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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




Reader Interest Not sure I agree on conclusion USA
Screen Paradigm How many pages allotted to the back-story? Australia
Get Paid for Fiction I am a talented writer but have no money Nigeria
Dictation What to do when using a dictating machine England
Get Paid for Fiction What magazines have staff writers? USA and Israel
Dictation Boss is terrible in dictating material USA
Journal I was in love with journals since 1st grade USA
General Want to have a career in writing Bahrain
Vocabulary Helping an adult learner with writing USA
General Humor Book USA

Next 10


First 10 letters

Not sure I agree on conclusion

Topic: Reader Interest


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



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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How many pages allotted to the back-story?

Topic: Screen Paradigm


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



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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I am a talented writer but have no money

Topic: Get Paid for Fiction


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



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

Topic: Dictation


January 25, 2006

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

- England



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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What magazines have staff writers?

Topic: Get Paid for Fiction


January 23, 2006

What magazines have staff writer?

sandra - USA and Israel



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

Topic: Dictation


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



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

Topic: Journal


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



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

Topic: General


December 20, 2005




NERMIN - Bahrain



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

Topic: Vocabulary


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



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

Topic: General


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



Thank you for the information on your book.

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