Jan's Writing Basics #9--Writing on Topic

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

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Post by glorybee » Sat May 08, 2010 2:40 pm

Thanks, Ernie--

Just to be clear--you can mention the topic. Let's say the topic was "Fire" (the example I've been using recently). It'd be fine to say

I couldn't believe I'd accidentally set my forsythia bush on fire.

In fact, most weeks it's impossible not to mention the topic word in your entry in some way.

The thing that you shouldn't do is mention it AS A TOPIC. For example, this wouldn't work so well:

The topic of fire immediately takes me back to the burning forsythia bush in my back yard.

And this would be even worse:

For the Writing Challenge entry of "fire", I'd like to tell you about the time my forsythia burst into flames.
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Post by eearth » Sat May 08, 2010 2:48 pm

I understand, and thank you again. I like what you wrote about writing in the circle but out of the box. I will find it easy to write out of the box, but it will take some control to keep it in the circle. I have read and printed the 9 things the judges look for. And with the help of your lessons, I expect to improve my Writing Challenge entries. Enjoy your vacation. I have been enjoying Miami Beach for 30 years.
1 John 1:4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

FREE writing lessons by Jan Ackerson can be found at:
http://www.faithwriters.com/Boards/phpB ... hp?t=29535
Now she is covering what the judges are looking for in the weekly Writers Challenge.

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Post by AnneRene' » Sun May 09, 2010 12:37 am

eearth...you adding Jan's class link in your posts is excellent!

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Post by AnneRene' » Mon May 10, 2010 11:11 am

glorybee wrote:Cat, thanks. I'm going through some junk right now, and kind words like yours are very soul-soothing.


Jan, I do hope your load is lessening and I will keep you lifted up in prayer until it's behind you.

I find your fortitude to continue "taking care of us" with your constructive nurturing, encouraging to say the least, while your going through your own trials.

As one of the newbies around here....would like to add my two cents about critique/comments. I have inadvertently offended a couple of people and have come to the conclusion that if people are serious about improving their writing, then they will pursue your classes, and be grateful for peoples willingness to help them and read their articles in the first place.

I just learned what "red ink" means, from Catrina and was thrilled. Thought it just meant not to be afraid of leaving a negative comment in the comment area. :)

Anyway, unless someone asks for "Red Ink"...I just look for the positive in their articles (to encourage them, until their hide toughens, so to speak, AND I know what I'm talking about.

As for me, I reeeeally do try to choose my words and leave truthful but kind comments, however and unfortunately, there are a few who do seem burned out and harsh with their critiques. I've never gotten one but have seen it on other articles.

Point is....pleeeeeeeease don't feel hindered on your valuable and honest comments because those who want to be better, savor your words of experience!

Oh, and don't give up on me with the commas....I am honestly working on devoting myself to more study.

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Post by AnneRene' » Mon May 10, 2010 11:32 am

Ooops....RE: Staying On Topic, reply.

I just can't write an article and pull it together unless I am able to find "something" I've experienced that is somehow related to the topic.

Sometimes what I find is pretty darn remote, but it fires up that connection inside of me, which propels me into the writing mode.

For example, this weeks challenge "The Manuscript". I had nothing and then more nothing, until I thought about tying into a "what if" scenario about something I had experienced.

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Post by OKGuardianAngel » Mon May 10, 2010 4:21 pm

Appreciate all the good advice about staying on topic. Is it possible to go with a too obscure view of a topic?

For example, back in the quarter with the colors, I wrote an entry for the topic, White, that both used the word as a descriptor of paint and snow, but also depicted the more slang/colloquial term, "white" - meaning someone who was upstanding and helpful. A comment from a Faithwriters regular told me that I needed to do more than just throw the term in there. I figured that either that person wasn't familiar with the slang/colloquial term, or I didn't make it obvious enough for the reader to connect it with that term.

Should we go with more common usages? Just wasn't sure about that one.... welcome your feedback.

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Post by glorybee » Mon May 10, 2010 4:54 pm

It is indeed possible to be too obscure on a topic; I've been guilty of it many times. It's that desire to be 'out of the box'--sometimes I'm so far out of the box that the box has been shipped off to another country.

I have more to say about that in this lesson.
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Re: Jan's Writing Basics #9--Writing on Topic

Post by Eyrline » Sun Jun 03, 2012 11:51 pm

I'm interested in Jan's Writing Basics Classes.

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Re: Jan's Writing Basics #9--Writing on Topic

Post by glorybee » Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:03 am

eyrline, I'm sending the word doc to you, and I also encourage you to read through the lessons here on the forums as you find the time. Some of the best teaching here was done by people who contributed to the threads, not by my original lessons.

I also removed your email address, as roving spambots have been known to find emails posted online. It's best not to post it anywhere, even here on FaithWriters. For future notice, if you want to give someone your email address, you can safely disguise it from automated spammers by writing it like this: (this is mine)

jan_ackerson at yahoo dot com

with the word "at" and the word "dot" for those symbols, and extra spaces.
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Re: Jan's Writing Basics #9--Writing on Topic

Post by honeyrock » Wed Jun 06, 2012 2:35 pm

Hey, Jan: AAAAAh it feels so great to pull up the site and see lessons! I kinda stopped for awhile after not seeing any. I thought you had quit doing them! :cry: :cry:

After being on hiatus for awhile i submitted to this weeks challenge - a big achievement!

Anyway, here's a well deserved shout out to you: :thankssign .

I have chosen to comment on coming up with topic material. One thing in my favor is that I never could stand using cliches or the expected I would rather startle and shock than remain within safe perimeters although it can be very very scary! I've literally missed submission deadlines for the challenge because I could not come up with something I at least considered unique enough.
One thing I learned in one of your posts was to write down five ideas of the topic then toss them away. That was great advice! I personally like the technique of playing on words, especially if the article is leaning more toward humor and dry wit,

Per the homework, my personal tip is: Kids say the craziest things, misinterpret sayings, slaughter "correct" grammer, come up with bizarre conclusions, twist facts and reality, and on top of it all are very outspoken. Listening in to their conversations and observing their antics can be a resource for great material and hilarious fun. I don't necessarily mean writing a story about a particular conversation or relating a kids cute remark . Rather, crafting a story inspired by their way of thinking, right or wrong. Does that make any sense?
Be strong and very courageous Joshua 1:7

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Re: Jan's Writing Basics #9--Writing on Topic

Post by honeyrock » Wed Jun 06, 2012 2:46 pm

Crud. Looks like I misread and this post is a couple of years old. Oh well, thank goodness these don't ever go out of style!
Be strong and very courageous Joshua 1:7

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Re: Jan's Writing Basics #9--Writing on Topic

Post by JudySauer » Tue Sep 15, 2015 5:22 pm

Scenario: How to describe a pen without using the word pen. I can write about its uses, shape, color, where it may be located, why it might be used, etc., all without saying the word pen.

I think of this often when writing.

Is this a good analogy to help me stay on topic without feeling burdened to use the topic word or phrase?

:thankssign
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Re: Jan's Writing Basics #9--Writing on Topic

Post by glorybee » Wed Sep 16, 2015 8:43 am

JudySauer wrote:Scenario: How to describe a pen without using the word pen. I can write about its uses, shape, color, where it may be located, why it might be used, etc., all without saying the word pen.

I think of this often when writing.

Is this a good analogy to help me stay on topic without feeling burdened to use the topic word or phrase?

:thankssign


Sure!

Of course, it's still okay to use the topic word--just don't thunk your readers over the head with it. Sometimes it's impossible (or even inadvisable) to avoid it altogether, and might even seem gimmicky. Just strive to write your story as it naturally evolves, and make sure that the topic is integral.
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Re: Jan's Writing Basics #9--Writing on Topic

Post by Alma » Fri Feb 19, 2016 9:59 pm

Hi Jan,

I am a beginner and very happy that you do this. It is invaluable. Thank you.

This is my first time here. I simply scrolled down and saw the "More Tools" box and clicked on the "1. Bite Sized Interactive Writing Lessons" and, voila, here I am.

:thankssign This is really great!

Alma

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Re: Jan's Writing Basics #9--Writing on Topic

Post by Deb Porter » Sat Feb 20, 2016 12:04 am

Alma wrote:Hi Jan,

I am a beginner and very happy that you do this. It is invaluable. Thank you.

This is my first time here. I simply scrolled down and saw the "More Tools" box and clicked on the "1. Bite Sized Interactive Writing Lessons" and, voila, here I am.

:thankssign This is really great!

Alma


Hi Alma.

I'm not Jan, but I'm delighted you found the lessons. They are most definitely invaluable. Soak it all in, and don't be afraid to ask anything.

Love, Deb
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