Category Archives: The Self-Publishing Self-Help Guide

Freshly Pressed — The Top 5 Facts and Fallacies About What It’s Like to Be (WordPress) Famous For a Day

Now, as the dust begins to settle, once again, within the greater Missing Zero Blog landscape, I thought it might be timely to share my impressions of the Freshly Pressed phenomenon, while it’s all still fresh in my mind.

I know, for instance, when I first started blogging, I looked at those select-few bloggers featured on the Freshly Pressed page as virtual Gods of the Blogosphere, as fabled attainers of the unattainable and as some of the luckiest S.O.Bs to ever submit a blog post, bar none.

But now I know differently. The fact is I was thinking fallaciously, all along. And hence why, in this post, I will now seek to clear up, once and for all, the many facts and fallacies surrounding this whole Freshly Pressed caper.

So, let us begin:

Fallacy No.1 — The Freshly Pressed Are Not As Others

I, sadly, do not consider myself a virtual (or otherwise) God of the Blogosphere, even now having since joined the ranks of the hallowed and select few that make up the Freshly Pressed. Moreover, my status within the human race, more generally, remains as one who is fallible as opposed to one worthy of fable. Household chores, like cleaning toilets and putting out the trash, still call me their b!tch, while even close family members maintain their strict refusal to genuflect in my august presence. Go figure?

Fact No. 1 — No News is Good News (ie You Don’t Want To Read The Email Telling You You’re About To Be “Freshly Pressed” 48-hours Prior To It Occurring)

This is the sort of email you want to find after the event, trust me. I was, like, “cool, I’m about to be Freshly Pressed. I better just check all my links are working and that my blog-roll is up-to-date etc. And then, like, for the next 48-hours or so, I kept logging in, every 15 minutes, to see if the Freshly Pressed miracle had actually happened yet. Think back to what it was like to be a child, when you stayed up all night trying to catch Santa Claus delivering presents on Christmas Eve. Well, it was nothing like that. Because I didn’t sleep, at all, for two nights! Aargh!

Fallacy No. 2 — If You Slavishly Copy The Latest Batch Of Freshly Pressed Blogs, You’ll Also Get The Nod

Believe me, I’d completely given up on the idea of ever getting Freshly Pressed. Instead, my primary focus, even now, is to achieve one post per day, for the whole year. I mean, if nothing else, your chances of getting noticed multiply significantly, when you write daily posts anyway.

However, beyond that, as a writer looking to improve his or her chops, no better workout exists than committing yourself to submitting a new blog post every single day. So forget about the imagined competition and embrace the sense of community. And remember, above all else, “to thine own self be true”.

Fact No. 2 — Everyone Is Entitled To Their 15 Minutes of Fame, So Why Not The Freshly Pressed Also?

You know, along with admiring glances, I must confess I tended to harbor feelings of extreme resentment towards those newly initiated into the Freshly Pressed inner-circle. I couldn’t help thinking they knew something I didn’t, so as to get recognized the way they had. Maybe they were part of some secret handshake club I didn’t qualify for. Or worse, maybe they were all supremely talented, and I was merely a self-published hack. Well, in news just in, I’m still merely a self-published hack, but I’ve somehow also made the cut for Freshly Pressed. And, if I can, anybody can.

BTW If there is a secret handshake, it’s so secret even the Freshly Pressed themselves aren’t allowed to know of its existence, evidently.

Fallacy No.3 — Getting Freshly Pressed Is Like Winning the Lottery

People say this all the time. And, by saying it, they mean, of course, that the chances of being picked for the WordPress front page are pretty much stacked against it ever happening. But, let me tell you, my bank balance is still missing more than a couple of zeroes, after being given the Freshly Pressed nod. So I know I definitely haven’t won the lottery in the conventional sense of the term.

Hell, believe me, I haven’t won anything in a financial sense ever! Not even $100. Yet, more importantly, in this context, up till now, I also haven’t ever had a single piece of writing feature in a journal or magazine etc, either. That is, even though, I’ve penned a novel and countless songs and poems and consider myself to be a writer, above all else. So, maybe, the idea of my having just won the lottery isn’t a complete fallacy, in this regard, on second thoughts, after all…

Fact No.3 — The Fame of Being Freshly Pressed Is Fleeting

As of last count, my featured poem has received roughly 100 “likes”. And over a quarter of those people who liked the poem also left comments. Sure, that might not seem like such a resounding achievement, in light of the 67,000,000 WordPress blogs that exist around the world (source for number of blogs http://en.wordpress.com/stats/).

But, trust me, it usually counts as a red letter day, any time a post of mine gets more than 10 likes. So, at the very least, my Freshly Pressed result represents a ten-fold increase in my blog’s normal popularity.

Of course, there are, no doubt, many power bloggers out there amongst you, who are regularly getting over 50 or 60 likes for everything you post. Not me, alas. In fact, each of the four poems I have posted since being Freshly Pressed have received significantly less than 10 likes a-piece.

Quite a crushing return back down to Earth! And if there has been any flow-on effect from my elevated Freshly Pressed status, it’s already slowed to a trickle. Hey, still, I’m not complaining! I’ve only been blogging for just under three-and-a-half months, so far. Plus, I did gain 60 (approx) additional followers, as well, over the past 48 hours, into the bargain!

Fallacy No.4 — Nobody Knows Just How Exactly the Freshly Pressed Are Selected

In all seriousness, there’s nothing that can’t be achieved through the power of money. A few Ben Franklins slipped to the right person, at the right time, and your Freshly Pressed eligibility suddenly becomes a whole lot less random. Know what I mean? 😉

If the idea of parting with actual cash to promote your cause causes you actual distress, as it were, then following the tips/guidelines provided by WordPress themselves regarding getting noticed are worth perusing (see here: http://en.support.wordpress.com/freshly-pressed/)

Moreover, as part of being Freshly Pressed, I was also made aware of the official WordPress Daily Post page. From what I can tell, this is a great place to become familiar with just who the editors of WordPress are, and therefore who exactly it is you need to catch the attention or eye of (Hint, hint! And, no, I’m not going to reveal any names, not unless we’re going to start talking, again, together, about my good friend Ben Franklin, if you catch my drift).
(See here: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/)

Fact No.4 — We’ve All Probably Written Better Posts Than The One I Had Freshly Pressed

Don’t believe me? Well, go and check out my humble ode to anticipatory nostalgia and all things photographic and see for yourself. Please, do!
(see here: https://zeromissing.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/picturing-the-past-perfect-perfectly/

However, in defence of the WordPress editors, let me just add that I acknowledge, entirely, that my poem has a large scope for universal appeal, due to its varied subject matter and plain-spoken immediacy. It’s simply that typically my own preferred style and subject matter owes much more to the Beat poets and Bukowski, than it does to the mainstream.

And, therefore, my own personal choice of poem from amongst the various pieces of assorted poetry I’ve written over the years would vary greatly from the one I’ve just had Freshly Pressed. But then, I’m the first to admit to being a terrible judge of my own work. Let’s face it, I’ll take the compliment of being taken seriously as a writer, from everyone or anyone willing to give it, baby!

At the end of the day, it’s all about horses for courses, I guess. And, you know what, this poem just happened to win on the day, praise be! 🙂

Fallacy No.5 — The Sweet Taste of Freshly Pressed Success Cures All Known Ills

On the day I received word of my being Freshly Pressed, my cat of twenty years lay on a drip at the vet, with acute kidney failure. The prognosis is that she probably has about a week to live, although there is some talk about an experimental surgery option.

I also read of another blogger who realized his marriage was over the day he heard his Freshly Pressed news. And another again spoke about his being so swamped at work that he missed the whole thing and thereafter abandoned his blog, altogether, in self-disgust.

I suppose, my point is that life continues to throw us curveballs, even when we feel we’ve achieved something to finally crow about. Because, in the end, no one is immune to the suffering and ills inherent to the human condition, I regret to inform you, not even the Freshly Pressed.

That said, the taste of Freshly Pressed Success does linger on the lips very sweetly, without adding even so much as an inch to the hips.

Fact No.5 — The Joys of Being Freshly Pressed Notwithstanding, The Joy Of Blogging Is The Sense Of Community

Simply put, you couldn’t sustain the effort needed to keep a blog afloat, if the only reason you did it was to become Freshly Pressed. Instead, it is rather the sense of community that makes all the difference to your daily/weekly/monthly blogging experience. For, without the encouragement and support of other bloggers reading your words and offering up their opinions etc, the whole enterprise would quickly lose much of its appeal.

And so, in the spirit of continuing to widen my ties to the greater WordPress community, (*shameless plug alert*) I encourage you to come and stop by my Missing Zero site, any chance you get. Where, I can assure you, you are all most welcome!

Here endeth the lesson…

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A How-To Guide to Breaking the Code of Viral Book Promotion

Earlier today, I ventured a little bit further into the shady world of viral marketing than I’m usually accustomed to dealing with. I suppose, it was partly due to my having an idle sense of curiosity, but also it was borne of my interest in boosting sales of my self-published novel, Missing Zero, more generally.

So, anyway, as authors, we’re all called on to build platform. Or a following or a fan-base or whatever it is you want to call it. Which is why we now all have blogs and set up social media sites and frequent writers’ conferences etc. Basically, whether self-published or otherwise, the modern-day author is expected to become a brand, just like any other corporate entity, fighting over an ever-diminishing marketshare of readers.

Whatever. Ok, now, apparently, in the dirty-tricks world of viral-marketing there’s what is called “white hat” vs “black hat” marketing techniques. These terms are used to describe the different approaches, say, to such things as SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEO being ultimately where you or your book ranks in other people’s google searches against you or your book’s name/title. Essentially, you want to be the first thing that pops up every time someone even just mentions the word google.

Like with most things, though, the way to achieve higher SEO rankings, for instance, can be realized through fair means or foul, and hence the terms “white hat” or “black hat”.

The same goes for most other aspects of book promotion. From blackmail through to shameless begging, you can bet every single author worthy of their moniker has donned a black hat in pursuit of increased exposure/sales, at least once (this week, if not this very day).

Hmm. Well, my “black ops” mission today revolved around a hundred or so QR (Quick Response) code stickers I printed out that were embedded with the URL address of where my novel is hosted at Amazon. NB If you’re not familiar with what a QR code looks like, I’ve attached below the one I’m using to promote the Missing Zero eBook hosted at Amazon.

The idea is that by scanning these codes with their smart phones, complete strangers are redirected to whatever web page you have specified on the QR code in question. In the main, corporations typically use these codes for promos and freebies, when they’re launching a new product.

You’ve probably seen QR codes on movie posters and information kiosks and the like. But increasingly DIY enthusiasts, like myself, are printing off their own “urban-guerrilla” versions of said codes.

In any event, by randomly sticking your own QR codes around interstate bus terminals or university campus cafeterias or sundry public thoroughfares, as I did today, you can virally promote virtually anything you choose. I felt like a veritable Johnny Appleseed, in fact, as I sprinkled the QR-coded seeds of my novel’s Amazon URL across the urban wasteland.

Of course, the beauty of a person being directed to the eBook version of your novel on their smartphone means they can then instantly also buy and begin reading said work of impure genius (namely, Missing Zero, in my case), in less than five minutes.

What’s equally amazing, though, is that you can actually scan the QR code at the bottom of this post right off the screen. That is, if you have a QR scan-reader app already installed on your phone. But don’t worry if you don’t, you can download plenty of free ones from the App Store (I’m talking to iPhone users, at this point).

But how cool is this? I have a 15-year-old fan of my Missing Zero Facebook page, who lives halfway across the world, in the UK. Anyhow, as a type of beta test, I asked him if he could scan the Missing Zero QR code I’d just uploaded to my Facebook timeline. And, you know what, within thirty seconds he’d sent me back a screen shot of the Amazon page the QR code directs to. The world suddenly seemed a whole lot smaller…

All right, so you want to see how this all works in action? Well, this is what you need to do: download a QR code-reader app to your smart phone (if you don’t already have one); then point your smartphone/QR scanner at the QR code attached below; then be astonished as you next find yourself at Amazon, looking at the Missing Zero eBook purchase/download prompt; and, then, finally, purchase the blessed masterpiece of outsider art, as you see fit! 😉

Go on, I dare you to give it a go…

20130606-205619.jpg


The Long Tradition of Using Pictures to Illustrate the Point

William Blake's etching/watercolour "Anci...

William Blake’s etching/watercolour “Ancient of Days” British Museum, London . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In line with the suggestion of a friend, I approached an illustrator today about his possibly supplying some artwork to accompany the text of my novel, Missing Zero.

Really, I don’t know why I didn’t think of doing this much earlier. You see, I identify my novel as being a work of Jungian alchemy. And, the thing is, a great many ancient alchemical works actually came with woodcut illustrations to help illuminate the often arcane and obscure passages of text contained therein.

It’s a no-brainer, ultimately. The only problem, I suppose, would be the raised printing costs that including illustrations would incur, if my novel were to ever find a publisher. However, at this stage, Missing Zero looks destined to remain a self-published eBook. The worryingly overdue, final verdict of Coronet publishing, in the UK, notwithstanding.

Interestingly, there’s always been a part of me that’s been totally intrigued by the prospect of turning Missing Zero into a graphic novel. My greatest reservation, obviously, being that such works are in no way viewed as serious attempts at literature but rather as adult comic books.

By contrast, fortunately, though, there’s a long history of cases where satirical/speculative writing has been coupled with illustrations. For instance, I can’t think of Hunter S Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, without the images of Ralph Steadman’s surreal artwork coming flooding into my mind.

A more distant example from the past is, of course, the work of Arthur Rackman, whose illustrations for editions of Gulliver’s Travels, Alice in Wonderland and Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination have forever changed how these classics have gone on to be pictured in the minds of generations of readers over time.

In case you’re inclined to believe this is all just kid stuff, William Blake also famously illustrated his own often prophetic and surreal writing. And I don’t think you could find a literary critic alive who would try and argue Blake’s extensive body of work doesn’t constitute the very essence of serious, “capital L” literature.

So, there exists a long tradition of book illustrating, from the illuminated manuscripts of medieval times, through to the modern stylings of Ralph Steadman. And, therefore, who am I to willfully break with tradition?

Moreover, many are calling the times we live in the Age of the Image, as we move away from the page and towards the screen. The visual is king. Everything will soon be multimedia, including possibly Missing Zero. And I’m none too bothered, because for the reasons outlined above, to my mind, the marriage of words and images is simply just another instance of history repeating.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.jpg

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The Self-Published Author as Shapeshifting Social Media Butterfly

I don’t know about you, but as a self-published author I have joined a whole damn plethora of social media sites, a great many of which I didn’t even know existed prior to this.

The name of my novel is Missing Zero. And so I’ve got the Missing Zero Facebook page, Twitter account and blog here at WordPress, too. In addition to these I’ve got other accounts, under the name of Lorem Ipsum at Pinterest and LinkedIn and a bunch of other sites like StumbleUpon and Tumblr, which I rarely use.

The reason I have these accounts ultimately is because I’m trying to make a direct connection with people. A direct connection with the greater reading public, in the first instance, possibly, but also a direct connection with people of all stations. And this is why I am currently exploring here with you the concept of the self-published author as shape-shifting social media butterfly.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. This week I have been in contact with two very different publishers, in regard to having Missing Zero published by either one of their respective publishing houses.

Now, the first of these two is a big name publishing house based in the UK. And I have so far managed to sort of get into the ear of one of this company’s head publishers. But the only way I have been able to do this was by contacting him through LinkedIn’s inmail service.

My point is that I actually joined LinkedIn for this sole purpose. As I knew of no other way of contacting this particular person, who I had earlier decided was the perfect match for publishing my novel. And this is where my idea of shapeshifting comes in.

You see, upon my joining LinkedIn, an old friend spotted my profile and sent me the following text, “OMG, you’re mainstreaming now!”

I suppose, I deserved his playful dig, because I’ve previously always stood apart from social networking practices, seeing them as an anathema to the creative life of an artist. But I’m now no longer just being a writer, you understand, I’ve shapeshifted into a she-wolf fighting for the life of one of her cubs.

Because that’s what my novel feels like to me. It feels like my offspring, and I will literally fight tooth and nail to see my progeny flourish and prosper, believe me. I will even enter the conservative, buttoned-down world of LinkedIn to promote my novel and thereby increase its chances of survival.

However, in a completely different guise again, I have also been in contact with another publisher this week, as I mentioned earlier. And I came across this particular outfit while hanging out at Twitter. Because that’s what I do at Twitter, I just hang out. Talking sh#t mostly, in 140 characters or less. My persona there is therefore not quite that of a street hustler, but certainly someone more streetwise, let’s say.

Well, anyway, I sent off a submission to this other publishing outfit. And quickly received a very favorable response. Although I’m yet to hear back about their policy regarding my novel’s currently self-published status. Gulp!

Whatever. I’m right now more interested in talking about who I’m being as I write this anyhow. Because at WordPress I believe I can just be me. There’s no need for any kind of shapeshifting on my part here. You guys get the closest thing to the real me.

And for the most part, you’ve all been totally accepting and extremely welcoming of the confusing ball of contradictions and inconsistencies that I happen to be. Really, what I’m saying is that it feels like home here for me. And I thank each and every one of you for that. Yay!

But remember, if you do happen to stumble upon me at StumbleUpon or try and pin me down at Pinterest I can be as elusive as a shapeshifting butterfly. Man, let’s simply say you really don’t want to know what I get up to at deviantART…

PS Just kidding, deviantART is one of the few sites I’m still yet to join. But give me time, and I’ll get on to it, sure enough.

PPS Just before I went to post this, I got an email from the publisher in England. Here’s what it said: “Your e[mail] made me laugh…Hope to read the script next week”

PPS Aargh! So what the hell do I do to stop going insane between now and next week? No, really I’m not joking! I’m FREAKING out here people. Anybody got any thoughts or Valium handy? Help!

Bike Butterfly

Bike Butterfly


“Come Up and Tweet Me Some Time” — The Internet Dating Game

You’re a writer, artist, photographer, avant garde jewellery-maker, part-time fashionista or whatever, and you want to court a following through the social media so as to “spread the word” about your product, yeah?

Well, ok, so let me break it down for you all…

Here are the 3 Stages of Internet Dating (within the context of wooing readers/followers/fans etc):

  1. Twitter: is for “chasing birds” — (flirting with your readers).
  2. FaceBook: is for forming more committed relationships — (foreplay/fooling around/possible fondling).
  3. WordPress: is for when you’re old and married and now wear your socks to bed together— (in other words, f*#king over each other).

Don’t believe me? Think about it. If you’re reading this WordPress blog at all, you’re only going to give me another 30 seconds or so to reach my point, before you switch off and start thinking about whether anyone has favorited your last tweet yet or whether you shouldn’t be updating your FaceBook status or whether a google search for free porn wouldn’t be a better option.

Go on, admit it! I’m not going to judge you. Just “Like” my FaceBook page before you leave for your dirty, little cyberspace stop-overs. Or better yet: why don’t you instead just “come up and tweet me some time”…@missingzero666Twiiter wink

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase


Open the Podcast-Bay Doors, Hal!

Hal 9000 C - Chrome

Hal 9000 C – Chrome (Photo credit: K!T)

“I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

Ah, is there a more chilling exchange in sci fi cinema than the one between stranded astronaut David Bowman (in the film 2001 – see below) and Hal 9000, his spacecraft’s recalcitrant on-board computer? I would argue no; no, there is not.

In fact, the AFI (American Film Institute) listed HAL as the 13th-greatest film villain in its 100 Years… 100 Heroes and Villains list.

On Wikipedia it describes how “HAL speaks in a soft, calm voice and a conversational manner.” A fact that I would again argue only serves to make Hal’s descent into a murderous psychosis seem all the more creepy.

Which really brings me to the point of today’s blog. Namely the unrivalled power of the human voice to convey character and drama.

I mean, think of all the greatest characters you’ve ever seen on the screen, and I’ll guarantee you it was something unique or remarkable about the actor’s voice which made their particular role so memorable.

I’m talking now about James Earl Jones as Darth Vader, for instance, or Russell Crowe in Gladiator. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger’s guttural “I’ll be baaak…” stands as a testament to this phenomenon.

All of which is why I recently starting looking at turning my self-published novel, Missing Zero, into an audiobook. You see, I figure the power of the spoken word is the one thing I haven’t yet explored as an avenue for generating increased book sales.

And so, to this end, I next checked out Podiobooks.com, where I learnt you can host podcasts of your audiobook in a serialized form.

Awesome! But wait, now I needed to somehow convert the written word of my novel into recorded speech. Shit. All the big names I could think of as being suitable for the job of narrating the 330-odd pages of my book, I decided, were already quite busy, evidently. Names like Sean Connery, Stephen Fry and possibly even Sir Anthony Hopkins immediately came to mind.

I’m pretty sure the great character actor James Mason is already dead, but he also would have topped my wish list. Of course, Orson Welles would have fit the bill just as perfectly, if not for the obvious fact he too has long since bought the farm.

Well, anyhow, in the end, the one person I decided I would most love to hear reading my work is the English actor Jeremy Irons.

Coincidentally, as it happens, I see from searching the Internet that Irons has already previously recorded some audiobooks, a version of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist being just one such title. Snap! It’s clearly meant to be!

In case you are not familiar with Mr Irons oeuvre his most recent film roles include a starring role in The Words, also starring Bradley Cooper and Dennis Quaid.

Whatever. Jeremy Irons is the man for the job! He comes from an English theatre background, don’t you know, and his voice sounds like how an ice cube might if it were reciting Shakespeare’s sonnets as it slowly dissolved at the bottom of a crystal tumbler that was filled to the brim with the very finest and smoothest of 100-year-old Scotch whiskeys.

But alas, this is just a dream. I might as well tweet Angelia Jolie and ask her for a date on Friday. Because really I’ve got about an equal chance of either of these literary/literal wet dreams coming true.

So instead I’ve begun the daunting task of recording my audiobook by myself. Yup, the whole entire production consists of simply just me, my novel and a microphone. Hmm. Have you ever listened to your normal speaking voice on a recording before? Doesn’t sound too normal does it?

Nope. And neither does mine. Somehow my reading voice sounds to me like I’ve swallowed a gerbil; well, that’s what I hear whenever I can actually steel myself to listen back to what I’ve recorded so far.

Yet press on I must.

Whereupon I now once again press the record button of my recording software and repeat my command into the waiting microphone, saying : “I repeat, Open the Podcast-Bay Doors, Hal!”

2001: A Space Odyssey

Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
HAL: I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.
Dave Bowman: What’s the problem?
HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
Dave Bowman: What are you talking about, HAL?
HAL: This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.
Dave Bowman: I don’t know what you’re talking about, HAL.
HAL: I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me, and I’m afraid that’s something I cannot allow to happen…


Move Over, Elvis — The True King is Style!

Elvis

Elvis (Photo credit: shandopics)

Don’t get me wrong. Elvis did have it for a while.

But let me make it clear, I’m talking about black-motorcycle-leathers-wearing Elvis, not bloated Las Vegas-white-sequinned-pant-suited Elvis.

So what is it again? I hear you ask.

Style. And it is the true King! Just ask any good writer worthy of their moniker.

But why do I think that?

Ok, just let me explain.

Recently, I’ve joined a few on-line professional blog-writing communities. You know, to try and hone my writing chops, you might say. Anyway, at one particular site called Helium, you are expected to rate other people’s blog articles against each other, as a kind of anonymous peer-review type process.

And, so far, what has struck me, more than anything else, is that good writing pretty much boils down to one thing: style. It doesn’t matter what the article I’m being asked to review is about, if it’s clunky to read I usually end up marking it down.

By the same token, though, if the article’s prose reads well I tend to rate it more highly.

A case in point was a Helium article I found myself reading just yesterday called Tips for reducing bust size appearance. Now, notwithstanding the fact that as a man the word breast holds a special power over me, this article really shouldn’t have been of much interest to me. But because the style in which it was written was engaging I kept on reading it anyway.

The same holds true for creative writing. Your story might have the most amazing plot twists since The Sixth Sense and the most compelling characters ever to exist outside of a Tolstoy novel, but if your style sucks…forget it, Honey! Sorry, I’ll have stopped reading after the first two or three paragraphs.

So what makes for a good writing style?

Answer: In a word (or five) — having a way with words. Although word choice, word arrangement and the words “hard work”, probably answers the question best.

I for one absolutely love what Winston Churchill is quoted as saying about word choice, in particular:

Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words best of all.
Sir Winston Churchill

I was first introduced to this quote by way of my reading Mark Tredinnick’s invaluable writing guide called The Little Red Writing Book. Just buy it.

Anyway, Tredinnick explains that the short, old words Churchill was referring to are words like hill, bird, sky, hunt, tree, kill, sun etc. Words that, to my mind, hold some special sort of primal power. They were the very first words of our language. And (believe me) they will be just as fresh and full of meaning at the end.

As for word arrangement, George Orwell, I believe, is the out-right authority on the subject. His Politics and the English Language is an absolute master class in writing for aspiring writers, of whatever bent. To quote his essay briefly he contended that:

“…prose consists less and less of WORDS chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of PHRASES tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen-house.”

Just read it. If only to understand why such terms as friendly-fire are an abomination.

Finally, though, as to the words “hard work”. Well, you don’t have to be an Einstein to know (in the words of Thomas Edison) that, “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration“. You know what? You’ve got to sweat over it. And you’ve got to keep working at it, every day!

So why don’t you come and join me at Helium (where I go by the name Hadiran Brand, don’t ask!) or join one of the other many writing communities out there.

Move over Elvis, the new King is style…

09 TN State Fair #174: Elvis Impersonator

09 TN State Fair #174: Elvis Impersonator (Photo credit: SeeMidTN.com (aka Brent))

I’m just a hunk, a hunk of burnin’ love
Just a-hunk, a-hunk o’ burnin’ lo-ve!