Do You Have an Author Bio?

The best time to write your author bio is before you need it. That means, write it today. I gave some pointers on this in my post, “Why You Should Write Your Author Bio Now.”

We need multiple length bios for different uses, but today, let’s focus on a 25-word or 50-word bio. Here are the basics: Written in the third person, it’s usually two to three sentences that tells who we are and gives our credentials, plus a plug for our book, project, or blog.

Here’s one of my 25-word bios:

“Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Visit peterdehaan.com to receive his newsletter, read his blog, or connect via social media.”

I’m still working on it, but it’s a start.

A 50-word bio contains the same elements but allows more room for development. Here’s another example:

“Jesus-follower and wordsmith Peter DeHaan, PhD (peterdehaan.com) shares his passion for life and faith through words, changing the world one word at a time. A movie buff and nature lover, Peter looks forward to the day when pizza and popcorn are reclassified as major food groups.”

I’m still working on that one, too.

Now it’s your turn. Write your bio and post it in the comment section below. It doesn’t matter if it’s polished or a first draft. Someday you’ll be glad you worked on it now.

What’s your author bio?

Do You Have a Memorable Photo?

I wrote this last week – and revised it today – in response to a writing prompt Ted Kluck gave at a writing conference. His assignment challenged us to describe a memorable photo:

It may have been the pinnacle of my high school track career. It was at the biggest meet of the year, perhaps my life, and I stood on the medal stand with my relay team. The beauty queens presiding over the ceremony presented our foursome with our awards.

The medal was tangible and the smile the queen gave me, memorable, but the quick congratulatory kiss on the cheek was epic. I stood up, brimming with emotion, accomplishment overflowing.

My teammate’s mom stood nearby, poised to capture the scene with her camera. Sensing a photo op, I thrust my fist high into the air, proclaiming to all our victory, our physical prowess, our athletic achievement.

She snapped the picture at that instant, preserving the moment – and the memory – forever.

Your turn: write about a memorable photo and share it here.

What’s Your Life Story — in 150 Words?

The Reader’s Digest recently asked readers to submit their life story — in 150 words or less.

With over 6,000 submissions, Facebook followers voted and RD picked the best from the top 100. Check out the winners; they’re all excellent. If I had to pick my favorite, I’d go with “A Meaningless Diagnosis” or perhaps “I’ve Got Dirt: Memoirs of Your Housekeeper,” or… Okay, I can’t pick a favorite.

Although I heard about this too late to participate, it makes for a great writing exercise.

I’m still cogitating how to condense my life story down to 150 words but ifI do, I’ll add it as a comment.

How about you? Share your 150-word life story with us. There will be no prizes, but it will be a great writing exercise.

A Logline Writing Contest

A logline is a brief summary of a story that is designed to hook the reader. Ideally, it is one sentence long.

I recently entered another writing contest, where the challenge was to write a logline. Not just any logline, but a really bad logline. The rules were it had to be one sentence and under 60 words long. We were allowed two submissions. Interestingly, my two entries came to me rather quickly and with minimal effort.

My two bad loglines are:

  • In this fast-paced action thriller, protagonist Peter Piper is shocked to realize that his thumbnail needs to be trimmed, but lacking the appropriate tool to do so, he is left in a quandary as to how to proceed, all the while suspecting that the fate of mankind must surely rest in the balance.
  • Ladd, half-wonder dog, half mutt, is a caped super hero at night and a lovable, albeit lazy pet during the day, but when a sudden disaster strikes in the daylight hours, Ladd must choose between revealing his true identity and… “Squirrel! Did someone say, ‘squirrel’?”

How did I do? Do you have a bad logline to share?

Eleven Writing Exercises to Sharpen Your Writing

Like physical exercises, which are beneficial for your body, writing exercises are beneficial for developing your skill as a writer. While exercise is seldom pleasant, it is a wise and worthy pursuit. Here are some exercises to consider in developing your craft as a wordsmith:

  1. Revise something you wrote to hit a specific word count. This could be to expand it or condense it. Both are helpful skills to have. Editors appreciate it when you can hit a target length.
  2. Completely rewrite something without referring to the original. Then compare the two. Note what is the same, what is different, and what is better. Now merge the two into a third — and hopefully superior version.
  3. Taking a 1,200-word article or essay that you wrote, condense it into a 600-word version. Then revise it to a 300-word blog post. Finally, turn it into a 140-character tweet.
  4. Do the reverse, taking someone else’s tweet, expanding on the concept (don’t plagiarize) to make a blog post. Then expand it further to become an article, essay, or short story.
  5. Write a short story using only one-syllable words (or any other creative restriction you can concoct).
  6. Write a 26-sentence story where each sentence starts with a successive letter of the alphabet, A through Z.
  7. Subscribe to A Word A Day. Each weekday they will email you a unique or interesting word. Use that word in conversation or writing that day.
  8. Rewrite something you wrote, adding alliteration to the text.
  9. Write metered poetry, song lyrics, or haiku. All of these force writers to fit cogent ideas into a certain rhythm or number of syllables.
  10. Often writing magazines will suggest a writing exercise. These add variation to your writing workouts. Some also have contests. Even if you’re not ready to submit your work, it is great practice.
  11. Come up with an interesting or catchy title — now write to that title. The same can be done writing to reach a predetermined, pithy conclusion.

Personally, I have done most of these at one time or another. What I find most helpful are those that affect word count, helping me to be more concise or more inclusive in what I write. I’m also a big fan of alliteration, but need to guard against going overboard with it.