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Feedback Q&A on Writing

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 10 letters




Screen Paradigm How do you put turning points in a script? USA
Get Paid for Fiction Haunted by a burning desire for writing UK
Hangman Is the hangman a mouse? USA
General How do I go about getting a publisher? USA
Vocabulary Wants to increase her vocabulary for ESL USA
Get Paid for Fiction I need knowledge to write a good book Nigeria
Random Story Do you know a site where I can post a story? USA
Esteem Trying to write with a scientific mind Australia
Screen Paradigm How can I improve my movie shot selection? INDIA
Book Report Got error message in Book Report tool USA

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First 10 letters

How do you put turning points in a script?

Topic: Screen Paradigm


September 18, 2006

I like, and understand the paradigim, however, can you please share any examples of how to get your script to move people in the first ten, and ther after in these strategic turning points.Any help will do.

thank you.

Henry - USA



You really have to start with the basic idea of your story and have a general idea of your plot before you need to think of these turning points. In fact, you could outline or write your script before even considering them.

Suppose you have written a boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-wins-girl script. In order to get the audience's (and agent's) attention, you could start the movie off with a car chase, ending (at 10 minutes) in a minor wreck. At this point, you could introduce the boy, introduce the girl or have them meet. You've hooked the audience and got them interested in what is going to happen next.

The ending is more tricky, because you want to build up some suspense, even in a comedy. At 10 minutes before the end, issues start to be resolved.

Look for this in good movies. Rent videos or see them in theatres. TV editing off screws things up.

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Haunted by a burning desire for writing

Topic: Get Paid for Fiction


September 18, 2006

I'm haunted by a burning desire for writing. no matter how hard I try not to think I could't become a best selling author, the idea doesn't seem to bulge at all,so i decided to give it a go and i was amazed by the flow of a story 'pulled from a hat'. I'll soon finish but I dont think its any good, the dialogue is so wooden it could splinter. Anyway at least I thought it could get rid of the haunting.But i was completely wrong, it,s still there and the worst thing is that it grows stronger every day. It's a nightmare I'd do anything to do away with, i'm even scared that making it know i want to get rid of it would intensify its pursuit for my lame writting skills. But what could I do? I'm desparate for help, could you please do anything for me?

Adjani - UK



The biggest advice I can give to aspiring writers is: write, write, and write some more. The more you write and edit your material, the more your skills improve. You can not only write stories, but also write letters to friends, and write a journal of your activities.

It is better to start with very short stories, because you are sure to finish them and they help you work on dialog and plot structure. Short stories or short-shorts are easier to get published in magazines. It can be your start. Once you are comfortable and feel skilled, you can start on your novel. You can also try to get a book of short stories published.

Famous author Ernest Hemingway start by writing short reports for a newspaper. Then he wrote short stories about the war. And finally, he started to write books.

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Is the hangman a mouse?

Topic: Hangman


August 31, 2006

I was just wondering if your hangman was supposed to be an animated "mouse". Thanks.

Aaron - USA



I think it was the logo that was used for the Java coding language from several years ago. All of the words seem related to the computer industry. Perhaps the game should be updated. It seems a little slow.

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How do I go about getting a publisher?

Topic: General


August 28, 2006

I am about 2 weeks away from finishing my first book. Going through the web for a publisher is a nightmare. What do I do and how do I go about it?

Marty - USA



Get a copy of Writer's Markets, either in the book store or library. They have a list of book publishers according to their specialties. Send publishers a query letter, telling about your book in a paragraph or two. The Writer's Market book usual has an article on Query Letters, their format and requirements. There are also some books that explain about these letters. You may have to include a self-addressed stamped envelope to get an answer.

Also write up a several page synopsis of your book to send as a follow-up. Having a complete book is good, because then you can send it or a sample chapter if they are interested.

The whole process takes a number of steps. You are building a relationship.

Parallel to this, also send your query letter to Literary Agents. They usually have contacts with publishers and can get them to read your material better than sending something to a publisher cold.

Writer's Market is a much better source for quality publishers and literary agents than the web.

Best wishes in your efforts to get published. Hope you have a best-seller.

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Wants to increase her vocabulary for ESL

Topic: Vocabulary


July 22, 2006

Hi, my name is Clara and i'm a college student currently. English is not my first language and i started to learning it from scratch in grade 9 highschool from ESL classes. Ever since i been collecting new vocabularies, highlighting words in books, newspapers, etc. but after looking up each word's definition after a while i seem to have forgot lots of these words. So i just need some suggestions if i'm doing the right thing to improve my english skills and understanding. thank you very much

Clara - USA



It is not unusual to forget words you have seen only once, even though you have looked up the definition. Some words are not commonly used, so if you forget them, it is not a big deal. If you have to look up a word a second time, it is good, because the word is used more often and should stick in your memory.

When you write papers or do homework in school, you may often have several sentences where you have written the same word. In such a case, it is good to look up the synonyms of the word and use a different word for it. Like in the previous sentence, you could look up "word" and replace the second one with "expression" or something similar. The Thesaurus in MS Word is handy for doing this. In my opinion, doing that is the best way to build your vocabulary.

I hope these ideas help.

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I need knowledge to write a good book

Topic: Get Paid for Fiction


July 15, 2006

my name is Tony. I want to thank u guys 4 creating lovely oppotunities 4young writers please keep up the good work.
I have a very lovely idea of fantasy in my head and i feel that it makes up the standards of jk rowling and j.r.r Tolkein but im still a begener and feel that i need more technical knowledge to write such an explosive novel.
Could u please be of help to me.

tony - Nigeria



A good starting point is to write a short biography of your main characters, telling what the person looks like, what the personality is like, what things the character likes and dislikes, and problems in his or her life. It is good to keep a log of many such character descriptions.

Don't try to write a whole book right away. You can easily get discouraged, as well as write things that don't tie together. Instead write one-page episodes or mini-stories that may fit in your book. Next, start to write short stories that may be the length of a short chapter.

When you want to start your book, write out an outline of your plot, with very little details. Tell what action happens. Take a look at one of your favorite books and try to write out a couple page outline of the plot. This will give you an idea of how that story or book was developed. The other material is the meat to allow your reader to life the story.

I hope these ideas help you in starting your writing career.

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

Topic: Random 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



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

Topic: Esteem


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



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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How can I improve my movie shot selection?

Topic: Screen Paradigm


May 17, 2006

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

vijay krishna - INDIA



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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Got error message in Book Report tool

Topic: Book Report


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



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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