Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Power of the Writer

If you’re a writer, do you think of yourself as powerful? Or do you think of your writing as a pastime, something to do when you have nothing else to do? Consider the following subjects as examples of the impact of writing.

First impressions

We have all heard the term applied to meeting people but how about the books you have read? James Michener comes to my mind right away. He gave me my first impressions of Alaska, Hawaii, Africa, and many more. News stories assault us almost every minute and give us first impressions on numerous topics, some true, some not. We get our first impressions on so many subjects through reading other people’s writing; it is staggering to think about.


I feel this term would not exist if it were not for the writer. Encouragement through inspiration leads us to further our knowledge of something that interests us. It makes us act, try something, read more, and it feeds our soul. Positive thoughts, advice, ideas…all of these come to us through inspirational writers. Inspiration means different things to different people, but if you are interested in being inspired, there is a book out there for you. And if there is not, you should write one.


History, how would we know it without writers? Sure, someone may dig up a mastodon or a dinosaur, and we can visit a museum to see what they looked like, but if it were not for writing, why would we even be interested? We need writers to make us act. Our stories can give us immortality if we put them to words and pass those words on to readers. Some of us may think our life stories are dull and uninteresting, but there is someone out there waiting to read about us. Think how your story would interest a person living in another culture, and how it might impact them.

A Memory Bank

Alzheimer’s is prominent in the news and seems to be something in all our futures if we live long enough. Who knows what we will remember when we finally succumb to this tragedy of the mind. We can make it less of a tragedy by writing down things we remember now so those memories can be passed on to others. It does not matter your current age because we do not know what tomorrow may bring, or even if we will have a tomorrow. Journals are our memories for tomorrow. Pretty though they may be, don’t leave them blank.

Artistic Creation

How many have turned to a book to learn how to do a craft or play an instrument or paint a picture or use a camera or any number of other things. A piece of writing may have originally planted that seed in our imagination. Books always go along with how-tos. Unless we are just browsing, we search youtube videos after we have read about something that interests us. Self-help books are a multi-million dollar industry for the writer. Have you ever ordered something you had to put together. Although directions may be a last resort, I always have to go there eventually.


I am not talking about the marrying kind, but the writing kind that captures your attention and makes you think in ways you would not have thought before. It gets you involved, stirs you to participate in some way. Do you remember the movie, The Sixth Sense? Yes, maybe it was a little far out, but engaging? You bet. It was written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.  This is powerful and engaging writing, not soon forgotten. I know you can think of many other books you will never forget, even some that may have changed your life.


I hope this little essay I am writing will persuade you to take up or resume the practice of writing. Through rhetoric, I have offered reasons to write, appealed to your emotions, given examples, used metaphors, and many other writing techniques to sway your thought process to this end. If you have ever written a letter of complaint, you know what persuasive writing is. Op ed pieces fit in this category, too.

Writing is a powerful force in today’s world, and you hold that power in your fingers and in your mind. Share it. I may be one little dot in the universe (Carl Sagan’s Cosmos), but I have the power to decide if anyone remembers me when my little dot floats away. You have that power, too.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

How To Write A Review

I am a member of an online writing site, which I dearly love, and from time to time I participate in helping judge site contests. All the judges are required to review each entry submitted, and I thought I would devote this post to my review method.

In order for a review to be effective, that is, constructively received, it must be balanced, not all good and not all bad. All of either one will negatively impact the writer. No one is perfect and no one is all bad; we all know that. So, how do I get that balance?

First, I read the story as a reader, looking for something that will hold my attention. This first read is usually a quick one, unless I stumble around, bumping into glaring mistakes.

After the quick read, I start looking for plot, characters, conflict, resolution and possibly a theme. Then, I make a point of answering these questions:

  • How did it make me feel? What emotions were invoked?

  • Can I relate to it? Have I had similar experiences?

  • Is it believable? Even sci-fi and fantasy must be believable.

  • Does the dialogue flow easily? Can I hear it? Does each character sound like he should?

  • Is there a time period mentioned? How about a place? And setting?

  • Did anything in particular stand out or especially draw my interest?

  • Is there anything in the story I would change if I were writing it?

  • What was memorable about the story, something I might think about later?

I also like to scatter a few relevant emoticons throughout my reviews for attention, for color, or to get a point across. They help lighten the atmosphere.

I always begin and end with a few words of sincere encouragement, and I stress that the review is my opinion and meant to be helpful.

I hope something in this post will help you review others and perhaps allow you to receive helpful reviews with the intent in which they are given.