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Writing Tips

Why Do You Write?

In his book Unleash the Writer Within Cecil Murphey opens by asking the question, “Why do you write?”

What he’s not looking for is the safe answer, the politically correct response, a blast of bravado, or an eloquent, but meaningless marketing statement. He desires the real answer, the truth—and as writers, we owe it to ourselves, to be honest.

I could say I write to make a difference in the world. Although not untrue, it’s not my primary driving force. If my goal in writing was solely to make a difference, that would put a lot of pressure on me and quickly sap me of all joy for the craft.

To be completely open, I have two reasons why I write:

  1. I believe I have something worth sharing, and
  2. If I didn’t write, I think I would die — first figuratively and then literally.

Why do you write?

[Read my review of Unleash the Writer Within.] 

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Categories
Writing Tips

The Art of Writing Reviews

My last two posts shared my efforts at writing movie reviews and book reviews.

This begs the question of how to write an appropriate review. Unfortunately, there is no universally agreed-upon set of rules. What one person advocates, another dismisses. What one reviewer says to never do, the next one does. Since the “experts” don’t agree and the reviewers are inconsistent, I’ve formulated my own guidelines as I’ve journeyed down this path:

  • Don’t spoil the ending; doing so is unprofessional and just plain mean.
  • Don’t be snarky—unless that’s really who you are and how you want to be known.
  • Don’t be overly critical or condemning; though it is appropriate to point out serious limitations or significant problems.
  • Don’t let your words become more important than your subject. If your writing overshadows the work you are reviewing, then you are no longer serving your audience, but arrogantly promoting yourself.
  • Remember that it’s not a school report or a formal abstract.
  • Using a quote, maybe two is okay, but too many make your review sound like a homework assignment.
  • Give the “artists” (writers, actors, directors, etc.) the same respect and sensitivity you would desire if they were reviewing your work.
  • Let your voice be heard.
  • Above all, be honest, fair, and balanced. It’s wrong for a reviewer’s bias to cause the reader to skip a work they would have enjoyed or to invest in a shoddy work that was oversold.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Categories
My Journey

Tips on Writing Book Reviews

Last week I shared my foray into writing movie reviews. It wasn’t long before I began penning book reviews as well. However, unlike my short-lived tenure writing movie reviews, book reviewing is a practice that has continued. So far I’ve written 53 (it takes longer to read a book, so the numbers accumulate slower.)

The best time to write a review is within a day of finishing the book or watching the movie, allowing for some time to process it, but not enough to forget important details.

For example, after watching “The Life Before Her Eyes” it was several hours before I actually “got” the ending—and some reviewers hadn’t—so had I written immediately, I would have been one of them.

However, waiting too long is never good. I have six books sitting in my “to be reviewed” pile that were read in the midst of working on a big project (my dissertation) and set aside for a later review. I hope to get to them, but fear that I have already waited too long.

I just finished reading “The Reluctant Prophet” by Nancy Rue, which I hope to review today.

Like my movie reviews, about half of my book reviews have also been posted on my A Bible A Day website; the other half are patiently sitting in my computer, awaiting their eventual liberation. I plan to also add them to my soon-to-be-relaunched PeterDeHaan.name website.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Categories
My Journey

Tips on Writing Movie Reviews

I’m a bit of a movie buff, enjoying most genres and all eras. Some might say that I watch too many movies (I’ve rated 2,336 of them on Netflix)—or perhaps that I watch too many movies that most would skip.

For a time a long time, I resisted combining my love for movies with my passion for the written word, foregoing any impulse to pen movie reviews. By Netflix kept prodding me and one day I acquiesced, going on to post 71 of them (my “review rank” is 22,787). It was time-consuming, but also enjoyable—for a while.

Then one night I considered watching a movie but decided against it—because I didn’t want to review it the next morning. That was the day I stopped writing movie reviews.

If you’re doing something for fun and it stops being fun, then you need to stop doing it!

I can’t provide a viable link to my movie reviews posted on Netflix, but I do have some reviews of faith-friendly films posted on my website: PeterDeHaan.com.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Categories
Writing Tips

Five Ideas of What to Write

Hopefully, you’ve given some thought as when is the best time to write, as well as where is the best place to write. Even if these decisions are works in progress, needing to be fine-tuned, you need to move on.

Now we get to the question of what to write. Although, it may seem a nonsensical query; for some, especially those just starting out, it is not. Here are some ideas:

  • If you have a project, you need to be working on it. This is an obvious answer—if you have a project.
  • Work on a potential project, something that could turn into a project. That is, work on an article or a book that you could sell in the future. Write a query letter or proposal for this project.

However, if you’re just starting out, you likely need to develop and hone your writing skills before seriously embarking on a project. So, here are some more ideas:

  • Blogging is a great way to release creative ideas and develop a writing style. (I don’t put Facebook in this category, though I do know some who compose intriguing and well-written posts. I do not recommend journaling or keeping a diary as worthy writing exercises either; they are too informal, introspective, and narcissist—however, they may provide useful fodder for a future memoir.)
  • Write book or movie reviews. Work on developing a reviewer style and on being concise, fair, and helpful. Avoid the mistake of many professional reviewers—being unnecessarily critical or writing a review merely to call attention to your skill as a writer.
  • Writing exercises are other worthy considerations. “Exercising” will get you in the habit of writing and provide opportunities to develop your skills. Here are some ideas for writing exercises.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!