Writing Well

Playing with the Big Kids

When you're an expert in a specific subject, you have the inside track. Your audience will often give you the benefit of the doubt automatically, since you have the reputation to back up your claims.

Writer's Block

Don't pretend to be something you're not, and never, ever, lie to your readers.

For example, you believe I can teach you how to write well, since I've published over 100 books, have a doctorate in English and writing, and am a tenured university professor. But would you be so quick to believe me if I tried to teach you how to replace a hard drive, whip up a perfect crème brûlée, or bungee-jump off the Empire State Building? I think not. That's where my skill as a writer comes in. I have written very successful books in subjects not specifically in my area. Now you can, too. Here's how.

Author! Author!

Writers can get carried away when it comes to getting the facts. It's reputed that in 1972, Frederick Forsyth and a dozen friends attempted to oust the government of Equatorial Guinea by kidnapping President Francisco Marcias Nguema. Forsyth's plan failed, setting him back more than $200,000. Fortunately, art doesn't have to imitate life. Two years later, Forsyth published The Dogs of War, which describes a band of mercenaries who overthrow an African government by killing its president. In the book, the plot was a success.

Write Angles

You can find technical experts by contacting professional organizations, universities, and trade organizations. Don't forget alumni associations and civic groups, too. Treat the task as you would any other networking contact.

Word Watch

An abstract is a brief summary, usually no more than 125 words.

Writer's Block

Warning: Don't cite too many outside experts when you're writing outside your area of expertise. This diminishes the trust you've built with your readers.

Using some or all of these suggestions can help you produce brilliant writing no matter what the subject. Start small, with perhaps one or two ideas at first. Then experiment with other ideas to see which ones work best for you.

book cover

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Well © 2000 by Laurie Rozakis, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book direct from the publisher, visit the Penguin USA website or call 1-800-253-6476. You can also purchase this book at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

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