. . . . to yours

A few years ago, I started writing and appreciated the help and encouragement that I received. So, I want to help others who are starting to write, struggling to write, or scared to write. I've been there! And writing isn't always easy. So this blog is my way of trying to help and encourage others to "move forward and conquer the blank page!"

Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday's Musings

Writing 101

So what rules do you need to know about writing? First and foremost, go back to school. Remember grammar classes? Yep. You need to use proper grammar. Articles or novels with grammatical errors will cause you to lose a chance for publication quicker than anything. Be meticulous about spelling, punctuation, and verb tenses. If you master these, you'll have an easier time getting your work published. Years ago, publishers had more money to pay editors who spent a lot of time working with new authors, helping them with grammar. Not any more. They expect you to do your homework first and present them with well crafted material.

Now, will everything your high school teacher told you help you see your work published? Not exactly. Remember your research papers where long, intricate sentences and large words showed your brain power? Well, they don't work as well in articles or in novels. (Unless you do technical writing. But that's not the primary focus of this blog.)

So, you need to decide what you want to write and learn from some of the best. Is there a particular columnist you enjoy? Study their style and syntax. What about your favorite author? Study the books you read by them.

One thing I have learned about writing articles is that you can have a more conversational style. Notice I talk to you directly in this blog? Yep. That's conversational. Notice I don't always use complete sentences? Writing in complete sentences is an English rule your high school teacher drilled into your head. But it's modified in writing for the web or in articles.

What about novel writing? Again, you can vary your sentence length and you don't always have to write in complete sentences. But you need to learn what works in your chosen field of written communication.

So, where do you start doing your homework?
The Chicago Manual of Style is a great resource. The Elements of Style by Strunk and White is another resource you need to procure. Get these volumes and keep them handy when you write.

Study great writers and then strike out to conquer the blank page, covering it with your voice and your message.

Until next time, blessings!