of writing feel that the most difficult part of writing is taking the first step. There’s nothing very surprising about this. In any game the first move is the most tense one and the opening batsman bears the most intense pressure. Even in human life the first step of a baby is always more difficult than the next one. However, as the baby grows, walking becomes so natural to him that he does it without any special effort or without even being conscious of it. It is the same way with writing. The first step will be difficult, but the more you hesitate, the more the time that you loose. I therefore urge you to start writing immediately ! Do not worry at this stage about the
quality or usefulness of the first few writings. Nor should you worry about who is going to publish them. Have you ever seen a trainee potter, tailor, typist, or cook at work ? Their initial output is usually so crude, childish, abnormal, or deformed that nobody buys it from them. Yet they keep working because they know that the initial output is not meant for others. Their first product is meant for practice. In the same way, you should assume that the first few (six to twelve) articles that you produce are meant for your training and not for publication. If will be a joy if someone publishes them, but you should not be discouraged if something meant for practice does not get into print. With these points in mind, the first few steps that you have to take can be listed as follows: 1-Choose a subject 2-Make an outline 3-Collect information 4-Refine outline, if needed 5-Write 6-Rewrite It is obvious that one cannot write upon a subject that has not yet been chosen. The first thing to do, therefore, is to choose a subject. I have already explained some methods for discovering useful and exciting subjects. You should choose a subject using the same technique.
Essentials Of Communication
March 28, 2008 by 3 Comments
I do not have to convince you about the importance of communication, specially if you have ever struggled with an intimidating or boring book. Unless the writer communicates in the proper manner, it is impossible for anyone to enjoy his creation. In the field of writing, communication is the art of expressing information in such a way that it captures the reader’s attention and produces the desired results. This kind of communication requires more than using simple words. We will definitely talk a lot about using words, but even before that you should consider the role of your personality in communication. For genuine and successful communication, you should be sincere and a man of conviction. Further, you should know your audience and should have a genuine desire to help them. Let me explain: I-Conviction: If you do not write with conviction on different issues, your writings will dissipate into a good for nothing acrobatics. Instead of communicating a clear cut message, your writing will soon become themeless and immediately the readers will reject you. 2-Sincerity: Being sincere is different from having a conviction. One might have a clear conviction about any number of issues, but that does not guarantee that one will sincerely want others to be convinced as well. There are many who know the truth but who have no desire that others also discover truth. Unless a writer is sincere, he will not be able to influence and change his readers.
3-Know The Audience: A person changes his tone, vocabulary and attitude even when he discusses one and the same subject with different people. A child cannot enjoy an adult vocabulary, nor can an adult accept a childish vocabulary or expressions coming from other adults. The purpose of all writing is communication with the reader. And for the sake of correctly relating it with your readers, it is necessary for you to know beforehand who they are. You should then use language and expression that suits this group of people. 4-A Genuine Desire To Help The Reader: If you have ever struggled with science textbooks, then you know the difference. All textbooks are written for students, but only few writers write them in a way that makes the subject alive to the students. Some of them write merely because they want to produce a textbook while others write because they want to help the student, and that makes all the difference. Unless you are possessed with a genuine desire to help the reader, you will not be able to put things at his level. Your writing will be neither easy nor persuasive. Mind The Language In additional to your personality, you should train your language too for achieving effective communication. The study of language and communication is so vast a subject that one will never be able to exhaust it. However, instead of giving a comprehensive discussion, we will introduce the most important features that you should develop at this stage. Every beginner in the field of writing should strive to make his language simple, natural, and accurate. I-Use Simple Language: Many writers believe that the more tough or complex their language, the more superior their writing would be. However, they are greatly mistaken. Of course, if they are writing to show off their abilities then they might use any type of language, but if they are writing to be read then they must keep themselves simple. If a given idea can be expressed in two ways, a simple one and a complex one, then you should always choose the simpler expression. This will captivate your audience, will communicate the subject better and what’s more, it will bring you untold amount of loyalty from them. Believe me, reader-loyalty is very important for a writer to enjoy demand from editors and also for getting a good price for his writings. Contrary to what many think, using complex language, where simpler choices exist, is a sign of incompetence, inferiority complex, or an unresolved mind. A writer who uses complex and hard to understand language does so either because of his incompetence, or to hide his weaknesses. Such writers never go far. Complex expressions and highly technical vocabulary does have a place in scholarly journals, but no beginner is going to write for such publications. Further, even in such publications the editors and readers abhor writings that are unusually difficult. Further, complexity is not the same as ambiguity. Even if a complex expression becomes necessary, it should be kept straight forward and not ambiguous. Since your expressions are the result of your thinking, ambiguous expressions are obviously the sign of sloppy thinking. No sloppy thinker can ever become a writer of substance. You should use not only simple expressions, but also easy vocabulary. All languages offer you simple as well as difficult words to express the same or similar ideas. You should always choose the simpler word unless there is a compelling reason to choose the difficult one. Beginners in this field should even try to restrict themselves to the ―common vocabulary‖. Lists of such words are available for English and also for many other languages.
2-Use Natural Language: Most people speak without becoming conscious about their language. This makes them ―natural‖. On the other hand, the same people become too conscious when they write, and this makes their writing tense, choppy and jerky. The smooth motion of a well designed car versus the jerky motion of a tractor is a good analogy for comparing natural expressions with jerky ones. Your language should show the same smoothness of flow in writing that you exhibit in the day to day conversation. Written language might at times be more serious or polished, but that is no excuse for rendering it unnatural or artificial. Good writing should sound as natural to the reader as a spontaneous conversation does to the listener. One should not mistakenly think that simple language is automatically natural. While simplicity is an important part of naturalness, it is not sufficient in itself to make one’s language natural. You must consider the subject matter, the capacity of the listener, the urgency of all task, etc. and then express in a way that is natural in this situation. Remember, all successful communication takes place in a natural manner. The way a nursing mother talks with her infant, a lover talks to his beloved, a grandson talks to his grandpa, and the way a policeman talks to a criminal are all different from each other, yet are natural in their particular settings. In the same way your language should be natural for the occasion for which you write. 3-Use Accurate Language: Careless use of language can make a person inaccurate and ambiguous. All ambiguity produces communication handicaps, but one does not notice this kind of handicaps while engaged in oral conversation. Even if a person tends to be ambiguous in conversation, mutual interaction and questions raised by the listener often clarify what the speaker wants to communicate. However, mutual interaction is impossible in written language and therefore you cannot escape with ambiguities. You should write in such a way that listener should not have to strain to understand your meaning. Nor should he have to guess or interpret the intended meaning to arrive at a conclusion. Consider the following statement, for example: ―At the age of thirty my father revealed this secret to me.‖ Can you deduce, without uncertainty, who was thirty years old, the father or the son, when this incident took place ? A definite deduction is not possible here. This illustrates the problems created by ambiguous statements. You must take care of several things to make your language accurate, and the first is the vocabulary you use. You must meticulously avoid ambiguous vocabulary. Only a regular and critical reading of other’s writings will help you to recognize ambiguous words. Reading articles related to language usage is also very helpful. Consider the word ―typical‖ for example. The word ―typical‖ means something that is ―common‖. But most English-speaking Indians use this word to refer to something that is ―peculiar‖. Therefore if you use this word in an article without adequate explanation, most of the readers will interpret you just the opposite of what you intend to convey. To be safe, you should substitute another word for it. Not only should you avoid using ambiguous words but should also avoid ambiguous phrases. We have already given you an example in the statement that begins with, ―At the age of thirty…‖. Consider another example, picked up from the Classified Adverti sement columns of a newspaper: ―Needed adoptive parents for a dog, by a man, with a dozen offsprings‖. The meaning hinges precariously upon the two commas placed in the sentence. If the second of these is lost (as it often happens during composing), the statement will look like: ―Needed adoptive parents for a dog, by a man with a dozen offsprings‖.
Here it is difficult to decide whether the man or the dog is blessed with half a dozen offsprings. A non-ambiguous restatement is given below: ―A man needs adoptive parents for his dog which has a dozen offsprings.‖ Another care to take is to eliminate ALL hasty generalizations. Statements like, ―All politicians are cheats‖ and ―All lawyers are liars‖ should not find a place in your writing. Hasty generalization makes you unreliable, ambiguous, and unbelievable. It is the mark of an impulsive person. Use only those generalizations that can be supported with plenty of data. For example, you can safely say that crows are black, elephants are strong, and tigers are ferocious. But claiming that ―fairer people are more intelligent‖ or ―dark people tend to be cruel‖ is neither right nor motivates accurate thinking. Since words are the ultimate building blocks for all written communication, you should definitely take up a vocabulary-building program. A richer vocabulary will help you to express your ideas accurately using simple words. You should not be content with labelling a person (who has difficulty with knowledge) as ―fool‖ when you could choose from ―innocent, ignorant, fool, idiot, imbecile, or unteachable‖. You compromise with accuracy when you label every pleasing woman as ―beautiful‖ when you could have chosen from a range like, ―good-looking, attractive, seductive, charming, homely, sweet, or beautiful‖ to make your description more accurate. When a choice of synonyms like the one above is given to people, many of them exclaim with surprise. They say they didn’t know that so many words were available to choose from ! Clearly, the problem is not with language or vocabulary, but with people who are not willing to master it. You should keep increasing your word power throughout your active life. It is not to show off and dumbfound others, but to increase your comprehension and improve your expression. The more your vocabulary, the clearer will be your thinking and the more accurate will be your expression. Essentials Of Communication I do not have to convince you about the importance of communication, specially if you have ever struggled with an intimidating or boring book. Unless the writer communicates in the proper manner, it is impossible for anyone to enjoy his creation. In the field of writing, communication is the art of expressing information in such a way that it captures the reader’s attention and produces the desired results. This kind of communication requires more than using simple words. We will definitely talk a lot about using words, but even before that you should consider the role of your personality in communication. For genuine and successful communication, you should be sincere and a man of conviction. Further, you should know your audience and should have a genuine desire to help them. Let me explain: I-Conviction: If you do not write with conviction on different issues, your writings will dissipate into a good for nothing acrobatics. Instead of communicating a clear cut message, your writing will soon become themeless and immediately the readers will reject you. 2-Sincerity: Being sincere is different from having a conviction. One might have a clear conviction about any number of issues, but that does not guarantee that one will sincerely want others to be convinced as well. There are many who know the truth but who have no desire that others also discover truth. Unless a writer is sincere, he will not be able to influence and change his readers.
3-Know The Audience: A person changes his tone, vocabulary and attitude even when he discusses one and the same subject with different people. A child cannot enjoy an adult vocabulary, nor can an adult accept a childish vocabulary or expressions coming from other adults. The purpose of all writing is communication with the reader. And for the sake of correctly relating it with your readers, it is necessary for you to know beforehand who they are. You should then use language and expression that suits this group of people. People Are Automatically Drawn To Those Who Wish To Help Them !! 4-A Genuine Desire To Help The Reader: If you have ever struggled with science textbooks, then you know the difference. All textbooks are written for students, but only few writers write them in a way that makes the subject alive to the students. Some of them write merely because they want to produce a textbook while others write because they want to help the student, and that makes all the difference. Unless you are possessed with a genuine desire to help the reader, you will not be a ble to put things at his level. Your writing will be neither easy nor persuasive. Mind The Language In additional to your personality, you should train your language too for achieving effective communication. The study of language and communication is so vast a subject that one will never be able to exhaust it. However, instead of giving a comprehensive discussion, we will introduce the most important features that you should develop at this stage. Every beginner in the field of writing should strive to make his language simple, natural, and accurate. I-Use Simple Language: Many writers believe that the more tough or complex their language, the more superior their writing would be. However, they are greatly mistaken. Of course, if they are writing to show off their abilities then they might use any type of language, but if they are writing to be read then they must keep themselves simple. If a given idea can be expressed in two ways, a simple one and a complex one, then you should always choose the simpler expression. This will captivate your audience, will communicate the subject better and what’s more, it will bring you untold amou nt of loyalty from them. Believe me, reader-loyalty is very important for a writer to enjoy demand from editors and also for getting a good price for his writings. Contrary to what many think, using complex language, where simpler choices exist, is a sign of incompetence, inferiority complex, or an unresolved mind. A writer who uses complex and hard to understand language does so either because of his incompetence, or to hide his weaknesses. Such writers never go far. Complex expressions and highly technical vocabulary does have a place in scholarly journals, but no beginner is going to write for such publications. Further, even in such publications the editors and readers abhor writings that are unusually difficult. Further, complexity is not the same as ambiguity. Even if a complex expression becomes necessary, it should be kept straight forward and not ambiguous. Since your expressions are the result of your thinking, ambiguous expressions are obviously the sign of sloppy thinking. No sloppy thinker can ever become a writer of substance. You should use not only simple expressions, but also easy vocabulary. All languages offer you simple as well as difficult words to express the same or similar ideas. You should always choose the simpler word unless there is a compelling reason to choose the difficult one.
Beginners in this field should even try to restrict themselves to the ―common vocabulary‖. Lists of such words are available for English and also for many other languages. 2-Use Natural Language: Most people speak without becoming conscious about their language. This makes them ―natural‖. On the other hand, the same people become too conscious when they write, and this makes their writing tense, choppy and jerky. The smooth motion of a well designed car versus the jerky motion of a tractor is a good analogy for comparing natural expressions with jerky ones. Your language should show the same smoothness of flow in writing that you exhibit in the day to day conversation. Written language might at times be more serious or polished, but that is no excuse for rendering it unnatural or artificial. Good writing should sound as natural to the reader as a spontaneous conversation does to the listener. One should not mistakenly think that simple language is automatically natural. While simplicity is an important part of naturalness, it is not sufficient in itself to make one’s language natural. You must consider the subject matter, the capacity of the listener, the urgency of all task, etc. and then express in a way that is natural in this situation. Remember, all successful communication takes place in a natural manner. The way a nursing mother talks with her infant, a lover talks to his beloved, a grandson talks to his grandpa, and the way a policeman talks to a criminal are all different from each other, yet are natural in their particular settings. In the same way your language should be natural for the occasion for which you write. 3-Use Accurate Language: Careless use of language can make a person inaccurate and ambiguous. All ambiguity produces communication handicaps, but one does not notice this kind of handicaps while engaged in oral conversation. Even if a person tends to be ambiguous in conversation, mutual interaction and questions raised by the listener often clarify what the speaker wants to communicate. However, mutual interaction is impossible in written language and therefore you cannot escape with ambiguities. You should write in such a way that listener should not have to strain to understand your meaning. Nor should he have to guess or interpret the intended meaning to arrive at a conclusion. Consider the following statement, for example: ―At the age of thirty my father revealed this secret to me.‖ Can you deduce, without uncertainty, who was thirty years old, the father or the son, when this incident took place ? A definite deduction is not possible here. This illustrates the problems created by ambiguous statements. You must take care of several things to make your language accurate, and the first is the vocabulary you use. You must meticulously avoid ambiguous vocabulary. Only a regular and critical reading of other’s writings will help you to recognize ambiguous words. Reading articles related to language usage is also very helpful. Consider the word ―typical‖ for example. The word ―typical‖ means something that is ―common‖. But most English-speaking Indians use this word to refer to something that is ―peculiar‖. Therefore if you use this word in an article without adequate explanation, most of the readers will interpret you just the opposite of what you intend to convey. To be safe, you should substitute another word for it. Not only should you avoid using ambiguous words but should also avoid ambiguous phrases. We have already given you an example in the statement that begins with, ―At the age of thirty…‖. Consider another example, picked up from the Classified Advertisement columns of a newspaper: ―Needed adoptive parents for a dog, by a man, with a dozen offsprings‖.
The meaning hinges precariously upon the two commas placed in the sentence. If the second of these is lost (as it often happens during composing), the statement will look like: ―Needed adoptive parents for a dog, by a man with a dozen offsprings‖. Here it is difficult to decide whether the man or the dog is blessed with half a dozen offsprings. A non-ambiguous restatement is given below: ―A man needs adoptive parents for his dog which has a dozen offsprings.‖ Another care to take is to eliminate ALL hasty generalizations. Statements like, ―All politicians are cheats‖ and ―All lawyers are liars‖ should not find a place in your writing. Hasty generalization makes you unreliable, ambiguous, and unbelievable. It is the mark of an impulsive person. Use only those generalizations that can be supported with plenty of data. For example, you can safely say that crows are black, elephants are strong, and tigers are ferocious. But claiming that ―fairer people are more intelligent‖ or ―dark people tend to be cruel‖ is neither right nor motivates accurate thinking. Since words are the ultimate building blocks for all written communication, you should definitely take up a vocabulary-building program. A richer vocabulary will help you to express your ideas accurately using simple words. You should not be content with labelling a person (who has difficulty with knowledge) as ―fool‖ when you could choose from ―innocent, ignorant, fool, idiot, imbecile, or unteachable‖. You compromise with accura cy when you label every pleasing woman as ―beautiful‖ when you could have chosen from a range like, ―good-looking, attractive, seductive, charming, homely, sweet, or beautiful‖ to make your description more accurate. When a choice of synonyms like the one above is given to people, many of them exclaim with surprise. They say they didn’t know that so many words were available to choose from ! Clearly, the problem is not with language or vocabulary, but with people who are not willing to master it. You should keep increasing your word power throughout your active life. It is not to show off and dumbfound others, but to increase your comprehension and improve your expression. The more your vocabulary, the clearer will be your thinking and the more accurate will be your expression.
Make The Presentation Attractive
March 29, 2008 by 2 Comments
Christian Writer Training Course 1, Lesson 6
One is successful in the task of communication when one is able to convey information in such a way that if captivates the audience and produces the desired effects. I have told you so far that for successful communication you must develop sincerity, conviction and a genuine burden to help your readers. Also, you should know who your audience is. In addition to all the above, you should use appropriate language. Using the correct language includes using simple, natural, and accurate expressions. I have already given you several suggestions about how to make your writings simple, natural, and accurate. The next thing — to enhance communication — is to use an attractive presentation. Make Your Presentation So Attractive That People May Not Feel Like Keeping It Down !!
You should use an attractive presentation to capture their attention. It is true that the increasing literacy levels is producing many new readers every day, but this does not mean that they will automatically read anything and everything presented to them. Even though there is now a large number of literate people in our country, we should realize that more and more printed matter is competing with each other every day to get a share of their time and money. By the time you become a successful writer, a still larger number of publications will be chasing the same market which is not growing at the same rate. Consequently, only those publications will get read that are attractive enough to capture their attention. The first thing which captures their attention is the title of your writing. Whether it is a brief article or a multi volume book, the title is the starting point. If it is attractive, your writing gets a second glance. If it is uninteresting, then you lose the potential reader even if you have created a masterpiece. Consider the following pairs of title. Each pair shows two ways in which the same article or book has been titled. a-A Collection Of Proverbs b-Wisdom Of The Ages a-A Guidebook To Encourage Everyone b-Yes, You Can Do It ! a-Developing An Awareness About The Aborted Fetuses b-Children — Things Thrown Away ! a-An Account Of The Sins Of Omissions And Commission In Government Offices b-Wickedness In High Places ! Each pair talks about the same subject, but in each one the second title is more catchy. Making your titles attractive is not very difficult. Spend a little time to think up a good, attractive, or catchy way of expressing it and the job is half done. The remaining half of the task is to make the body of article equally attractive. The text of your article should be written in such a way that it keeps your reader awake and glued to it till the end of your writing. This is not impossible, but it does require regular effort from you. You will learn a lot about it in forthcoming lessons, but the best thing to do till then is to read and reflect upon the writings of those who have already mastered the art. Write On Subjects Of Common Interest: If your writing is to communicate with people, not only has it got to be attractive, but should also be of some interest to the intended audience. (Many Crusaders write upon subjects in which no public interest is seen. But such activity belongs to the experienced writer, and you will study this kind of writing only at a more advanced stage). So much printed material is competing for the reader’s attention today that only what touches upon their concerns will be picked up and read. Every generation and every community of people have their own needs, interests, problems and pains. Any writing that touches upon these subjects will, obviously, get immediate attention. The rest will, in all probability, get ignored. Have you ever noticed how the common man reacts to a philosophical monograph ! He does not touch it. Even the name ―philosophy‖ is enough to scar e him away. Yet when a philosopher spots the same book, his eyes sparkle and his face betrays excitement. The difference can be explained by one’s relation to the subject. What’s related to one’s needs gets attention, but what’s of no immediate concern get s rejected even if it is written in the most brilliant manner.
Subjects related to spiritual, social, academic, nationalistic, or personal concerns always capture people’s attention. Subjects of immediate interest like entertainment, politics, political crisis and hobby development also get immediate attention from people. Subjects that require long-term involvement from the readers also capture attention, if chosen with insight. For example, subjects like managing one’s finances, overcoming depression, becoming socially attractive, and capturing the attention of people, always manage to catch reader attention. Even in this materialistic world plenty of people will take interest in spiritual and moral themes if the subjects are presented properly. Many articles on spiritual themes are finding place in present-day secular publications because they have some substance, and are written in a professional manner. Since man’s quest for spirituals is never -ending, this theme will never go out of demand. Many Successful Writers Have Discovered That Food, Health, Relaxation, Etc. Are Subjects Of Great Interest. Christians Can Discover Similar Ever-abiding Biblical Subjects !! Different audiences have different immediate concerns. The housewife is worried about nutrition, the teenage boy about acceptance by peers, the teenage girl about her excess weight, and the newspaper editor about the important news of the day. What is food to one might be poison to the other. Therefore you should know your audience first, lest you end up praising to horrified vegetarians the benefits of meat eating. The best thing to know your audience and their interests is to study the publications for which you write. Study their emphasis, the direction of the editorials, letters to the editor, and — most important — the guidelines to authors issued by those publications. Once you identify the audience, it will be relatively easy to identify subjects that interest them. A beginner in the field of writing might find himself struggling to discover subjects for writing, but if you implement the suggestions given in this course you will discover lots of interesting topics. In fact a time will come within three to five years of writing when your diary will be flooded with so many suggestions and topics that you will not be able to do justice even to half of them. Once you are submerged in reading and writing material, it will be good to choose a few fields for concentrated writing. Do not try to become a jack of all trades because soon you will be reduced to a master of none. With that you will lose your market appeal as well as value. Further, if you do not focus upon a few areas, the direction of your writings will disperse so much that your name will not be attached to anything. Do not underestimate the importance of such an attachment. If others can associate your name with at least a couple of subjects, your writings will be read with greater eagerness. Develop A Rapport With Your Readers: No one-way communication in the world can last very long. Some sort of mutual interaction, howsoever little it might be, is necessary to keep the relationship alive. Since all writing is communication, a certain minimum interaction with the readers is essential. Unless this mutual communication is there, the writer has no way of knowing whether his writings are relevant and whether people are benefited by these writings. A two-way communication between the writer and his audience is easier said than done, but there are many tried and proven methods to overcome this difficulty. The easiest way is to keep an eye on the ―Letters To The Editor‖ and similar columns where feedback from readers is published. If any of your writings touches their needs, helps or motivates them, they will mention it. You should watch such feedback for quite some time because
sometimes people start writing to the editor only after reading several of your writings, or even several months after a particular writing helps them. Researches estimate that for each person who writes to the editor, there are ten to fifty who want to do the same but do not find it possible. This means that each letter represents at least ten to fifty of your readers who have similar feelings. If it is a letter of appreciation, good; if it expresses disapproval or hostility, consider whether you did something wrong. Above all this, try to see what else they want to read from you. Sometimes the clue might be hidden in a single phrase buried somewhere in that letter. Some editors, specially those of small-circulation or newly published publications, will be very happy to pass on information about reader-response to you. The best way to get this information is to write a polite letter of inquiry to the editor after a few of your writings are published by his publication. It Is Great To Develop A Rapport With Your Listeners !! Another way to interact with your readers is by reading about their problems and aspirations. Read all letters, feedback, and comments published in the periodical of your choice. Study what they say and what problems and pains hurt them most. Then see whether your present writings touch upon these subjects, or whether you might be able to write something significant on those topics. Last, but not least, keep your eyes and ears open to people. Even social conversation or a passing compliment paid by a friend (about one of your writings which he happened to see) can give you a lot of information. Keep striving. Communication is your ultimate aim, and that you must do if you want to be a successful writer.
How To Begin Writing
March 29, 2008 by 6 Comments
Christian Writer Training Course 2, Lesson 1 Even the best instruction in the world is worthless till it is put into action. Therefore, beginning with this lesson, we will ask you to write a lot. Do not be discouraged by the initial difficulties. Persist, and you will be a different person by the time you reach the last lesson. In this lesson we will first tell you about the types of writing, and th en guide you into ―how to begin writing‖. All writings (essays, poems, stories, novels, etc.) can be classified into two broad categories: factual writing and creative writing. All factual writing will have a lot of creativity going into it and all creative writing will be aided by factual information, yet they are clearly distinguishable one from another. One does not read a novel and a dictionary alike because they belong to two entirely different categories of writing.
Essays, news, textbooks, research reports, any other kind of writing that deals with facts is called factual writing. Almost everything in print that can be classified as ―non-fiction‖ is factual writing. The aim of factual writing is to present facts in a captivating way. The purpose is to educate,
entertain and even motivate the readers towards a specific action. All Factual Writing Begins With Collection And Statement Of Factual Information. Creativity Is Limited To The Way Information Is Presented — Which In Itself Is A Great Art !! The field of factual writing is very broad. The number of subjects available are uncountable and the opportunities to write upon them are unlimited. These statements might puzzle or surprise many who have not launched yet into the field of writing, but I assure you that the above statements are not exaggerations. Consider a very simple and commonplace topic like ―Water‖. A beginner might consider it nonsense when I suggest that dozens of articles can be built around this subject. But before you become too sure that I am wrong, consider the following titles: Water: The source of all life Water: The greatest tonic for health Water Pollution: Causes and effects Water-loss (dehydration)– the greatest killer in summer Drinking Water: How to purify it The chemistry of water The physics of water, the wonder liquid. I have suggested only seven topics, and that also by spending only three to five minutes for thinking. Further, I have not mentioned many obvious and interesting subjects like, Conserving Water For Summers, Water As Source Of Hydro and Tidal Electricity, Water And Industries, Water And Transportation, etc. Thinking up for an hour or two per day will bring up at least a hundred interesting subjects, and just a month of such effort will swell up the list to at least 3000 subjects ! Believe me, even the most successful writers find that too many titles for their whole life. I’m not suggesting that you spend the next month filling your diary with possible subjects. On the contrary, the above illustration has been given to show you that the field of factual writing is so vast that all the writers of the world together will never be able to exhaust the available subjects. All what you need is a bit of self-confidence, a little creativity, and a desire to find subjects. I guarantee that in three to five years you will wish that you could write with all four of your limbs. Believe me, you could still not exhaust your own list even if that wish were granted!
All writings classified as fiction come into this category. Songs and poems can also be placed into this category because their creative part is more dominant than their factual one. Stories, novels, most poems, songs, many satires, dramas, etc. are included in creative writing. They have been given this title because they are ―created‖ almost out of non existent material. While the main attempt in factual writing is to explain pre-existing facts, the main attempt in creative writing is to produce an entity that did not exist previously. Even though the creative writer creates a story that did not exist before, he needs an idea or a ―plot‖ to create it. Since plots for stories do not drop from the skies, the creative writer has to develop skills necessary to capture, conceive, and develop new ideas. Both factual as well as creative writing are challenging jobs, and each has its own unique difficulties. Most writers confine themselves to one of these fields, and only very few try to produce both kinds of materials. You must evaluate your natural talents, inclinations, and abilities before you choose whether you will write fiction or non-fiction. Whatever the field you choose, you should never ignore
the techniques of the other side. Non-fiction writers can always benefit from the techniques used by the fiction writers and people who produce fiction can always benefit from people who produce factual writings. In the present course our stress will be upon factual writing. These are two reasons for it. First, the majority of writers produce only factual material. Second, creative writers have to follow most of the basic principles of factual writing, and therefore this is the right starting point for writers of all kinds. We will offer you specialized information about producing fiction in another module of this course.
How To Begin Writing
Beginners in the field of writing feel that the most difficult part of writing is taking the first step. There’s nothing very surprising about this. In any game the first move is the most tense one and the opening batsman bears the most intense pressure. Even in human life the first step of a baby is always more difficult than the next one. However, as the baby grows, walking becomes so natural to him that he does it without any special effort or without even being conscious of it. It is the same way with writing. The first step will be difficult, but the more you hesitate, the more the time that you loose. I therefore urge you to start writing immediately ! Do not worry at this stage about the quality or usefulness of the first few writings. Nor should you worry about who is going to publish them. Have you ever seen a trainee potter, tailor, typist, or cook at work ? Their initial output is usually so crude, childish, abnormal, or deformed that nobody buys it from them. Yet they keep working because they know that the initial output is not meant for others. Their first product is meant for practice. In the same way, you should assume that the first few (six to twelve) articles that y ou produce are meant for your training and not for publication. If will be a joy if someone publishes them, but you should not be discouraged if something meant for practice does not get into print. With these points in mind, the first few steps that you have to take can be listed as follows: 1-Choose a subject 2-Make an outline 3-Collect information 4-Refine outline, if needed 5-Write 6-Rewrite It is obvious that one cannot write upon a subject that has not yet been chosen. The first thing to do, therefore, is to choose a subject. I have already explained some methods for discovering useful and exciting subjects. You should choose a subject using the same technique.
The Art Of Outlining — 1
March 29, 2008 by 3 Comments
Christian Writer Training Course 2, Lesson 2 The next thing to do is to make an outline. This should always be brief yet sufficiently clear. There should always be a suitable introduction, an informative and absorbing body, and a challenging end. The structure (in theory) would look something like the following. 1-Introduction. 2-Body 3-Conclusion. The body of the article should contain the points that you want to stress. These points should be limited to as few as possible. Most writers show the tendency to pile point upon point till they reach infinity, with several sub-points attached to each point. While this might give them some mental satisfaction, or even pride, the practice is foolish. The average reader cannot keep that many points, or their intricate relationship with each other, in his head. You should therefore use only three to five points in the body of your writing, unless you are going to write it for a bunch of your classroom students. Three points is optimum and five is about the maximum. If you think that you have more than five points for inclusion, many things could be wrong with you. Either you are overenthusiastic (because of your inexperience) or you have unnecessarily split the subject into too many points. Yet another reason could be that you have chosen too broad a subject. If that is so, and if you have a great desire to use all those points, then split up your write-up into two or more articles. Thus, the theoretical outline of a properly designed article would look something like: 1-Introduction 2-Body A-Point no.1 B-Point no.2 C-Point no.3 3-Conclusion This is only a guideline, and not a rigid rule. Other approaches are also possible. What is important is to keep the outline COMPACT. Look at another compact outline below. 1-Introduction 2-Point no.1 A-Subpoint no.1 B-Subpoint no.2 3-Point-2 A-Subpoint no.1 B-Subpoint no.2 4-Conclusion So far the above outline is only theoretical. In practice you should write down what these points are and what the emphasis of the introduction and conclusion are going to be. Once this much is done, you must collect all the information on this subject that you can. You might at first be baffled about how to collect such information, but I assure you that if
you go in the right direction you will get so much information that you will never be able to use all of it. One of the best sources of information is books. You can look into your own collection (if you have one), ask other book lovers, go to a public library, or even go to any other kind of library. Most people tend to under estimate and even downgrade these sources of information, but a writer should not be too foolish to do that. Even if the library in your city is too small or too outdated, you should still visit it to see what it has to offer you. Do not worry about what it does not have to offer; what’s important is what it HAS got. Never underestimate the value or importance of a source. Once this much information is available, you might sometimes want to modify the outline. Feel free to make any change that you deem necessary at this stage. Further, if you feel that you should expand the outline by adding a few more sentences to each line, then do so freely. Once all this is over, you are ready to write. Start as soon as you can, and write your first draft as FAST as you can. Even if your mind prompts you to make changes here and there, do not pause. This is time to put the article on to paper, not for correction, polishing or amplification. Once the first draft is ready, you should read the entire article carefully and make whatever changes, additions, and deletions you want. You will notice several omissions, unnecessary repetitions, and abrupt statements, and you should iron them all out. This is now your semifinal draft and this should be sent for publication only if there is a pressing need. If there is no such emergency then keep it away for few days and work on some other article. After a reasonable break, read the article once again and make whatever corrections come to your mind. At no stage should you compromise with this process of writing because all compromise affects quality. On the other hand, this is not a rigid guideline, and therefore you should feel free to modify this process occasionally to suit your special needs. The above discussion is complete in itself, but to give you a greater understanding of the process I have included a detailed example in the next section. Once you see a writer in action, you should feel greater confidence to do the job yourself.
If A Battle Can Be Won Without A Plan, An Article Can Be Produced Without An Outline !!
The Art Of Outlining — 2
March 29, 2008 by Leave a Comment
Christian Writer Training Course 2, Lesson 3 Let me now illustrate what I said in the previous section. I said that the first thing to do is to choose a subject. Suppose I choose, ―Water, The Greatest Tonic For Health‖. Now let us make a tentative outline: 1-Introduction: (Remind people that they are ignoring the greatest fluid for their health). 2-Water is important for kidneys, man’s poison-filter. 3-Water is important for maintaining fluid balance of body. 4-All bodily functions need water. 5-Conclusion: Drink at least 4 to 8 litters of water every day.
The next activity is investigation and collection of information. Almost any medical doctor or nurse will be able to give you information and also guide you to appropriate books (technical as well as popular) for further information. Most books on physical fitness (which abound in our generation) or health-related magazines will also provide a lot of information. What’s more, even family-magazines will give an occasional article on this topic. The next step is to revise and expand (if necessary) the previously prepared outline. In our case, any investigation will reveal that water plays a great part in disease prevention. It plays this role by being the most important medium of washing, cleaning and hygiene. Quite a lot of germs can be washed away by ordinary running water to levels safe for the body. You Will End Up Doing A Lot Of Things, Which Will Come To Naught If You Have No Plan !! The information mentioned above is quite startling, yet too important to be overlooked, and therefore it can be added as a new point, or else it can replace point 4 in our outline. The option is yours. I consider this point so important that I decide to write an entire article on the topic of ―Water, your great friend against germs‖. I feel that offering this as a separate article will be a great help to readers in our country where disease-causing organisms are widespread. The poor country can save a lot of money spent on expensive medicines simply by encouraging proper washing habits. I therefore leave the outline untouched. The helpful information and statistics collected is secure in my diary. If such information is jotted down on bits and pieces of paper they develop a tendency to vanish when most needed, wasting a lot of valuable time. Therefore I advise that you too buy a couple of diaries or note books. Just as I decided not to revise the outline. I also decided not to expand the notes. In many cases I do both — revision as well as expansion. With some experience you will also know what to do. Now that the groundwork is over, I start working on the article itself. The first draft will have many imperfections, and my mind urges me to pause at every stage to iron out these problems. Experience has told me that it is more important at this stage to complete the article so that I might see it as a whole unit before I work upon the parts. The first draft is ready in about two hours. It is about five pages long (around 900 words). The final draft will have about six handwritten (or three typed) pages. This will be about 1000 to 1200 words. Most popular magazines require articles to be between 1000 to 1500 words. Instead of revising and polishing this draft immediately. I take a short break of fifteen minutes to about an hour. This refreshes my mind and makes me more alert to continue the work. Then I pick up the work, reread it and make corrections, additions and deletions liberally on the same sheets of paper. Once this is over, I immediately make a neat and clean copy. This will be my semi-final draft. If I am in a hurry, I give this draft for typing. This happens only in about twenty per cent of the cases. In case of the majority of my articles, I place them in a file for few days and ―sleep over‖ the article. This gives me time to reflect over what I have written. Further, when I revise my article after a few days, or even weeks, my mind has been ―detached‖ sufficiently to look at it objectively. This enables me to spot many omissions and obscure statements that were difficult to spot when the subject was still fresh in my mind. I make corrections, and give the final copy for typing. If typing is not possible, I make a neat and readable handwritten copy. This copy will go to the editor, while I keep the corrected copy. If typed, I send the original plus the first carbon-copy to the editor and keep the second carbon-copy in my files. The project has reached a conclusion.
The total time for doing all this would be around 8 to 10 hours, but with maturing habits and insights it might come down even to four hours, but that will be a long way from today. The above illustration is only for your illumination. The purpose is to give you general guidelines, not to show rigidly fixed patterns. Feel free to experiment and be flexible, but do not compromise with the quality and content of what you produce. Let me remind you once again: do not avoid outline-making. Compromising in this matter will only defeat your purpose. JUST AS A HOUSE CANNOT BE CONSTRUCTED WITHOUT A PLAN, AN ARTICLE CANNOT BE PRODUCED WITHOUT AN OUTLINE! Some Precautions: Every factual writer should remember to make his investigation thorough. Since you are writing about preexisting subjects, you should make sure that your statements and data are correct. It is a very bad testimony to your reliability if you make mistakes. While no writer can be entirely accurate all his life, repeated mistakes and too obvious errors point to careless work and sloppy thinking. Such writers soon loose credibility, and also the demand for their articles. Editors soon start avoiding them. Better To Take Precautions Rather Than Discover Things Through Nasty Surprises !! Another thing to remember is to write everything in your own words. Do not copy other’s writings verbatim. This is not only a sign if your incompetence, but is also a crime. Known as plagiarism, editors avoid writers given to it. What is worse, some magazines will openly publish letters of criticism against such articles, completely damaging your name. Further, if your feel that a particular statement of another writer is so special that it should be given as it is to your readers you should put it as a quotation, and give full credit to the author from whom you have taken this quote. Before closing I must remind you once again to choose a few areas of your interest for writing so that you do not become a jack of all trades but be reduced to master of none. Just as specialization is necessary in other professional areas, writing also calls for specialization for the majority of your articles.
March 29, 2008 by 3 Comments
Christian Writer Training Course 2, Lesson 4 We live in a generation of ―packaging‖. Unless it is put into a proper package, even the best product in the world does not attract customers. In the same way, every writing has to be presented in the right way if editors are even to look at it. A few hundred years ago, when writers were not so much in abundance, and when editors had more free time than today, they would surely give attention to anything that came to their table, but today the situation is just the opposite. Your manuscript has now got to capture his attention while it competes with a large number of other submissions which he possibility cannot read in the time available to him. Inculcate Good Manuscript-preparation Habits Right From The Beginning !! Even if an editor makes as exception to this and gives time to all the manuscripts that cross his table, he is still not going to give the same attention to each manuscript thus placed. On the contrary, he will unconsciously spend more time with that piece of writing that has been
presented in the more attractive way. This makes it imperative for you to present your writings in the most attractive and readable way. Further, you must also remember that the editors are human. They have frustrations and irritations that are peculiar to their profession and, therefore, instead of adding to their problem you should try to help the editor out of these. For example, an editor has to deal not only with substandard writings, but also with carelessly written and even illegibly scribbled manuscripts. Therefore please give plenty of attention to how you prepare your manuscripts. In this lesson I will explain the following points about manuscript preparation: 1–Type all manuscripts 2–The stationary to be used 3–Dispatching 4–Your record keeping practices Let us look in detail at each point: 1-Type All Manuscripts: There is nothing wrong with handwritten manuscripts even at the dawn of the twentyfirst century, but typewritten material has a definite advantage in that it is more readable as well as compact. Therefore get all your manuscripts typed if at all possible. Typing charges are not too high these days, and even if the initial investment looks too much you will reap much reward in the long run for this investment. Further, if you are a young person looking forward to twenty years or more of writing I strongly recommend that you learn typewriting yourself. It is not difficult or expensive. Just six months spent in a good typewriting institution will make you an expert. What’s more, during this period you don’t have to spare more than an hour a day for it. If you h ave a typewriter of your own, then just three months of training and then three months of practice at home is an equally good alternative. If it is impossible to get the manuscript typed, then neatly handcopy it on ruled paper. What is important here is not a beautiful handwriting, but a handwriting that is highly readable without any strain. If you are able to get it typed, or if you are able to type it yourself, then get three copies typed. Two copies should be sent to the editor, and one should go into your files for the record. In case the originals are lost in mail or in case the article is rejected but not returned by the editor, the copy in your records can be used to rewrite or retype it. These days computers are becoming cheap, and very soon smaller machines might become cheap enough to become household gadgets. If the article is typed on a computer, then always keep a backup copy. Send two copies of the writing to the editor. Further, you must remember that these days many magazine editors are happy to receive articles on computer disks. These disks can be sent through mail, and once they make a copy of the article, the disk will be returned to you. There are some standard practices for the layout of typed material. Some editors prefer a layout of their own specification, and that information can be obtained by writing to them. Meanwhile, you should continue with the standard layout. The standard layout is to type the manuscript double spaced (or 1.5 space, when available), on a single side of the paper. Around one to two inches or margin should be left on the left as well as on the right sides. The top and bottom margins should also be more than one and a half inches each. A good quality carbon paper should be used so that the copy is clear.
The first page of the manuscript you submit should preferably contain the following information: Article Title: Approximate Length Of The Article: Approximate Level Of The Article (Simple, Semi Technical, Technical, etc.): Your Address: After giving this information, you should leave several inches of the paper blank, and then you can continue with the following: Title (centered on the page), your name on the right side after leaving a few lines from the title line, and then the text of the writing after leaving a few lines from the name. Some typists do not number the pages. While this might not give any difficulty to the writer, it is greatly inconvenient for the editor as well as the person who is going to compose your writing. Should a page drop out of the manuscript (as it sometimes happens), they would have to waste a lot of precious time to decide where it goes back. Always label the pages with consecutive page numbers. If the typist has forgotten to do it, the do so with pen. 2-The Stationery To Be Used: The material that you use for presenting and dispatching the manuscript is as important as the writing itself is. You should therefore use the best quality paper that is available to you. If you are going to get the manuscript typed by somebody else, then supply them with good quality paper if they do not use paper of good quality. Never use thin paper called rice-paper or onion-skin paper. It is to difficult for editors to handle that kind of paper, and you should not add to their difficulties — which are not little anyway. Also, do not staple the papers. The experienced editors and composers find loose sheets of paper more convenient to handle, and therefore you should preferably use paper clips instead of staples. 3-Dispatching: Always use large sized envelopes for dispatching. The large size will ensure that you do not fold your manuscript too much or too many times. It is too difficult to read a sheet of paper that has been folded mercilessly. You should always know the current postal rates so that you mail the manuscript with sufficient postal stamps attached to the envelope. Postal fines are very high these days and, what is worse, no editor likes to be punished for the mistakes and carelessness of others. You should not expect any sympathy from an editor after you penalize him with a postal fine. If you want unaccepted manuscripts returned to you, then you should enclose a stamped and self addressed envelope (SASE) of suitable size with your manuscripts. Anything less than that (for returning your manuscript) is unacceptable to most editors. Some government published magazines do return rejected manuscripts at their own expense, but the number of government-controlled magazines is very small. 4-Your Record Keeping Practices: All writers should carefully keep a record of their writings. This is because by the time you write two dozen articles, you will loose track of the things written, sent to publications, rejected by publications, accepted for publication, and what has already been published. This statement might look a bit surprising to you, but it is true. An article is a single entity, but the information connected with where you have sent them to where they have been published might add as many as four to six items with each article. This means that by the time you cross two dozen articles, the potential information that you will be chasing will exceed one hundred items. No one can keep this kind of information in
his head. Many who were too foolish to do so have tasted the bitter fruits of neglect. Long-term Record-keeping Habits Pay Well In The Long Run !! For example, many careless writers have ended up sending the same article to more than one publication because of sheer neglect and forgetfulness. This is a crime in the world of writing, specially if you send them to publications that pay you for using your material. Keep detailed information about your writings in a diary or notebook with the following minimum information for each piece of writing: name or title, the date you started writing, the date you finalized it, the date dispatched, the name of publication, the date of publication, and a line or two about what this piece of writing contains. If the manuscript is typewritten or handwritten then a copy should be kept in your files. If it is done on a computer, then you should always keep a copy on two different disks so that if one is erased accidentally then you might be able to restore it from the back up copy. One final word of advice: If you are careless now, you will regret all your life. If you take a little pain now, then you have a whole life to enjoy the fruits of hard labour.
How To Get Published !
March 29, 2008 by 2 Comments
Christian Writer Training Course 2, Lesson 5 Many good writers are unable to get published because they do not know how to go about in this business of getting published. Their articles are interesting, the subjects are relevant, and any publication would be proud to print this kind of material, but still they remain unpublished. The problem is that they did not market their product properly. A few centuries ago when the number of periodicals was small it was easy to find one that fulfilled one’s requirements, but with the thousands of publications around, it is difficult today for the beginner to get to the appropriate publication. Further, many are so ignorant about market realities that they want their articles and other writings to be published in the commonly available commercial publications immediately. They do not realize that these are professionally produced publications, and a writer can get published in them only after gaining considerable experience and expertise in specific fields. A beginner should not overestimate his size, but should rather find a publication that is more suitable for his standard and send for publication there. There are at least five things that you should know about getting your writings published: 1-Choose the right publication 2-Send the carefully prepared manuscript with a covering letter 3-Do send query letters 4-Expect rejection 5-Advance as you gain experience Of these, I will explain two of the above in greater detail: 1. Choose The Right Publication: Most countries today have a wide range of publications. Our country has several thousand English periodicals plus a higher number of periodicals in other languages. The total number exceeds 40,000 ! These contain an unbelievable range of publications right from the most primitive to the most advanced. In this crowd you will find from general to highly subject-oriented publications. One publishes on a wide variety of subjects while the other publishes only on the different
aspects of one subject. You will find that they have a diversity of levels. Some publish almost any articles written by the beginner while the other publishes even the articles of the expert with great caution. Some will accept articles submitted by outside writers, but others publish only articles written by their editorial staff, while still others publish only invited articles. What is important to understand is that in this crowd somewhere there is a publication that suits your level. In fact there is a possibility that there are dozens of publications that publish submissions from the beginner. It is your responsibility to search the market thoroughly to discover several magazines that accept submissions from the beginner. Make a list of these publications. You will be deleting as well adding to this list throughout your writing career. The easiest place to get published is the Letters To The Editor column. Unfortunately many writers do not recognize the power and the impact of this column. They feel that after all a letter is only a letter. While a letter is surely a letter, this need not always be so. Letters published in these columns can become a powerful medium for speaking to the people of your society. Researches and surveys have found that Letters To The Editor column is one of the most read columns in periodicals. Somehow people have a strong attraction to what others like them have to say on different issues. Therefore what gets published in this column is sure to be read by a lot of people. Think of the impact that you can create by publishing letters regularly in this column. What’s more, most editors will publish letters on any subject without editing or altering them even if the letter is critical of the publication and its stand. Many publications publish submissions only if they agree with the policy of the periodical, but this does not usually apply to the Letters column. This gives a lot of liberty to the writer of the letter. This means that even if the subjects of your interest are such that they do not find a regular place in any publication, you can still place them in front of thousands of readers through the Letters column. For example, suppose you read horrifying reports of ragging in professional colleges and feel disgusted at how tens of thousands of innocent young people are subjected to humiliation and torture every year, you can start a national campaign through the Letters column of newspapers. You can stir thousands of people, bringing this primitive, brutal, and beastly practice to and end. As a beginner you should try to use the Letters column of the local newspaper and other available publications both for gaining writing experience as well as to get your name established among the readership. 2. Send The Carefully Prepared Manuscript Along With A Covering Letter: Except for the Letters to the Editor column, you should send all your manuscripts to the editor with a good covering letter. It is not sufficient to send the article alone because it does not bring you in proper contact and rapport with the editor. You must realize all editors are human beings and only a personal touch will gain proper attention from them. This is becoming more and more true in this generation where the number of writings that call for the attention of the editors is increasing at an explosive rate. The covering letter must be a brief and polite one that calls the attention of the editor to your writing. If this is your first ever submission to him, then introduce yourself briefly in this letter. Give some information about your background and also any publications that you already have. Also, if you have been reading his publication for some time, include some
helpful and honest comments and observations about that publication. A typical letter might look something like the following: Date: The Editor Daily Trumpet Street Of The Infamous, BookCity-120099 Dear Sir, It is my privilege to send an article titled ―Thirty Ways To Get Published‖ for consideration for publication in your periodical. This is my first ever submission to your publication. I have been fond of guiding my friends to write, and I have published a lot of guidelines on this subject in my college and school magazines. I have been reading the Daily Trumpet now for almost six months. Your editorials are very timely, to the point, and enlightening for the new as well as the old readers. Please continue to give us this good material. I am enclosing a Stamped Self Addressed Envelope, for returning the article in case you find it is not useful for you. Yours sincerely, I. M. Helper I have not shown the date and return address on the sample letter above, but you must include them too. Including the Stamped Self Addressed Envelope or SASE is necessary because most publications do not return the rejected manuscript unless you enclose SASE with each submission. NEVER send the same manuscript at the same time to more than one publisher. If more than one editor decides to accept it, you will be faced with several unpleasant possibilities. The first is to inform one publisher that you are withdrawing this writing from his publication even though he wants to publish it. He might accept your request for withdrawal, but never expect him to show interest in your writings in future. After all, who would want to waste time on something about which he is not sure whether he will get it or not. Modern-day Editors Have A Very Demanding Live, And Writers Who Make It Tough For Them Will Automatically Get Rejected !! The second possibility is even more damaging. If two or more publications accept the writing and publish it without first informing you (and this happens many a times), you will run into a messy copyright problem. What’s worse, you loose your credibility with all those publications. Never play with these things. You have to remain in the field of writing for a long period. If you were commissioned to write on a topic, then always include a copy of that letter with your manuscript and covering letter. Busy editors can always forget that they had commissioned someone to write, and it is not always easy for them to locate the copy of the letter that they wrote to you. Further, in a large publication your submission need not always go to the person who originally commissioned you to write it. A copy of the original letter will, however, place your writing in its proper perspective.
Free Christian Writer Training Course 3, 1B
June 9, 2010 by 7 Comments
Free Writer Training Course 3, Lesson 1B
Advance As You Gain Experience None in his right mind expects a new-born baby to run the Marathon the next day. Yet there are writers who desire to get their first piece of writing published in the Reader’s Digest. It is not only a stupid wish, but also a self defeating idea. Whatever the field, every person has to begin from the level that is appropriate for his abilities and from there he has to work his way up to the level that he dreams of. Artists, doctors, lawyers, sportsmen, actors, and even student have to go through this process. Writers are therefore no exception. They have to begin publishing in magazines and periodicals that are appropriate for their level, and have then got to advance to higher levels as their experience increases. Do not forget that success is not achieved in a day. It takes both time as well as experience. Aim at the level that is not too high for you and work your way up from there. The correct approach for most writers will be to start from the ground level and then work their way up to the top. This approach will ensure that you do not get unnecessary rejection slips. The less the rejection slips that you get, the higher will be your morale. Even though you will still get several rejection slips, the few manuscripts that are accepted will boost your spirits, motivating you to write more. What gets published at this stage will help you to evaluate your level of achievement. If more than 80% of the submissions are accepted at the first attempt itself, it is time for you now to aim higher. Focus higher, sharpen your skills, and submit to a publication with higher demands. Build up yourself with each success, and do not stop till you reach your ultimate goal. LOCAL PUBLICATIONS: the first place for anyone to start publishing is the local newspaper, school or college magazines, hand-written magazines, souvenirs, and magazines that are run by smaller organizations. The competition here is with people of your own level, not with professionals, and therefore your chances of getting published are relatively high. There are even some "co-operative" publications where you will have to pay a small fees to get your articles, stories, or poems published. It is not too bad an idea for a beginner to contribute one or two writings to such publications. LETTERS TO EDITORS: I mentioned before that the letters column of most newspapers and magazines is a very good place to get published. Since newspapers are published daily, you have thirty opportunities every month compared to a single opportunity per month in magazines. Do not underestimate the letters columns. Many famous writers and crusaders started their writing career from these columns. What’s more, if you are motivated to write on a controversial subject, this is the only place where you can ever hope to get published at least till you become famous. If you are able to write brief and sensible letters regularly on important issues, try to get them published as letters in any local newspaper. Your name will soon be embedded in everyone’s memory — and this includes the memory of the editors, publishers, and the readers. This in turn will help you to publish longer articles in the same publication. Since your name is already known to them, you will get quick attention from the editor who will
not easily reject your submission. The greatest benefit will be the attention you get from readers because they are already familiar with your name. It is seen that most readers give a lot of attention to writers whose name is already known to them. This is a part of human nature. Everyone prefers talking to the familiar person in a crowd rather than striking a conversation with a total stranger. The same is the case with published material. People unconsciously read the known writer first and the rest only after that. Just as a courteous "hello" turns eventually into lifelong friendship, this approach can make you a well known and well demanded writer in few years. Further, once these readers start writing to the editor about your articles, stories, or poems, (most of them will be appreciations), your position with that publication will become more firm. Even in the matter of writing letters to the editor, you should begin with your local newspaper rather than attempting with larger national dailies. The larger papers, obviously, receive a larger number of letters every day. Moreover, many who write to these publications are people with a mature insight into things of national importance. It is not wise to compete with them from the beginning itself. A beginner in the field should always start with smaller publications, preferably local newspapers and then work his way up to the Letters column of larger publications.
Free Christian Writer Training Course 3, 2
June 9, 2010 by 4 Comments
Free Writer Training Course 3, Lesson 2
Let Us Fix The Goals The previous lessons introduced you to some of the basics, and now we will put these and many other principles into practice. The intensive training begins now, and I am confident that you will not allow the demands placed upon you to discourage you. Remember, more than a million persons are becoming literate EVERY WEEK and this your greatest opportunity to make a significant contribution in their lives. If you don’t do it, the base people of th e society will do it — but you will be held accountable for the loss of their lives !! In this lesson I will be discussing the following subjects: I-Why study further 2-Your goals as a writer Let me explain each subject in some detail. Why Study Further ?? We covered so much ground in the previous lessons that many will wonder if a second module is needed. The answer is, YES ! Even though you studied several subjects in that module, it still was only an introduction — the groundwork. The real training comes only now. As an intellectual, you must know the difference between teaching and training. Teaching is mostly passing of information, but training is drilling the student in doing the task. Theoretical subjects are served adequately by classroom teaching, but practical subjects like medicine, engineering, law, and journalism/writing need practical training. This is the reason why many professions require a period of apprenticeship before a person is issued a license to practice independently.
The lessons in this second module take care of the training part. By the time you complete this module, you will already be on your way to success — provided you take this training seriously. Further, you must realize that journalism/writing is such a broad subject that even two modules are not sufficient to exhaust the teaching or training. This explains why many more modules are available for those who are interested in more advanced work. If you have not already done so, you must very soon find a person in your city who can read your writings and offer helpful comments. It can be a writer, teacher, or anyone who has a genuine interest in writing. (He/she should be free from personal ego problems. This kind of a person can make a great show of help, but at the same time frustrate you and subvert your goal of becoming a successful writer). In case you are unable to find such a help, you can get help from our apprenticeship program AFTER you finish your studies with us. LIFELONG STUDY NEEDED: since writing is an art, there is nothing here like ultimate perfection. None can say that he has reached the stage where no more improvement is possible. Also, none can ever claim that he has learnt everything that is there to be learnt in this field. Thus, not only should your studies continue beyond the first module, but it should continue even after you finish studying with us. I will give you plenty of guidelines in this matter. You should not be surprised, therefore, when I tell you that all the teachers who work behind this course continue to sharpen their tools even today even though all of them are accomplished writers — each with hundreds of published articles to his/her credit !! Cultivate the spirit of a student, and you will never regret it. The cost paid always reflects in terms of perfection and achievement.
Your Goals As A Writer !!
Often people view journalism and writing only in the light of name, fame and fortune (money). While all these things might be associated with success in this field, this is not the primary motivation of a Christian writer. He does not have to be averse to any of these things, but he should entertain these things only when they come as the by product of writing that is done for another goal. That goal is building up people. I–A Christian Writer Writes for Building Up People: A Christian writes for building up his readers. He does it as part of his spiritual ministry. The Lord has entrusted him the talent of writing for changing the lives of people, and this has to be the primary and ever-consuming passion of every Christian writer. He helps people by offering them valuable insights, guidance, techniques, and fellowship with others. BY OFFERING VALUABLE INSIGHTS: Life is full of struggles, both for the Christian as well as the non Christian. Interestingly, many of these struggles are repetitive in nature and therefore the insights gained by one generation can be a great help to the other — when the former group shares its discoveries with them. For example, bringing up children in the present-day society presents a challenge to most young couples. These obstacles are repetitive and have a lot in common for many couples. If a couple shares the ways in which they were able to face and solve some of these problems, it would be a great help to others who might not have foreseen that solution. The Christian writer has something in addition to what’s mentioned above. He is in a position to evaluate life in the light of the Word of God to offer spiritual insights of lasting value. Reading these things would save a lot of people the pain of reinventing the wheel.
Help them by offering valuable insights from your own life, from the life of other children of God, and also from the Word of God. BY OFFERING GUIDANCE: Animals do a lot of things instinctively, and for this they do not need guidance from parents or peers. Man, however, needs help from others all his life. He needs it both in earthly as well in spiritual matters. Students would like to know the best methods for studying. Housewives would like to discover the secrets of good house management. Young fathers might want to know how to do justice to their job, family, and spiritual life when time does not seem to be adequate for even a single one of these tasks. This is a good opportunity to you to share the insights you have collected from your own and also from other’s experiences. The spiritual outlook added to these insights makes a lot of difference for the reader. Plenty of guidance is available on every conceivable and even inconceivable subject, but since they have been developed from a worldly point of view, they do more damage than good to people who give heed to them. The advice of the Christian writer, however, build up people. This is the unique goal that you have. Help them by offering godly and insightful advises. BY OFFERING TECHNIQUES: Somewhat similar to offering guidance is the subject of offering techniques. When several people try to do the same job, some of them will succeed more than others. They discover techniques that are more efficient than that of others. If they share this secret with others, it would save not only a lot of wear and tear, but will also result in great increase in their productivity. Consider the art of writing, for an example. Many Christian writers would like to enter the non Christian market with the express purpose of introducing the Christian viewpoint and the Gospel to the non Christian audience. Even the most uninitiated person in this field will immediately accept that this is a tough goal. Yet many Christian writers have discovered methods to infiltrate the non Christian magazines periodically with a Christian message. If people who have discovered the methods of getting the Christian message into the non Christian publications keep the information to themselves, others interested in doing the same job would have to waste a lot of time and energy to rediscover the same information. However, if the successful writers share their insights, experiences, and best techniques with others, a lot of time and efforts will be saved and that can be used for taking the gospel into many more non Christian publications. This is the reason why we offer several full-length lessons on this subject (The Christian Writer In The Secular Market) in the more advanced modules. In fact, most of this course you are studying is filled with techniques discovered by other writers who want to share it with you so that you can go one step ahead of them in the field of writing. As a Christian writer, you are obliged to do the same for people who are going to read you. BY OFFERING FELLOWSHIP WITH OTHERS: Even though the life of each person is unique and different from that of others, people still have a lot of things in common with each other. This is specially so in matters related to problems and pains. Interestingly, in spite of the common nature of human problems and pains, most people undergoing a trial feel that they are alone in this and that their problem is somehow unique. This misconception only increases their pain and sense of isolation. Introducing others who have faced similar problems, and also the ways in which they faced and overcame them, is a great encouragement to most people. This is why testimonies act as a powerful tool to revive people in pain.
The Christian writer must use his pen to put together people facing similar pains and problems so that they draw strength from such fellowship. This is not to imply that the humans are the source of this comfort. The Lord is the ultimate source, but many people are able to draw it from God only when they see the experience of someone who has already obtained this help. There is great strength in fellowship, not only for good but also for evil. This is the reason why pornographic magazines and TV programmes succeed in perverting whole generations. People who read these publications and who watch these programmes are put in fellowship with people of perverted minds. They offer mutual fellowships for people of similar thinking, and it takes very little time for more perversion to develop. This is another reason why the Christian writer must write with a sense of urgency, putting godly people together in fellowship through testimonials, biographies, and inspirational writings. Help people by sharing through your pen what God is doing for common people.
Writer Training Course 3, Lesson 3
June 9, 2010 by 1 Comment
Writer Training Course 3, Lesson 3
You Build Them Up by Showing The Difference Between Good and Evil The world is full of good and evil. This includes not only people but also their thoughts, deeds, motives, and movements. These are never neutral. Either they conform to God or they oppose Him. There is no middle ground and there is no neutral thought or deed. However, most people are not able to differentiate good and evil from each other. Someone has to show them what is what. The writer builds up his readers by making the distinction clear between the good and the evil, and also by motivating them to pay the cost for choosing that which is good. The human life is never free of thoughts or actions. Even the physically paralysed person is not free mental activity. Human life is permeated with mental and physical action. The sinful nature that man has inherited from Adam sees to it that the thoughts and deeds that come naturally to man are evil. So much so that many times what people consider as most noble might be terribly evil and sinful when examined from a divine viewpoint. This is why a writer is called upon to build up people by showing what is good and what is evil. He does it by doing three things: by developing discernment, by developing commitment, and also by putting godly people in touch with each other. BY DEVELOPING DISCERNMENT: The ability to discern between good and bad does not come easily, specially because of man’s inclination to sin and also because of his spiritual blindness. Further, using clever methods, in every generation Satan projects himself as an angle of light, adding to the difficulty of distinguishing what is what. Added to this is the increasing range of workable human activities. Things are becoming possible in every generation that were unheard of in the earlier generations. For example, abortion — sanctioned by governments and performed in government run hospitals — was not heard of a few generations ago, but it is taking place today all over the world. The fact of easy availability of abortion today blinds many people to the unethical and criminal nature of this practice. This is blindness more pronounced in people born into our
generation — they have no background or insights in these subjects. They have been seeing this, and other such practices, as a normal day to day activity, and thus they have no idea about the ethics involved. It is here that the writer steps in. The writer not only denounces the evils of his generation, but also helps people to develop discernment about what is acceptable and what is not. He instills a set of values and norms in his readers using which they will be able to face not only things that they know, but also thoughts, movements, and activities that come up for the first time in their generation. BY DEVELOPING COMMITMENT: Knowing the difference between good and evil does not automatically guarantee that people with opt for good. Choosing good and rejecting evil is painful, and many times people prefer the path of least resistance. Even if they do not aggressively choose the evil, many of them try to remain neutral by not advocating the good. In spiritual matters there is no neutrality. If one is not for God, he is automatically against Him. Thus it is essential to develop a commitment in people. The writer should write in such a way that it creates a passion in the hearts of people to abandon evil and at the same time choose what is good. Further, you should be able to develop a passion in their hearts so that they advocate and advance the choice of good among the children of God — and even among those who are yet outside the fold! BY PUTTING IN TOUCH WITH EACH OTHER: Even though you might be using gas stove or electric heaters for cooking in your house, you must surely be acquainted with firewood and coal. When a fire is lit using them, the firewood or the coal should placed in close contact with each other. Separate them, and the fire goes out fast. The same is the case with human life. We all need each other. People need fellowship with others to sustain the kindling and glowing of their spiritual life. Put a couple of zealous believers, and their passion will flare up. Separate them from each other, and very soon most of them will fade away from their commitment. Just as evil people need company to sustain them in their sinful deeds, the good and the spiritual also need others to sustain their faith and commitment. You Build Them Up by Not Praising Evil Spoken words vanish fast, but the written word endures for long. This is not to imply that one can be careless in speech, but to remind that one has to be extra cautious when one writes. The written word goes to hundreds of readers, perhaps even to thousands or tens of thousands. Statements coming from writers, specially from writers of repute, are often accepted with great reverence. Consequently, what you say in print has long lasting effect. It can build up people, but at the same time it has the power to send people to eternal hellfire. Write with care. You build up people by never praising evil, and by never questioning the good. BY NEVER PRAISING EVIL: Evil is evil, yet the fallen man has a fascination at least for some forms of evil. This is why one hears statement like, "It is impossible to live if one abides by all what the Scriptures demand". People who drop this kind of statements here and there are always looking for an excuse for indulging in evil — and the condoning tone of a Christian writer might be all what they need to strengthen their evil inclinations. Further, many who have no idea of evil get into it when someone in a position of authority praises it. Even if he does not desire it, the writer is always in a position elevated over others and therefore if he praises any evil, directly or indirectly, it immediately opens up the way for the innocent to indulge in it. Therefore, DO NOT ever praise, appreciate, or speak good of people, movements, activities, or thoughts that are evil in any way. Your pen as
well as your writings are sacred, and do not use them to sanction or elevate evil to the level of the sacred things of life. BY NEVER QUESTIONING WHAT IS GOOD: All good might not look good on the surface. One requires a lot of spiritual discernment and maturity to recognize things that are inherently good. This means that many times things that are right, glorifying to God, and of inherent value might not look or be recognized as good. This perplexes many, and what they need is assurance not further doubt. Consider the example of young Joseph — one of the most innocent persons mentioned in Bible. On the human plane everything that happened to him from the day he set out to meet his brothers was bad. Grief came not only to him, but also to his father. What’s worse, when he ran away from lustful activities, he was jailed on charges of attempted rape — even without a trial. However, the divine blueprint that controlled all of this was directing everything into a good and blessed direction. We understand this today because the story has already come to a culmination — now we can look back and discern what is what. However, this was not the way Joseph could perceive it. He did not know how the story is going to end up. The most that he could know is that God is in control, and therefore he does not have to worry about his destiny. There are many like Joseph today. What they see happening in their righteous lives are not meaningful in themselves. They keep making choices for God, but the results do not look very encouraging. This can perplex even the greatest spiritual giant. It is a moment of spiritual weakness, and if anyone questions these things at this time in front of that person it might be sufficient to break him down completely. Many are there who have become backsliders because of the stupid and foolish words of others. Whenever a believer questions in front of others things that are good, he opens up the way for the spiritual destruction of at least some people — his listeners. Since the impact of a writer continues for generations, and since it reaches numerous people, he should NEVER questions anything that is good. He might not understand many things, but he should keep these questions to his heart and ask them to God instead of destroying the faith of others. A writer builds up others by never praising evil and by never questioning good things. He never elevates the profane to the level of the sacred, nor discusses the sacred in such languages and tones that reduces them to the level of the profane. You Build Up by Motivating Man’s natural tendency is to avoid work and take the easiest path, the path of least resistance. Of course you might say that there have been many exceptions to this. True, there are always some who are highly motivated to take up the toughest path, but they are always in the minority. Whether it is the physical realm or the spiritual, the natural tendency is to take the path of least resistance. The right walk, however, requires a lot of work, and such efforts cannot be sustained without proper motivation. A Christian writer builds up people by motivating them to be committed to the truth, to do things helpful to all, to develop hobbies, habits, and attitudes that are helpful to others. BY MOTIVATING THEM TO BE COMMITTED TO TRUTH: Truth is not always pleasant, nor is adherence to truth always easy. The world despises people who try to be honest, and many times rewards them with insults, injuries, and even punishment. Students face this problem frequently in our country. Cheating in school and college exams has become widespread. Further, the marks given to them for laboratory exams is often arbitrary and based upon their contacts (or the influence of their family) upon the examiners. In such a situation adherence to truth, honesty, and integrity is often painful for the student.
Not only for students, but almost for anyone in any profession, adherence to truth often results in punishment. Yet to truth and to truth alone should a Christian adhere. This needs quite a lot of motivation, and that also on a continuous basis. This is where the Christian writer rises to the task. He builds up people by motivating them to be committed to the truth, come what may. The way in which a Christian writer motivates people to adhere to truth or anything else mentioned in this serious differs from writer to writer, but two things dominate the content. The Word of God, and the example of other Christians who walked this path before. The Word of God supplies the foundation for a balanced outlook. The examples in it illustrate these truths. The examples of other Christians supplies the last factor needed to further illustrate these truths. Using all the available means, the Christian writer builds up people by motivating them to be committed to truth. BY MOTIVATING THEM TO DO THINGS HELPFUL TO ALL : A Christian lives and grows in his spiritual life not only for his own sake but also for the sake of helping others. Many Christians know this, but have no idea of how they could be of help to others. At the same time, there are many Christians who, surprisingly, do not have the faintest idea that they need to help others. The Christian writer must enlighten both kinds of people. People who want to help others can do so in numerous ways. Plenty of principles and guidelines are given in the Scriptures. The writer must expound these principles using the idioms of the present generation, and illustrate them using the problems which people face today. It is not sufficient to narrate the story of the good Samaritan these days, but it is also necessary to place the principle and its illustration in the context of every generation. It is surprising that many Christians are blissfully ignorant of their obligation to help others. They seem to have never noticed passages that speak about ministering to others, to work for the edification of others, and also the passages remind that everyone is in need of receive help from others. Probably none has ever explained these things to them. It is therefore your duty as a Christian writer to explain these things to them. Not only should you explain the need to help others, but you should also show the ways in which they can approach this task. BY MOTIVATING THEM TO DEVELOP HOBBIES, HABITS, ATTITUDES HELPFUL TO THEM:Every person has certain hobbies, habits, and attitudes whether he is conscious of these or not. Some of these are good while others are harmful. What is common between hobbies, habits and attitudes is that the person possessing or practising these does so unconsciously and without having to force himself to act in that manner. Consider the hobby of stamp collection. While it might be a bore or a difficult chore for the average person, it is a matter of great joy and excitement for the hobbyist. He does not have to force himself to do it. The interest, enthusiasm, and actions follow automatically from him. The same is the case with every other hobby that people have. It acts as a strong force, overcoming all the barriers of time and tiredness. A person’s hobby soon becomes a self-generated force. This force, however, can be used in ways that aid the spiritual life and growth of individual believers. This is where a writer can help them. The writer builds up people first by motivating them to develop hobbies that aid their spiritual life. For example, if a believer can be induced to collect different versions of the Bible for comparative study of each portion that he reads, he might become very good at clarifying passages that are obscure in most translations. Another might become an avid church history fan, a hobby that will help his spiritual insight. Another might be encouraged
to become a dedicated listener to taped Bible studies. There are numerous hobbies that might aid the spiritual life. Any hobby that contributes to spiritual growth is better than those that do no such thing, and Christians should be encouraged to pick them up. In the same way, any habit that contributes positively to Christian life is worth picking up in comparison to others that do not. Take the example of some people who are in the habit of enclosing a gospel tract (or a tract meant for Christians) with all their correspondence. Only eternity will reveal the tremendous fruits of this habit. Similarly, certain attitudes contribute greatly to spiritual stability and growth. For example, the attitude of LIVE AND LET LIVE is very helpful to every growing Christian. The attitude of firmness in essentials and that of toleration in non essentials is another good example. A Christian writer can contribute greatly to the fostering of these attitudes. A Christian writer therefore helps to build up people by encouraging them to develop hobbies, habits, and attitudes that are helpful to their growth. You Help Them by Instilling Honesty, Objectivity, and Integrity Honesty, objectivity and integrity seem very good and interesting in theory, but embracing or developing them in our personal lives is not easy in any way. Honesty requires not only that one refrain from speaking lies, but also that one view and evaluate EVERYTHING honestly. This requires one to say "I was wrong", or that "It is the mistake of MY son" when one’s human nature prompts one to blame it on someone else. It requires that once accept one’s weaknesses, foolishness, neglects and blunders to oneself, t o God, and also to people when needed. Objectivity requires that one look and evaluate things not on the basis of emotions, but on the basis of firm norms and standards. Emotion should not be allowed to cloud or colour judgement. Integrity requires that one’s faith, speech, and conduct should match with each other. All aspects of one’s life should fit well with each other and there should be no contradiction. A life of honesty, objectivity, and integrity is not easy, but such a life is essential for a fruitful Christian life. The Christian writer should write in such a way, and promote such reading material, that these things are encouraged. THE ULTIMATE AIM OF EVERY WRITER SHOULD BE THE SALVATION OF THE LOST AND THE GROWTH TO MATURITY OF THE SAVED. THIS YOU MUST DO !!
Writer Training Course 3, Lesson 4
June 9, 2010 by 2 Comments
Free Christian Writer Training Course 3, Lesson 4
Specialities Of A Good Piece Of Christian Writing It is very clear to even the casual observer that the writings of a Christian are definitely different from that of a non Christian. This difference is seen even when the Christian writes on a non-religious or non-moral subject. This is because the Christian world-view permeates his thinking, evaluation, and opinions. So much so that this can be perceived in his oral or written expressions. Yet, what is Christian does not automatically become good or pleasant reading. Goodness is a quality that has to be created in addition to the substance of the writing. A good material
does not automatically guarantee pleasant reading, nor does pleasing writing guarantee material of any substance. They are different from each other, but in a truly good writing they should go hand in hand. Yet, to a casual reader or writer this distinction might not be as clear as it ought to be!! In this section we will discuss what is a good writing, but will not refer specifically to Christian writings. That is because these comments and observations apply equally to both Christian as well as non Christian writings. Everyone who is interested in reading instinctively recognizes good writing. Book lovers unconsciously choose what most others also chose, and the thread that unites them is the goodness or quality of the writing. While it is easy to recognize a good writing, it is not all that easy to define what makes a writing good. Language is a natural phenomenon, not bound by mathematical boundaries, and therefore there are many things about language that cannot be brought in the confines of a rigid or restricted definition. However, it is possible to list some qualities of good writings, and that I will do now: I-IT CAPTURES THEIR ATTENTION: Almost all good writings capture the attention of those readers for whom they are intended. Good stories attract both children as well as adults. Witness the popularity of the Phantom (Indrajal Comics) or Tintin, Asterix, Mandrake. Observe the popularity of Bahadur, Boban-Molly (Malayalam language), or comics produced by the Amar Chitra Katha. In book-loving families they create a stir with everyone from the grandpa to the grand child to see who gets to read it first. In the same way, good textbooks attract everyone, while good books on philosophy, photography, cooking, hobby development, or any conceivable or inconceivable subject attract people for whom it has been written, and elicits great enthusiasm from the intended audience. This is the reason why Reader’s Digest continues to be the most widely sold magazine in the world. A Digest is something that searches out and publishes good material from all over. 2-IT FASCINATES THEM: In a careless moment people might yield to thinking that only comics excite people, but they are wrong. Look seriously around and you will find that good books on ALL subjects excite and fascinate people. While the son might be absorbed in his comic (that the dad is waiting to read next), his dad is equally excited about the 2000-page volume on theology or philosophy which has come recently from the pen of a master writer. Look around on the train when you travel next. It gives you an opportunity for studying the reading preferences and habits of a large number of persons simultaneously and in the same setting. You will notice the that philosopher is as much excited about the journal in his had as the housewife is about her film-magazine and the sports buff about his sports magazine. Good writing not only captures people’s attention, but it also fascinates them so that they are not willing to trade it with anything else. They lay down the book or magazine only when tiredness, hunger or nature’s call interrupts them. Further, you will notice that they automatically resume reading as soon as they attend to the call that distracted them in the first place. Good writing must not only capture people’s attention, but it must also fascinate them into continue reading till the reach the last line. It is difficult to create, but not impossible as attested by the mountain of good writings available today. 3-IT TOUCHES THEIR PAINS AND NEEDS: People read for different reasons. This includes education, information, and entertainment, but is not limited to these.
A lot of them expect additional help in their needs and problems. This is the reason why magazines on health and fitness, psychology, astrology, self-improvement, and do-ityourself topics are bought in large quantities. People are hurting everywhere, and a good writer discovers these things and addresses their pains, problems, aspirations, and desires in his writings. Even the richest man and the funniest comedian have some pain and problem hidden in their hearts. Neither money nor the sense of humour relieve them of their problems or aches. However, good writings can definitely help them. A young person might have many aspirations and desires but might not have the faintest idea about how to go about fulfilling these. Others might have similar desires but might need guidance. Good writing captures their attention and offers them the appropriate solution. Good writing tells them how to overcome their pain, how to fight with their problems, and how to reach where they want to go. It offers consolation to the mother who has lost her only son, to the wife who has been widowed and left with half a dozen children who do not yet know the difference between their left and right hands. At the same time it guides the depressed father back into a normal life, guides the young girl into the values of preserving her chastity, and motivates the young man to work harder to attain his noble and ambitious goals. If your writings are good, people would be able to look back to them and say that these touched their pains and problems at the crucial point, and helped them with their aspirations and noblest desires of life. 4-IT MOTIVATES THEM INTO ACTION: Good writings motivates people into attitudes and deeds that are appropriate, expected of them, and that are good for the society. It does so by changing their habits, viewpoints, and even aspirations. If the society is to be a good place to live in, people have to respect law and order. They have to be courteous and ready to defend the values upon which their society is built upon. They should treat heroes as great and criminals as the scum of the society. Crime, violence, and lust should be seen in correct perspective, and they should never be glorified or even condoned. Good writings do all these by motivating people in the appropriate direction. The actions that make a society good do not come automatically. Many people with proper conviction have to build it up. In the same way, what makes society rotten or degraded does not happen automatically. People have to do things to make it like that. People do these things, good or bad, only when they are motivated to do so. Good writings mould the habits, viewpoints, and aspirations of people in the right direction. It builds up the society by building up and motivating people. One should not forget that man’s sin nature makes it easy for evil to spread in comparison with good. Evil people find it easy to unite against the good people so as to threaten their righteous ways. However, the good people find it almost difficult to unite together to oppose evil. This means that the writer should pay all the more attention to motivate people to get involved in things that are beneficial for the society. 5-IT CREATES COMMITMENT: Nothing can be achieved in life without some sort of commitment. This is an important principle when one tries to make the society a better place. No good comes out of people or society without commitment. The better things of life require both short term as well as long term commitment. For example, a man working in an office which has no pension scheme has to plan ahead and
make something like a forty year commitment for savings if he has to provide for his family at retirement. Very few people are that foresighted. At the same time, a person will be able to make that kind of a long term commitment only if he makes several short term commitments like forgoing some of the pleasures that are enjoyed by his short-sighted colleagues and friends. He will have to forgo some of the luxuries in which people indulge. He might even have to work a little extra before his marriage. Only this will ensure that he has something to fall back upon after he has a family, or if he faces a financial emergency, for which the long term commitment ought not be disturbed. Life promises to offer a lot of things. All of them look fascinating. However only those things are worth working for that have a lasting value. For most people these better things do not come easy, cheap, or by a stroke of luck. One has to work for them. Good writings explain these things to the reader, and in turn they create in the readers an intelligent commitment — towards long term as well as short term goals. There are many who can look back into their past and testify that good writings helped them to become what they are now. Good doctors, lawyers, engineers, athletes, and professionals can testify to it. But what is more, good pastors, counsellors, writers, teachers, parents, housewives, and even good sons and daughters, who make this earth a better place to live in, can also often point to books and articles that helped them to become what they are now. 6-IT CONDEMNS EVIL, PRAISES RIGHTEOUSNESS: What is condemned by good writers imprints itself in the minds of people. At the same time, what good writers praise in their writings motivate people to aspire for it. Therefore good writings condemn evil, create an abhorrence against sin, praise righteousness, and create a desire towards righteousness. Writings, specially that of popular writers or authority figures, have a great appeal for people. Readers consider their statements as authoritative truths. This means that the quality of the writing ultimately affects the quality of the way people think and act. Good writings, therefore, project the good things of life. A good writer would like to keep people away from sins and sinning. His writings would therefore reflect this desire. Good writings do not stop with condemning evil — which it should do — but go further by creating in the hearts of people an abhorrence against sin. Only this is the long term solution to guide people towards righteous behaviour. Good writers know that what they praise, people will accept as appropriate. Thus all good writings praise righteousness. But if people have to love righteousness of their own, a desire for it has to be created. Consequently, good writings skilfully create a appetite in their hearts for a life that is marked with straight forwardness and holiness. Both sin as well as righteousness can become habits. It depends upon one’s tastes and preferences. The degenerate ones would like the world to love sin, but the good writer counters the tendency through what he says. Good writings therefore not only condemn sin and exalt righteousness, but also develop attitudes that will sustain this viewpoint. Therefore good writings never even indirectly exalt sin, nor question things inherently or spiritually good. Their writers know that previous souls might be destroyed if they stoop down to doing this either actively or even through negligence. Their writings therefore reflect what they want people to do. They generate a revulsion against sin and a passion for righteousness. In summary, all good writing praises good things and motivates people to prefer that which is good. This analysis applies not only to writings by Christians, but also to writings produced by non Christians.
Good writing is that writing which captures people’s attention, fascinates them, touches upon their pains as well as their aspirations. It motivates them into certain actions by changing their attitudes, viewpoints, and goals. It creates short term as well as long term commitment to the better things of life. What is more, it condemns sin, creates an abhorrence gains unrighteousness, praises righteousness, and creates a desire towards a life that is marked by honesty, and transparency.
Writer Training Course 3, Lesson 5
June 9, 2010 by 13 Comments
Free Christian Writer Training Course 3, Lesson 5
The Language Of A Good Pieces Of Writing There is no way in which language used and the message communicated can be separated from each other. The language should always suite the message, and the message should always be expressed language that is appropriate. This brings us to the language that a writer should strive to use. The discussion upon language brings me first to a misunderstanding that many people have and that must be cleared before anything meaningful can be said. Most beginning writers and the weak of intellect seem to think that only an artificial, pompous, laboured, and jargon-loaded language shows their capability. This is a fallacy. Even the stupidest writer having access to a good Thesaurus can produces volumes in that kind of a language, but it takes a genius to produce material in language that is simple, inviting, fascinating, yet crisp and accurate. Simplicity of language is not the product of a deficient mind. On the contrary, one’s power to express in a simple and lucid language increases in proportion to the mastery that one has on the subject under discussion and also the language used for it. On the other hand, the complexity, ambiguity, and showiness of one’s language is directly proportional to one’s superficial grasp of the subject being discussed, and also the crudeness with which one still handles the tool of expression that language is. Look around and you will find both articles as well as decent sized books that expound subjects as simple as hobby development and as complex as Quantum Chromo-Dynamics in equally popular manner. You will find exciting books on mathematically and logically oriented subject like philosophy, classical music, and computer programming. What distinguishes the writers of these exciting and pleasurable reading is their mastery of the subject discussed as well as the ease with which they are able to express themselves upon the subject. Even the most unschooled person among the target audience can say "Hey, even a person like ME can understand what this author is saying!". That is a great writing !! The language of an accomplished scholar, authority, and writer is not marked with difficult or obscure words, but with language that is simple, lucid, fascinating, yet crisp and accurate. It becomes technical only if the intended audience needs it, and even there it does not get difficult for the sake of technicality. Let me tell you a few things about such language: I-IT IS SIMPLE BUT NOT CHILDISH: When an expert writes or speaks, he is able to put the subject in such terms that even the non expert is able to appreciate the presentation. If
such an expert happens to be a good writer also, his writing becomes very special. He is able to write in language that is simple yet not childish. It Is A Serious Error To Equate That Which Is Simple With Childish Writing !! The language of a properly conceived and executed writing is so simple for the target audience that is sheet excitement to read it. At the same time it does not bore the reader by giving the appearance of childishness. The simplicity that we are talking about in this lesson is not the product of a mind feeble and incapable of handling mature language, but the work of a trained person who is able to excite with his communication people who do not have his level of grasp of the subject discussed. Such simplicity does not come by keeping one’s linguistic capabilities at the level that one had achieved in kindergarten. Nor does it come by imitating childish speech or writing. Rather, it comes by careful planing and deliberate working and reworking of the manuscript. The language of a good writing and its great writer is simple enough to excite, yet not childish to be boring. It is the result of mental growth, not of mental handicap. It does not proceed from the pen of an unschooled person, but from the mind of a thoroughly disciplined wordsmith. 2-IT IS DYNAMIC AND CAPTIVATING: Simplicity is not the name of an endless stream of babyish words, phrases, or sentences. Rather, it is presentation in words and in style that are no more complex than what the target audience can appreciate. At the same time this language is not monotonous in any way. Just as variety is the secret of serving food, selection of language and style is the secret of presenting the material in simple language. The language of a good writing is simple, yet is shows great variety. Instead of being monotonous and boring, it tends to be dynamic and captivating. It might be a little difficult for you to visualize what I mean by language that is simple yet which is dynamic and captivating. The best thing to do is to read first hand the writing of writers who show this quality. Books And Articles That Captivates Will Always Get Read, In Spite Of The Oppressive Presence Of The Electronic Media !! C. S. Lewis is a good example of dynamic and captivating English. His writings are contemporary and recent enough to be still available without much difficulty. In fact MacMillan still publishes and distributes his Narnia Chronicles, a collection of novels for children (relished even by adults). His Problem Of Pain and Screwtape Letters are also still easily available. Study the way in which he has used language. It is simple, yet dynamic and captivating. If you can get hold of Rudyard Kipling’s poem titled `IF’ you will have the same experience. If it is too difficult for you to get any of these, then study a few issues of Reader’s Digest. Go to the Drama In Real Life section. Notice the simple vocabulary they use. Yet the words unfold such drama, such excitement, and such a sense of urgency that a sensitive reader feels he is present at the scene itself. The effect is not produced by using words larger than life but by a carefully written story that is simple enough to excite my ten year old son, yet is so dynamic and captivating that I compete with my son to get my hands upon the magazine. No writer can ever write like another, and nor is it necessary. However, everyone can develop a language and style that is both captivating as well as dynamic — like the
language used by successful writers. Reading and observing the language of others, writing, and rewriting is the answer. 3-IT IS ACCURATE BUT NOT TOO TECHNICAL: Many writers feel that if they simplify the presentation, accuracy will have to be sacrificed. This need not be so. Capable writers have found it possible to explain even the most technical and involved subjects in vocabulary and language that seems quite simple for the task. I wonder if you have ever seen the popular science books published in the former USSR and sold world over for propaganda. These books powerfully illustrate my point. You will find in this collection, books on physics, philosophy, as well as genetics which have been explained in such a manner that a tenth standard student would exclaim with surprise that he is able to enjoy the subject. In fact, there is no subject which they ever left untouched in their popular science serieses. What is interesting is that they found a way of writing on even a technical subject like English Grammar in such a way that everyone in our University faculty was excited about this book. Yet the book was so simple that my son who studied in the third standard at that time used to sit with it for hours together. Writing in a simple manner does not mean that the writer has to compromise with accuracy. Using technical language is not the only way to express the subject unambiguously. Some of the most widely read science, technology, philosophy, and humanities journals are distinguished by the simple language in which they express themselves accurately. Different level of readers require different levels of accuracy and precision in the material they read. The housewife needs only to be told to use a "pinch" of salt, while the chemist needs to know it sometimes in micrograms. The writing should therefore be no more technical than the need of the intended audience. Good writing is accurate, but not too technical for the target audience. The reader should be able to exclaim that he/she is able to get a good grasp of the subject and yet the technical person should not be able to say that it communicates error. Plenty of such writings are available around, and studying them will shape the WriterCraft of anyone who is interested to make an impact in his field. 4-IT USES THE MOST ACCESSIBLE VOCABULARY AND EXPRESSION: When both simplicity as well as accuracy are stressed, most beginning writers become exasperated. They feel that the demands are in direct conflict with each other. While it might be true on a rare occasion, it is definitely true for the everyday writings of most writers. It is possible for a skilled writer to communicate accurately using a vocabulary that does not force the reader to run to the dictionary on every other sentence. This is not to imply that good writings be restricted strictly to the vocabulary used in TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE STAR or HUMPTY DUMPTY SAT ON A WALL. But it does require that it be restricted to a vocabulary that is expected of the audience for which the writings are intended. Many successful writers are known to restrict themselves to using only the most common words. Lists of such words are available in many books as well as from many language institutes. Some dictionaries also follow this practice — they give all their explanations using the most frequently used words. Of course this might again raise the question of accuracy in your mind. Accuracy along with simplicity is achieved by using proper synonyms. Many people have this illusion that synonyms are meant only for scholars of English Literature and that these will only make the writings more difficult to understand. This is a mistaken view. Looking into any decent Thesaurus (a dictionary of synonyms) will show that almost every world has several very simple, pictorial, and yet sufficiently satisfactory and
accurate synonyms. Using a good Thesaurus will ensure that the writer has plenty of words at his disposal that help him to express himself accurately yet in a language that is accessible to the reader. What’s more, it will help him to avoid unnecessary repetition of the same word over and over again. Good writers consider the vocabulary capacity of their intended audiences. Then they restrict themselves to a vocabulary that is most accessible to them, yet which does not compromise with accuracy. 5-IT AVOIDS SLANG, CHEAP AND PROFANE EXPRESSION: What is slang is easily understood by the generation that coined it. However, an accessible vocabulary does not imply that one should go down to this level. Expressions that are slang to the level of vulgar, expressions that are cheap and profane manifest the way in which depraved minds think. This kind of a thinking is not appropriate for any mature and God-fearing person, let alone for a writer or reader who enjoys a personal relationship with God. Expressions that are slang, cheap, and profane do harm in several ways. First they devaluate the esteem in which the readers hold the writer. Second, they cheapen and reduce the sanctity of the subject discussed. And finally, they reduced abhorrence to sin and vulgarity. Researches have repeatedly revealed that when people are exposed to the profane for some time, their shock and revulsion to these expressions and subjects decrease. They become less sensitive to the evil tone and even feel free to use it themselves. This is the reason why you notice people belonging to certain groups using slang and vulgar expressions freely and frequently without any shame or guilt. They have been made insensitive to sin and evil by repeated exposure. A good writer understands this and keeps his writings free of such a vocabulary. This might raise the question of how to portray sin and abomination in one’s writings, specially when one is trying to produce fiction that depicts the fallen lifestyle of sin-loving people. Interestingly, one does not have to stoop down to the level of people being depicted to give a good picture of those people to the readers. There are hundreds of literary ways in which one can create a word picture of sinful people and their unrighteousness without needing to use their profane language. Just as a medical professor does not have to become ill to show his readers what illness means, the resourceful writer does not have to stoop down to profanity or vulgarity to depict evil. Nor does he have to resort to a cheap vocabulary to communicate in a simple manner with people. The writings of an accomplished writer use language that is most accessible to people, yet he never stoops down to using slang and profane expression. 6-IT USES THE RIGHT PROPORTION OF IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS: Just as flowers give a special beauty to gardens, idiomatic expressions, figurative language, the right use of metaphor, anecdotes and catchy expressions impart a special beauty to language. Idiom, to be effective, should be natural, appropriate for the occasion, and never served in excess. Just as excess of monotonous prose makes reading a bore, excess of idioms makes the writing revolting to read. For the idiom to flow naturally out of your pen, you should make it a habit to read writers who are at ease with using this kind of language. Not everyone is an expert at it, nor will reading a dictionary of idioms will make you one. This is not to discourage you from buying such a dictionary. Not at all ! If at all possible, every writer should buy at least one dictionary that deals only with idioms. This is to sharpen your grasp upon idiomatic
expressions, but this in itself is only the first step. The second one is to read, and the third one is to integrate idiomatic expressions into your speech and writing. Using non literal language without ambiguity of meaning, and using it effectively, is an art seen in the works of accomplished writers. Language devoid of it is as attractive as a fully shaven lion, and language loaded with it is as repulsive as a swarm of flies. The right proportion of idiomatic expressions makes language lively and captivating, exactly as a properly trimmed bed of flowers makes it a delight to the eyes. SUMMARY A good subject does not automatically make an article or story good. Nor does an attractive language automatically make it something of substance. A good language should properly integrate the right subject with attractive presentation. It should motivate the readers towards the right goals in life, while at the same time it warns them against indulgence in things that are improper. Only commitment to the correct cause and dedication to communicate the message captivatingly will make your writings good. Nothing less than that ought to be acceptable to a Christian writer.