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Pen IN Hand
January, 2008


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K.I.S.S. My... Writing!
Clarity is key, no matter what your writing genre
By  Peggy Bechko

P
onder this. Why do you write (no matter what you write)? To communicate? Yes. So, tell me. What good is it if your reader is confused by what you've written?

Whether it be your novel, instruction manual, travel magazine piece or just an ad, if those reading find it difficult to follow, youíve lost 'em. Simple. The book gets closed, the magazine tossed aside, the advertising ignored. Thatís when I tell you, K.I.S.S. my... writing!
 
Okay. Bottom line. The simpler the better. Thatís not to say youíre to write "down" to your reader. Itís not that people are stupid (well, not many of them are, and plainly neither my readers nor yours are), itís just that theyíre busy. Theyíre distracted and letís face it, nobody, whatever their level of ability, wants to have to stop and decode what theyíre reading. So, simply put, keep it simple, stoopid.
 
The concept applies well to all your writing. In general, keep sentences and paragraphs short. Donít you find it off-putting when confronted by a sea of type with minimum white space? In which case, isnít it easier to scan a page that offers some breaks? Maybe itís dialog or shorter paragraphs for fiction. Perhaps itís sub-headlines in advertising copy. Any number of things can help to draw the reader into the flow of the written page. 
 
Use easily understood words. Some writers have huge vocabularies and use them well. Others, like Hemingway, opt for smaller word data bases. Steinbeck, too, loved single-syllable words. Thatís not to say you shouldn't use colorful words. Simple and colorful are not exclusive of the other.
 
The key is clarity. Donít use a $100 word when a five-cent edition will do. This is especially true when you arenít comfortable with that C-note word in the first place. When you write what you are comfortable with it will more naturally come across clearly.

Think of when you were a kid. Remember childrenís books with large print and lots of pictures? Remember that first time you decided to read a "young adult" book without pictures (well, mostly without, maybe there were a few line drawings at the top of chapters )? Kind of a shock wasnít it? I think a little bit of that kid stays with us forever -- a sort of ďhey, whereíre the pictures?Ē kind of attitude. 
 
Reading aloud to yourself is also a great help when youíre trying to keep your writing simple and clean. Remember, youíre not trying to impress your reader with the size of your vocabulary, your perfect grammar or your long, luxurious sentences. 
 
Nope, thatís not what youíre doing. You're communicating. Telling a story of some kind. Regardless of the genre, the writer is telling a story. 
 
So, think in terms of talking to a friend. When you do, are be speaking to impress, or to effeciently convey something special? 
 
Think about it.IN Icon





Author of Doubleday western novels, Harlequin romances, Fictionworks' fantasies (Ebook format), Peggy Bechko has also optioned screenplays domestically and abroad, written for an animated series and for variety of other venues. She's working on a new novel and collaborating with a producer on a animated series. http://www.peggybechko.50megs.com/


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IN This Issue
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Writerís Block
The path to inspiration starts
Upon the trails weíve known;
Each writerís block is not a rock,
But just a stepping stone.

Poetry Is Not
Penned to the page
Waiting for us to admire.
It is only a lonely thought
Caught by tears on fire.

Silent Echoes
A quiet rhyme upon a page
Is what a poet gives;
Some gentle words whispered in trust
To see if memory lives.

Bard From Deadlines
What makes a poem finally work
Is not the time it takes;
Itís how the poet used the muse
To prophet from mistakes.

Be Mused
The art and craft of poetry
Are not so far apart;
The craft comes from the cunning,
The rest comes from the heart.

Fine Vintage
Donít plant your poem on the page
As though youíre hanging drapes;
Itís shape and flow should come and grow
Like wild summer grapes.

Getting It Write
Writers write what they know best,
Their passions, fears, and dreams;
Writers rarely write about
What other call their ďthemes.Ē

Double Vision
A writerís life is paradox,
Itís more than what it seems;
We write of our reality,
The one inside our dreams.

Poetry
The echo of a promise,
The thunder of a sigh,
The music of a memory,
A child asking why.

Letter Perfect
Twenty six symbols arranged on a page
Can send a soul to heaven or torment it with rage,
Can free a fragile world or hold it in its net--
The power and the magic of the mighty alphabet.

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The jump from writing just for fun
To getting paid for it
Begins when you first realize
You know youíll never quit.

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It is not the magic of his wings
That sets us free from our bond.
It is the muse within ourselves
That lets our words lift us beyond.

Photo Poet
Consider your mind the darkroom,
Consider your life the lens,
Consider your eye the camera
On whose focus the poem depends.

Rising Moon
A poem is a rising moon
Shining on the sea,
An afterglow of all we know,
Of all we hope to be.

Star Light
Writing a poem,
Reaching a star,
In making good art
We find who we are.

Spider Web
A poem is a spider web
Spun with words of wonder,
Woven lace held in place
By whispers made of thunder.

Re-Verse
The final draft upon the screen,
At last my poemís through;
A verse of only four short lines--
I rewrote twenty-two!

Read All Of Charles Ghigna's Poetry at FatherGoose.com


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