Chicken Soup

20120910-221887-cook-the-book-chicken-soupI doubt there’s a reader in the English language who hasn’t heard of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series of books by now (and they’ve been translated into over 40 languages now too!). There’s definitely something that authors writing these books have hit on, and I know I’ve wondered what that is myself.

When I was doing some internet surfing and came across an article from the publisher of the series giving writers some tips, and I found them very useful, so thought I’d share it with you. One of the reasons I liked her list is that it applies to both fiction and non-fiction writing.

We tend to think the two genres are totally different. And it’s true, not everyone who writes non-fiction can write fiction, and vice versa. But at the end of the day, most of the same rules apply. You need to be passionate about the topic. You need to be true to yourself. And you need to put yourself in the reader’s shoes.

I think I disagree a little bit about her take on creativity – that you should forget about creative writing techniques – because there’s a time and a place for everything, and I know I love when I read a beautifully crafted sentence. But by and large, I think Amy’s on the spot. When you write what you’d like to read, it will always find an audience and always connect with another reader out there.

Write on!

What’s in your toolbox?

Every writer has their toolbox—the assortment of items they use on a regular basis to help turn their ideas into that compilation of words cobbled together to make a story.

The toolbox’s contents will vary greatly, of course, from writer to writer. And they might not even be physical tools, it might be an activity or process a writer undertakes to inspire or relax them.

One of my most important tools is my trusty dictionary—it never leaves my side. I like to be able to remove any doubt that I’ve chosen the best word for any given situation. Now, I know a lot of authors opt for a thesaurus, but I’ve always been a bit reluctant to include it amongst my arsenal. Of course, once in a while it’s useful, but if you start to rely on it too heavily, you might be headed in the wrong direction, literarily-speaking.

The danger, for me, is that sometimes end up choosing a word simply because it sounds more impressive, and not because it actually is, ‘le mot juste’! And it as turns out, it’s a fairly popular concern amongst writers. Here’s an excellent explanation of the dangers that lurk behind a thesaurus’ cover! 

What’s in your writer’s toolbox?