|One reason so few of
us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our
focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble
their way through life, never deciding to master anything
Please note: Language is set as
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Personalise Your Characters with Body
ęCheryl Wright All Rights
Have you ever stood and watched a long queue of
people. It makes no difference why they are waiting; just
standing, waiting is boring, and those waiting come
across as bland, boring people.
Thats exactly how your characters will appear
without some character traits. They need
personality, distinctive dialogue, and their own unique
Body language is basically the gestures
used by people or characters. For instance, when someone
nods or shakes their head, thats body language.
When they purse their lips, its body language, and
when they throw their arms up in the air in frustration,
thats also body language. Each and every character
should have their own individual set of gestures and
expressive signals etc.
Perhaps your heroine braces her shoulders when
shes mad. Or maybe she does it when shes
preparing for an argument. In my novel "Saving
Emma" the heroine (Emma Larkin) refuses to make eye
contact when she is trying to hide something, and licks
her lips when shes nervous.
Your hero might prefer to tower over his
opponents to make them feel inferior, or maybe he smokes
when hes stressed.
Types of body language include:
Screwing up nose
Twisting hands in lap
Flicking hair over shoulder
Getting into someones personal space
Running fingers through hair
Coughing when stressed
Looking toward ground, rather than having eye contact
Stance may also make a difference to your
characters body language. For instance, they may:
Sit on a desk to eliminate the power
Stand over someone to portray power
Slouch in defeat
Place hands on hips to portray power
Get close to someones face (known as being in
another persons personal space)
Look also toward facial gestures for body language.
Eyes can tell a lot too; a person may be smiling at the
mouth, but not at the eyes. Have you ever heard the
expression a smile that goes all the way to his
eyes? It is very true. Next time someone smiles at
you, take special notice of their eyes. If they are
genuinely happy, youll see it in their eyes. If it
is a false smile, the area surrounding their eyes will
not change at all.
Your characters can have a number of stress triggers
or involuntary movements that tell your reader how they
are feeling or what they are thinking. This also helps in
establishing your character in dialogue rather than using
tags all the time.
Here are a couple of websites Ive recently
discovered, which will help you learn more about body
About the author: Cheryl
Wright is an award-winning Australian author and
freelance journalist. In addition to an array of other
projects, she writes a monthly travel column for a
magazine in the US and is the author of "Think Outside the
Square: Writing Publishable (Short) Stories" and "I Wanna Win! Tips
for Becoming an Award Winning Writer". Her debut novel "Saving
Emma" is available from
Whiskey Creek Press. Visit
Win writing contests!
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Set The Hook
Grab Them With Your
Copyright 2004 Jeff
I can show you how to make everyone
that sees your article stop whatever they're doing and
read it from beginning to end. That, my friend, is a hook
and that is what you need to use to start every fiction
and nonfiction piece you write.
Your opening paragraph, and
preferably your opening sentence, should hook the reader.
You need to grab them by the throat and pull them into
Which of the following fiction
paragraphs would grab your attention?
Jim was a man of average looks with
an average build. He strolled down the sidewalk reading a
newspaper. Soon he reached his house and walked up the
steps to the front door. Turning the key in the lock he
let himself in. He flicked the light switch, but nothing
happened. A gunshot rang out, and he was dead.
"No," a man screamed in
the same instant that a gunshot rang out. A body tumbled
out the front door and down the steps, making a series of
thuds that sounded like a sack of potatoes falling down a
flight of stairs. The body slammed into the sidewalk and
sprawled in an expanding pool of blood.
Which of these following nonfiction
paragraphs would grab your attention?
Doctors have found that 40% of
people have chronic minor aches. Of these people 2% of
them have a serious medical problem causing this pain.
Could your minor aches and pains be
a sign of a serious medical problem?
In today's society people are
always in a rush. There's never enough time to do all of
the things that need to be done in a day. The time it
takes to read your article or story is competing with
work, chores around the house, school, kids, after school
activities, maintaining a relationship with family
members and more. For this reason you need to make your
story more appealing, interesting and urgent than the
other activities waiting in line for the reader.
There are several ways to do this.
* You can engage the reader with an
urgent question, like I did in the sample paragraph
* You can also use a time limit.
You can say things like, "In just a few
moments," or "you have to do this
immediately." These, or some similar statements,
that enforce the idea that if you don't act now something
bad will happen, you'll miss some great opportunity or
you have to do something vitally important but you may
not have the time, will make the reader feel it's
essential to read this now.
* You can make a statement that
will attract the interest of a large segment of your
target audience. Something like, do you have aches and
pains, do you sometimes feel depressed or some other
general type of statement.
For a fictional story it's always a
good idea to start with some kind of action that will
make the reader want to know more. Many writers say that
you should actually start a story with your third
paragraph. I often do this with my writing. I write the
story, but when I look at the first page I see that the
story doesn't really start until the second or third
paragraph, or sometimes the second or third page. If
that's the case, then I just delete those uninteresting
parts. Remember, anything that doesn't move your story
along is a waste of words.
You can't write like they did at
the turn of the century. Have you read the book Green
Mansions by W.H. Hudson? It's a wonderful book, but it's
not uncommon for the author to spend several pages
explaining something that today would be done in a
paragraph. I remember one place in the story where he
uses three pages to describe the interior of a tiny hut.
Nonfiction is the same; you need
more meat and less fluff. You want to get the core of
your article, the most important point, and tease them
with it in the first sentence or paragraph. Give them a
reason to go deeper into your article. Make them feel
that they have to read more to find the answer to some
question you have posed or some possible threat they may
be about to experience. For example, "Are you
setting yourself up to be a crime victim?" You can
also start with a story or example.
Of course, after you grab the
readers interested you need to keep them engaged. Your
writing must be tight and be sure that every word moves
the story along. If you have started your article with a
question, you must answer that question by the end of
your article. And for fiction, be sure to wrap up all
your story lines and have a resolution to everything. If
you lure a reader into your work, but leave them
unsatisfied at the end then nothing you do in the future
will make them want to read your work again.
Focus on grabbing your reader,
compel them to read more, because if you can't make them
read the first paragraph, then they won't read anything
About the author: Jeff
Colburn is a website designer and writer. His goal is to
make the process of creating or updating your website
easy and simple for you, while creating a website that
meets all your needs and expectations. Jeff can also
create all of the copy for your website.
To see a sample of Jeff's work
go to The Creative Cauldron. It's an award winning site filled with
information for writers, photographers, artists and other
....just in case youre sick
of hearing me talk about self-promotion, go here and
listen to someone else do the same thing!
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You've done it! You've finally
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A CUP OF COMFORT WRITER'S GUIDELINES
Each volume of the bestselling
anthology series A Cup of Comfort is filled to the brim
with powerful true stories about the experiences and
relationships that inspire and enrich our lives. These
engaging personal essays written by people from
all walks of life are carefully selected for
inclusion in A Cup of Comfort based on originality,
creativity, and substance.
We are actively seeking submissions
for the following volumes:
A CUP OF COMFORT FOR
Much has been written about the special bond between
grandparents and grandchildren. For this extraordinary
collection, were looking for exceptionally
creative, distinctive, and emotionally powerful
"cut-above" stories about truly remarkable
relationships and experiences shared by grandmothers
and/or grandfathers and their grandkids. Stories may be
humorous or heartwarming, insightful or delightful,
poignant or amazing, or all of the aboveon any
topic specific and/or significant to the
grandparent-grandchild connectionand about
grandparents and grandchildren of all ages, ethnicities,
circumstances, and backgrounds.
Submission Deadline: April 1, 2005
Submissions are reviewed and
semifinalists selected throughout the submission period,
so early entry is encouraged.
NOTE: The submission window for A
Cup of Comfort for Christians (Faith/Spirituality) is now
WHATS BREWING NEXT?
Possible themes of future volumes
Fathers and Daughters
Tweens and Teens
Any inspiring, heartwarming story
about any topic can be submitted at any time.
Got an idea for a Cup of Comfort
theme? Send your suggestions to:
HOW TO CREATE A SAVORY CUP
OF COMFORT STORY
Cup of Comfort stories weave
powerful life lessons into vividly told tales. They are
nonfiction stories that read like fiction but always ring
true. They are slice-of-life tales that reveal the
positive aspects of humanity; that make us think and feel
and care; that provide insight and inspiration; that
entertain and enlighten; and that bring tears of
compassion and joy to our eyes, hope to our hearts, and
comfort to our souls. Most of all, Cup of Comfort stories
are honest, original, and creative depictions of the most
important experiences in ordinary lives.
Each Cup of Comfort anthology
includes a balanced mix of stories of varied themes, such
* Extraordinary achievements and experiences of
* Life-changing, life-affirming, or life-defining
experiences and relationships
* Epiphany, synchronicity, serendipity
* Finding/giving comfort in difficult times
* Triumph over tragedy or adversity
* Lifes blessings and miracles, big and small
* Finding the silver lining in a dark cloud; turning
lemons into lemonade
* Relationships and experiences that bring hope,
* Catalysts for and examples of positive change; acts of
Tips for Writing a Winning Cup of
* Create an anecdotal story about an event or series of
event(s) that had a profound and positive impact on you
or on the person(s) you are writing about.
* Show, dont tell. Color your story with action,
imagery, dialog, and/or dramatic scenes. Minimize use of
adjectives and adverbs. Make the reader experience the
events and emotions portrayed.
* Write straight from your heart. Tell your story
honestly, fully, and succinctly. Make each scene as real
for the readers as it was for the person who lived or
* Begin with a strong lead that hooks the reader, and
that clearly and creatively introduces the main
character(s), plants the seed for the central premise,
and sets the scene.
* Create a rich middle that depicts compelling life
experiences and human emotions-in other words, dramatic
action. The mid-section should include at least one
compelling plot point (pivotal moment) as well as
transitional scenes or other transitional devices that
continually move the story forward and toward the
* End with a satisfying conclusion that resolves the
conflict/challenge in a positive way, leaves readers with
an Aha! or Wow! or Yes! moment, and elicits tears or
cheers or both.
* Build your story around a distinctive, compelling, and
believable premise that weaves together the story and
drives the plot forward.
* Use lively, descriptive language that is appropriate
for the time, place, and people depicted in the story as
well as for A Cup of Comfort readers (that is, mainstream
* Read your story out loud and then revise it to remove
anything that is not essential to the story. Make sure
that every word counts and that the story flows together
* One of the best ways to discover the nature and flavor
of Cup of Comfort stories is to read them. A Cup of
Comfort books can be purchased at booksellers everywhere.
And sample stories are posted on the Website
* Payment: $500 Grand Prize awarded
to one story per volume; $100 (each) all other stories
published in book. Plus complimentary copy of book. On
* Story Length: 1,000 2,000 words
* Point of View: First-person or third-person
* Style: Narrative essay or creative nonfiction, dramatic
or humorous, but it must be a story.
We do not publish fiction, poetry, profiles, odes
to, eulogies, sermons, testimonials, journal entries,
letters, academic papers, commentary, articles,
diatribes, memoir chapters, academic papers,
confessionals, erotica, pornography, or experimental
* Stories must be original, true, positive, and in
* Previously published material acceptablewith the
exception of stories that have been or will be published
in a mass-market anthology (printed book) distributed in
* A publishing agreement will be mailed to the Author of
each story selected as a finalist.
* Manuscripts are not returned.
* Authors may submit multiple stories for any and for
different volumes of Cup of Comfort.
* Entrants pay no entry or reading fees.
HOW TO SUBMIT YOUR STORY
Electronic (email) submissions
preferred. Mailed and faxed submissions acceptable.
Typed submissions preferred. Neatly handwritten
Each submission must include the
following at the top of the first page:
* Story title
* Authors name
* Authors mailing address
* Authors phone number
* Authors email address, if applicable
Choose one of these easy submission
EMAIL: In the subject line, cite
the Cup of Comfort volume (i.e., Grandparents). Copy and
paste (or type) the story into the body of the email. No
attachments. One story per email. Send to:
MAIL: You can send more than
one story per envelope. Include one self-addressed,
postage-paid envelope for each submission. Submit only
the printed/paper copy of the story; do not send computer
disks or CDs. Mail to: Cup of Comfort, Adams Media, 57
Littlefield St., Avon, Massachusetts 02322, USA
FAX: On a cover sheet
or at the top of the first page of the story, indicate
the volume for which you are submitting the story and the
number of pages being submitted. Fax to: 1-508-427-6790
Please direct questions to the
email or mailing addresses, above. We cannot accept phone
Copyright 2002-2005 Adams