Blog – Mary Harwell Sayler

As the New Year begins, expand your options and improve your writing and publishing success with these tips and helps.

Source: Blog – Mary Harwell Sayler

Faith, Fiction, Friends: Mary Harwell Sayler’s “Christian Writer’s Guide”

Review by Glynn Young

Source: Faith, Fiction, Friends: Mary Harwell Sayler’s “Christian Writer’s Guide”

Minipoems plant little seeds

A quick look at a day’s headlines reminds us how fragile life is – and how fragile the earth! As Christian poets and writers, many of us can’t help but think about our loved ones who don’t know the Lord or who have fallen away. Unfortunately, it’s easy to come on so strong that our words have the opposite effect.

One way to overcome this tendency yet say what needs to be said is to find an appropriate metaphor or symbol, then pour our words into a small container such as a minipoem or aahcoo. Maybe a loved one won’t even see our poems, but someone else’s loved ones might.

To recap an earlier conversation: an aahcoo focuses on God or a spiritual matter in a maximum of 3 to 7 syllables written on 3 to 7 lines.

This example uses the traditional haiku form of 5/7/5 syllables to understate a colossal concern. Lord willing, the poem might cause readers to consider their own spiritual condition:

Angels on the pond
their tiny searchlights blinking –
I wonder who’s lost?

by Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2016

 

 

Using alliteration for sound echoes and for fun

In case you haven’t had a chance to experiment with alliteration, here are two types to practice in your poems or when you want to turn up the audio for emphasis or humor in other genres of writing.

Assonance – This type of alliteration with vowels is more subtle than consonance, which is more subtle than rhyme. If words end in a vowel, they might rhyme too, but assonance typically comes in the sound of vowels at the beginning of a word or inside it.

For example, read the following question aloud and listen for the repetition of the uuuu (ew,ew,ew) sound in every word but “as.”

Would you choose Hugh as true?

Consonance – The alliteration most people notice when they’re reading is consonance where two or more words in close proximity begin with the same consonantal letter of the alphabet.

Generally speaking two or three repeated consonantal sounds on one line of poetry lend musicality to a poem. As you read aloud the following, listen especially for the echoing m, r, and g.

…the murmuring sounds of morning

Like end-line and internal rhymes, consonance emphasizes word, but much more subtly. A big exception is if you use multiple words with alliteration. Then you have a tongue twister, such as Suzy sells seashells by the seashore. Try saying that aloud a few times to see how long your tongue lasts without twisting!

Now, go back, reread that last sentence above and notice the alliterative use of l’s and t’s. You can slip that type of consonance into descriptive scenes in novels or other forms of fiction to add a touch of musicality. And, you can use light alliteration in nonfiction to lighten a mood.

As you increase the volume of sound echoes with consonance, you also increase the humor to a certain point before getting just plain silly:

Susie’s sale of seashells
makes no sense to me!
Why does she sell seashells
when, on the beach,
they’re free?

by Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2016.

For more help with poetry techniques, terminology, and forms to play with, order Mary’s e-book, the Christian Poet’s Guide to Writing Poetry, based on the study course she wrote and used for years with other poets and poetry students. The guide is for almost any poet, but the poetry examples come from a Christian perspective. Hopefully, the title also lets poet-readers know that the poems used to illustrate various principles are G-rated. 🙂

Tips on writing nonfiction

• Pick a subject that clearly relates to the theme and purpose of the publication or blog for which you would like to write.

• List the points you want to make. [Hint: Give your ideas time to surface.]

• Select the most significant, timely, and/or freshest points.

• Arrange those points in order of importance.

Next, evaluate how long your article will probably need to be.

If you have one main point or fresh perspective you want to discuss in, say, 200 to 300 words, that would be about the right length for a blog post.

If you have 3 to 5 points you’d like to develop in, say, 1500 to 3000 words, that could be a magazine article.

If you have a long list of points that will require research and/or take time to explain, you might have the makings of a book!

If you’re interested in suggestions on ways to develop each point, let me know in the Comment space below, and, Lord willing, we can talk about that next time.

by Mary Harwell Sayler, © 2015

Besides a couple dozen books in all genres for Christian and educational markets, Mary has placed over 1,500 articles, devotionals, and other short manuscripts with traditional and indie publishers. She also wrote the Christian Writers Guide e-book on writing, revising, and publishing to help you in your Christian writing life.

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Step into the New Year: writing, revising, and marketing

Preliminary Steps:

Study classical and popular works in your favorite writing genre.

Consider what draws readers to a particular poem, story, article, or book.

Study magazines and other publications you like to read.

Get familiar with the book catalogues of publishers whose work you like.

Consider potential gaps that your story, poem, article, or book might fill.

Writing Plan:

Plan your fiction or nonfiction manuscript before you begin.

Decide on a theme, purpose, and reading audience.

Thoroughly research your topic or story setting.

Outline each article or nonfiction book.

Write a synopsis of your novel in present tense.

Both the synopsis and the outline should be from 1 to 5 pages.

Writing, Revising, and Marketing:

Let your writing flow without criticizing yourself, then let your work rest.

Later read those pages as if someone else had written them.

Read your work aloud and notice if anything seems “off.”

Pinpoint a problem, and you will usually find a solution.

Revise to make the manuscript your best before you send it to a publisher.

Find and follow writers’ guidelines located on the company’s website.

Query several editors at once about an idea or book proposal, but when you submit your actual manuscript, send it to only one editor at a time.

When mailing your manuscript by postal service, enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) to cover its potential return.

Keep track of where, when, and to whom you mailed each manuscript.

If you don’t hear back in 3 months, follow up with a brief, polite email.

While you wait to hear from one editor, query another editor about your next idea.

Repeat the above steps.

©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer and poet-author of 27 traditionally published books in all genres is on a mission to help other Christian Poets & Writers through blogs, writing resources, and e-books such as the Christian Writer’ Guide.