If I bake a cake, and give eight people slices, and all eight people say, “You should’ve used something called ‘sugar’ in the cake mix.” Then I would be an idiot to yell out, “No, this is how I made it. This is what came out. This was how it was supposed to be, and don’t mess with my creative process!” I should take their advice and bake a better cake next time.” (WOWezine)
As scribes, we write to record our thoughts, leave a legacy, help us get through an illness, crisis, or journey. We hope to convey information or feelings. There is an urgency to what writers do. There is a purpose – a goal.
What do I need to reach the delicious writing goal?
You need a host of fresh characters, imaginative plotting, soupçon of back-story, descriptive settings, minimal but creative description, tension leading up to conflict, theme, subtext, allusion, pacing, climax, resolution, logic, whimsy, surprise, and prose.
In other words, you need almost everything to whip up a dish of fiction. But while collecting your ingredients, you must keep in mind your audience – your readers. What do they need? What are their interests, dreams, desires? One writer I know keeps a photograph of what she calls her ‘ideal reader.’ Will what I write make them laugh, cry, hunger for more, or take them on a flight of fancy?
Personal experience articles must always be written with target audience in mind. Length and take away depend on the publication’s guidelines. Hooks for nonfiction are often a short anecdote – short but meaningful. A good example is to have a piece of the end circle to the beginning. As in any submission, grammar, spelling, English skills, and careful proofreading are supremely important. Also, spend some time picking a catchy title (no more than 5 words long).
Quantities: Quantity depends on the serving size. For a nonfiction book, consider the addition of subplots. Fiction may include secondary and minor characters, plot twists, reversals, and there is always introduce danger to heighten the pace. However, remember that if you start with the ingredients for a short story and later decide to make a novel, you cannot simply double the quantities.
Steps to Prepare: For creative nonfiction as in fiction, mix characters and plot. Blend well and set aside to rise. Stir together equal helpings of conflict and tension. Keep in mind that pacing affects the story’s consistency and flavor. When characters and plot are ready, layer these with back story, setting, and description. For a fuller heavier story, fortify with theme and allusion. Add whimsy, romance, and logic to taste. Top with climax and resolution. Though some editors consider humor to be optional, I believe including at least a hint wit for a richer flavor. Sprinkle with surprises, be careful not to overdo. Beat prose until smooth. Bake until done. Test readiness by inserting a first reader. If the reader comes away with a smile, the story is done. Submit and wait for a response. (Note: If you are without an agent, you need to adjust response time to account for lower altitudes.) Remember to take any editorial advice on revisions, additions, or rewriting.
Network/Group/Support- face to face or online.
Writing Buddy: person to test revisions, editing, polishing preferably another writer who DOES NOT write what you do. Your manuscript needs a fresh eye.
Develop markets and gain clips by writing for free: charity newsletters, brochures, church histories, community newspapers, and local events. This develops your platform – your readership.
Marketing the Goods:
Begin by submitting your nonfiction pieces for: book reviews, periodicals, brochures, publicity, memoirs, newsletters, catalogs, profiles, round up articles, travel pieces, essays, how-to articles, biography pieces, juvenile non-fiction, informative or persuasive articles, personal narratives, viewpoint, political, letters to the editor, columns, or interviews. Humor is a plus in any of these.
Sweetening the Pot: Competitions, contests, evaluations, and grant opportunities. As with any recipe, remember to have fun and clean up the dishes as you go
Optional Writing Recipes:
|Snowplow||Grab reader, anecdote, quote, question|
|Arouse attention, curiosity in reader|
|Locomotive||Theme, problem, issue, capsule statement|
|Preview thesis sentence/statement|
|Boxcars||Major body of article|
|Arrange in logical sequence|
|End/conclusion||Resolution- Take away|
|HEY||Grab your reader (HOOK)|
|YOU||Your theme, reason, problem set up, dilemma|
|SEE||Personal experience articles-flashback, viewpoint character story|
|SO||Take away quality. Experience learned, changes within|
Opal Writers Magazine