Welcome to my blog


Welcome to my blog. Here you will find tips that will help you write books and articles that establish you as the expert in your market.
                   --Lee Pound

March 2019
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How Awful Writing Can Hurt You

A magazine columnist I once knew wrote a novel. According the promoters it was the ultimate Hollywood novel, complete with dirt, inside stories, great action and outsized characters.

She got an agent, sold the book to a big New York publisher, held a launch party with movie stars, agents and Beverly Hills celebrities, and signed a contract to write several blockbuster books.

Considering the hype, the publishers were expecting the next Danielle Steele, huge blockbusters that would sell hundreds of thousands of copies because a Hollywood insider who knew all the scandals wrote them.

The book was duly published and went on sale in bookstores for a few months. Enough copies were sold to make back the advance but no rush to buy occurred.

Why?

It had a nice cover. It had an author who knew her subject. It had an agent and publisher committed to its success. It received hype and reviews from major publications.

It failed because the writing was awful.

The book was not just poorly written. It was unreadable. The sentence structure was choppy, the words poorly chosen, the characters mere cardboard and the plot line completely unbelievable. Those who bought the book told all their friends not to waste their money and the book’s sales died.

Some advocates say that you can get away with a poorly written book, that the quality matters less than the content, that readers seldom read most of the books they buy.

To some extent it is true that you can sell anything with hype. You can make people buy something but you can’t make them buy it again if it is not worth their money. People want value. They aren’t looking for Hemingway, they are looking for a book that is easy to read, makes sense and gives them solid information. A flashy cover and flashy title may get attention but content will make your reputation.

You don’t want your reader to notice your writing. If the reader sees errors, poor sentence construction, too many passives, and too much fat, he or she will start noticing the writing and not the content. Your writing must be transparent so the reader can concentrate on what you are saying, not on how you are saying it.

When you write poorly, the reader may think you don’t know your subject either. It is common sense to give yourself as many advantages as possible. A poorly written book gives the reader a sense that you lack professionalism not only as a writer but also in the field in which you are writing.

Your information must be solid. I have said this before but it bears repeating. You are asking the reader to spend several hours with you learning about a subject that you know well. Your readers already know about this subject or they would not be interested in it and will therefore challenge you to present new insights and new information. It is not enough to rehash what everyone else has already said. You must add to it.

You must know the craft of writing to affect the reader in the manner you desire. I consider this non-negotiable. Picasso knew how to paint excellent conventional portraits before he ever experimented with abstract art. Writing craft can best be summed up as the set of tools writers have generated over the years that create certain effects on their readers. Writers know how to make their readers cry, laugh, anticipate, learn, care, and believe. The specific techniques by which they do this are called writing craft.

Writing craft can be learned. You do not need to be a great writer nor do you need to spend years learning to write. In many cases your writing will resemble conversation in that it will flow from your brain directly to the page. The basics of craft are not difficult and consist of a few simple actions you can take while writing to make your writing more effective in the moving readers in the way you wish to move them.

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