Nine Tips to Getting Published

You’ve written your story and now you want to send it off to a publisher. But is your story ready to be sent off? To increase your chances of getting published the following tips should help get your story ready for publication:

1. A good title can help catch the editor/publisher’s eye;
2. Always include a beginning, middle and an ending in your stories;
3. Edit for clarity as well as grammar, spelling, etc...;
4. Always use correct (or publisher required) manuscript presentation;
5. Include a front and back coversheet;
6. Include a SASE;
7. Stick to the required word count and format;
8. The less work the editor/publisher has to do, the more likely your piece will be accepted (but don’t make your manuscript look like a book, that’s the editor/publisher’s job);
9. Always be professional.

If you can submit an error-free, professional-looking manuscript, you will have already beaten all the other writers who think they’ll get their story noticed if it’s printed on pink paper, bordered with little stars, or hand-written in old Gothic. None of these strategies will give you an edge; they will only make you look too eccentric to be worth an editor’s trouble.

Being neat, professional and competitive may help to put you ahead of the rest and get your story published.


About the author:
Kristy Taylor is a syndicated journalist with articles and fiction strewn across all forms of media. She has written and published numerous books, and is the executive editor of Paramount Publishing, which encompasses several web sites, including http://www.ShortStoryCompetitions.com



For more help on building the perfect proposal,
check out Terry Whalin's book,


Book Proposals That Sell

Writing With All Five Senses

E.L. Doctorow once said, “Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.”

What is he talking about? Easy. He is describing the importance of vivid description. For any writer to succeed, he/she must master showing instead of telling. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, here's an example:

Telling: I heard a dog crying in the distance.

Showing: The mournful howl of a dog ripped through the air, causing my pulse to quicken and goosebumps to appear on my flesh.

Do you see the difference? In the first one, I told you that a dog cried, but you have no idea what it sounds like. In the second, I helped you to hear the dog for yourself. You now know that it was a mournful and eerie sound.

In every good story, it is vital to allow your reader to become involved. One of the best ways to do that is to use the five senses. Don't tell your reader things, allow him to see, hear, smell, feel, and taste them. Paint such a vivid picture that your reader can't help but become involved in the story.

Try this exercise to strengthen your skills of showing.

Get a piece of paper. Divide it into five columns and title each column with the following: see, hear, smell, taste, and feel. Now, think of your favorite place in the world. Imagine you are there right now. In the appropriate columns, write down everything you can about that place. What are you seeing? Are there smells? If so, describe them. How do you feel? Warm, cold, scared, peaceful? What kind of sounds do you hear? Cars, birds, water? Taste can be a little tricky unless your favorite place is a restaurant, but try to come up with something if you can.

Once you have your detailed list, write an article in which you describe that place to the reader. Don't tell them about the place, but use your five senses to show them the place that you love so much. Don't focus too much on one sense, but be sure to include each one.

Whatever you do, don't underestimate the importance of the five senses. No one wants to read a story where everything is told. It's like sitting down and reading a text book. Boring! Bring your story to life in the eyes of your reader. Show, don't tell!


For more information on using the five senses, check out my 8-week e-class at LearnWriteNow.com!

SMALL REPORTS FORTUNE - Jimmy D. Brown


How to Make More Money With Information Products Than Ever
Before By Using Three Powerful NO COST Tools

By Jimmy D. Brown of “Small Reports Fortune”

.................................

It’s all under your control.

If you sell information products and want to make more
money with them, there’s good news:

It’s all under your control.

That’s right, you can make more money with your
information products simply by doing something that you
have the power to do.

It’s not dependent upon anyone else. It’s up to you.

Let me explain …

While there are a lot of different aspects of selling
information products, there are really only two ways to make
more money with them …

Sell More
Refund Less

Really, it’s pretty much that simple.

In order to make more money with information products you
need to either SELL MORE or REFUND LESS.

Or, better still, do BOTH.

Now, in the many years I’ve been selling information
products, I’ve found there are three powerful tools that will
help you do just that.

You can use these three tools to SELL MORE by using them
on your classified ads, solo mailings, sales letters,
autoresponder messages and virtually any sales tool.

You can also use these three tools to REFUND LESS by
applying them to the information products you create.

Care to find out what they are?

Read on …

*** Three Powerful Tools ***
What makes these tools so powerful is a combination of
important benefits

* They don’t cost a penny to use.
* They work over and over again.
* They are under your control.

In fact, you already have them.

These three powerful tools are WAYS TO USE WORDS.

Tool #1. Education. When it comes to information products,
nothing comes close to the power and profitability of
educating your readers.

I’m talking the distance between the planet Pluto and the
computer screen you’re now staring at.

Not even remotely close.

Content is king. Nobody else gets to wear the crown or sit
on the throne. Content rules the land of information
products.

So, first things first, you gotta give your readers information
that educates them. You gotta teach them something.

Do this in your promotion tools (ezine articles, reports, sales
letters, etc.) and you’ll have readers thinking “This person
knows something … I better take a closer look.”

You’ll SELL MORE.

Educate customers in your information products and show
them how to produce results in their own lives and you’ll
make them happy, satisfied customers.

You’ll REFUND LESS.

Tool #2. Entertainment. To be completely honest, it’s not
enough to solely provide content. Even if it’s good content,
that won’t always get the job done.

Think of it this way: your high school civics teacher
provided you with (too much) content in a single 55-minute
class, but would you really buy anything from him?

Maybe a hall pass or a set of earplugs, but that’s about it. :o)

Nobody likes to read BORING content. We turn off boring
television programs, we fall asleep reading boring books and
we keep our credit cards tucked firmly inside our pockets
when we read boring sales letters, ezine articles, solo
mailings or special reports.

Make it fun. Make it entertaining. And you can do that by
using …

* Illustrations
* Funny stories
* Analogies
* Outrageous statements

I once wrote an article entitled “I’ll Swallow A Live
Grasshopper If This Doesn’t Boost Your Website Traffic”.

Do you think anyone read it?

Ask yourself this: would YOU like to read it?

We love to have a good time, and there’s no reason why you
shouldn’t apply that reasoning to your writing.

Keep readers interested as they consume your promotion
materials by entertaining them.

You’ll SELL MORE.

Help customers enjoy reading page after page of your
product by entertaining them.

You’ll REFUND LESS.

When you add entertainment to education, you’ll make more
money with information products …

… faster than you can say “ “LIVE GRASSHOPPER.” :o)

Tool #3. Emotion. Whether it’s outrage over an injustice,
excitement over a success or piqued interest over a
possibility, our emotions drive us.

Few decisions are based on intelligent analysis, but rather on
emotional response. Few actions are based on accurate data,
but rather on impulsive feelings.

We are emotional people. And there is no stronger proof of
that than to watch what we do and to listen to what we say.

Your job is to get us emotional. Fill us with hope.
Empower us. Give us courage. Motivate us. Issue a
challenge. Inspire. Get us to do something.

That’s what we really want. More than education, more than
entertainment – we want someone to compel us to do
something to make our lives better.

And the power and profits go to the ones who can do that.

Fill readers with hope and expectation with your marketing
materials.

You’ll SELL MORE.

Give your customers confidence and enthusiasm as they read
chapter after chapter of your information product.

You’ll REFUND LESS.

*** Conclusion ***

If you want to make more money with information products,
then you CAN do it. You’re in charge. It’s under your
control.

Education.
Entertainment.
Emotion.

Three powerful tools that lead to incredible profits.

But, only if you use them.

Some will read this article and discard it like they have done
with countless others.

And some will get busy.

I think you’ll be one of the few who will make more money.

Prove me right.

.........................
Jimmy D. Brown is the author of "Small Reports Fortune" - if
you can write 7-15 page small reports, you can earn a living
online working just a few hours each week from your home.
Look for his EXCLUSIVE formula "Creating A Six-Figure Income
With Small Reports"
.
.........................

A Closer Look at Writing E-books

Are you one of the hundreds of struggling freelance writers who can't seem to catch a break? Are you tired of rejections and apologies? You know, the ones that say, "We'd love to use your manuscript, BUT. . ." Freelance writing is a difficult job, but it doesn't have to be. At least, not anymore, thanks to eBooks.

I know what some of you are thinking. You're saying that you want to be a real writer. Well, when it comes down to it, eBooks are the new thing, so it is in your best interest to get on board. As for not being a real writer, who is the judge of what is and isn't a real writer? You've written a book, whether it's paperback, hardback, or electronic doesn't matter. It's your book, and you are the author. It's that simple.

The second complaint that is often heard in the realm of eBooks is that all the information has already been covered. WHAT? People, places, and things are changing daily. How can everything already be written about? Look at the Internet, for example. It alone offers countless topics for your next eBook. Technology is in a constant state of improvement. Write about it!

What else can you write about? Anything you want to. That's the beauty of it. The world is full of people looking for information on a variety of topics. Gardening. Yoga. Internet business. Pets. Green living. Even writing itself is a popular topic for best-selling eBooks. The possibilities are endless. Plus, even if your topic is already widely covered, you still have options. Give your eBook a different slant or approach the topic from a different angle. Pick a specific topic within a broader topic. For example, if you're wanting to write an eBook about writing, narrow it down to article writing or writing fiction for children. Take a minute now to brainstorm your topic and see how many subcategories you can find, then choose one to be the basis for your eBook.

Being a writer myself, I know that you dread the thought of devoting more time to another project when you've already been rejected so many times. Believe me, I've been there, but that's just another great thing about eBooks. You see, eBook publishing is NOTHING like traditional publishing. In traditional publishing, you write the book, send it out to a publisher or agent and wait for months for them to decide whether or not they would like to publish your manuscript. If you're lucky, you'll soon get an acceptance letter, and the publishing process will begin. However, for many of us, that simply isn't the case. Instead, we receive one of those politely written form rejection letters, forcing us to start the painful process all over again. Ebook publishing is exactly the opposite.

In eBook publishing, you can publish the work yourself. Now, this is not like self-publishing through a vanity press. That involves spending a great deal of money that you probably don't have and then still having to do most of the work yourself. If your main goal is to publish your own eBook, there are countless ways to do that on the Internet, some of which are free to set up as long as you agree to pay a small percentage on every eBook you sell.

You can also use your eBook to promote your online business if you have one. How? Believe it or not, by giving it away. It sounds strange, I know. How can you make money if you give stuff away? It's really quite simple. Everyone loves free stuff! By giving your eBook away, you get into the hands of the people who really want to read it. If it is well-written, they will be impressed and will search out more about you and your other projects. Voila! Instant customer!

If you don't have your own business, that's fine. You can use your eBook to promote other people's businesses, making you an affiliate. Why would you want to do that? There are two reasons. First, it still gets your book into the hands of those who may seek out more eBooks by you, thus enhancing your sales. Second, by placing your affiliate links in your eBook, if the people who receive your eBook buy something from your affiliate, you get a piece of the profit, usually no less than 50% and often much more. It's a win-win situation.

If you have your heart set on being published by a traditional publisher, never fear. Publishing your own eBook can help you in that area as well. How? When publishers receive a manuscript, one of the first things they do is Google the author. They are eager to find out what kind of following and audience he/she has. You see, it is not just the responsibility of the publisher to promote your book. It's yours, as well. If you already have a faithful following of your work, a publisher may deem you worthy to take a chance on. Writing and publishing eBooks gives you an easy way to quickly make a name for yourself and build an audience. This may be the very thing that gets your foot in the door of a traditional publisher.

Have You Considered Online Writing?

There are many talented writers in the world that cringe at the thought of full-time freelance writing. After all, most full-time authors aren't exactly rolling in the dough. The work is hard, tedious, and often, unappreciated. But things are changing in favor of the struggling writer. And, it's all due to the many writing opportunities now available on the Web.

When many people hear of successful Internet gurus, they picture the multi-millionaire that owns four or five businesses and basically conducts those businesses on the Web. Well, there are many people who would fall into that category. But, did you know that you could bring in more than $100,000 each year by simply doing the thing you love to do? Writing! You heard me. The starving poets are a thing of the past. If you are interested in making a serious living as a writer, here are some opportunities now available to you.

Article writing: This is one of the most popular forms of writing on the Web today. Many businesses are discovering that article marketing is one of the easiest and fastest ways to drive targeted traffic to their websites. The problem is that many of these web owners are not writers. They don't have a clue how to put together an article, so they will gladly pay you to do it for them. An average article is 400-700 words, making it easy for you to write several of these a day.

Web content: Just as with article writing, there are many people out there looking to set up their own web site, but they do not possess the talent to write their own content. This is another area where owners are willing to pay you to produce the content for them. This often involves writing introductions to the company, biographies, sales letters, product descriptions, and the like. The work is not difficult, but it does require some knowledge and familiarity with web site design.

Copywriting: This is writing basic sales letters for a company or individual. In the letter, you describe the product or service being offered and try to convince the reader to purchase it. I'm sure you've received a multitude of these offers in the mail. The online versions are set up the same way. These letters are written in a casual tone, making it much easier for you to write. There are other variations of copywriting, but this is the most popular.

E-books: Here, you have two choices. You can write and sell your own e-books. This method requires a lot of work on your part because you will have to set up arrangements for selling and marketing, but in most cases, you will get to keep all of the profits. There are also people out there with a great idea who are looking for someone to write an e-book for them. The pay is not usually great, but the work is relatively easy, especially if you are already familiar with the topic.

Blogs: Again, there are a couple of different options in this area. You can set up your own blog and sell advertising on it. The alternative is writing for someone else's blog. As with e-books, the pay for each posting is not great, but you could write several postings in an hour. The more blogging jobs you get, the more money you can bring in.

Ghostwriting: This is where you write a book, article, story, etc. for someone else, but they get the credit for the work. When you are paid as a ghostwriter, you are being paid for not only the use of your work, but also the rights for it. Basically, your employer gets to claim the work as his/her own. Because of this, writers can charge a little more for this service. Occasionally, a ghostwriter is acknowledged for his/her assistance, but not always.

Editing & Proofreading: In this area, people pay you to correct their mistakes, whether they be grammatical or typographical. Each job is a little different. Some employers want you to make the project sound as good as possible, even if that means butchering their work. Others want only the most basic of your editing skills. Be sure to find out what your employer wants before taking on the job.

These are just a few of the many online jobs now available to you as a writer. If you are just starting out, it can be very difficult to find these jobs. In that case, I would suggest trying out some of the different writing services like Elance or Guru. On these sites, you bid on the different writing jobs that interests you. There are many writing jobs listed each day, so you can count on always having work. Other resources you can use are writing sites such as Freelancewriting.com. Here, the jobs are listed, and you have the opportunity to directly contact the person who placed the advertisement.

The possibilities are endless. With a little discipline and motivation, you can easily become a full-time freelance writer. I've given you a few ideas of where to start, but I promise you that if you'll dive in, you'll find more opportunities than you can handle. So, choose wisely. You don't want to over-commit, but you do want to make a living. And, now you can, doing the thing you love most.

Plot: Turning Your Story Into an Exciting Ride

The plot is the sequence of events that tells the story. The plot is where the author arranges events in a logical order to develop his basic idea. The plot generally consists of five parts: the introduction, the rising action, the climax, the falling action, and the final outcome.

The introduction is the beginning of your story where you introduce your characters, setting, and the basic subject of the story.

The rising action is where the conflict occurs, and the character(s) must figure out how to resolve the problem

The climax is the point of the highest action. This is the turning point of the story.

The falling action is the resolution of the conflict.

The final outcome is the part of the story where you tie up any loose ends and wrap up the story. (There is great danger in dragging a story on at this point. Don't give in to the temptation. Say what needs to be said and end the story.)

Many writers find it best to compare plot to a roller coaster ride. Depending on the length of the story, the plot may have many ups and downs, but it must have both, and it must keep moving. At times the roller coaster may move faster than at other times. The same can be said of the plot. It is important that you give your readers enough action so that they don't get bored but not too much so that they have a chance to catch their breath. As with a roller coaster, there should be breath-taking events and also times of anticipation (like when the coaster is trudging up that high hill). This is known as pace, and is an important part of building a good plot.

Example of a weak plot:

Joe goes for a walk in the woods. He enjoys his leisurely hike. He surveys the plant and animal life around him. He finishes his walk and goes home.

BORING!!!!!!!!!!

Example of a good plot:

Joe goes for a walk in the woods. Before long, he comes across a snake that strikes at him from the side of the trail. He narrowly escapes the snake and hurries down the trail only to find himself a few feet from a black bear. He manages to sneak away without gaining the bear's attention, but as he continues down the path and comes to a crossroads, he discovers that he dropped his map during his flight and now has no idea which way to turn.

Do you see the difference? In the first example, there is no conflict, no action, and therefore, no real story. It was just a boring list of events. The second, however, was full of ups and downs. The beginning set up our character and setting. Then, we have the action with the snake and then the relief of his escape. Not long after that, we are brought to the edge of our seats again by the sighting of the bear. We breathe a sigh of relief as Joe sneaks away unnoticed. But then, our hearts cry out when we realize that Joe has lost his map and is uncertain which direction to go. Up, down, up, down. Just like a roller coaster. Keep that in mind while creating your plot!

Five Steps for Dealing with Writer's Block

There is nothing as intimidating as the blinking cursor on a blank page. It is incessant, demanding that you type something. . . anything. Yet, no matter how often it blinks, the words just won't come. The story is there. Your thoughts are in order, but the delivery is elusive. And so, the cursor blinks on.

Writer's block, despite what many say, is not just a frame of mind or an excuse to avoid writing. It is a plague that infects writers of all age, race, and stature. While there are no "cures" for writer's block, here are a few ideas that may help to release the flow of words.

Copy something - Sometimes just seeing words on the page will spark the muse. Take a few minutes to copy (by hand) or type definitions from the dictionary, an excerpt from the latest book you're reading, Bible verses, etc. It doesn't matter what you copy. Just get your mind and fingers engaged in the process. Pretty soon, you'll discover that you have some words of your own to contribute.

Keep a journal - Journaling is an excellent way to express your emotions, record your thoughts, keep track of writing ideas, or whatever else you can think of. Journaling is your private writing. You don't have to worry about spelling, grammar, or format. It is a time where you can simply allow your thoughts to run freely. Doing this daily helps keep you in the frame of mind for writing, plus it is an excellent stress reliever.

Talk about what you're writing - Whether it's to a friend or a family member, talking about your writing can often spark new ideas or angles that you hadn't thought of previously. If no one is around during your "hour of need," log on to some writing forums or chat rooms. Not only will you be likely to come up with some new thoughts, but some of the people you're talking with may have some interesting contributions as well.

Do writing prompts and exercises - When you're completely stuck on a project, sometimes the best thing to do is to walk away from it and write something else. Writing prompts are great. They set up a scene or situation, and then leave you to your writing. Sometimes the prompt will offer suggestions that you can use in your current project, but if not, it will still get your writing juices flowing, allowing you to soar over the bump of writer's block. Many writing websites offer free prompts and exercises.

Read - Have you ever been reading something completely unrelated to your writing when - BAM! -- a great concept came to you? That happens to me a lot. Somehow, getting my mind off of my writing allows my thoughts to become more clear and productive. It's strange, I know, but it works. When you're in the dark abyss of writer's block, turn to your favorite book and read for a while. Either you'll come up with something new, or you will have calmed yourself enough that the blinking cursor is no longer the terrifying monster it was thirty minutes ago.

There will be times when the words just won't come. Don't panic. Take some time to walk away. Do some stretches. Take a few deep breaths. Then, try some of the advice above. Whatever you do, don't give up! The words are there within you. It may just take a little time to get them out.

Are You Making These Mistakes in Your Fiction Writing?

John tells Jane about a wonderful story idea he has. Jane tells John he should write a book about it. John does. It is immediately picked up by a major publishing house, and within a month, it is on the NY Times Bestseller list. John quits his job and lives off his royalties. The End.

Every writer in the room is saying, "Yeah, right. It doesn't happen like that." For most writers, no, it doesn't. However, you may see better results if you rid your writing of some tragic mistakes.

Chapter one. Already bored. - It has been said that you have between 3-5 seconds to catch your reader's attention. That's not much time at all. With an opening sentence like, "It was a cold day in Maine," you're sure to lose the reader before they get to the really good stuff. So, start with the good stuff. Spend a lot of time crafting that first sentence until you're sure it will hook your reader. Once you have them hooked, keep them that way. Don't spend the first chapter trying to set up your plot and describe all your characters. You can do that along the way. Start in the middle of your story. Begin in the midst of the action. Then, once the reader is interested, you can fill in the missing details.

Getting from "Point A to Point B" - Your reader is hooked. Your story is going strong. You finished a scene. Now what? Obviously, you need to get to your next scene, but how? How can you jump from one scene to the next without an abrupt hiccup in the flow of the story? This is a tricky area for writers, and it does take practice to make transitions smooth. The best way is to avoid long, drawn-out transitions. Say what needs to be said in as few words as possible, then switch to the next scene as smoothly as you can. If all else fails, leave two or three blank lines between paragraphs to note the passing of time. This is effective, but if you use it too often, your writing will take on a choppy feel.

Weak characters - Readers want to relate to your characters, but it's difficult if your characters are not realistic. You know the type: the smart kid that never makes a mistake, the brave warrior who throws himself into the crocodile pit just to prove his bravery, the mom with five kids who lives in a perfect house with the perfect husband and the perfect car. Yuck! These types of characters are so fake that no one can possibly relate to them. Your readers want characters that they can believe in. Creating believable characters takes a lot of time and effort, but it is definitely worth it. Get to know your characters, and then show them to your readers.

Oops! That can't be right! - Many times, writers get so caught up in their story that they overlook certain points of logic. Bill was so excited to get his character on a plane that he had his flight arriving in Australia five hours after it left Peru. Not going to happen! Lisa was so entranced in her romantic reunion scene that she forgot her main character was allergic to the roses her lover was offering her. It's easy to be so wrapped up in the story that we lose sight of checking all our facts and making sure there are no holes in our plot or our logic. Believe it or not, your readers will pick up on it.

He said, she said - Dialogue is an important element in crafting a good work of fiction, but it can be overused or used incorrectly. Dialogue is the means by which your characters communicate. It is not a way for you to communicate to your readers. Granted, you can do some "showing" through a proper use of dialogue, but avoid having your characters tell your reader the entire story. There are other good ways to get your point across. Where's the action? Where's the description? Where's the plot? In certain scenes, it's easy to get bogged down with dialogue. Don't let this happen. It will cause your entire story to go stale.

Following these guidelines does not guarantee you a place on the bestseller list, but it will help to make your fiction work the best that it can be.

To Self-Publish, or Not to Self-Publish?

One of the top questions in writing today is whether or not one should self-publish. Let's face it. Traditional Publishers receive hundreds of thousands of manuscripts each year, and only a small percentage of those make it into print. The rest are either thrown away or returned to the sender with a nice form rejection letter. For this reason, it makes sense for writers to explore the possibility of self-publication. That being said, let's weigh out the pros and cons.

Pros:

1. You have complete control over your book. There are no editors or publishers telling you to make change after change in an effort to "improve" your manuscript. If you want to make changes, go ahead. If not, that's fine too. It's completely up to you.

2. It's quicker. The process of submitting a book to traditional publishers can be a very long ordeal. With self-publishing, you can usually have your book published in just a few days.

3. You keep more in royalties. Publishing houses don't offer much in royalties, especially if your name in not well-known. If you choose to publish on your own, you receive an average of 40% of the profits from each book sale.

4. You can become "somebody." In the writing world, nobody takes you seriously unless you have a book. The sooner you get your own book, the sooner people will start to take notice of you. Your name and presence will grow.

5. You won't receive any rejection letters. Probably the greatest thing about self-publishing is that you never have to receive that letter or e-mail that states, "Thank you for sending us your manuscript. We regret that we are unable to use it at this time."

Cons:

1. You have to do all the work. Publishing houses have an entire staff dedicated to getting books ready for print. If you're going through a POD or vanity press, plan on doing the work yourself. You will need to be your own editor, cover designer, etc.

2. The marketing is in your hands. Many bookstores do not accept self-published books, and those that do are hard to get into. It will take a lot of hard work to promote your book and to place it in stores.

3. Money is required. No matter which company you go with, there will be some out-of-pocket expenses. Self-publishing requires you to make an upfront payment with no guarantee that you'll sell anything. Plus, there is a lot of financial requirements in advertising and marketing your book.

4. It is often looked down upon. Some people have it in their head that a self-published author is not a true author at all. However, many famous authors began their career with self-publishing. A few examples are Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Beatrix Potter, Rudyard Kipling, and even Stephen King.

There is no right or wrong way to publish a book. The important thing is that you explore all the possibilities available to you and make an informed decision based on your personal goals and the facts you've obtained.

Is You Fiction Work Worthy of Being Read?

There are many elements that go into making a work of fiction worthy of being read. While each part is essential, there are four elements that are vital in transforming your work from a boring jumble of words to a true work of art.

1.The idea - This is where every great work of fiction begins. Ideas can come from various places. Sometimes an idea will just pop into your head or wander in from your imagination, but more often, something in your life will trigger a story idea. A personal experience is a wonderful source for an idea. Many writers come across new topics while working on a completely different project. Ideas can be gathered from television, newspaper articles, or overhearing a story in the checkout line of the grocery store. Story ideas are all around you, so it's important to keep a notebook with you to jot them down when they come to you.

2.The plot - There have been many discussions on whether you should choose your plot or your characters first. Personally, I think you should pick your plot. After all, how do you know who your characters should be if you don't even know what they are doing? The plot is the element that takes your idea and transforms it into a story. It is the part that moves the story from "Point A" to "Point B." In order for your story to be exciting, your plot needs to be exciting. Think of it as a roller coaster. Up, down. Fast, slow. Twist, turn. Your plot should do all of these. The best plots are those that have the reader experiencing opposite emotions in the same chapter. Happy, sad. Scared, relaxed. Assured, in doubt. Keep the story moving, and your reader will continue to flip the pages. Let the story stall, and your book is likely to wind up on the shelf. That's how important plot is!

3.Characters - The next thing every good story needs is good characters. Notice I said "good characters" not just "characters." The character is the person (or sometimes animal) who is living out the story. For the story to be believable, the characters must be believable. Unfortunately, there are many good plots out there that lack realistic characters. The people are dull and lifeless, making it hard for the reader to relate. Make your characters come alive with action, dialogue, and description. Know your character, and help your reader to know him as well.

4.Setting - While this element is not as important as the other three, setting often plays a vital part in a story. Not only does setting tell the reader "where" and "when," but it can also help set the mood. For example, if your setting is on the field of battle in the middle of the Revolutionary War, there is a mood of fear, sadness, and regret. If your story is taking place in a dark creepy house on a stormy night, you have set it up for the perfect mystery.

While there are many other elements in a work of fiction, these are the most important. Master them, and your story will be worthy of being read and hopefully even being published.