With its stunning photos, accessible geology and widespread reach all over North America, Aerial Geology makes a great gift for everybody on your Christmas list from kids to grandparents to geologists! You can pick up a copy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, your local independent bookseller. As of yesterday, I am currently sold out of copies and won’t be fulfilling orders for signed books until the New Year! Happy Holidays!
I’ve been a book editor and a writer for a number of years now. As an author, I have one published novel in The Listeners; as an editor, I’ve worked on more than seventy. I’ve written screenplays that were optioned but never made, and I’ve sat at book signings to which no one showed up. I’ve spoken at conferences to audiences full of aspiring writers, I’ve counseled authors, and I’ve taught high school students the craft of fiction.
But this summer brought an experience I’ve never had before, and one reasonably likely never to happen.
This summer I saw the filming of my very first movie.
As my cryptozoological dramedy Ape Canyon now navigates its way through post-production, I find myself considering four important lessons I’ve learned through this process.
1. Never Abandon a Good Story
More than one member of the remarkable cast and crew of Ape Canyon asked me what it was like to finally see the production of something that had existed in my head for a year or two. I had to correct them: it’s been so much longer than that.
Ape Canyon is a screenplay I started thinking about in 2009. I started writing it in 2011, and writing it in earnest in 2013, completing it in 2014. I have a lot of other screenplays, and a litany of short stories I saw myself adapting into short films. I didn’t know Ape Canyon would resonate with director Josh Land and director of photography Victor Fink when I met them in 2016, and I sure didn’t know we’d be filming it in 2018.
If I’d let Ape Canyon go when it was just an idea or abandoned it after 2011, or if I hadn’t committed myself to finishing it in 2013, or if I’d forgotten it when it didn’t set the world on fire immediately in 2014, then I would never have had the experience of watching it come to life before my eyes.
2. A Good Writer Must Be Agile
This is a lesson I preach to my clients in fiction and memoir, but it can be a tough one to put into practice. What I wrote in the Ape Canyon script was the film as I envisioned it-but it turns out films have budgets. And when you’re making an indie film, those budgets provide some limitations. It’s on you-and your team-to adjust on the fly and come up with ways to maintain the integrity of the story while remaining realistic relative to what you can actually do.
One particular problem area was the sequence in which protagonist Cal Piker (played, beautifully, by Jackson Trent) gets lost in the woods. In the screenplay, this happens during a storm. But you can’t control the rain. He falls into a rain-swollen river and nearly drowns, but that’s a major, costly stunt. So we lost the storm. We lost the river. Cal fell down a hill. (And Jackson, fortunately, was not injured.)
The real tricky part, though, was the squirrel.
As written, Cal wanders into the woods because he thinks he hears Bigfoot. He realizes he’s lost after he discovers the true source of the sound: a squirrel, scampering away. It was virtually impossible on our budget to get a squirrel to scamper about the woods on cue-but equally impossible to control another animal, or a gust of wind, or whatever else might make a similar sound.
Josh suggested trash left in the woods. From there I proposed a bag hanging in the trees, as campers sometimes do to keep their supplies away from animals. Through some careful adjustments, we had a pretty great sequence-not the one I envisioned, but one that works just as well.
It wouldn’t have happened without Josh. That brings me to the third lesson.
3. Respect the Collaborative Process
Writing is frequently a solo act, but revision comes often with the creative input of others. Film compounds this, because film is all about collaboration. Without collaboration, and the teamwork of many creative people, there can be no film. This is one of the central ways in which the filming of Ape Canyon was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.
We ran into another budget issue with the car chase scene. First we had to lose the chase. Then we had to lose the highway. Soon the car could hardly move at all. I tried to be agile. I wrote three alternative versions of this scene and did everything I could to make them at least almost as good as what I’d written originally. But I wasn’t happy about it.
I was there the day this scene was filmed-and I discovered Josh, Victor, and the rest of the team had done something amazing. They’d kept the dialogue and the arc of the most budget-friendly version of the scene, but they’d also sped it up, transforming it from sardonic to manic. It was a brilliant change because it maintained the energy of the chase within the confines of our limited budget. It wasn’t my idea, but it’s exactly what I would have written had I thought about it.
That’s the magic of collaboration. There are lines in this film I didn’t write-lines the actors improvised or otherwise developed in the course of the filming that fit so perfectly even I couldn’t be sure they weren’t always there. And of course the entire visual element of the film is dependent on Josh and Victor and the craft they bring to what they do.
Part of the magic of watching a film come to life is in the fact that it’s not just you making it happen.
4. Embrace the Surreal
It’s hard to express the wonder I felt the first time I visited the set to watch actors playing characters that have existed in my head for, in some cases, nearly a decade. I experienced this first during auditions, hearing my words read by a variety of different performers with a variety of voices, but it’s different in the context of filming. The first time the majority of the cast was gathered on our campground set, seeing all the characters in the same place was like my own personal Avengers.
But it’s not just the actors. It’s the locations. I wasn’t on set every day, but I would see photographs of settings and instantly recognize them from wherever they appear in the story. How do you recognize something you’ve never actually seen?
At heart, this isn’t just the wonder of filmmaking. It’s the wonder of firsts. Whatever new opportunity emerges to take your writing out into the world, even if it means entrusting your work to others, try it. Give yourself the opportunity to see your work in a brand new light. You’ll learn in the process that embracing the surreal can be one of the great joys of being a writer.
Ape Canyon will surely have many more lessons to teach me as it develops into a finished film. I’m looking forward to it seeing it. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been writing, or editing for that matter-there’s always something new out there. That’s what makes it so exciting.
Wordplayers, tell me your opinions! What has been your most surreal moment as a writer? Tell me in the comments!
If you want to land more freelance writing jobs, to use a baseball analogy, you want to throw strikes every time you pitch a market, a magazine, or a niche blog.
Think of it like you’re trying to win the World Series of freelance writing.
It’s a numbers game. The more you practice, the more consistent you’ll be at landing assignments. And the more money you’ll score for the home team (you).
What should you do before you pitch a story idea? Start with a warm-up.
Study the market. Read back issues. Check the site or publications for the writer’s guidelines playbook. Do a little research or even a pre-interview with a source.
Then wind up and throw a pitch in the strike zone with a great idea for a story or blog post. (If you need help writing a query letter, get a review of your draft here.)
Looking for freelance writing jobs? We’ve got writer’s guidelines for you! Pitch these 99 markets to move up and earn more:
This is a Canadian magazine published to help people living with disabilities. Pitch story ideas with practical tips about travel, health, careers, education, relationships, parenting, and social issues for people living with a disability.
Pays: $50 to $325
Contact: Managing Editor Jennifer Rivkin
Afar publishes a print magazine, but assigns most of those stories to in-house and established freelancers. But you can write for Afar.com. It’s a travel magazine for well-educated readers who want to experience other cultures, navigate the day-to-day in a foreign country, and stay current on trends in travel, leisure, and adventure.
Pays: $1/per word and up
Contact: Editor Julia Cosgrove
Best way to break in with Alaska Airlines’ in-flight magazine is to pitch a story idea for “The Feed” department. Shorter pieces about business, profiles, new attractions, destinations, and trends, can be a good place to start, too.
Pays: $150 to $700
Contact: Editor Paul Fricht
This is the magazine for the American Federation of Teachers. Publishes articles on trends in education, politics, education law, professional ethics, and social issues relevant to teachers and educators.
Pays: Up to $300
Contact: Editor Amy Hightower
“Our magazine is jam-packed with fascinating articles covering the latest techniques in training, captive breeding and dog handling,” says Editor Steve Jones. See guidelines for additional info.
Contact: Editor Steve Jones
This is the magazine for the American Horticultural Society. It’s readers are experienced and beginner gardeners. Publishes articles about how-to projects, garden design, plant care, and conservation.
Pays: $300 to $600
Contact: Editor David Ellis
How do you keep Fido healthy, and stop Mittens from tearing the couch apart? This magazine helps pet owners care for their animals and build strong bonds.
Pays: Based on assignment
Contact: Ann Brightman
Did you know that an estimated 18 percent of adults in the U.S. are living with an anxiety disorder? It’s often treatable with medication and behavioral therapy. But it’s still a major public health issue. Pitch a story idea about living with anxiety, or a reported story on an anxiety-related topic.
Contact: Steven Kirby
Did you know about 40 percent of adults over age 25 go back to college? It’s a different experience than going straight from high school. Back to College publishes feature stories and essays about financial aid, campus and online programs, study habits, career development, and more.
Pays: $75 to 100
Contact: Donna Rickerd
Live off the grid. Build your own home. Grow and store food. Homeschooling. Sustainable living. These are the types of topics Backwoods Home readers are interested in.
Pays: $40 to $200
Contact: Senior Editor John Silveria
Make money blogging. That’s the focus of Sophie Lizard’s site. And if you’ve learned a thing or two about blogging, writing headlines, landing gigs, search engine optimization, or related topics, pitch a guest post idea.
Pays: Up to $100
Contact: Associate Editor Lauren Tharp
“What we need are stories that are brand new in scope and content,” says Editor Steve Shackleford. “Knives being used for unusual purposes or in adventure settings. New, state-of-the-art knife designs, steels and other knife materials and how they are made are good.” And the sharpest pitch you can make to land an assignment (no pun intended)? A story about a celebrity’s knife collection.
Pays: $150 to $300
Contact: Editor Steve Shackleford
Social media training for pet owners – that’s how Blog Paws started. Now, the site’s popular blog teaches pet owners how to take better pictures, use apps, and leverage social media to show off their pets.
Contact: Senior Editor Maggie Marton
If you write short and pithy, maybe this greeting card company is for you? Accepts short, thoughtful, funny, or inspiring messages for special occasions or events. See “What we are looking for” and “What we are not looking for” to pitch greeting-card messages.
Pays: $50 to $300
British Columbia may be known for its stunning landscape, but that’s not the only thing you’ll find in this regional pub. “We seek out the exotic, the strange, the unknown, and the rare within our province,” says Editor Jane Nahirny. “Rather than bore British Columbians with what they know and often see, we want to give them something fresh, surprising, remote, or hidden under the surface.”
Pays: $0.50/per word and up
Contact: Editor Jane Nahirny
Proof there’s a niche for just about everything. This Canadian-based mold-removal company publishes blog posts, case studies, and how-to guides about mold removal, asbestos testing, water damage restoration, and more.
Pays: $200 to $400
Contact: Editor Steven Kalevski
Readers of this pub are experienced paddlers who love the outdoors. Pitch story ideas about canoe and kayak news, profiles, destinations, gear, and trends. Photos preferred with every assignment.
Pays: $100 to $800
Contact: Associate Editor Dave Shirley
Did you know the Catholic Church has an estimated 1.2 billion members around the world? It’s a culture and way of life featured in the pages of this magazine.
Pays: $100 to $500
Contact: Editor Dan Connors
The Change Agent is currently accepting pitches about topics related to indigenous people. Query deadline Nov. 2, 2018. See guidelines for more info.
Contact: Editor Cynthia Peters
This publication publishes news, features, and opinion pieces with a Christian point of view.
Pays: $45 to $70
Contact: Check guidelines (linked above) for editors by department.
This print and online magazine publishes articles about equestrian life, raising horses, and the show-horse and competition circuit.
Pays: $150 to $400
Contact: Senior Editor Kat Netzler
When Jeremy Salter decided to quit smoking cigarettes, he switched to vaping. He launched the Cig Buyer blog to help other smokers quit and publish news and information about vaping.
Pays: Based on assignment
Contact: Managing Editor Jeremy Salter
Publishes science fiction, fantasy, and horror writing, as well as interviews with sci-fi luminaries.
Pays: $0.10/word for non-fiction
Contact: Editor Cheryl Morgan
Country magazine readers like gardening, collecting antiques, fishing, and sewing. This pub’s readers also like to travel and spend time outdoors. Study the media kit and editorial calendar before pitching story ideas.
Pays: $100 and up
If you know the DIY home-improvement niche and you’re good with a camera, pitch Curbly story ideas on home improvement and interior design.
Pays: Based on assignment
Contact: Editor Chris Gardner
Desert USA features stories about wildlife, folklore, natural history, travel, and adventure to desert destinations across America.
Pays: $50 and up
Contact: Editor Kris Bonner
This is a niche magazine created to help teens (ages 14 to 19) develop skills to build faith. Pitch story ideas and how-to-meditations to motivate and inspire. Check the calendar for upcoming editorial needs.
Contact: Editor Sandy Miller
What’s in the fine print for that credit card offer? Can rewards programs really save you money? If you know the ins-and-outs of consumer credit, pitch a story idea to Doctor of Credit.
Contact: Editor Will Charles
Publishes stories about trends in beer and brewery news for consumers. Also publishes beer-related stories about food, sports, and travel with a national angle.
Pays: $0.80/per word
Contact: Editor Erika Rietz
From colonization to life in the mid-1800s, this magazine features stories about history, architecture, antiques, crafts, and travel destinations for people interested in early American life.
Pays: $500 to $2,000
Contact: Executive Editor Jenmarie Andrews
Are you a food writer? This niche blog publishes posts about food and travel, local restaurant round-ups, recipes from other cultures, profiles, and Q&As with personalities. Complete food and travel destination guides pay the most.
Pays: Up to $500
Contact: Editor Laura Rosen
Do you write about money? This niche blog accepts guest posts about personal finance topics including saving, investing, retirement, loans, credit cards, buying a home, and more.
Escapees RV Club is a membership organization for people who enjoy RV travel. The member’s magazine features travel tips and experiences about RV life. Member stories and sources preferred.
Publishes how-to articles about family history and genealogy. Pitch story ideas about new software, DNA testing, and photo restoration.
Pays: Based on assignment
Contact: Editor Diane Haddad
Are you a stay-at-home mom working part-time or full-time? Or know someone who is? Freelance Mom publishes motivational stories and how-to posts that show moms how it’s done.
Pays: $75 to $100
Contact: Founder & Editor Lisa Stein
The target audience for this pub is tween and teenage girls. Recent stories covered relationships, health and fitness, personal care, fashion, and more (but without judgement or heavy parenting advice).
Pays: Up to $300
Contact: Editor Karen Bokram
Readers are outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy fly fishing, hunting, and camping. This pub even publishes tall tales and poetry about the outdoors. Pays extra for photos.
Pays: $100 and up
Contact: Editor Russ Lumpkin
What’s life like in Nova Scotia and the North Atlantic region? Publishes feature stories, profiles, investigative pieces, and more. Watch the video on their guidelines page, linked above, to learn more.
Pays: $75 to $125
Contact: Editor Rana Encol
If you enjoy the art of storytelling and travel, pitch an idea to this magazine. Recent stories covered the plight of the polar bear, California’s Redwood Forest, poetry from a trip to Paris, and more.
Pays: $200 to $300
You’ll need solid journalism and reporting skills to break into this publication that covers topics impacting the Western U.S. Pitch story ideas about environmental issues, agriculture, public health, climate change, urban and rural development, economic issues, and more.
Pays: $0.50 to $1.50 per word
Contact: Editor-in-Chief Brian Calvert
Hit the Road provides camper-van rental services in the U.S., New Zealand, and Australia. And it publishes a blog about adventures, cultures, road trips, and travel experiences. Original photos preferred.
Contact: Tim Ahern
If you decided to pack up everything and move overseas, what would you need to know? These are the topics International Living covers, in print and online.
The Introspectionist publishes persuasive essays, creative nonfiction, and informational pieces of interest for primarily a female audience. Check the editorial calendar for upcoming themes for submitting a query.
Pays: $100 to $200
This human-resources consulting firm publishes content for HR professionals about recruiting, insurance and benefits, legal issues, and more. Prefers checklist-style posts with action steps.
Pays: $50 to $195
Contact: Editor Dr. Robert Padulo
This is what the Wright Brothers inspired more than 100 years ago: build a plane from a kit, and fly it. Kitplanes publishes articles about building and design, flight testing, and construction techniques. See the guidelines linked above for more.
Pays: $250 to $1,000
Contact: Editor Paul Dye
Got an idea for a spring or summer knitting project? Pitch guest posts to Knitty to show other crafters how it’s done. Deadline for Spring issue is Jan. 2, 2019.
Pays: $150 to $200
Contact: Editor Amy Singer
Ask a question, get an answer…from women who know. That’s the format for LadyQs. But if you pitch a story idea, it doesn’t have to be in the traditional Q&A format. Accepts essays, opinion pieces, profiles, how-to guides, and product reviews.
Contact: Editor Dawn Qi
It’s all in the name. Want to write a long-form essay, or a reported piece on a hot-button topic or current issue? Read and study examples and guidelines before pitching this popular site.
Pays: $250 to $500
Contact: Editor Mike Dang
Microsoft Windows isn’t the only operating system out there. LWN features articles, tips, and tutorials about the Linux platform.
Pays: $200 to $250
Contact: Executive Editor Jonathan Corbet
This magazine publishes articles about the Midwestern travel, food, home, and garden scene.
Pays: $150 and up
Contact: Editor Jess Hoffert
Publishes features, profiles, and how-to articles about model railroad building. If you can provide photos or video, mention this in your query.
Pays: $200 to $1,000
Contact: Editor Joe Fugate
If money management and personal finance is your niche, pitch Money Crashers an idea about investing, saving, retirement planning, estate planning, tax preparation, credit and debt, real estate, mortgages, frugal living, and lifestyle.
Pays: Based on assignment
Contact: CEO Andrew Schrage
Load up the RV and hit the road. Motor Home magazine publishes travel articles, profiles, do-it-yourself repair tips, and trip planning for motorhome owners. “The easiest way to sell your work to MotorHome is to query us on an interesting and tightly focused motorhome story,” says Editor Eileen Hubbard.
Pays: $50 to $900
Contact: Editor Eileen Hubbard
This is the state tourism magazine for Nevada. Publishes stories about the people, places, food, vacation destinations, and history of The Silver State.
Pays: $100 to $200
Contact: Editor Meg Mueller
Cindy Wilson launched the Nutri Inspector blog in 2015 to set the record straight about food, nutrition, weight loss and dieting. Pitch well-researched guest post ideas about food and health topics for consumers. How-to guides pay the most.
Pays: $60 to $180
Contact: Editor Cindy Wilson
Get paid to write about your own motorcycle and travel adventures. Or pitch a story idea about must-see trips and destinations. Must have photos to go with query.
Pay: Based on assignment.
Accepts essays, reported stories, and book reviews about philosophy. A multi-media resource to go with your query puts you at the top of the pile.
Contact: Executive Editor Wes Alwan
This pop culture magazine wants pitches about up-and-coming artists, personal essays, and reported stories on trends in entertainment, social issues, and reviews on new releases in any genre. Pitch a list post to break in, and check the media kit for more information.
Pays: $50 and up
Contact: Check masthead info for department editors
Even though the phrase “Kodak moment” is still around, digital photography has transformed this art form. Pitch story ideas about cameras, equipment, photography and lighting techniques, and the digital work that happens after a photo shoot.
Pays: Based on assignment
Contact: Chief Editor Nancy Young
This niche site publishes reported stories, opinion pieces and reviews about the gaming industry. See “What we’re looking for” and “How to pitch,” for more info.
Pays: $0.25/per word
Contact: Check the guidelines linked above for department editors
Best way to break in: Pitch a first-person essay about woodworking for “End Grain” or “Tricks of the Trade.” Also publishes project tutorials and features with photos.
Pays: $50 and up
Contact: Editor Mike Wallace
Did you know an estimated 20 million people a year board a cruise liner for a little R&R? They’re the audience for Porthole Cruise magazine. If you want to land an assignment with this pub, here’s what you need to know. “Look for an unusual angle,” says Editor Bill Panhoff.
“Almost every story, destination, or ship you pitch has been pitched before. Usually more than once. Look for the unique aspect of where you are going and make that your story.”
Pays: Based on assignment
Contact: Editor Bill Panhoff
Know how to create a clipping mask, design a composite, create shortcuts, or have tips for designing graphics in Adobe PhotoShop? Pitch a tutorial to show people how it’s done. Here’s an example: Create a Dark Knight Hunter Scene with PhotoShop.
Pays: Based on assignment
Rank Pay features articles about digital marketing, SEO, and social media strategy.
Contact: Sam Warren
This travel-and-adventure media company publishes four magazines: Canoeroots, Rapid, Adventure Kayak and Kayak Angler, each with a unique audience.
Pays: $0.20/per word
Contact: Managing Editor Kaydi Payette
Commute to work. Drive the kids to school. Take a road trip. This is a consumer-oriented magazine to help readers be better vehicle owners. Pitch stories ideas about buying and maintaining vehicles, safe driving habits, and travel tips.
Pays: $100 and up
Contact: Editor Courtney Caldwell
Can you write about the software development process? Short tutorials and in-depth guides are your best option for landing an assignment. The Semaphore CI founders (Marko Anastasov and Darko Fabijan) launched this site after the success of their first software development company, Rendered Text.
Pays: $100 to $300
Contact: Dunja Radulov
This is a niche blog for preppers and survivalists. Pitch how-to stories about firearms, survival skills, and gear.
Pays: $50 and up
Contact: Editor Joel Forge
This is the magazine for Sierra Club members. Pitch story ideas about outdoor adventure, environmental issues, and people on a mission to “explore, enjoy, and protect the planet.”
Pays: $1/per word and up
Contact: Editor Kristi Rummel
Publishes how-to articles, list posts, and features on survival and emergency preparedness topics such as food storage, water purification, camping, gear, and more.
Pays: Based on assignment
Contact: “Just in Case” Jack
Publishes tips about vacation planning, booking reservations, tech tips, best places to visit, and more.
Pays: $100 to $500
Contact: Associate Editor Shannon McMahon
What’s it take to keep a newsroom running in today’s 24/7 multi-media driven environment? That’s the question that drives the editorial content for The Source.
Pays: $200 to $500
Contact: Assistant Editor Lindsay Muscato
Want to reel in an assignment for Sport Fishing magazine? Pitch a story idea about saltwater fishing in the U.S. with a fresh angle about where to go, how-to, gear, and environmental issues.
Pays: $75 to $300
Contact: Editor Doug Olander
What’s it take to be a teacher who can make a difference? Teach your kids not to hate. That’s the foundation of this niche pub for educators, which is a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Publishes features, profiles, essays, and curriculum guides.
Pays: $1/per word
Contact: Senior Editor Monita Bell
If you know how to speak “computer geek” and translate that into plain English, pitch a story idea to Technopedia. It’s an online resource for IT professionals that covers current trends, best practices, and software development.
Pays: Based on assignment
Contact: Senior Editor Tara Struyk
Learn something new? Like facts and research? There’s almost no topic off limits here, as long as it helps other people. Recent stories take a deep dive into topics like the time Coca-Cola released a new soda just to spite Pepsi, or the truth about using hamster power to keep the lights on at home.
Pays: Based on assignment
Contact: Editor Daven Hisky
If you’re planning to work, study, or volunteer abroad, what can you expect? And what do you need to know to prepare? Pitch story ideas, along with sidebar details, photos/videos, and expert sources.
Pays: Based on assignment
Contact: See guidelines for editors
Make money while traveling. It takes hustle, creativity, and often an Internet connection. And if you know how to do it (writing, photography, tour guide, etc.), or know someone who does, pitch a story idea for Travel Writer’s Life.
Pays: $50 to $200
Contact: Editor Lori Allen
Tutorial Board readers are tech-savvy people who want how-to instructions and downloadable files to master software like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects, Autodesk Maya, and other design software. Want to know how to break the ice? Mention your Word Cookies score in your pitch (see “Related Pages” below the guidelines).
Pays: Up to $150
Founder: Olson Mino
Can you explain tech-topics in an easy-to-follow how-to format? Read the guidelines and pitch an idea for a tutorial. Check out the tutorials library for examples. Check the “What Are We Looking For?” list for tutorial topics.
Pays: $250 to $500
Contact: Senior Editor Om Sharma
Want the inside scoop on poker and gambling? That’s what you’ll find in this niche magazine. Pitch how-to-win at poker strategies, personality profiles, and statistical tricks to come up Aces and win an assignment.
Contact: Editor Bryan Clark
“You’re fired.” “We’re downsizing.” Or you can’t have a regular job because of a disability or personal reasons. This site was created to help people navigate the system, learn to work from home, and share stories of success from unemployed to thriving. The best way to break in? Pitch a guest post about earning a living without a traditional day job, with steps others can replicate.
Pays: $40 to $75
Contact: Founder Anne Emerick
A bad user experience? You know it when you see it, trying to use software. But it doesn’t have to be that way. UX Booth publishes case studies, how-to guides, news, and information about design and development to help improve the user experience.
Contact: Editor Amy Grave Wells
Wanderful is looking for tips and pieces on global issues, traveling as a trans or queer woman, travel issues impacting women of color, and other ideas that may interest their audience – women who love venturing around the globe.
Contact: Kaitlyn Kirkaldy
The War Cry is published by The Salvation Army, and it’s been around for more than 130 years. Publishes articles on the people, trends, and issues related to Christianity and Salvation Army work. Check editorial calendar for upcoming content needs.
Pays: $0.35/per word
Contact: Incoming Editor-in-Chief
Got insider info or how-to tips for web designers? This is a resource to help others master web-design software skills and apps.
Pays: Based on assignment
Contact: Senior Editor Ben Moss
Webloggerz is a resource to help people use WordPress and other online tools. Pitch story ideas about web design, copywriting, screencasts, and infographics. Here’s an example: 12 Important Settings After Installing WordPress.
Pays: Up to $100
Contact: Founder Anush Gupta
This is a Canadian in-flight magazine that features stories, travel tips, and off-the-beaten path treasures in Canada, the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Europe.
Pays: Based on assignment
Contact: Managing Editor Diane Bolt
The cowboy way of life may be fading, but interest in Western art and architecture is thriving. And it’s what this mag is all about. Pitch story ideas about events, auctions and showcases, interior design, architecture, and artists, and people in the business of buying and selling this type of art.
Pays: $400 to $600
Want to write about country music? Wide Open Country features stories about up-and-coming artists, songwriting, and life on the concert tour circuit.
Pays: Based on assignment
Contact: Editor Matt Alpert
Know a lot about wine, or have the journalism skills to interview a wine expert? Pitch a story idea about the wine industry, tech, and current trends to Wine Frog.
Pays: Based on assignment
Contact: Editor C.J. Leger
Forget aluminum and inflatable boats, this niche magazine exclusively features news, stories, tips, and how-to articles about building, owning and enjoying wooden boats.
Pays: $250 to $300
Contact: Editor Matt Murphy
Know a few things about freelance writing, publishing a book, working with literary agents, or building an audience? Pitch a story idea for this female-focused readership of writers.
Pays: $50 to $150
Did you know an estimated 75 million websites are currently designed with WordPress? There’s an entire industry of software developers and designers that use this platform. And it’s what WP Hub is all about. Pitch story ideas about theme design, app development, and integration.
Pays: $100 to $200
This is a publication for freelance writers and authors. Features how-to articles, profiles, book reviews, marketing techniques, and success stories about writers.
Pays: $40 to $60
Contact: Editor Brian Whiddon
Publishes articles on yoga technique, instruction and lifestyle to promote health and happiness.
Pays: $50 to $200
“Youth Today covers just about any issue involving youth and the adults who work on their behalf, ” says Editor John Fleming. “From direct-care services, health and juvenile justice to government policies and legislation, funding for youth programs and youth development.” Break in by pitching “Stories We Like” and “Stories That Make Us Smile” listed in the guidelines.
Pays: $150 and up
Contact: Editor John Fleming
Zafigo was created to be a resource for people who travel and vacation in Asia. Pitch how-to story ideas and tips for traveling in Asia, or a first person essay for Travel Tales.
Pays: Based on assignment
Contact: Editor Vivian Chong
As a parent, how do you navigate the digital landscape to keep your child safe? Pitch guest post ideas, along with lists, infographics, and visual media.
Contact: Kristin Maclaughlin
Win more freelance writing jobs
Before you pitch any of these 99 markets for freelance writing jobs, or any others, there’s a few things you should do:
- Study the writers guidelines (linked in the title of each entry above)
- Read back issues and blog posts
- Get to know the target audience
- Brainstorm story ideas
- Find a fresh angle, primary sources, and valid research.
- Then take the time to write a well-crafted query letter before you hit the “send” button.
The more you practice pitching this way, the more freelance writing jobs you’ll win.
P.S. Want to write a guest post for Make a Living Writing, about the business and craft of freelancing? Check out our guidelines here.
Evan Jensen is the blog editor for Make a Living Writing. When he’s not on a writing deadline, or catching up on emails, he’s training to run another 100-mile ultramarathon
The post Pitch Story Ideas to These 99 Markets for Freelance Writing Jobs appeared first on Make A Living Writing.
Years ago, I was hiking with someone around the Scotts Bluff National Monument in western Nebraska. A bird flew over our heads, black against a metallic July sky. A lover of all things beautiful, my hiking partner was the first to point it out.
I shaded my eyes. “Cool. What do think it is?”
He shrugged. “Don’t ask that. It diminishes it if you name it. If you have to put it in a box to understand it, you limit your understanding.”
He seemed to have a point. His comment was something I considered for a long time after that day-before realizing I completely disagreed with it.
Even today, I’m not sure what that bird was. I remember it as a black blob against the sky. I remember the feeling it gave me, seeing it floating lazily on a thermal. But I don’t actually remember the bird. If I’d recognized the bird as a vulture-or a bald eagle-or a red-winged hawk, then I’d probably remember him.
This is the value of language. Indeed, we might even say language is a value system. By its very nature, it assigns value to all the pieces of our life, and by extension to life itself.
All humans interact with language on some level or another. But as writers, no one is more intimately responsible for cherishing, protecting, and propagating language than we are.
Statistician Ben Blatt highlighted some interesting insights when he mated words and numbers in the studies that created his book Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve. Using algorithms to recognize and observe patterns in hundreds of stories-everything from centuries of classics to reams of bestseller lists to entire libraries of fan-fic sites-he examined a number of curious trends within the history of literature.
He looked at everything from authors’ most-used words (hmm, and Nabokov’s was…?) to phrasal differentiation between male and female writers to the prevalence of cliches to the likelihood of authors following their own writing advice.
All were fascinating. But what struck me most was his chapter “Guiltier Pleasures,” which examined the readability level of bestsellers over the years. I doubt his findings elicited great surprise from any quarter. What he found was a distinct trend away from big words and long sentences, toward “easier” prose.
Since reading is a learned skill with decided “levels” of proficiency, it makes perfect sense that the most popular books will always be those most accessible to the broadest reading base. It doesn’t necessarily mean “easy” books are better or worse than “advanced” books; it just means more people are likely to read them. As far as it goes, that’s all to the good.
What, in my opinion, is not so much to the good is the danger, inherent in this trend, of losing our language.
Language lost isn’t just sad for those of us who love words and who want to let rip with a good ol’ “somniloquent”* now and then without having the Flesch readability alarm suddenly go berserk on us. It’s disturbing because when we lose words, we lose more than just the ability to comprehend what we’re reading. We also lose a little bit of our ability to comprehend life itself.
*Is it telling that I just had to instruct Chrome to add “somniloquent” to my browser dictionary?
Hypocognition: A Road Map to Knowing the Unknown
Here’s another word Chrome doesn’t seem to know: hypocognition.
In all fairness, I didn’t know it either until I read Kaidi Wu and David Dunning’s insightful Scientific American post “Unknown Unknowns: The Problem of Hypocognition.”
Basically, hypocognition is simply “all the stuff you don’t know.” If, like me, you didn’t know what hypocogniton was, well, that’s hypocognition. Although hypocognition encompasses more than just an ignorance of terminology, words-or the lack thereof-is decidedly at its heart.
Wu and Dunning shared:
Consider this: how well can you discern different shades of blue? If you speak Russian, Greek, Turkish, Korean or Japanese, your chances are much better than if you speak English. The former groups have two distinctive linguistic representations of blue. In Russian, for example, dark blue (sinii) and light blue (goluboi) are as distinct as red and pink. But in English, we know blue as a single concept. The deprivation of finer-grained color concepts poses a great perceptual disadvantage. English speakers more easily confuse blue shades, not because we have poorer vision, but because we lack the more granular distinctions in the language we speak.
We can see the crossover here with the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, which Alan Bellows explains as the experience:
…where one stumbles upon some obscure piece of information-often an unfamiliar word or name-and soon afterwards encounters the same subject again, often repeatedly.
For example, I need to buy a car. In my research, I discovered that the Kia Soul seems to land on all the top 10 review lists for its class. I’d never even heard of the Soul before. I barely even registered Kia on my radar. But now, suddenly, Kia Souls are everywhere! Three in the same row at the grocery store on the same morning!
It wasn’t, however, the prevalence of the Souls that suddenly changed. It was my knowledge of the car’s existence and my subsequent ability to name it. Of course, I’d seen a Soul before. But because I had no language for it, it slid right through my awareness as if it didn’t even exist.
In short, you can’t notice what you notice until you notice it.
Language is one of the easiest and most powerful ways to notice not just life’s concrete aspects, but also the abstract.
Wu and Dunning again*:
Hypocognition also lies in the muddle of emotional experiences that we encounter but fail to explicate. We are hypocognitive amidst the rumbling moments of frustration when we are at a loss for words to describe how we feel. If there is any consolation, we could look to other cultural worlds to acquire an emotional lexicon that acknowledges these emotions. Ever felt the unspoken but mutual desire when looking into a loved one’s eyes? That’s mamihlapinatapei in the Chilean Yagán language. Ever felt the irresistible urge to pinch a baby’s cheek? That’s gigil in Tagalog.
*Basically, I just want to quote their entire amazing article, so please go read it.
Storytelling as the Art of Naming
I’m a namer. And I don’t just mean naming things like George the spider who currently lives in my desk plant. I mean that if I’m going to be able to understand things, I first need to be able to name them-to explain them.
Partly, this is just how my brain works. It’s a constant battle up there between vague intuitions and loud delineations.
Certainly, this is why I believe true mastery is found in a conscious application of unconscious skill. It’s also why writing this blog has been the single best tool for helping me improve my own writing. Being forced to put my ideas, theories, and understandings about storytelling into words other people can understand helps me understand them better than I ever would otherwise.
This compulsion to name is also, undoubtedly, why I am so deeply attracted to words. In my teens, I kept a folded piece of legal paper in the front of whatever book I was reading. When I found a word I didn’t know, I would save it on the paper. Later, I would look it up, write down its definition in a special notebook, then underline the word in the dictionary. Whenever I ran into an underlined word in the future, I’d always re-read it.
Perhaps regrettably, Kindles and mobile phones now make that all effort unnecessary. (These days, I sometimes find myself wanting to put my finger on an unknown word in a paperback book, forgetting it won’t immediately give me a pop-up definition.) Even still, I’ve always been thankful for the time (and the many notebooks) I used to immerse myself in words. I know what things are because of those words. Not as many things as I’d like to know, but more than I would have known.
If words are names, then writing is the art of naming. Indeed, I think storytelling is perhaps one of the most expansive human efforts to name our experiences and even our very existence.
In her phenomenal affirmation of the writing life, Walking on Water, Madeleine L’Engle talked about how the true danger inherent in losing our words is the subsequent loss of our ability to use our stories to name. From her vantage point in 1972, she wrote:
…I am a storyteller, and that involves language, for me the English language, that wonderfully rich, complex, and ofttimes confusing tongue. When language is limited, I am thereby diminished, too.
In time of war language always dwindles, vocabulary is lost; and we live in a century of war. When I took my elder daughter’s tenth-grade vocabulary cards up to the school from which she had graduated, less than a decade after she had left, the present tenth-grade students knew almost none of them. It was far easier for my daughter to read Shakespeare in high school than it was for students coming along just a few years after her.
This diminution is worldwide. In Japan, after the Second World War, so many written characters were lost that it is difficult, if not impossible, for the present-day college students to read the works of the great classic masters.
Learning to Cherish Language
As even Blatt’s cursory research into the bestseller lists shows, we live in a culture that is not only moving away from “high” language, but even denigrating it. Intricate language and specific words are often discouraged in classes and even in some formal publications. Accessibility is king.
Nothing wrong with that. George Orwell’s “never use a long word where a short one will do” remains sound advice.
But perhaps the better rule is the one that tells us: “Always choose the right word.”
To do that, writers have the responsibility of first learning the right words and then using them. Not only is this good writing, it might even be one of the most poignant contributions we can make to a better world.
Is that melodramatic? Maybe. But I tend to believe it’s true.
L’Engle went on to talk about simple word choice as a radical act of courage:
We cannot Name or be Named without language. If our vocabulary dwindles to a few shopworn words, we are setting ourselves up for takeover by a dictator. When language becomes exhausted, our freedom dwindles-we cannot think; we do not recognize danger; injustice strikes us as no more than “the way things are.” [W]riters [become] suspect because people who use words are able to work out complex ideas, to see injustice, and perhaps even to try to do something about it.
This is not a challenge to cram as many five-syllable words as possible into your rom-com or historical thriller. It’s definitely not a challenge to shove your impressive vocabulary down your ignorant readership’s throats.
Rather, this is challenge, to each of us, to discover our world through language. It is a challenge to learn the specific names of the things and ideas and emotions that create all life around us. It is a challenge to us, particularly as writers, to share the names we’ve learned and share them rightly and appropriately as the building blocks in the even greater act of naming that is storytelling itself. It is a challenge to push back our own ignorance with understanding. If we do that, perhaps we are then able to reach out and help others push as well.
(By the way, my SEO app tells me, this article has scored 62 in the Flesch Reading Ease test, “which is considered ok to read.” I’m “ok” with that. <img src="https://s.w.org/images/core/emoji/11/72×72/1f609.png" alt="
Do you know how to get steady, high-paying clients as a freelance writer?
If that voice inside your head is telling you, “No,” it’s OK.
When I was just starting out as a freelance writer, I didn’t know much about how to find clients or understand why marketing matters so much.
A lot of freelance writers turn to job boards, content mills, and bid sites (that typically pay low rates), thinking it’s a productive way to move up and earn more. But it’s not. There’s a better way.
Instead of waiting around for clients to find me or settling for low-paying work, I created a marketing machine that helped me land contracts with steady, high-paying clients.
I’ve never experienced the famine that so many freelance writers face. And I’ve never used a freelance job site or worked for a content mill.
Want to build your own marketing machine to be a six-figure freelance writer? It’s not that complicated. Here’s how I did it:
Choose a niche with opportunity
If you’re thinking you’re going to hit six figures writing for solopreneurs like yoga instructors, plumbers, or someone who teaches knitting classes, you need to rethink your plan.
These type of clients typically don’t have a big marketing budget or understand the value of copywriting, blogging, and marketing.
Instead, flip the switch on focusing on soloprenuers. Take a closer look at the industries they’re part of.
You’ll discover businesses, manufacturers, and distributors in fitness, plumbing supplies, and textiles, that have lots of opportunity. There are many lucrative niches you can be successful in as a freelance writer.
The niche I decided to focus on when I started out: medicine and healthcare.
Make a list of your dream clients
One you get familiar with your niche, you should know who they key players, influencers, and leading companies in the industry are.
Make a list of prospects in your niche you want to work with. Focus on businesses and other large organizations. They’re most likely to pay you what you’re worth and have a steady need for freelancers.
Here’s where to find these type of clients:
- Online membership directories of professional associations are the easiest way to find great prospects.
- Leading company lists like Forbes Most Innovative Companies
- Industry-based online directories or lists, like U.S. News & World Reports‘ lists of best hospitals.
- Other sources include membership directories, LinkedIn, and even keyword searches like “top healthcare companies,” can help you find prospects.
How big of a list do you need to get started?
You need a list of ONE prospect to get started. That’s it.
But the size of your list depends on how much freelance work you need. If you develop a list of about 200 prospects you should get at least a few new clients when you fire up your marketing machine. My original list had about 250 prospects.
Improve your freelance writer profile
You’ll want to reach out to the editors and marketing directors on your dream client list. But before you do that, take a little time to improve your freelance writer profile.
When you introduce yourself for the first time, you want to be positioned as an expert writer in your niche. Here are some things you can do:
- Develop a LinkedIn profile and/or website that focus on the needs of your clients and how you can help them meet their needs. Other marketing tools (e.g., logo and a tagline) should also highlight how you help clients.
- Position yourself as the solution to your clients wants and needs. General client needs include making money, getting more business, and staying on budget and on deadline. Also look for industry-specific needs.
For example, my LinkedIn profile headline looks like this:
This headline highlights two ways that I help clients:
- Engaging their audiences so they can make money, get more business, etc.
- Meeting their deadlines.
Fire up your email marketing machine
Know your niche. Build a list of potential clients. And improve your online profile as a freelance writer. Take care of those prerequisites, and you’re ready to fire up your email marketing machine.
It’s one of the most powerful lead generation tactics you can use to go from zero to six figures as a freelance writer.
Reach out with a letter of introduction
Reach out to each client with a customized direct email that focuses on the client’s needs and how you meet those needs. Use some language and/or values from the client’s website. Your letter of introduction should include:
- A compelling, client-focused subject line with the organization’s name
- A greeting that includes the contact person’s name
- A sentence showing that you understand the organization’s needs
- One or two sentences about your relevant experience and how you can meet the client’s needs
- A link to your website (or your LinkedIn profile if you don’t have a website yet)
- A call to action that says what will happen next (e.g., “Should we schedule a call next week to discuss this?”).
If you’re targeting similar clients, develop a template and then just change some of the language for each prospect. For example, hospitals are one of my target markets. They need to get more business by attracting more patients. (If you need help writing a letter of introduction, check out this resource.)
My generic subject line is: “How ABC Hospital Can Attract More Patients with Targeted Medical Content.” In the body of the email I include a little language from the client’s website. Here’s an example:
How to find email addresses & when to follow up
Finding the right email address can be difficult. Here’s a trick that usually works. Find the organization’s email address format in its Newsroom, and then apply that to your contact person’s name. If you don’t get a response, follow up politely about a week later. Most positive responses come from the follow-up emails.
When I started out back in 1997, I used direct mail (flyers and postcards) because no one was using email for marketing yet. I’ve tried direct mail more recently and direct email works better for me now.
Master the art of the follow-up
Clients rarely need a freelancer when we first reach out to them. Follow up regularly with clients who express interest in your services but haven’t hired you yet-so they think of you first when they need freelance help.
About 50 percent of my interested prospects hired me within a year or so of receiving my direct email, probably because I keep in touch with them regularly. Ways to follow up include:
- Sharing links to relevant resources (blog posts, podcasts, etc.)
- Commenting on news about the organization or the contact person
- Holiday cards
- Once or twice a year, as part of your overall follow-up, email to ask about freelance work.
Marketing for success as a freelance writer
Most of my biggest clients have come from direct email and none of these clients have ever questioned my fees (currently $100 an hour). You too can get steady, high-paying clients if you’re willing to put in the work. Go fire up your marketing machine.
The post Plug Into This Marketing Machine to Be a Six-Figure Freelance Writer appeared first on Make A Living Writing.
I’ve had some people tell me lately that they’re starting to hate that word platform. I’ll let you in on a little secret: I sometimes wish the whole idea of platform would just go away and we’d be free to simply publish the books we love. Like you, I wish it were all about original ideas and great writing. I long for the days when agents and editors were simply searching for the best new talent and nobody ever heard the word platform. But that’s not the world we live in.
If you want to write non-fiction, platform is crucial. The key to a non-fiction platform is your target market and what you are doing to reach them. You want to show a publisher that you personally have the ability to attract buyers for your book. You want to establish yourself as an authority in your subject, or the authority, the go-to person. Platform tells a publisher that you are not only the right person to write this book, you are the very best person to write this book.
So what are some elements of a strong platform? They can include:
- A blog or website with growing traffic. There’s no “magic number” of pageviews that will put you over the top, but if your numbers aren’t growing, that’s something to shoot for.
- You also want the ability to capture names and email addresses. Publishers love to see that you already have a database of 3,000 to 5,000 names (or more) to whom you can market your book when it comes out.
- Social media presence on at least one platform (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest…) with clear evidence of engagement with your tribe.
- A podcast with a growing audience, or frequent guest spots on others’ podcasts.
- Speaking engagements. You can start small and slowly grow the size of your audiences over time.
- Numerous articles published, whether national, local or specialized. Online or print.
- A regular column in a national magazine or a large metro newspaper.
- Regular appearances on television or radio.
- Regular contact with your target audience, for example, through a newsletter.
- Notoriety and/or authority within your area of expertise. You are a known expert on your topic.
- Previous books published with respectable sales numbers.
Not everyone who gets published has reached these standards or even come close, but this gives you an idea of the kinds of things publishers are hoping to see.
You want to sell an agent and/or a publisher not just on your book but on you. Your query and your proposal both serve the purpose of selling a package-you and your book. I’ve received numerous questions from people asking, “Does it count if I have clips from anthologies? Does it count if I have theater experience?” etc. etc. You don’t have to play the what-if game and analyze every eventuality. Just sell yourself as the author of the particular book you’re writing. Got nothing to sell? Better get a hammer and some nails ‘cuz you’ve got a platform to build.
Don’t forget… the longest journey begins with the first step. You have to start somewhere, right? Get that website. Start a professional page on Facebook. Begin speaking at local events, then branch out. Pitch articles for magazine and newspaper publication. Start small, one step at a time. Building a platform is doable. So, do it.
If you’re a non-fiction author, what are you doing to build a platform?
Whether or not we care to admit it, much of what we do as writers is manipulation. With careful characterization, we manipulate readers into believing the characters lived before the book began and continue living long afterward. We create settings they long to escape to and plots that keep them wrapped up until long past midnight. When we’ve done our jobs right, we’ve manipulated our readers into turning one more page… one more page…
As writers, we also manipulate readers’ emotions-assuming we know what we’re doing. It’s a tricky business. We can’t simply tell readers the character is crying and expect them to cry too. We can’t have a character laugh and expect the same from the reader. Naming the emotion rarely elicits the response we’re looking for. This means we must learn some tricks of the trade.
“Show, don’t tell!” tops the list of writer tricks, followed by “Kill all adverbs!” and “Choose strong verbs!” But did you realize sentence and paragraph structure can also help elicit the emotions you’re looking for?
Here are a couple of subtle techniques-yes, manipulation techniques-your readers won’t even notice.
Pacing Technique #1: Short Sentence, Short Paragraph
Short sentences are quick to read. Short paragraphs leave a lot of white space. What happens when you throw them both together? You create a pace. Readers speed along at a quick clip, which mimics the emotion you’re trying to elicit.
Take this clip from award-winning suspense writer Joseph Finder’s Company Man. Moments before this scene, the bad guy was snooping around the hero’s home. He’d already proven himself a threat, so the hero shot him. This scene happens afterward:
The man’s chest was not moving; he was not breathing. Nick leaned over him, the pistol now dangling in his left hand by his side. He placed his right forefinger on the man’s throat and felt no pulse. This was no surprise; the staring eyes had already announced that the maniac lay dead.
He’s dead, Nick thought. I’ve killed him.
He was suffused with terror. I killed this guy. Another voice in his head began to plead, defensive and frightened as a little boy.
I had to. I had no choice. I had no… choice.
I had to stop him.
Maybe he’s just unconscious, Nick thought desperately. He felt the man’s throat again, couldn’t find the pulse. He grabbed one of the man’s rough, dry hands, pressed against the inside of his wrist, felt nothing.
He let go of the hand. It dropped to the ground.
He poked again at the man’s chest with his toes, but he knew the truth.
The man was dead.
The crazy man, this stalker, this man who would’ve dismembered my children the way he butchered my dog, lay dead on the freshly seeded lawn, surrounded by tiny sprouts of grass that poked out sparsely from the moist black earth.
Oh, Jesus God, Nick thought. I’ve just killed a man.
He stood up but felt his knees give way. He sank to the ground, felt tears running down his cheeks. Tears of relief? Of terror? Not, certainly not, of despair or sadness.
Oh, please, Jesus, he thought. What do I do now?
What do I do now?
We’ve moved beyond the adrenaline of actually killing the man. Now we’re watching the hero’s response as he degenerates from intentionally protecting his household to realizing what he’s done. He’d never killed a man before, and within moments of realizing the bad guy was dead, he flashed through a myriad of emotions.
Let’s overlook some of the adverbs, emotion-naming, and the (deliberate) lack of italics for internal monologue, and look at the sentence structures.
In the first paragraph, Nick is stunned, unsure of his situation. The author portrayed this with longer sentences than what you’ll see as we go along. Notice he even used semicolons to avoid short sentences.
There are a couple of paragraphs like that, but as reality digs its fangs into him, you’ll see his sentences getting shorter. The paragraphs get shorter. Lots of white space on the page. Nick’s emotions are degenerating into panic and almost a despair-and we the readers are taking that plunge along with him.
Pacing Technique #2: Short Sentences, Long Paragraphs
Putting short sentences in longer paragraphs creates a different effect. In the next excerpt, from Ethan Canin’s America, America, the hero’s mother died while he was away at college. He went to the funeral, then returned to college. Now, after a period of time, he’s back, visiting with his father:
“Made a salad. Have you ever made a salad?”
“A couple times.”
“You wash the lettuce. Then you have to dry it. If you don’t dry it, the dressing comes out watery. I hate drying it. But I do it. On a paper towel. That’s the way she showed me how. She showed me a lot of this stuff, you know.”
“And then she would dry the paper towel on the windowsill,” I said, “so she could use it the next day.”
“That’s right. So I do it now too. Come look.”
He went back into the kitchen.
When I came up behind him, he said, “There it is,” and pointed to the sill.
There it was. Damp. Folded over the top stile of the sash to catch the sun.
“I’ve used the same one every day now since-since it happened,” he said. “She’d like that. Dries good as new.” He pulled the roll from the shelf. “They’re Scott, see? She always bought Scott. So now I do too.” Her apron was still hanging on the stove handle, and after he set the towels back he reached to straighten it. “Wish I could tell her.”
This starts off with the short sentences-terse communication between father and son. His father tends to use short sentences more often, as evidenced in the first long paragraph. The son’s line illustrates that he hasn’t felt the level of loss his father has. Then notice later: “There it was. Damp.” Short, as if the son has started to realize the loss himself.
Notice the father’s last paragraph. Along with the short sentences, he adjusts his wife’s apron still hanging on the stove handle. The emptiness he feels is almost tangible.
Whenever I present this excerpt in a speech, at least one person ends up swiping tears from her eyes. Usually more. Not once was the reader told “he cried.” Word choice and sentence structure illustrate his loss greater than any “telling” an author could do. And showing him adjust an apron he’d never stored away is the clincher.
Watch What You’re Reading
These are only a couple of the techniques using sentence and paragraph structures. I’ve discovered many more while reading. The best way to discover these techniques for yourself is to read, often and widely. Read books that teach you how to write, then read writers who have already excelled in their fields to see those techniques put into practice. If, as you read, you find yourself feeling some emotion, realize the authors manipulated that emotion from you. Then go back and see how they did it!
Note From K.M. Weiland: This is a guest post by my critique partner Linda Yezak. To celebrate the release of her latest contemporary western romance Ride to the Altar, she is offering a prize package to one lucky entrant in her blog-tour giveaway! As pictured below, the prize includes a signed print version of her Circle Bar Ranch series, a 16-ounce Christian cowboy mug, a horseshoe picture frame, a Ph. 4:13 stretch bracelet, a cute set of magnetic page markers, and a Texas Rubiks cube just for fun.
Winner Announced: Linda Orr
All you have to do to enter is to leave a comment! The more posts you comment on during her tour, the better the chance you have of winning the drawing! If you’d like to play along, the next blog stop is with mystery/YA author, Mary Hamilton. The winner will be announced Monday, August 6, on Linda’s blog, 777 Peppermint Place.
The post 2 Simple Pacing Techniques That Grab Reader Emotions appeared first on Helping Writers Become Authors.
Astronomers have published the predictions of the passages of foreground stars in front of background stars. A team of astronomers, using ultra-precise measurements from the Gaia satellite, have accurately forecast two passages in the next months. Each event will produce shifts in the background star’s position due to the deflection of light by gravity, and will allow the measurement of the mass of the foreground star, which is extremely difficult to determine by other means.
I’ve been busy processing photos and a preparing a write-up of an insect collecting trip to New Mexico this past June-look for a series of posts about the trip in the near future!
In the meantime, I’ve had a couple more publications come out since the end of last year-both as part of joint efforts to document beetle diversity at the state level. The first of these came out in vol. 71, no. 4 of The Coleopterists Bulletin (published 18 Dec 2018) and presents a checklist of the Cerambycidae of Idaho with notes on selected species. The citation is:
Rice, M. E., F. Merickel & T. C. MacRae. 2017. The longhorned beetles (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) of Idaho. The Coleopterists Bulletin 71(4):667–678 [pdf].
The photo of Crossidius hirtipes allgewahri LeConte, 1878 (see above-which was actually photographed in Moffatt Co., Colorado and is, I think, the very first species of the genus that I photographed) also appeared in that article.
The second paper was just published a couple of weeks ago (20 June 2018) in vol. 72, no. 2 of The Coleopterists Bulletin (I am still waiting for my hard copy in the mail!). It presents an annotated checklist of the Buprestidae of Louisiana.
Carlton, C. E., T. C. MacRae, A. Tishechkin, V. L. Bayless & W. Johnson. 2018. Annotated checklist of the Buprestidae (Coleoptera) from Louisiana. The Coleopterists Bulletin 72(2):351–367 [pdf].
As always, a complete list of my publications with links to abstracts or pdfs can be found under “My Publications“.
© Ted C. MacRae 2018
I spend a lot of time working with my clients to edit and revise their proposals and manuscripts. I give notes and suggestions for improvements. Sometimes I take them through draft after draft, until everything seems just right.
I know it’s tiring for them, and sometimes frustrating to be pushed to go over it again and again, especially when they know they’ll go through more edits with their publisher. I admire every writer who does whatever is necessary, who keeps pushing through, who remains dedicated to making the work the best it can be.
This is what it takes to be good. When an editor pushes you to be your best, or when you push yourself, you’re doing exactly what’s necessary to rise above the hordes of regular writers to become a good writer. Along those lines, I read this powerful piece in the book Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University.*
No one, not even the greatest writers, creates good first drafts. “I have to write crap before I can write anything that is not crap,” says Walt Harrington, who has been writing well for thirty years. “Writing is thinking. It is an extension of the reporting process.” A first draft might have promising sentences or paragraphs, a brilliant conceptualization, a few surprising turns of phrase, or a sturdy framework. All that, however, will probably be barely visible, entangled in the general messiness of half-formed ideas. Those promising elements will reveal themselves as the writer begins to tease apart the mess with the next draft and the one after that.
Still, as you read through a flawed first draft, remember that the hardest work is behind you. You have moved closer to defining the topic and developed strategies for explaining it…. You have stared down the blank page and begun building something on it.
Good writing is far too complex to get right in one draft or two or five. Good writers are most often plain ol’ writers who go the extra mile and then a few more.
If you are struggling through draft after draft, trying to get it right, take heart. You’re going the extra mile, and then a few more. Keep putting in the work, and you will become a good writer.
Are you pushing yourself hard enough? Are you going through enough drafts to push yourself to be a good writer?
*Quote from Telling True Stories, p. 97, by Mark Kramer & Wendy Call.