Four Exercises

A Pen In Each Hand

By Baker

  1. At Chasms and Crags, suggest topics or terms you would like to see in a future Writer’s Glossary article.
  2. If you don’t have a “beta reader,” find one. If you’re shy about asking friends for feedback, join a writing community (like ours) and establish yourself. Become a reader for other writers and your constructive feedback will not only bring you invitations to become a beta reader but also offers like “Is there something I could look at for you?”
  3. Visit the remainder table at your local bookstore with a budget in mind. Take a chance on one or two books that look interesting. Give yourself a New Year’s gift!
  4. Resolve to finish that story or novel in 2011. When it’s done, send it for publication, begin sending queries to agents or investigate print on demand options.

Define the Function of Your Non-Fiction Book (or Article)

A Pen In Each Hand

By fmwrites

With fiction, we think of determining the theme, the crisis, the resolution, but the function isn’t really necessary to define. The function of fiction is to entertain and enlighten. With non-fiction, a book needs a factual reason to exist. Try defining function for your non-fiction book idea by answering these questions:

  1. How will my book be used?
  2. Where will it be used?
  3. When, and in what context will it be used?
  4. What problem does my book solve or solution does my book enable?

If you’re stumped by this exercise, well then, you might have an reference article on your hands, instead of a book. That’s okay; we need reference articles too, to teach us and inspire us.

Analyze an Antagonist

A Pen In Each Hand

By Beaver

As a writer, undoubtedly you’ve lovingly crafted your protagonist. But how much time have you spent on your antagonist? Does your villain have a past, motivation, and a flaw? Your antagonist should be just as much a fully-realized character as your protagonist is, so spend some time fleshing him or her out. Make sure he or she is a worthy adversary for your protagonist!

Exercises for Teen Writers

A Pen In Each Hand

By Baker

  1. Create a physical book or zine. If you want to make a book that looks like it belongs in a bookstore, try Magcloud.com, Lulu.com, CreateSpace, Café Press and/or your local printing shops or office supply stores, etc. Look at the inside covers of books to learn where/how they’re printed, particularly in the “local interest” section of bookstores. Read our article about “print on demand” to learn about publishing terms and consult an adult if/when contracts or other agreements are involved.
  2. Write a short story or poem and share it with a relative or friend. Don’t ask for feedback or critique unless you feel you’re ready for it. Read our article on accepting critiques.
  3. Write something secret, just for you to read.
  4. Visit age-appropriate online writing forums to see how feedback is given, what it means, how writers interact, etc. Toasted Cheese is appropriate for writers 13 and over. If in doubt, have an adult visit writing communities with you.
  5. Create your own writing group and meet to share your writing and talk about writing. Your local bookstores or libraries might be willing to help you create a writing group or to provide a meeting place. Begin with friends and people you trust, not only for your personal safety but for a comfortable sharing environment.
  6. Search for images that inspire you. Do a Google image search for specific words, artists, photographers, etc. and write a story or poem based on what you find.

 

Write a Unique Selling Proposition for Your Non-Fiction Book Idea

A Pen In Each Hand

By fmwrites

Begin with a “10-Second Elevator Speech.” This is the term I use for how you would give a brief summary covering your book’s main content in an interest-grabbing way that sets your book apart from all others. As if you had an elevator ride to do so. (Not easy!)

Then, write bullet points on what the reader (consumer) will get, specifically, from reading your book (the reader’s take-aways, or the solution to the reader’s problem).

Finally, write a couple bullet points on how that will be done (what features of the book will provide those reader benefits). This USP will serve as a wonderfully concise platform for building your or query letter, or book proposal, or marketing plan, or business plan, or grant application… as you can tell, a USP is a powerful tool!

Get to Know the Editors

A Pen In Each Hand

By Beaver

Market listings are great for finding potential markets for your writing—but they don’t tell you a lot about the personality of the editors. Once you’ve found a few likely publications, start reading them on a regular basis (making sure not to skip the editorials!). As well, many editors now blog and/or tweet. Subscribing to their blog feeds or following them on Twitter is an easy way to get to know editors better—so when it comes time to submit, you not only know to which publication it would be best to submit your work, but exactly how to personalize your cover letter.