List of Topics


Writing Feedback

by Ron Kurtus

Readers have sent in a total of 141 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




Want to get book published Get Paid for Fiction USA
Wants to be a successful writer General Indonesia
Looking for a literary agent and publisher Get Paid for Fiction USA
Lost work Book Report USA
Is good vocabulary necessary? Vocabulary Nigeria
Wants to improve for SATS Vocabulary UK
Found this guide rather helpful Book Report jamaica
Hainvg trouble with English General Bangladesh
Wants to sell writing from Egypt Get Paid for Fiction Egypt
Mind Pad software Graphical Outline USA
Criticism of report format Book Report USA
Wants to write for children Esteem Sabah, Malaysia
Producers didn't pay for scripts Esteem Romania
Wants to write a non-fiction report Book Report China
Wants to get family history book published Get Paid for Fiction USA

Next 15 letters


First 15 letters

Get Paid for Fiction

Want to get book published

May 12, 2005


i have creative mind and i write stories but do not know what to do with it.I am a book right now i know someone is not just going to publish my book just like that,but i have some really good ideas please help me out.

orane - USA (6946)


The best way to get started is to write some short stories or short-short stories for magazines. They can be ideas from your book or something else.

Go to the library or bookstore and get the book Writer's Market. That lists magazines that accept stories. Many pay, but you just want to get published at first. You can also try your local newspaper.

Once you have some stories published, you can try to get your book published.

Note that you should use the spell-checker and grammar-checker before sending out any story. Have someone look it over too. If you send out poor work, they probably won't ever use you again.

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Wants to be a successful writer

May 4, 2005


Dear Sir / Madam,

I was surfing the net and found this website on successful writing. I have a desire to be a writer and love writing so much. I would like to learn more on how to improve my writing skills to a literary level as I dream of writing a book someday.

Look forward to hear from you and start learning and improving myself in the field of writing.

Thank you very much.

With Kind regards,

Corazon - Indonesia (6864)


A good place to start is with short stories about people you know and your family. You can then practice on describing the people and events so that they can be visualized by others.

You can also start a journal of your observations and experiences. This all is a way to improve your writing skills, as well as to gather material for your book.

Before you write a book, it is good to write short articles for magazines or the newspaper. If you get published, that will give great encouragement.

Note that before writing a book, it is good to summarize your idea in a page or two to see if a publisher would be interested.

Best wishes in your writing career.

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Get Paid for Fiction

Looking for a literary agent and publisher

April 25, 2005


I am looking for a literary agent and a publisher for my book "full circle: escape from Baghdad and the return".

Can you help?
For details go to My website:

Saul - USA (6768)


You have a great subject for a book, and I am sure you can find a publisher for it. My suggestion is to get a copy of The Writer's Market. That book has a listing of many agents and publishers and their requirements.

You can also go to a local bookstore and find books that would be somewhat similar: Iraq, autobiographies, current events, etc. You can see who publishes those types of books as a starter.

Since you live in the NY area, you should have easy access to the top literary agents. Call them from the Writer's Market listing, and also send a short letter (not an email) with a paragraph about your book to try to get some interest. You should also be able to give an overview of your book in one or two pages.

Your website is a great tool and place to allow them to quickly get information about your book. Include your web address in any letters you send.

Best wishes in getting your book published. It will take a little persistence, but I am sure you will succeed. Let me know how things turn out.

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Book Report

Lost work

April 17, 2005


Thanks. I thought this was a good site until my daughter lost an hour of work. We'll be sure not to come back here. M. Cullen

- USA (6684)


I am sorry that your daughter lost an hour of work. But note that there is a warning that says you could lose your work if you computer runs out of memory or something happens on the Internet. The following is clearly stated on the page:

Note: Although you can use this tool to write a full report, it is a good idea to only do a rough draft. Information is held in your computer's memory, so it is possible that you could run out of memory or something could happen on the Internet and you could lose an hour's worth of work.

The best bet is to use the tool to create a short rough draft, paste the output to your word processor, save the file, and then complete the report on your computer."

We can't be responsible for someone not heeding the warning or for something that happens to your computer.

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Is good vocabulary necessary?

April 14, 2005



I am a 200l student of English in a federal university in Nigeria. My term paper for this semester is: 'the acquisition of a good vocabulary is neccessary in composition. Discuss'.

I need your help to enable me write an outstanding paper.

Thanks in anticipation.

emma - Nigeria (6652)


Certainly a good vocabulary is important in being able to express your thoughts and ideas. The words must convey the message but they also should be such that the listener or reader can understand the meaning. Often people look at a good vocabulary as knowing long and difficult words. That makes them sound smart, even though no one can understand what is said or written. Soon people lose interest.

I hope those thoughts help you. Best wishes in your paper.

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Wants to improve for SATS

April 10, 2005


I think your website is very intresting! I would wonder if you would help me to improve my knowledge and voicabulary because i have got my sats in three weeks time and there is going to be a reading and WRITING TEST

Irim - UK (6613)


I would like to help you, but right now we don't have any other lessons on vocabulary, reading or writing. Also, it is difficult to increase your skills in those areas in just 3 weeks.

But I am sure you will do well in the test. Best wishes in your success.

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Book Report

Found this guide rather helpful

April 6, 2005


i found this guide rather helpful. it has pointed me in the right direction to complete my book reoprt

marva - jamaica (6554)


I am glad that the material was useful and helpful for you. I hope you got a good grade in your report.

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Hainvg trouble with English

March 22, 2005


Take my respect.I become helpful by your usefull website & your help.

Now i would like to mentoin you some of my problems that is some words have same catagories such as its, it`s, this,these, there, their. I fall in hasitation where is beter right to use them. Would you please know me what is the difference between them and where should i use in a right ways with example.


ISMAIL - Bangladesh (6410)


English can be a confusing language.

Its: When you say "its color" you mean "the color of it"

"It's" is the same as "it is"

"This" is used for one item, while "these" is for many items

"There" is a location, like "over there"

"Their" means "they own it" Like "their house" means "the house they own"

I hope that helps you.

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Get Paid for Fiction

Wants to sell writing from Egypt

March 16, 2005


I'm a 16-year-old male eleventh grader living in Cairo, Egypt. I have perfect English and perfect writing skills. I've written essays, fiction, articles, and poetry. I'm writing to ask if it's possible for me to make money writing for ezines and magazines in and out of Egypt if I take up writing as a part time nonprofessional job. How much money can I earn? I don't expect much, maybe $500-1,000 a month, which I think is practical.
Thanks in advance.

- Egypt (6356)


Writing for magazines can bring in some money, but it is unlikely you could even make $500 a month doing it. Ezines pay even less, if at all.

The best way is to try to get a job as a staff writer for a magazine or newspaper. Usually, writer submit articles for free, then make some money, and finally when the editor knows the quality of the writer, he or she can get regular assignments.

Start close to home, trying to write things for the local newspaper and local magazines. Note there are magazines for tourists where your good English would come in handy. You can also submit material to outside magazines with the chance of getting published.

Note that you should not think in terms of making money right now. You've got to build up a reputation as a writer, and them the money will come.

See: for a listing of writers in Egypt. You might contact some of them to get some pointers.

Best wishes in your career.

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Graphical Outline

Mind Pad software

February 20, 2005



I think I have found another really useful mind map tool to be added
to your page, "Software used for graphical outlining" section.

I've found Mind Pad (, it is suggesting a new approach to mind mapping, called "object-oriented mind mapping", this program lets create objects with any property set.

Hope it was useful!

Mike - USA (6032)


Thanks for the feedback. I checked out Mind Pad, and it looks like an interesting approach.

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Book Report

Criticism of report format

January 30, 2005


When trying to write a good report you're not supposed to use next, finally, last, or any of those transition words. My english professors have always taught me to be independant about transitioning. And when you're giving a conclusion its really tacky to start with "In conclusion." The conclusion statement is supposed to reflect in introductory paragraph.

Hayley - USA (5780)


Thanks for your comments. If a report is listing several major points, I see nothing wrong with numbering them or using transition words. But of course, you really should follow the instructions of the teacher.

A writer can use "In conclusion", "In summary", or no transistion phrase at all in the concluding paragraph, if it fits his or her style of writing.

With an automated writing program like this, the form may not be the best for a longer and well written report. It is just meant to be a guide to stimulate the thought process.

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Wants to write for children

January 17, 2005


Thank you for this opportuniy to learn more about writing skills. I've been writing research papers but deep inside, I have always wanted to write fic-fact for children as I believe that it can help them develop their creative and reflective abilities. I've started writing about my childhood experiences, more as a way of fighting against my tendency to be depressed. It's helping me cope up with my frustrations of not being able to communicate with children. I've also in mind to write about environmental and socio-cultural issues (eco-tourism abuses, culture-gap between the urbanized indigenous people and those who remain in the rural areas) but I do not want it to be strictly a research paper. I want to relate thse issues to children, through stories. How do I go about from here?

Stephen - Sabah, Malaysia (5641)


There is a big market for books and articles for children. But like any writing, it is not easy to get published. It takes much persistence.

Writing your childhood experiences is not only good to express your feelings and recall your childhood, but it also can be used in other material you write at a later time. Keep a journal of your life as a child to use as a reference in your writings.

The best place to start writing for children is close to home. Are there any magazines that are for children? See what is available. Also check with schools to see if they have any such publications for children. Then contact the publishers to see if they would be interested in your stories or articles.

Also, look in bookstores or the library for children's books. Write down the names and addresses of the publishers and contact them to see their interest. Ideally, you would like to find publishers in Malaysia.

You can write short stories and offer to read them in school classes. This will allow you to see how well your material is received.

You need to be very careful in writing about environmental and socio-cultural issues for children. Often writers get too caught up in the cause and forget that the writing is for children. Also, you must be aware of the views of the parents. Providing subtle positive messages is the best.

Write and write and write. It is difficult to get published, but you must keep trying and still not give up and expressing yourself.

Best wishes in your writing career.

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Producers didn't pay for scripts

January 5, 2005


Dear Mr. Kurtus,

Last year I have started to write for a sitcom; I have sent a spec to the producers and they asked for more. In few weeks I sent six, one of them was "on air" and I felt very happy. They promissed me we will work together from January but still no answer from them, and, of course, no payment. The bad thing is that I want to write more to send them but I just can not. It feels like I am blocked. I am also quite dissapointed of the results; if they would have thought I was good, they should call, wouldn't they?
Thanks in advance for your answer.

Veronica - Romania (5499)


Producers that are not associated with major networks are known to steal from writers. It is short-sighted, because good scripts and good writers are rare.

A saying from the head of MGM Studios is, "A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it is written on." In other words, verbal agreements are not wise, espcially in the TV and movie industries. A writer must have legal business sense or advice from a legal person. You can send an outline or several paragraph treatment of a story without a contract. You may even send one full script, taking a chance they will be honest. But after that, there must be a written contract or written agreement that is legal in your country.

Typcially, a TV or movie writer in the United States will register a script with the Writer's Guild as a form of protection. If you are dealing with producers in Romania, you should see if there is some copyright protection for your scripts.

Do not give up on these producers, though. Contact them and tell them you have all sorts of great stories and ideas available (whether or not this is true). If they show interest, indicate you want money up front before dealing with them. You need to present yourself as a business person and not a desperate writer for whom they can take advantage.

I hope these ideas help, and best wishes in your writing career.

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Book Report

Wants to write a non-fiction report

December 2, 2004


I will write a book report of Asia's Competitiveness Endgame: Life after China's WTO Entry,but I do not how to write a non-fiction book report.
Could you tell me some information about the structure of a non-fiction book report and give me a sample of a non-fiction book report?

Lei - China (5220)


Use the Aid for Writing a Book Report at:

Follow the instructions to write a very short version of your final book report. On the last page, copy the result of your entries to your word processor. This should give you a good basis for writing your report, as well as to show you how to do it.

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Get Paid for Fiction

Wants to get family history book published

November 19, 2004


Editorial Department

I am not a writer but I have worked awfully hard these past three years to write our life story which is not only a true story of triumph and sorrow but one that has never ending tears with all the struggling that mama went through with us all 10 children.

The novel has just now been completed and it is the story about the life of our family, 10 children and an alcoholic father whom not only worked all the family to the bone but whom also abused, my mother and my older siblings every day but whom also left my mom for another woman with all us children to support by herself. My mother whom didn?t have more then a sixth grade education worked hard and not only put food on the table, supported us all but put us all through school. The book goes on about all the hardships that not only my mother but we as a family went through. The reason for writing this book is not only to thank my mother for all that she did for us, for never giving up on all of us but especially because the house that she now rents will soon be demolished. You see, the freeway is going right through it within the next few months and she not only cries a lot but wonders and worries where her and my brother will go. My need for wanting to publish this book is because I would very much like to present it to my mother one day soon as she is now 83 years old and I want to be able to purchase her a home. How I began this project is because I am my mother?s care taker and spend all day long with her. Together we sit down putting puzzles together or drinking coffee and she talks to me all about her life which I myself saw while growing up. In my opinion, this book will benefit the reader very much because at this time in age, there is so much help for all woman to get away from an abusive relationship unlike the past. Furthermore, I think that a lot of people would purchase this book because of it?s story itself. The mms is completed and has about 250 pages. Can you help me publish it? Please help me make my dream come true.


Ninfa Lozano Seedorf

Ninfa - USA (5087)


Since what you've written is a true story, it is not considered fiction or a novel. That may actually help you get your book published. You can several routes, and none is easy. In fact, you may find that writing the book was the easiest part.

One thing that may give the book more appeal is if you have some old photos of events in the family to add to the manuscript.

You can try to send your material to various publishers to see if they are interested in the book. Usually, you send a query letter with a few paragraphs to describe the story. This is to see if they are interested before sending other material. You never send the whole manuscript. You can also query literary agents. Get the "Writer's Market" book from a bookstore or the library to get a listing of publishers and agents, as well as other resources.

You will probably get many rejections before anyone shows interest. As you send letters out, you can refine your sales pitch.

Your story may have great appeal or it may not. That is hard to tell. But don't expect to make a lot of money unless you have a best-seller. The chances are very slim that you will make enough to buy a house for your mother.

If you can't get a publisher, another route is to self-publish the book. There are companies that will print 100 copies for around $600. You can then give your mother the book and sell some to local bookstores. If it takes off, you can then easily get a publisher. If not, you still have the book.

Note: do not go to vanity publishers. They will charge several thousand to publish a book and do nothing to distribute it.

I hope these ideas help. Best wishes in getting the book published. I am sure it will make your mother happy.

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