Welcome to the blog of author Tricia Goyer!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Thursday Tip...Common Fiction Mistake

Today's tip comes from Barbara Warren's writing newsletter Blue Mountain Backroads (to subscribe, email Barbara at barbarawarrennewsletter@yahoogroups.com)


I first heard of this when I was at a writer's conference in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Fred Bean was the speaker. I thought he was crazy. I'm a writer, right? A storyteller? I tell a story? What did he think he was talking about? Well, now I know.

I can't tell you how many manuscripts I get to edit where the writer is telling what happened. No action, no dialogue, no internal monologue. No nothing. It usually takes several tries before the writer understands the difference, but this is one bad habit, that once understood is never made again. The following examples are not very good, but see if you can tell the difference.

Example #1: John loved the old house. It had been in his family for a hundred years. It had a wide front porch with broad steps leading down to the overgrown lawn, which needed mowing. He had moved in yesterday and claimed the master bedroom as his own. Tomorrow he would go to town to buy groceries. He wanted to get a dog too, so he wold be lonesome out here all by himself.

Example #2: John looked up at the sweeping lines of the old farmhouse. Why had he stayed away so long? This house had belonged to Whitakers for over a hundred years. He waded ankle deep wet grass, thinking that tomorrow he would buy a lawnmower. The broad steps leading to the wide front porch were just as he remembered. He turned the old brass doorknob and stepped inside, smelling the familiar fragrance of rose potpourri and beeswax polish. The silence was almost overwhelming. He'd forgotten how isolated it was. He'd get a dog.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

On life...and writing!

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

To Answer Your Question...

Many of you have written asking about on-line writing courses. Are they worth the money and do they really help?

Here is Robert Hammond's answer--I'll post some more writer's opinions on this subject in my newsletter on May 1st!

Online courses can be great. I'm finishing my Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing - screenwriting emphasis. I like that particular program because it is accredited and can transfer to another university Also the MFA degree allows one to teach Creative Writing at the college level. See: http://www.nu.edu/ I also know that many other colleges offer online programs, such as UCLA.. This may not be what you're looking for because it is quite a bit more expensive than many of the correspondence courses that are not accredited.

Monday, May 28, 2007

My Prayer for You

May is almost over. How does that make you feel? Maybe you got a lot accomplished ... but perhaps you look back at the month with disappointment. After all, there is so much more you wanted to achieve. Either way, here is a prayer I'm praying for YOU.

Dear Lord, right now I pray that You will touch the heart of my writer-friend through Your Word and Spirit to guide and encourage. I pray, as it says in Colossians 3:15 that the peace of Christ will rule in this writer's heart.

I also thank you, Lord, that You care for the little sparrows. And ... that You care for this writer's concerns far, far more than that. I pray for the projects, the ideas, the goals ... they all seem so pressing, Lord, but You know what this writer desires to accomplish, and I pray that You will answer the numerous prayer requests in unexpected ways.

Also, Lord, I pray all the focus of this writer's work will stay centered on You. As it says in Colossians 3:23, I pray this work will be for the Lord rather than people. It is there, centered on You, that discernment and wisdom will be found.

I praise you, Lord, as it says in Mark 8:35 when we desire to give up our lives for Your sake, and for the sake of the Good News, that we will find true life.

In all these things may You, Jesus, be glorified. Amen.

P.S. Don't forget over the coming days and weeks to WATCH for how God will answer this prayer. Then, I want you to let me know the amazing ways God answers ... because I have confidence He will!

Friday, May 25, 2007

My Jumble of Thoughts

Who ever said writing was easy? Right now I'm:

1. Reading through the galleys of my second novel in The Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War titled, "A Shadow of Treason."

2. I'm working on a non-fiction project ... writing the teen version of Max Lucado's next book!

3. Working on my third SCW novel, "A Whisper of Freedom."

4. And I have two possibilities to write fiction novels for publishers I've never worked with before, which means I need to come up with writing samples that are (to put it mildly) just plain brilliant so I can knock their socks off!

No wonder it's 1:33 a.m. and I'm having trouble sleeping. My brain is full!

But enough about me. I wanted to talk about some of your comments on the blog.

First, let's talk about self-publishing. My guest writer had some great comments, but I want to point out a few things, too.

1. Sometimes people consider self-publishing after they've received rejection after rejection. The rejections could come because they don't have a broad enough audience for their work. Personal histories or stories with local ties could fall into this category.

But ... sometimes the rejections come because the writing, "just isn't there yet." I'm thankful that years ago I didn't have the drive or the money to self-publish some of the things I wrote. I was a writer-in-training, and though I thought I was wonderful looking back I now see my writing still needed a lot of work.

I've had writer-friends who have self-published and honestly their books weren't bookstore shelf quality. So, now what? They have books they're trying to sell. Who is going to buy them? What bookstores are going to stock them? Why should the bookstores give these books space when there are thousands of new ones every month from publishers who are begging them to stock their stuff? (Just to get you thinking ....)

2. New topic. I've seen from your comments that some of you wonder if it's even worth trying. Should you be writing at all? I mean, there are some many people wanting to write books and the odds seem so slim. My answer?

What is God telling you? It doesn't matter the odds. What is God speaking to your heart?

When I attended my first writer's conference I was 22-years-old and pregnant with my 3rd baby. I had taken some college classes, but I had no degree. (Still don't.) After that, I worked on writing for YEARS with no success. Rejection after rejection after rejection came in the mail.

BUT deep in my heart I knew God called me to this. When I read my Bible He spoke to me. I clung to His promises. He who calls you is faithful, and HE will do it.

Yawn, enough of my rambling for now. I just wanted you to know I am around here, lurking, and thinking.

But ... as a good example to all of you ... I'm also making sure I get my daily writing goals done first. See, I'm only thinking of you :-)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Thursday Tip...Spiritual Success

Today, let’s look at the spiritual side of the writing issue.

When God wanted to free the Israelites, he sought out Moses. We can say the same about Gideon, Esther, and David.

I'd like to think the same about my (our) writing. God has a message that He wants to get out, and so He speaks to our hearts. Or causes us to come across a bit of something we know will make a great novel/article/book.

It's been helping me to remember this—God has a message, and He's chosen ME to share it. Not only that. He doesn't leave it up to ME to do it, but He will see it through to completion.

For YEARS I imagined this as my writing, my calling—as a gift God gave me for me to unwrap and use. He was beside me, of course, helping me when I needed in.

Now I see it as something God put IN me. Jesus, too, is in me, unwrapping the gift layer by layer, empowering me to complete the tasks He’s given me.

God has messages He desires to speak to His world, and I’m honored that God has chosen me to share them. How can I claim any pride in that? Or, on the flip side how can I (like Moses) argue with God and look at my sales/success and say it’s not “good enough” and give up?

Yes, the world will go on without my writing, but what about God’s message … and my calling? More than that, what about my experience with Jesus I’ll miss out on if I’m only focused on success according to the world?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Well and easy...

There is no way of writing well and also of writing easily.

~~Anthony Trollope, Barchester Towers

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

To Answer Your Question...

Today's question is: I've heard that the best thing I can do as a writer is attend a Writer's Conference. Do you have any suggestions?


ACFW Fiction Conference: http://www.acfw.com/

Colorado Christian Writer's Conference: www.writehisanswer.com/colorado

Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, Ridgecrest, NC

FaithWriters Writers' Conference

Florida Christian Writers Conference, Bradenton, FL

Glorietta Conference. Learn writing and publishing basics, sharpen your writing skills, network with writers and with publishers of books, magazines, and curriculum, and pursue your writing career.

Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference, Philadelphia Biblical University

Guide to Writers Conferences - Shaw Guides

Maui Writers Conference

Media Associates International, Worldwide writers conferences.

Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, Mount Hermon, CA

New England Young Writers' Conference

Penn Writer's Conference - The 10th annual Writers Conference at Penn kicks off Saturday, November 13 with keynote speaker and award-winning author Paul Hendrickson. The program, held at the University of Pennsylvania, offers 54 Saturday workshops on fiction, non-fiction, screen writing, freelancing, marketing, and business writing. You may select up to three of the 2 hour workshops on Saturday. This year the conference is expanding to include 20 full-day Master Classes on Sunday, November 14. The Saturday classes are $65 per workshop and the Sunday Master Classes are $195. For more information, call 215.898.6493 or enroll online.

Santa Barbara Writers Conference

St. David's Writers Conference, Beaver Falls, PA

Surrey International Writers' Conference

Write His Answer

World Fantasy Convention

Write Lines - Weekend retreats, one-day workshops and weekly workshops.

Write News - Conferences

Writers AudioShop - Conference

Writers' Colonies

Writers Retreat

Write-to-Publish Conference

Writing the Mind Alive through Proprioceptive Writing - a 6-day retreat in mid-coast Maine, August 1 – 6. No experience required. Discover your authentic voice. Write your stories. Rekindle your creative fires.

Monday, May 21, 2007


This quote was sent to me by Karen Phillips

Repent is one of those words that conjures up all kinds of emotion.
Repent in the New Testament actually means a change of mind. When you rewrite, revise, and edit you must be willing to change. Let's be honest there's only one book totally inspired by God and you didn't write it.

So, be willing to change and improve your stories, articles, and books
into the best writing you can.

~~Glenn White

Friday, May 18, 2007


Pssst! I just found out we are annoying some publishers in New York City. Good job, folks!"
by TERI BROSH editor, Printer's NW Trader

EDITOR'S NOTE: I recently returned from an intensive three-day writers' conference.

As a new author (I just self-published my autobiography called "The Publishers' Daughter"), I learned plenty. One thing I learned is that some major book publishers from New York are outspoken and rather denigrating about books that are self-published by authors using local printing firms. I can understand these big-name publishers not being thrilled to have the competition. I was just disappointed that they were not more professional. Self-publishing has been done for years. Zane Grey did it. Mark Twin did it. Rudyard Kipling did it, and so did Beatrix Potter.

So why, nowadays, is it a thorn in the stiff Armani suits of some big guys from New York? As a newly-published author, I admit I was offended at a recent publishing conference when a couple of agents acted as if books that are self-published are utter garbage. That is SO not true. I had a chance to look over numerous books and was impressed. "Why should anyone read your book?" one agent asked haughtily. "Why should anyone buy it?" asked another. Their words, and especially their voices, offended plenty of people.

I've had a couple of days to sleep on the whole issue, and I am now somewhat amused. But as the editor of Printer's NW Trader, I am still indignant. Our regional printers are the high-tech Ben Franklins of the world! You are cutting-edge craftsmen and women who continue to adapt, innovate and move forward in the fine art of printing. And apparently you are bugging the dickens out of some of the huge publishing houses. Why? Because you are meeting a need the public has yearned for for years: You're making it easier, quicker and more affordable for authors to self-publish their work than ever before. I met one woman who printed her book for $350. Wow! It reads well, looks great, and I read the whole thing. I also know of a Catholic priest who had many copies of his poetry book printed for $7,000. He's pleased as well.

For authors and printers, there's a range of prices and services that work for everyone involved. Also, printers make it easy for writers who may not be using the most up-to-the-minute software. You are able to convert and format files as well as a New York City publisher, or maybe even better. My printer-right here in the good old northwest-made my book look really, really good. I love it! Thanks, guys! As for fast turnarounds, no longer are authors forced to write query letters, proposals, pitches and synopses if we don't want to. We no longer have to detail, in writing, what our platform is. (See, I've learned fancy author terminology!)

Instead, John Q. Public can write his memoirs, his suspense novel, his thriller, his poetry or his children's book, and then pick up the phone and call a printer in his area. Better yet, the printer will actually be nice to him! I understand that many people choose to go to the query route if they hope their book will become a block-buster best-seller. Also true is the fact that some big-name publishing firms have, on occasion, sent six-figure advances for books they feel will be huge sellers. But they are few and far between because huge publishing firms can lose big money when they pay out advances and nobody buys the book.

In the February 2007 issue of Popular Science magazine is an ad from Trafford Publishing, of Victoria, B.C. The copy states: "Large publishers reject almost all new manuscripts they receive from hopeful authors. Why? Because of the huge costs of using conventional methods. Typically, a publisher invests $80,000 to $150,000 in printing expenses to stock distributors' warehouses and bookstore shelves. Then, they pray the books will sell." Therein lies another benefit in the self-publishing market. At least in my case, as the author, I am also the publisher.

The responsibility for the marketing, distribution, inventory and success of the book is mine. It's not a risk, nor a burden, to the printer. The company that prints self-published books for authors can decide how involved it wishes to be in the project-without the need for hot-shot agents, huge upfront investments, giant advances, nor huge book inventories. Also, when books do sell well and a reprint is called for, it's easy for the printer to go the archives, print, bind and ship-without mind-boggling expenses. The only thing I am wondering about is the public. Do they know about printers who help authors to self-publish? I plan on telling anybody and everybody out there on the streets about the option of printing locally.

As a side note, when I lauded several of you regional folks, a New York agent at the conference was not pleased I was so happy. In fact, she portrayed the essence of another speaker's comment: "I think the huge publishing houses feel like they'd be better off with just one huge best-seller a year," the speaker said. "That way, it would pay for all their salaries, and they wouldn't lose money on the others." We all translated that to mean: "They wouldn't lose money on the rest of you . . ."

In the end, my hats are off to all of you in our industry. You are making some of the big New York City guys a little uncomfortable for a very good reason. Most new manuscripts, deserving or not, are rejected by the largest publishing houses. They just don't want to take a chance on a new author. But our regional printers have an opportunity to provide a service the public has been starving for for years. You are giving the public a voice.

P.S. I love this comment from one of the keynote speakers. He said something like this: "Writing is the best profession ever. Many times I've heard dentists, doctors and lawyers say, 'One day I'd like to write a book.' Never have I heard a writer say, 'One day I'd like to be a dentist.'"


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Thurseday's Tip...On line Marketing Advice!

Sometimes the best resources for marketing can be found at your fingertips. I decided to check out marketing sources on the world-wide-web.

Here are a few I discovered ... check them out!

And they're all FREE:

Subscribe to the Book Marketing Tip of the Week, edited by John Kremer. There are also archives with a TON of tips.

Check out the articles on Book Marketing Works. http://www.bookmarketingworks.com/news_copy(1).htm
Here are some titles:
Using Your Best VOICES on the Air
How to Write More Pursuasive Marking Copy
It's About Timing

Read free Publicity reports from Annie Jennings PR. http://www.anniejenningspr.com/pages/special_reports.htm
Topics include:
How to Create An Online Media Kit
How to Create A Media BIO

Finally, Skim Through the articles found at ezinearticles. There are some great tips that are sure to get the ideas spinning through your mind.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007


James Coggins sent this quote to me!

"One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper patterns at the right moment."

~~Hart Crane, poet (1899-1932)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

To Answer Your Question...

This question was covered in one of the newsletters, but I've received some more responses from authors, so I thought I'd share those as well...

the question: What are the rules for using a real location or town for your novel setting? How accurate should you be regarding street names, business names etc. and how much should you invent? For example, I want to set my main character's shop in a seaside town that really exists, but the block I want to put it in is not currently a business district, although I have other reasons for putting it there. If I put it in an actual business district, there would be a different, real store at that location which would also be unauthentic.

the answer: Stephanie Higgins: My fall release is set in my home town. However, I used what I call "fiction writer's license" to adjust reality a few times. I acknowledged this in my "acknowledgements" and let it go at that. I have seen other very well known ABA authors who did same.

Veronica Heley: I can come in on the first question, I think. I use my local neighbourhood of Ealing in which to set the Ellie Quicke Mysteries, but move things around a bit. I use this neighbourhood because it has everything I want in a series of murder mysteries, and all the storylines are based on real happenings. They tell me these books have the feel of a village mystery, but that's because London is a series of villages that grew into one another until they became part of a city.

I change the names of streets all the time, but use the topography, the fact that there are such and such shops in the Avenue (it's actually called The Lane), and shift churches around to order. No one seems to care.

The next series is going to be set in the Kensington area of London and that's an entirely different kettle of fish! Much more up-market, nearer to good stores, no corner shops, everything tripling in price. And not nearly so neighbourly.

New series in 07, The Abbot Agency. No 1 False Charity.
www.veronicaheley.comThe Eden Hall series: ZondervanThe Ellie Quicke Mysteries: HarperCollins/Severn HouseStories of Everyday Saints: Bible Reading Fellowship

Rachel Hauck: Using a real town can add a lot of authenticity to a book. People like to read about real and/or familiar places. While you can use streets and buildings for your story, it's okay to stick a fictional business or home on a real street. Call it fictional license.

I used authentic places for the NashVegas books, yet placed a fictional record company on Music Row. In Georgia On Her Mind, I combined two cities under the same name. Yet, readers who lived in the town loved seeing the familiar roads and coffee houses.

So, feel free to use actual cities, and plop your fictional home or business where you need. Just make sure it's not in the middle of a land fill or a river.

Rachel Hauck is a multi-published author living insunny, though sometimes hurricane plagued, centralFlorida with her husband, Tony, a pastor. She is agraduate of Ohio State University, and serves thewriting community as an Advisor to American ChristianFiction Writers. Visit her blog and web site atwww.rachelhauck.com.

Deb Raney: If you’re writing about an actual place, then detail—and accurate detail—is extremely important. Readers are quick to point out errors in a novel set in a place they know and love. That, along with the fact that real-life settings change so quickly, is why I mostly set my books in fictional places. But even a book set in a fictional Kansas town, must be true to Kansas and Kansans. And it’s fine to plop an imaginary town down in the suburbs of Chicago or on the Atlantic seacoast. I often have a real town as my “model” for my fictional town. I call my model town’s chamber of commerce to research city politics or business or to find out what blooms when, or when people start raking their leaves in that town, etc. For me as a reader, it’s the little things—the curtains in a room, the sounds that make up a place’s “white noise,” the flora and fauna of a region, the scents in the air—that truly bring a setting to life.


Monday, May 14, 2007

Christian Writers

The world does not need more Christian writers. It needs more good writers who are Christians.

-- C. S. Lewis

Friday, May 11, 2007

Questions, Questions, Questions...

I just want to thank you for the questions you all have sent in. And...I wanted to let you know that I will get them answered in upcoming newsletters.

I apologize for the delay. I've got back to back book projects and deadlines that just keep coming.

Thank you all so much for your participation at this site and for making it a community! I love it!


"It has been said that there are two great flashes of inspiration in the process of publishing a book, the first coming when the project is conceived, and the second when you finally hold a finished copy of the book in your hands. These are separated by a long, seemingly interminable time of perspiration."

~~McGraw-Hill Author Guidelines Site

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Thursday Tip...Wanna write non-fiction?

My number one suggestion for non-fiction is to start with articles. Most publishers won’t consider your books until they seen that you are consistently getting your message out there in articles. (Plus, you reach thousands of people!)

Check out Sally Stuart's Christian Writer’s Market. There are THOUSANDS of mags looking for articles. Then, when you get the sample magazines (which you MUST do) tailor your article to their style. It works every time~


Wednesday, May 9, 2007

I can't write...

This quote was sent to me by James R. Coggins

Max Braithwaite (The Night We Stole the Mountie’s Car, McClelland & Stewart, pb, 1969, 1975, 1990, p. 79) told of trying to write a novel for a year. He said: “I learned two things about myself: first, I was a writer, and second, I couldn’t write.”

What he meant was that he had not mastered all of the technical skills but that he was a born writer. He continued: “A writer is a certain type of person. He’s been described as ‘a watcher and a listener.’

Bernard Shaw said something about a writer seeing the world through different eyes. A writer is a person who pays attention, who ponders, who considers, who assesses. Nothing really escapes his notice.

He wonders why.

Why is that woman doing that? How did she get that way anyway? What would happen if she were to do this instead? A person is born with this faculty. It is part of his nature.”

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

To Answer your question...

Today's question is: How can you get over the feeling that what you are doing just isn't good enough to publish? I tend to get bogged down rewriting the first few chapters until I lose all momentum for my first draft. On my current project, I'm trying to just write the story all the way through without letting myself revise, but I wonder if that is the correct way to go about it.

A few authors answer that question!

Stephanie Higgins: If you ever figure this one out, you can write a book for Writers' Digest and probably never have to work again :-).

An Idea: When you sense this is happening skip ahead to another scene anywhere in the book that you are excited about writing. . .and work on that to refresh yourself mentally.

I don't think there is a "correct" way to write. There is YOUR way and the way that works for you. . . and it sometimes takes a while for a writer to figure this out. And then sometimes what works for one book doesn't work for another and once again, you find a way to make it work. I believe there are as many ways to write a book as there are published writers. We are individuals with different creative gifts and those gifts organize and realize themselves differently. I love Randy Ingermanson's writing, but even thinking about a snowflake makes me want to run screaming the other way.

Sharon Dunn: Great question, been there, done that. The biggest challenge writers face is not learning how to plot or create a character, but learning how to quiet the editor in our head. You know, that voice that says we are not good enough to write a book. Part of the problem is that we as writers have a vision in our head of how we “see” our book. What ends up on the page rarely matches the vision and that is what causes us to think what we wrote isn’t publishable. Most writers have to work toward that vision through rewriting.

First of all, turn off the editor by giving yourself permission to write a less than perfect draft with the understanding that you know you can go back and fix what is not working. My rough draft is a mess. All I am trying to do is get the big scenes in place and because I write mysteries I also have to make sure the clues are in the right place. Once I have scenes in place, I have something to work with. It is not until later drafts that description improves and character motives are clarified and bridge scenes are written. In that early draft, I make notes to myself in bold that says stuff like need more research here, better description, would this character really do that? My favorite thing that I write is, "ick this is not working" or "blah blah blah". I give myself daily page requirements. I only go back and revise if the plot stalls out so badly I can’t move forward.

This method may work with you and it may not. There is no correct way to write a book. All that matters is what the end product looks like. One thing that helped me was I read articles and books about how other writers worked and tried out different things. Adopting some advice and dismissing other things because it didn’t fit my personality. I use a journal where I write about my frustration and fear and brainstorm what needs to happen next. The journal sits beside my lap top. I write long hand rather than journal on the computer something about writing sloppy long hand frees ups creativity.

Take whatever advice I have given and see if it works for you. Throw out what doesn’t work. You’ll figure it out. Happy writing.

Sharon Dunn
Author of Death of a Garage Sale Newbie

Deb Raney: Well, I’m working on Novel #17 and I still have that feeling with every book Usually after I’ve done the rewrite using my editor’s suggestions I begin to feel like there might be hope, but until the reviews start coming in, I always fear each book is the one that will end my career. My writing style is to write a few pages, go back and edit, write a few more, go back and read from page 1, write some more, etc. leap-frogging my way through the book editing as I go. But I’ve learned there comes a point where I have to quit going back to the very beginning or I’ll never finish. So once you’ve polished five chapters or ten chapters, move on and don’t look back until you’ve polished the next five. Then do a couple of final read-throughs, layering in new things you’ve learned about your characters and strengthening your plot and setting. I think that will keep your momentum going.

Deb Raney
NEW! from Howard Books/Simon & Schuster: REMEMBER TO FORGET
Now updated and expanded: A VOW TO CHERISH (Steeple Hill Books)
The novel that inspired the award-winning film from World Wide Pictures
Visit my Web site at: http://www.deborahraney.com

Monday, May 7, 2007

Two groups...

From my close observation of writers...they fall into two groups: those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review.

~~Issac Asimov, scientist and writer 1920-1992)

Friday, May 4, 2007


"All sorrows can be borne, if you put them into a story."

~~Isak Dinesen, Out of Africa

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Thursday Tip...Your Writing Portfolio

Today's tip is from Mary Ann Diorio.

Artists compile portfolios to display their work when presenting it to an editor. Writers can do the same thing.

What Is a Writing Portfolio?

Most simply put, a writing portfolio is a vehicle for presenting or displaying one's written work. For the professional writer, a portfolio is a marketing tool for presenting writing samples, commonly called clips, to editors or employers.

A portfolio can be as simple as a notebook or a loose-leaf binder with clear plastic page covers for inserting clips. If you prefer something fancier, you can purchase a small, standard artist’s portfolio at a stationery or art supply store.

Whatever you use to display your clips, make sure that it looks professional. The reason for this is that you will be showing your portfolio to editors at writers’ conferences or, perhaps, at their offices. You may also be showing your portfolio to a prospective employer. In either case, you don’t want to carry a shoebox full of unorganized clips. An organized portfolio will say a good deal about you as a writer. Remember: you have only one chance to make a good first impression.

It is important to keep your portfolio up to date. One way to do so is to clip your article, story, or poem as soon as it is published and place it directly into your portfolio. Be sure to write the name of the magazine and the date of publication at the top of the clip. If possible, insert the clip in a plastic page protector. This will prevent the dog-earing and soiling that often result from frequent turning of pages. Using a plastic page protector will also mark you as a professional who respects his work.

For your best articles, I suggest lamination. Because paper, especially newsprint, tends to yellow and tear over the years, laminating your best work can keep it presentable and readable indefinitely. Laminating also allows for frequent handling without damage to your clip. Laminated articles can be hole-punched for direct insertion in your portfolio or slipped into a page protector.

Why Keep a Writing Portfolio?

There are several reasons for having a writing portfolio. Here are some of the most common:

· A writing portfolio serves as a professional way of introducing yourself and your work to editors at writers' conferences. Having a portfolio makes it easier for editors to assess your writing ability. It also demonstrates that you take your writing seriously. Moreover, a portfolio of several clips shows an editor that you are a consistent, working writer.

· A writing portfolio can be presented during a job interview as a visual résumé of your writing skills. It can show your interviewer that you are an effective communicator, a skill that many employers consider a high priority.

· A writing portfolio can serve as a means of publicizing your writing. Writers' conferences often provide a space for displaying one's writing portfolio. Such a practice makes fellow conferees and participating editors aware of your work and may even result in an assignment.

· A writing portfolio provides a single location for the storage of your best clips. No longer will you frantically have to search through files or piles to fulfill an editor's request for a clip. You can simply retrieve one from your portfolio, photocopy it, and send it off. Also, you can carry your writing portfolio with you so that you will always be ready for those serendipitous opportunities that present themselves to those who are prepared.

· A writing portfolio provides a valuable archive that can be passed on to future generations. It can serve as a primary source record of an era and as a presentation of your worldview about that era. In this sense, a writing portfolio provides an original historical document that will influence generations beyond your own.

How to Format Your Writing Portfolio

The first page of your writing portfolio should be your title page. Place your name about one-third of the way down the page, in a large font or in all caps.

Following the title page, include your résumé. If you are presenting your portfolio to an editor, emphasize in your résumé the writing you have done, whether free-lance or job-related. One caveat: Never leave your portfolio with an editor or employer. Instead, photocopy samples of your best writing and attach them to a copy of your résumé. Then leave this packet with an editor or prospective employer.

Your writing portfolio can serve as a major tool in the furtherance of your writing career. Make sure that you assemble it with care and balance. For example, choose writing samples that reflect both your strengths and your versatility as a writer.

In order to have a portfolio, you must have clips. So now that you know what a writing portfolio is, get busy filling it!
Copyright 2003 by Mary Ann Diorio, Ph.D.
Mary Ann is an award-winning writer of short stories, articles, and poems. Her published clips include The Saturday Evening Post, Decision, and Human Events. She is currently working on her first novel.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


"The important thing in writing is the capacity to astonish. Not shock—shock is a worn-out word—but astonish."

~~Terry Southern, novelist and screenwriter