Writing Prompts of the Week – 2

Use these writing prompts to create stories, articles, or poems.

 

1. Discuss whether it’s right or wrong to create such hype at a celebrity’s death (ref: Michael Jackson).

2. Write about your idea of a perfect summer vacation.

3. Write something woven around the words – spaghetti, table, burn.

4. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the expression “it’s raining cats and dogs”?

5. What does this picture make you think of?

 

teacher n students

 

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Advice to Writers

Garrison Keillor’s advice to writers.

 

 

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The Whys of Freelance Writers Today

So much is being written about the sad state of freelance writers today. Be it a writer’s blog or a social networking site, and it’s there. Each has its own approach and the visitors’ comments are also varied – but the gist is the same. Two points are always there, and these set me thinking:

1. Clients pay freelance writers ridiculously low rates, often as low as $ 1 per article. And there are writers who actually write at these rates … even when this measly amount is withheld with some excuse or the other. On a blog someone also wrote, “clients use underhand ways to keep writers at their beck and call”. 

My question here is – who is responsible for this state of affairs? If you ask me, it’s the writers themselves. People are paying this amount because writers are willing to write for this amount. Set your price and refuse to go for less. No one is going to force you to write for $ 1 an article if you don’t want to. People need things written, more now than ever before… because of the wide use of the internet and need for fresh content every day. If they can get writers who are willing to write for less, then why should they pay more? But if writers refuse to go below their rates, people will be forced to hire at higher rates.

There’s another point I’d like to make here – you are paid what you are worth. I strongly believe that if your work is really good, then there’s no way that you won’t be paid what you’re worth. So, instead of complaining, freelance writers should be concentrating on the quality of their work and set their own price.

2. Much of the blame is being placed on “Asian writers” or “some guy in India who doesn’t know how to string words together”.

Ok, suppose for one moment that it is “these guys” who are responsible for the low rates. But are they forcing other writers to lower their rates as well? If they can’t “string words together”, or as someone else put it, “don’t even know what correct grammar or idiom is”, then why are they being hired? Again suppose that their English is not good enough, then isn’t the $ 1 dollar their worth? You go out and show what stringing of words or correct grammar is, and you’ll be paid your worth. Why complain?

As for the issue of “native speakers” and “non-native speakers”, to me it makes no sense. Command over a language has nothing to do with nationality. There are many non-speakers whose English is much better than those of “natives”

My belief is that it’s not right to blame anyone for anything. It’s an open market. Anyone can go out there and sell their services. Just like in any other kind of market, there are all sorts of sellers and all kinds of buyers. If you want your services to be sold at a good price – produce good services and show the world what you can do. Once buyers see what you have to offer, there’s no way you won’t be paid what you’re worth.

 

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Five Steps to Building a Better Vocabulary

As we discussed in a previous post, the choice of words is very important in order to produce a good piece of writing. But how are we to choose the right words if our vocabulary is limited? This is why it is very important to build a good vocabulary – rightly called a powerful writing tool. So, how should we build a good vocabulary?

Here are five easy steps:

1. Read, and read more. Reading is the best and most effective way to building a good vocabulary. Read books, literary magazines, newspapers, or even good websites. When you read a wide variety of things, you come across many new words. Look at these words – how have they been used? Sometimes you can guess the meaning of the word from the context. If not, look it up in a dictionary. Once you know the meaning and its usage, try and use the word as much as possible for practice.

2. Make personal meanings of the new words that you have learnt. This makes it easy for you to remember them. For example,   if you want to remember “arrogant”. Think of a person you know who is arrogant and associate the word with him/her. Then whenever you see or hear the word “arrogant”, the image of that person will appear in your mind, and you will be reminded of the meaning of the word.

3. Keep a good thesaurus handy. When you sit down to write something, look up all the words with similar meanings and see which one fits best in your context. When you keep looking up, you learn several different words with similar meanings and this makes it easy for you to select the right word.   

4. Learn as many prefixes and suffixes as possible – both their meanings and usage. If you know what the prefixes and suffixes mean, you can guess meanings of words with them. For example, if you know that the prefix ‘kilo’ means ‘thousand’, then you can immediately guess the meaning of ‘kilometer’ to be a ‘thousand meters’.

5. Play word games. This is a great way of building a good vocabulary, and it’s a fun way, too. There are some good classic games like Scrabble and Boggle, but you can find many more on the web that can be played online. Just go to Google or Yahoo and you’ll find plenty of good word games to play.

There’s still another way to building a good vocabulary, which I personally have found to be very useful. Why I haven’t included it in the list here is because it’s something that cannot be done immediately. It requires time. What I am referring to here is learning Latin. Most English words have their roots in Latin. So, if you know the language, you can easily identify the root and grasp the meaning. For example, if you know the Latin word ‘manu’ (hand) and you know the word ‘script’ (writing), then you can easily grasp the meaning of ‘manuscript’ to be ‘hand-written’.  This is why I always advise my students to learn Latin. 

What have you found to be the most useful way?

 

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Writing Prompts of the Week

Use these writing prompts to create articles, stories, or poems.

 

1. Write about what happens when you bump into a friend after 10 years.

2.  Write something woven around the words – social worker, nursing home, sick, charity.

3. You have a chance to travel to any country in the world. Which country would you go to and why?

4. Write something with the title ‘Curiosity Killed the Cat’.  

5. Look at this picture. What does it make you think of?  

 

cat moments 2

 

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Writing a Good Title

Writing a title – whether it’s for an article, a story, a sales copy, or whatever else – is the most important part of your writing. You have to think of every word that you use, because it is this very title that will make a reader want to read what you have written. In other words, it is the attention-grabber. The more attractive it is, the more readers you’ll have. Write a bad title and it gets passed over.

There is no magic formula to writing a good title. Each piece that you write is different, and therefore, needs a different approach. Just keep these points in mind:

 1. Make it unique. It needs to stand out in order to attract attention.

 2. Keep your audience in mind. Who are you writing for? What can motivate them to read?

 3. Be specific as to what you’re offering – a glimpse of the content.

 4.  Use simple and straightforward language. Complicated titles get passed over.

 5. If you’re writing for the web, include the right keywords so it gets picked up by search engines.

 Keep these title writing tips in mind, and you’re sure to come up with some compelling ones.

 By the way, do you think my titles are compelling enough?

 

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Advice for Writers

Bestselling author Jeffrey Archer offers advice to aspiring writers.

 

 

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