Tag s | Writing Craft

Create Magic with Words

Years ago, I took my five-year-old daughter to Toys R Us to meet “Barbie.” “Barbie” turned out to be a cute and charming teenager who, yes, looked like the classic blonde image of the doll. She wore a pretty pink gown.

I expected a lot more fanfare around this event. Like, maybe some cheap swag, a chance to win a Barbie doll or Barbie convertible, or at least a throne for Barbie. Maybe a stage with lots of pink. But she randomly stood in the store. I guess someone who worked there had a pretty teenage daughter willing to give up a Saturday afternoon to wear a pink dress and be nice to little girls and their mothers. I appreciate her efforts, will always remember the event, and hope she’s having a lovely life.

However, this lack of magic explains one of the reasons, to me, why Toys R Us is closing. My most recent trips there made me depressed as I viewed row after row of – stuff. Yet I’m sad to see them go.

When we write and market our books, we must not make this mistake. We can’t let our books languish on the shelf or not jump out at readers as they click through on the Internet. We must make our books spellbinding. By that I don’t mean let’s all write about the evils of witchcraft. I mean, our books must promise – and deliver –  magic.

Nonfiction is the selling of hope. Like Charles Revson, founder of Revlon Cosmetics, said, “We produce cosmetics in factories and sell hope in magazines.” To wit:

  • The marriage book will save your relationship
  • The dating book will help you find your mate
  • The parenting book will earn you a “Parent of the Year” medal
  • The book on guilt or grieving will ease your heart and mind
  • The memoir or biography will inspire and help you learn from another’s mistakes
  • The book on religion will help you understand God

Fiction is its own type of magic:

  • Escaping from boredom, routine, and monotony
  • Learning from the mistakes of characters
  • Thinking about a tough issue in a safe way, through pretend
  • Seeing “what if” without taking risks in real life
  • Falling in love along with a couple
  • Solving “who dunnit” before the big reveal

When you write to spellbind your readers, your books will become magical.

Your turn:

What is the most magical book you’ve read lately.

What other points do you think make a book magical?


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The Art of the Sentence

A month or so ago I asked some social media friends what sentence from a book rocked their world. The replies were delightful, and I shared some of them in my June 27 post on this site, titled “In Praise of Memorable Sentences.” There were too many, however, to include …

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Writers Beware! Protect Yourself

The writing profession starts off as a private venture. Creating ideas and stories in the privacy of your own home. But those of you who become serious about the work and slowly become more visible the issue of personal protection needs to be addressed.

I cannot emphasize this enough.

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In Praise of Memorable Sentences

In her book, The Writing Life, Annie Dillard tells the story of a well-known writer who was collared by a university student, who asked, “Do you think I could be a writer?” “Well,” the writer said, “I don’t know…. Do you like sentences?” Dillard continues: The writer could see the …

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Test Your Writing Out Loud

Once you write something, try reading it out loud. It might change the way you write. I worked with audiobooks for a number of years and few things were more interesting than how something sounded when read aloud by the audiobook performer, whether it was the author or a professional …

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I Feel This Post May Hurt Your Thinkings

Everyone has pet peeves. I have a menagerie of them. One of my favorites is the common (and fairly recent) tendency of English speakers and writers to confuse and conflate the words, “feel” and “think.” But feelings are not thoughts and thoughts are not feelings. That might seem obvious and …

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Book Reading in a Social Media World

At some point every writer confronts the trend of readers who would rather consume 140 characters in social media than 140 pages of words. Social media and smart phones change everything in our world and their impact on book reading and writing is substantial. At the same time social media …

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Why I Read to the End

I am the world’s worst about abandoning novels I read for leisure. I’ll give a book a fair chance, but as soon as I find I don’t like it, I have no compunction about tossing it aside to pursue a different story. And believe me, as a literary agent, I …

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Never Assume Biblical Literacy

It wasn’t long ago that a reference to a Biblical character or a Bible verse would be widely understood without explanation. That is no longer true. Researcher George Gallup said “We revere the Bible, but we don’t read it.” This was recently illustrated in our local newspaper in an article …

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Editors: Friend or Foe?

Our guest blogger today is our friend Karen Ball! She runs Karen Ball Publishing Services, LLC and is an award-winning, best-selling author; a popular podcaster/ speaker; and the co-creator with Erin Taylor Young of From the Deep, LLC. She has also been executive editor for fiction at Tyndale, Multnomah, Zondervan, and …

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