List of Topics


Writing Feedback

by Ron Kurtus

Readers have sent in a total of 140 comments and questions on Writing issues. They are listed according to date.

You can read them to further your understanding of the subject.

List of next 15 letters




Do you know a site where I can post a story? Random Story USA
Trying to write with a scientific mind Esteem Australia
How can I improve my movie shot selection? Screen Paradigm INDIA
Got error message in Book Report tool Book Report USA
Not sure I agree on conclusion Reader Interest USA
How many pages allotted to the back-story? Screen Paradigm Australia
I am a talented writer but have no money Get Paid for Fiction Nigeria
What to do when using a dictating machine Dictation England
What magazines have staff writers? Get Paid for Fiction USA and Israel
Boss is terrible in dictating material Dictation USA
I was in love with journals since 1st grade Journal USA
Want to have a career in writing General Bahrain
Helping an adult learner with writing Vocabulary USA
Humor Book General USA
Comparison of various dictation programs Dictation USA

Next 15 letters


First 15 letters

Random Story

Do you know a site where I can post a story?

July 11, 2006


I wanted to know if you have any knowledge of a site that I can post a story on and have people tell me what they think of it?

Baby - USA (11463)


On our Writing Resources for Students page at: there is a listing of sites that allow you to post your stories. I believe that some allow feedback from others.

A problem with getting anonymous feedback is that you don't know the quality of the opinion. A better solution may be to show the story to friends and ask for some "constructive criticism." That is better than asking, "What do you think?" because they may not want to hurt your feelings. Take any criticism with a "grain of salt" and analyse if it is really valid.

Best wishes in your writing.

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Trying to write with a scientific mind

June 25, 2006


I have got such a huge, dramatic, Shakespearian story to tell that it will take huge writing talent to not fluff it. It will be very difficult to quickly develop the high level of writing ability required. Writing is so dependent on natural talent--of which I have quite a lot--but I am more of the careful scientific type--and what is needed with my wonderful story is heaps of creative, poetic ability--which is not really my strength!

Sean - Australia (11394)


Yes, some writers are artists that have a way with words. But the advantage that a scientific mind has is that the structure can be analyzed and a good, dramatic story can be synthesized.

A scientific way of writing such a story is to first lay out a simple plot of what will happen in the story. See the Random Plot Generator at: to give you an idea about that.

Now the desires, conflicts and problems need to relate to basic human emotions and behavior. Shakespeare was a master at seeing into people's hearts. You then need to describe the emotions and feelings. Like, how did the boy feel and act when he fell in love with the girl? What type of hatred and jealousy did his rival have?

Telling a good story that gets your audience's attention and interest if often worth more than artistry.

I hope these ideas help in writing your dramatic story.

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Screen Paradigm

How can I improve my movie shot selection?

May 17, 2006


how to imporove my shot selection ? and how to write the tight screenplay ?

vijay krishna - INDIA (11129)


Once you have a general plot written and perhaps a screenplay, it is good to create a storyboard of the script. This is where you establish the various scenes and make a rough sketch of what the shot will be. You can include the dialog in each sheet of your storyboard. In this way, you can visualize how the film will play. It is a lot of work, but it also can be used to tighten up your script.

Note that the shots do not need dialog. Most movies minimize the amount of talking in favor of action.

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Book Report

Got error message in Book Report tool

May 11, 2006


Hi...we are trying to use the Book Report Writing tool and got all the way to the end and encountered an ERROR MESSAGE! It said to contact your Webmaster. HELPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP!!!!!

thanks, The Wagners

Cheryl - USA (11083)


I am really sorry that happened to you. I hope you did not lose a lot of work.

I wonder if there was some glitch in the Internet that caused the problem? That is why I warn not to put too much information in the tool, just in case there is a problem. Usually, it works fine.

I'll look into it to make sure there are no other problems. Sorry again.

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Reader Interest

Not sure I agree on conclusion

April 20, 2006


I've just read your lesson "Getting the Reader's Interest." It makes very much sense to draw the curiosity to the material he/she - as a reader - has chosen to examine whether it's worthy reading or not. However, in many fictions you can't just give away the conclusion can you? The whole point of a story is the resolution. If you concluded it, then the reader might as well think he/she understands the document. In other words I disagree with you to conclude the literature in the opening (not in an essay of course). Rather, I think one as a writer should have a foreshadowing or reveal a conflict that is left unsolved until, at least, later in the story. I don't know whether this is good or not, but it is my philosophy to write a fictional account. Hopefully you'd reply as soon as possible and finally thank you for taking your time reading this.

Francis - USA (10895)


Although you have to grab the person's interest in fiction, you also usually want to keep them guessing on the outcome. In the final pages of a piece of fiction, you can bring the story to a resolution or conclusion. But note that some fiction stories will leave the reader hanging. Alfred Hitchcock often had stories with no real ending. They left the reader or viewer to guess at what would happen.

The main idea in this essay was that your title and opening pages get the attention and interest of the reader. The title will get the reader to pick up the book off the shelves. The opener will get the interest to continue reading.

See the Screenplay Paradigm at: to see the method of plot development in a screenplay. It also can apply to books.

Best wishes in your writing.

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Screen Paradigm

How many pages allotted to the back-story?

March 23, 2006


How many pages should alloted to the back-story and set-up? Syd Field paradim suggests 20-30 pages. What is your opinion?
Albert Hoeft

albert - Australia (10584)


Field is considering approximately 1 script page per screen minute. Try looking at some movies and timing when the back-story and set-up happens. Most good 90 minute to 2 hour movies will have that turning point at around the same time. Of course, television movies screw it up with commercials, so don't consider them.

I've watched movies, checked my watch and wrote down when certain things happened. It is amazing, but many follow the specific pattern. You can then easily convert that timing to your script.

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Get Paid for Fiction

I am a talented writer but have no money

February 6, 2006


am a talented writer in prose and poetry, even movie story. am in a sstate of financial impoverishment . please i hav got the talents and in any way you people can buy my stories , let me know

sunday - Nigeria (9962)


Try to get your short stories and poems published in your local newspapers or magazines. That would be done for free, but it would get you a reputation that would allow you to get the attention of those who would publish your work and pay you.

Note that if you love to write and are good, you might also be able to find a job with a company that is looking for someone with writing skills.

Becoming a paid writer is not easy, so you need to find work until you can start to make money at the trade.

Best wishes in your writing career.

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What to do when using a dictating machine

January 25, 2006


please send me information on the Dos and don't on how to audio using a dictating machine.

- England (9796)


Much depends on the thinking style of the person dictating into the recorder. At the very least, words should be pronounced clearly into the microphone. Ideally, the person should speak slowly, with pauses between sentences. But many people cannot think so slowly. Fortunately, good transcribing machines allow the typist to slow down the audio and easily stop the tape with a foot-pedal.

It is good to experiment to see what method works the best for you, with the equipment available.

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Get Paid for Fiction

What magazines have staff writers?

January 23, 2006


What magazines have staff writer?

sandra - USA and Israel (9764)


Most magazines have staff writers. Pick your favorite magazine and somewhere near the front they usually have a listing of their editors and staff. Sometimes an assistant editor or item editor is really a staff writer.

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Boss is terrible in dictating material

January 14, 2006


My boss dictates 3 or more tapes a week for transcription. He hasn't learned how to dictate into a machine. I get so frustrated trying to type and listen because he'll dictate while he is in the car, at Chuck E Cheese with his kids, or if he dictates while at work, he doesn't speak directly into the hand held tape recorder and he never gives full names or hints to where I can find addresses on the people he is dictating on. (He owns 4 different companies, and volunteers with 2 others) Some days I find myself cursing at the machine.
How can I direct him on how to properly dictate so I don't waste so much time trying to locate name, addresses and figuring out his random thoughts?

Suzette - USA (9669)


It is a real problem to try to correct a boss who may be doing things that make it difficult for you to get your job done effectively. You really have to know his personality and how he will take suggestions from his workers. He sounds like a typical type-A personality who is go-go-go and doing many things at one time.

You have to appeal to what is important to him and what would motivate him to take more care in his dictation. One idea is to tell your concern about making mistakes when the recording isn't very clear. Another thought is to say that it would take less time if the recordings where a better quality, thus saving him money. The first idea is probably the best.

Although you may feel you are wasting time, his viewpoint is that is what you are being paid for. Note that often an executive secretary organizes and manages what the boss does. Even if that is not your title, you are doing that type of work.

Be cautious in your approach, but also try to accept him for what he is, as being part of your job. I know it is frustrating, so best wishes in handling the situation.

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I was in love with journals since 1st grade

January 9, 2006


Oh let me tell you I was in love with journals since I was in first grade. I'm in fifth grade right now, so I 'm still writing in juornals right now.

Victoria - USA (9617)


That's great! Keep doing it and save them all. It will be great to look back on how your ideas have grown.

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Want to have a career in writing

December 20, 2005





NERMIN - Bahrain (9427)


Thank you for your comments. I'm glad the material has been helpful to you.

Note that script writing can be fictional stories, news articles or industrial training films. Do some investigation of the television stations in your country for what items they hire local writers. Trying to meet writers at the television stations is helpful in finding out how to break into the market.

Also, check with companies that may have training films. That information is not easy to get. Also, many companies hire technical writers to write their instruction manuals and marketing material.

Meanwhile, write every day. You can try to get articles or stories published in local newspapers or in various magazines. Remember that the material must be interesting to someone else.

I hope these ideas help. Best wishes in your writing career.

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Helping an adult learner with writing

December 19, 2005


How can I help an adult reader with writing. I cannot get him to write an essay. he can't bring the words to paper. He has passed all areas on the GED test except for writing!

Charmane - USA (9424)


Perhaps he can try our "Aid for Writing a Speech" at:

or he can use our "Air for Writing a Book Report" at: (note: it ends in cfm)

Both will help him put ideas on paper. Tell him to start out with something really simple. Often people are afraid they have to write too much. It is best to start with one idea and example before getting to more complex essays.

Another idea is to let him speak his idea into a tape recorder. Some people are better verbalizing than writing. Then he can listen to the tape and try to write down some of his thoughts.

I hope these ideas help. Let me know how things turn out for him.

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Humor Book

December 1, 2005


To Whom It May Concern,

A new book has just been published that you will want to read. It is by Dr. Edgar E. Willis, and it is entitled How to be Funny on Purpose: Creating and Consuming Humor. Dr. Willis is the former chair of the Dept. of Communication at the University of Michigan. If you enter the title of the book into the Google search engine, it is the second website produced. Click on that title, and you can both see and read about the book. Also, it is advertised on and at the Barnes & Noble online bookstore. At, there are three five-star reviews of the book. This book is historical, analytical, practical, and entertaining. It is a superb work by a serious author, and anyone interested in public speaking will enjoy it tremendously.


Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.

9583 Woodleigh Court

Perrysburg, OH 43551-2669

Phone: 419-874-2124

Fax: 419-872-0983


Richard L. - USA (9230)


Thank you for the information on your book.

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Comparison of various dictation programs

October 15, 2005


Where can I get an unbised comparison of various dictation programs? I purchased
Xpressions Media Talk It Type It. Its accuracy is disapointing even after extensive training.

Leon Weiss

Leon - USA (8566)


ScanSoft at owns the two leading speech recognition software packages: Dragon Natural Speaking and IBM ViaVoice. Dragon is slightly better, but they are both good. You can get the basic version for a relatively low price.

Since they are not very popular, I haven't found much in the line of comparisons. PC Magazine may have reviews on these products.

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