Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Logistics of Writing Yield Self-Discovery

Logistics questions, such as how to find the right age audience for your work, describing your writing, and crafting an author bio and a synopsis, are invaluable for writers for two main reasons. First, they help you learn to present your writing to the world. Second, they help you understand who you are as a writer and where you want to go with your work.

Finding Your Audience
To determine the best age of audience for your work, write first; decide later. Emerging and established fiction and nonfiction writers often enjoy reading and writing in varied genres. I worked as a development editor for Scholastic Publishing when the Harry Potter books were the rage but didn’t read them because young adult (YA) isn’t a genre I usually write in or read. Three years ago, on a friend’s advice, I read all the Harry Potter books and loved them. I still don’t write YA, but I do read and edit it and enjoy the stories.

Once you get writing fiction and/or nonfiction, aim to develop a body of work—three or four pieces, to start—that you then polish. To determine the age of audience that best fits your creations, consider who would enjoy reading them. You might show the pieces to a trusted mentor, faculty member or friend, and listen for this question: “You know what this reminds me of?” If they don’t offer the insight, ask. But ask after they’ve read your work instead of before so that the question doesn’t lead in a particular direction.

As you reread your work, ask yourself the same question. What you’ve written might remind you of a particular piece or writer. Besides these steps, a Google or Amazon search on your working title will yield a sense of how your piece could be categorized and whether others have written something similar.

Describing Your Writing
The above steps also apply to describing your writing, but it’s impossible to choose one description to cover all your work. Most writers branch out into new genres, styles and media, and these are likely to morph further as you hone your skills and as new categories are created. Meanwhile, to describe something you’ve written, compare it to similar works, contrast it with other works, and note its main differentiator from other stories. To hone this skill, reduce your description word count to 100, then 50 then 25. The exercise will help your writing, too.

Describing Your Writing Self
Besides describing your writing, you’ll need to describe yourself as a writer. The usual first step is to create a list of writing credits. You probably have credits even though you may not think so, for example, blog posts, newsletter blurbs, and online comments. Maybe you’ve even edited or given feedback on someone else’s writing. You may have done an internship that required writing, reading or editing (proofreading counts here). Just make sure your list is accurate and factual.

Writing an Author Bio
You can then develop the list into an author’s bio; do a Google search to find examples. But what if you’ve never written a thing that has seen the light of day except as reflected from your laptop, iPad or iPhone? Not to worry. You still have experiences, priorities and aspirations. Here’s an example of how to present them. “Adele Annesi is a first generation Italian-American inspired by the land of sunflowers. Her heritage, culture and travel have provided insights into this rich and varied society that she is using to craft a series of short stories set in il bel paese.” Writers even talk about their pets and hobbies, the more original the better.

Crafting a Synopsis
I’ve saved tips on writing a synopsis for last because it’s among the hardest forms to write and usually isn’t required until/unless you’re pitching a novel or a nonfiction book. The reason it’s difficult is because it requires you to condense a long work into a short space, and because the requirements vary depending on what and for whom you’re writing the synopsis. In reality, a good way to learn how to do this is via Google search, including in the search box the kind of synopsis you need (book, essay, novel, etc.). Four reliable sources to add to your search box are the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, Poets & Writers, The Writer and Writer’s Digest.

Like other writing questions, logistics queries are often best posed once you start writing. But you don’t need a large body of work to learn how to present your writing and yourself to the world. Exploring questions about audience and self-description en route will help you understand who you are and how you write, which connects you with kindred spirits. Since you and your writing will change, you’ll keep discovering new insights along the way.