Thursday, March 31, 2011

You Can Write for Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup for the Soul is looking for inspirational, true stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Stories that warm the heart and rekindle the spirit touch the souls of readers and help them discover life principles they can use. Isn't that why we are here?

You can write a story for Chicken Soup. The basic ingredients of a winning CS story are:
  • True first person story
  • Powerful hook and compelling scenes that lead to a memorable takeaway
  • Inspires the heart and soul
  • Brings hope and encouragement
  • Causes tears, laughter, goosebumps or any combination of these
  • Stimulates emotion
  • Motivates compassion
Chicken Soup is currently accepting stories for these upcoming books with their deadlines:

Brides and Weddings, April 30, 2011
Christmas Stories, June 30, 2011)
Family Caregiver, July 15, 2011)
Food and Love, May 15, 2011)
Home Sweet Home, August 30, 2011)
Marriage and Married Life, May 30, 2011
Think Positive for Kids, December 31, 2011

Here is the link to CS guidelines:
I know each of you have powerful, inspiring stories. Write them well and submit them two or three weeks before the deadline.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Where to Get Ideas

      Donna Goodrich, author of A Step in the Write Direction, says "Ideas are everywhere.!" She gleans newspapers and magazines to find ideas for devotions, fillers and articles. Later she gives them different slants  and sells them to other publishers.  Once at lunch during a writer's conference, Donna wrote notes as fast as she could. People probably thought she was capturing ideas for future stories when she was actually eves-dropping on nearby conversations and recording dialogue.
      Other places Donna gets ideas are from things children say, everyday events, from reading the Bible, and stories in her past. I especially like the way Donna finds spiritual application in ordinary things. If you have a copy of her book, A Step in the Write Direction, find examples of how she turned ideas into fillers and devotions starting on page 163. Page 166 has more than a hundred topics for idea files.
      I would like to add that reading, whether novels or non-fiction, give me ideas for stories or articles. Another way to collect ideas is by carrying a pen and small note pad. The pen and pad come in handy when I need to write descriptions or outlines that come to mind. If you find yourself on the go and you don't have time for the pen and pad, use your cell phone to call yourself and leave an idea on your voice mail. You can also record ideas with a hand held recorder.
      Like Donna says, "ideas are everywhere." Keep your eyes and ears open and don't let any slip past without recording them one way or another.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Write With Active Verbs

Writing with passive verbs makes our stories boring. Effective writers weed out the pesky use of the forms of "to be" verbs by using stronger, more colorful and active sentence structure. Consider what action is taking place.

Forms of "to be"
is, am, are, were, has, had, will be, will have been, has been, had been, would (should, could) have been, being, to be.

Camouflage fatigues are worn by soldiers in war zones.
Susan seems to be an accurate news reporter.
The discussion will be led by Sandra Johnson.
There are many women who become doctors.

Possible Solutions:
Soldiers in war zones wear camouflage fatigues.
Susan reports the news accurately.
Sandra Johnson will lead the discussion.
Many women become doctors.

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Avoid Purple Prose

My Dear Writers, I was appalled when I read this week that we should not use Purple Prose in our writing. Purple happens to be my favorite color. Whoever named this form of writing should have named it Orange Prose, or Black Prose. Anything but Purple Prose! If you don’t know what Purple Prose is, I am glad I can enlighten you.

 In her book Crafting Stories for Children, Nancy Lamb refers to using adjectives and adverbs as Purple Prose. You know the LY and ING words? She says adjectives interfere with prose more often than they improve it and adverbs kill a sentence more often than they enliven it. But I thought our writing should be wonderfully descriptive so we could put our readers in captivating settings. Nancy gives these examples:
Don’t write this way: Tiffany smiled prettily, her beautiful, enticing, cat-green eyes dancing seductively with alluring and predatory fires.
Write this way: When Tiffany smiled, her eyes danced with predatory fires.
So my friends, bury those weak words and craft strong descriptive sentences without them. Okay, okay, you don’t have to bury all of them. You can use your favorites, but sparingly. Happy writing.