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Writing Lesson and Quiz

Updated on December 8, 2014

Basic Writing Skills

Children learn basic writing skills in junior or primary school and gradually build up their knowledge before progressing to more complex stories and responding to challenges, such as essay writing. As adults they are expected to perform their skills for communicating and expressing themselves and for some this works well. But many have never really cottoned on to the fundamentals of what makes reading their work worthwhile. Some dodge the issue altogether and never go further than their knowlegde in primary school.

Hopping around lenses here in Squidoo there are many that are so badly written that one wonders how the lensmaster developed an interest in writing web pages in the first place. So deciding on this quiz is my way of testing your knowledge and challenging you to open up about your talents. Don't be shy, it's largely anaonymous.

Please leave your comment at the bottom of the page in the Guest Module so I know you have been here. Thanks

FREE e-book on Norma's Reincarnation Experience

What is it about Writing that Attracts You?

In my case it happened that before ever writing a page of a web site or of a book there was so much knowedge required that a University degree was essential. It followed my experiences with things like reincarnation, visions given to me and prophecies about what is coming upon us as climate change, global warming, famine, wars and other things take their toll. Many might laugh at this but being of above average intelligence and with all my homework done that does not bother me in the least.

My degree in archaeology, anthropology and linguistics proved the visions given to me of past civilisations that quantified and qualified how and what ancestral beings did and of their belief systems that have passed down into modern religions. The trick was to get the message out there as fast as possible and without engaging the fickle publishing organisations whose CEO's would be aghast at my findings.

That is what led me to the internet and it was in fulfillment of a vision given to me in the early 1980s when my face appeared on a sreen before my eyes, That was many years before the idea of publishing in this manner ever came to the fore.

With that in mind it is up to you to know what you want to write about and whether or not you have the passion and drive to jump the hurdles and succeed. It did not take me long to have some e-books up for sale and several domains and now over 250 Squidoo lenses and over a hundred published articles, as well as blogs and comments in many forums, and so on. A good writer will reach out and your work will be noticed if you write from the heart and about things that matter.

A Successful Author Tells How He Does It

What Type of Book is Your Favorite?

Do you read strictly for entertainment purposes

See results

Becoming a Writer

You must read if you want to become a good author and leave the world with something more than just your signature. While writing is an art form it is also a learned skill. Those who do it are called wordsmiths and like any smith that creates from nothing to make something you have to learn. You also have to know what appeals to you to write and what an audience might see in it.

The best stories for me are those that come from the heart and are about personal experience. That doesn't mean they can't be fictional, as someone once told me that even fiction is based on truth. That might seem far fetched when one looks at some of the rubbish going around today in the movie theatres or on television. But the authors still have appeal otherwise their work would not have made it to the screen in the first place.

You will get further with an audience if you appeal to their emotions and that means telling a story about life, struggles, hardships, happiness, marriage, kids and so on, Put them all into a book and come up with something like Anne of Green Gables, or The Grapes of Wrath. If you have not read these works then they are good ones to get hold of to start building up a library. People want drama and an exciting ending that they don't expect. They leave your audience wanting more of your work in order to get them to your next piece.

For an exercise in style try Shakespeare, Mark Twain or even Charles Dickens. They wrote about things they knew and so captured their audience into incredible scenes they created on paper through their imagination. Who can forget the opening scene in MacBeth with the witches and their cauldron? Or the dramatic way that David Copperfield came into the world and of his beloved Heggarty? These are the great tricks if you want to keep your audience engaged.

When writing set out your chapters and try to picture the story in motion before your eyes. Tell it like it is and don't exaggerate it into things that your audience can't relate to, such as glamorous settings, unless you have been there yourself and can tell it simply. Don't fantasise about celebrities, movies or anything outside of your planned story.

A good story has good flow and can usually be put down quickly. Don't worry about grammar, spelling, arrangements or anything else at this stage. Just write and write and write.

Let the story out, build the characters, create the scenes and fill the pages.

Writing for an Audience

Have you this kind of ambition?

Would you attempt to write a book?

See results

How to Get Your Story

If you are going to write fiction then you must become a keen observer. Things happen around you every day that would make a good story line. The people you know make wonderful characters for books. Look at Dickens who made use of everyone, even the judge in the court he attended, to incorporate them so they became part of his stories.

Observation, however, is often not enough these days, With the technology available videos and photos are great sources of retaining potential stories. Photograph the accident instead of just driving past it, the policeman on point duty, the nurse in the hospital, the crowds at a sporting event, and the characters at a circus or fun place like Luna Park.

Capture their voice on tape recorder and play it back when describing someone in your book. Use their voice to identify the character and make sure to write as they speak to mainrtain the mood. We have it all these days in the wonderful technology on hand unlike those who had to rely strictly on their memory.

The voice factor creates mood, the personality that goes with the voice constructs the drama. Imagine a person of that ilk in society. What would he or she be doing to earn a living? How reliable are they? Could they be trusted or are they thieves or murderers perhaps? The local news will have real live criminals on its stories. Take note of how they are dressed, of their appearance. is it neat or otherwise. Do they have tattoos, studs in their face, ears, etc.?

Watch the people who go to church. Do they stack up as good citizens? Who among your neighbours is noisy and loud? How would he or she fit into a family or a work situation? How do your people commute? Do they all drive cars and, if so, what kind of drivers are they? Would any of them engage in road rage or are they placid enough to sit behind traffic and take their time to get somewhere.

If you witness a crime taking place make sure you get as much of the detail as possible. What did the crook look like, how big is he, what kind of getaway car or other did he have? Did you manage to get the number? What is that one particular feature that stands out to help the police identify him? If you can help the police you might go to court when his trial comes up and that way you will know a lot more about him.

There are a million such points to note about people but what about the houses around you? How big are they? Who lives in what type of dwelling? Do the neighbours go away much, or are they home bodies? What do they do to relax? How many have parties and what kind of noise do they make? What about their children? Are there any bullies among them?

Writers must be on the ball with pad in hand, and camera or video near by to capture the moment. You may never see it again and the making of a great story may be gone forever if you don't capture it then and there.

Get to the Bottom of the Story

Should an author do a journalism course?

Do journalists write the best stories?

See results

Watchdog Journalism

The Advantages of A Journalism Course to Learn to Write Better

Many years ago it was something undertaken by me before attending university. Knowing there was a lot for me to say about my research and desiring to present it in the best possible light the journalism course, by correspondence, allowed me to break down my thoughts into several important points and to highlight them as main chapters in my books.

The way of writing well was also taught with examples from good writers of the past. Hemingway was one I recall as he wrote with few words to describe very dramatic scenes. His style sticks in the memory because instead of wafting on about things that are not part of the story they can be chopped out and the nitty gritty stuff becomes the spine or theme of what he wanted to say. This is an example: Instead of saying something like "The day was sunny and the temperature was well above normal", Hemingway would say something like. "It was hot."

Hemingway makes an interesting study of how good writing can be done in an almost shorthand form.

How to interview people was another key factor of the course. It taught me to ask direct questions and not to back off the difficult ones. You don't get to the basic reasons why something is unless you are prepared to uncover the secrets and the shrouds of lies or misconceptions that hide it from view. This came to be extremely beneficial when writing up my findings about Constantine and the great Roman conspiracy of which he was a major player.

Put the worst and the best part of the story first, state what it is you are about and let the rest follow; these are the key points followed by me in all my works since. During my essay writing at university it earned me top marks because they hit hard on the issues. You can see right at the start why the work is being written and get a sense of the author's credibility and depth of research.

My lenses are like that! They hit hard because they stick to the point. They tell it like it is and make no excuses for revealing the facts with a like it or leave it approach. People will love you more for your honesty than for pussy footing around and apologising for what are important issues. Don't water it down because it might offend someone. As a writer you have a license to offend and to tell the story in the best possible way. How many murder mysteries do you see that start off with the murder and then tell the story of how and why it happened?

If I wanted to tell the world that the end is upon us many would be interested to read on, because most of us know or at least suispect that it is a fact. One way or another humans are killing the world and all living things in it. But if that information is kept until the end of the story there would be few readers who would stick it out. So doing a journalism course is a must if you want to write well and especially true stories or your research into some event or other. People like me can only teach you so much.

If You Suspected Something is Wrong Would you Investigate it?

How keen are you to research the facts before writing a story?

See results

Still images from Dreamstime - click here

This lens was awarded a purple star trophy on February 24th, 2012, Thank you Robin and Bonnie. Hugs

© 2012 norma-holt

Before You Go.

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    • QuizSquid profile image


      4 years ago

      Nice lens. I enjoyed both the quiz and the insights. Thank you!

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 

      5 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Very interesting lens.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Congratulations on your Purple Star. Your work is really excellent. Great advice and guidance. Thanks:=)

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      @Lensmaster...Thanks for sharing your writing expertise and an inspiring Lens!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I have an example of your desire for others to improve their writing that I ran across in the last couple days. You left an offer of your help on a lensmaster bio page to help them improve the quality of their work, they must have like your offer because they left it for others to read, didn't notice if they had turned on that contact button yet. I thought that was so generous of you to offer your expertise in such a way....that's the way you are! :)

    • askformore lm profile image

      askformore lm 

      5 years ago

      Thank you for a lot of great inspiration!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      5 years ago from United States

      As always, a very thought provoking article! It makes me think I may really need to reconsider some things I read, as well as what I write.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I read your some other lenses , all are so good, that's why I came back to read this one.

    • Rangoon House profile image


      6 years ago from Australia

      Congratulations on your Purple Star! Blessings.

    • Tangled07 profile image


      6 years ago

      Great lens thank you for sharing! :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Great interactive lens! Thanks so much for featuring Writers' Software/Resources above. Much appreciated. xx

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Excellent source of information. The quizzes are a great way to educate.

    • VisFeminea profile image


      6 years ago

      It was fun and informative

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I like your quiz as I learned a lot of new things that should help me with my writing. Thank you for sharing this info, I really appreciate it!

    • WilliamPower profile image


      6 years ago

      Good lens.

    • flicker lm profile image

      flicker lm 

      6 years ago

      Very useful information here. Will have to come back and read again.

    • davenjilli lm profile image

      davenjilli lm 

      6 years ago

      Very helpful lens

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      6 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Wow, this is filled with some great information for anyone interested in writing


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