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True-Life Editing, Example 1 - The 35 Tips Series

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anthology bookeval35 Tips for Writing Powerful Prose Poems is the second in a series by writer Kaye Linden, the “35 Tips” series. She sent me the manuscript of the first book, 35 Tips for Writing a Brilliant Flash Story, to work on two years ago; it now sells well on Amazon.com. Veteran of many creative-writing courses and programs with an MFA in writing, editor for a literary magazine, a teller of tales from the Australian outback, Ms. Linden distills what she has learned about writing into instructional texts boiled down to their basics. These are presented without fluff but with prompts, examples, and exercises to help student writers gain skill and confidence.

I like her advice: “When in doubt, keep it simple.” Simple is good: A middle-schooler could use these books as easily as a college grad.

I checkedas I always doand found no other books resembling the 35 Tips. No instructional texts about writing flash stories or writing prose poetry existedan undiscovered gold mine! As a literary editor, Ms. Linden read many flash stories and prose poems which she said were “almost publishable” except it seemed their authors could use a little advice. This was further motivation to write the books—which were not as easy as they sounded.

Ms. Linden drafted the chapters and I arranged them in an order starting from square one, total novice, with lessons and challenges that keep the student growing toward success, whether or not he or she has a teacher or workshop. How do I know where square one is? I taught writing, particularly creative writing, for 31 years. You’re welcome. I know when a new writer’s questions arise and what they are: “How long should it be?” “Are prose poems stories?” “How do I know whether my poem is good?” 

I also suggested exercises and prompts and asked for more examples in the book of good, clear, successful prose poems not necessarily by the author. Ms. Linden obtained permission from other authors to reprint in 35 Tips some of her favorite prose poems previously published in the journal she helps edit, The Bacopa Literary Review.

35 Tips for Writing Brilliant Flash Stories was first an Amazon.com e-book only, and the author received requests for hard copies. That was arranged, but the hard-copy product wasn’t optimal. It was too skinny and had a blank back cover. Ms. Linden hired the people at CreateSpace to design and upload the second book in the series for print and electronic media. Yes, it cost money. My services cost money too. The result is excellent--a beautiful, useful, evergreen book that fulfills a need.

If your book fulfills a needit markets itself!

114 Last modified on Tuesday, 18 July 2017
Catherine Rankovic

Writer, with 30+ years' writing and publishing experience, 20+ years' teaching experience. Last book read: Mrs. Lincoln by Catherine Clinton.