John David Kudrick

putting words to work for you

Tag: nonfiction writing

A Poetic Storyteller

Just finished reading the hefty autobiography of Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run. As long as it is, I wonder how much got trimmed along the way by the author himself, as Springsteen the songwriter is an incredible poetic storyteller and knows the value and power of words (and music as well) … and it’s not like he could ever include everything anyway (was still sad that the book didn’t talk about his participation in the making of “We Are the World”).

Appreciated that he didn’t hide himself (completely, at least) in telling his story, and offered his usual raw look at life, including his own struggles:

Otherwise, if you’d like to hear/see some of Springsteen in action not only as a performer but most of all as a wordsmith, check out some these favorites of mine, which would be material enough for a writing course on their own:

“Thunder Road” [listen for “There were ghosts in the eyes…” and the next line about Chevrolets — such stark visual word-painting]

“Jungleland” [listen for the line about the barefoot girl — more great imagery thanks to little details]

“Streets of Philadelphia” [opening lines so brutally personal, from the point of view of the narrator: mainly Tom Hanks’ character in the movie Philadelphia, and yet such common emotions for all of us at one time or another in life]

“American Skin (41 Shots)” [tackling a lightning-rod issue with this one … studio version with lyrics here]

“The Ghost of Tom Joad” [kind of a culmination of how he taps into creating music that isn’t afraid to speak to modern culture … studio version with lyrics here]

PS: Found an Apple interview with Springsteen and really liked this line from him when asked about writing a book rather than song lyrics:

“You gotta find the music that’s in the words themselves.”

Sage wisdom for writers of any kind …

Basics of Formatting a Manuscript

Whether you’re planning to indie-publish or try the traditional route, publishers want simply formatted copy that they can easily convert to their house style. You’ll of course want to follow any specific guidelines given to you by a publisher or agent, but even as you craft your manuscript before submitting it for publication, you can ensure your document is going to meet industry expectations.

The following formatting specifications have worked well for my clients in this regard, as these specs provide a clean, neat document that’s easily read and easily transferred into a design program:

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Another Thought on Writers Conferences

In my most recent post, I touched on why authors should attend a writers conference, focusing on two main reasons: First, it’s a great place to pitch your book to an agent or editor. And, second, it’s a place to be around other people who take writing seriously, allowing you to find new inspiration and encouragement.

In this post, I want to touch on another (multifaceted) reason why writers conferences are a great idea for authors: knowledge.

When you attend a writers conference, you have the opportunity to be empowered with knowledge from at least three sources: speakers, agents/editors, other writers.

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How Do Authors Find Time to Write?

I enjoy working with authors no matter how they approach the task of writing, whether it’s with bubbly joy and passion or steely grit and determination—or, more typically, a combination of both. In any case, these authors have done something that many other wishful writers have only talked and/or daydreamed about: they finished a book, perhaps even several.

And yet most of the authors I work with or know aren’t household names in the world of books, and they’re okay with that. They’re everyday folks, and most of them have full-time jobs. Like the wishful writers who have never completed a book—usually because “I just don’t have the time!”—these authors spend time with a significant other, keep up with family and friends, raise kids, attend church, go to work, see the doctor/dentist, take their cars to the mechanic, cook meals, clean homes, exercise, take care of pets, catch some zzz’s, and the list goes on and on.

So, then, how in the world do these authors find time to write?

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Quality Editing Takes Time

A question I often get from potential new clients is, “Can’t you just do one review of my manuscript so it can get done faster?” So, with this post, I thought I’d touch on why it’s rarely ever a good idea to rush the editing process for time’s sake.

With the digital age, the pace of our culture has definitely increased—seemingly light years in only the past decade or so. Take a look around you on any given day and you’ll see that most of us feel an almost constant need for speed and activity. In just the past week or so while sitting at a stop light, I’ve twice seen cars just sit there when the light turned green because the drivers were so focused on their phones.

This post, though, is not about debating the right or wrong of how much we’ve allowed the pace of our own lives to increase. Rather, it’s specifically about resisting this pull when it comes to something you hold dear to your heart: the book manuscript you’ve completed.

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When an Appositive Becomes a Negative: Part 2

How to Solve the Appositive Problem

In the first part of this post, we looked at some basics of grammar, including the use of the appositive and how lengthy appositives can interrupt the reader’s flow. Near the end of Part 1, we looked at three examples of this:

Jason, the team leader ever since he’d landed the multimillion-dollar contract and higher-ups subsequently took note, demanded that the next meeting would be at 9:30 two days from now.            

The broad, a vivacious brunette with pale blue eyes that seemed to look through anyone who dared stare too long in her direction, sauntered her way into the hotel lobby as though she owned the joint.            

Rex, a German shepherd who had seen his share of combat operations in the Middle East during the battalion’s last deployment, didn’t come home the dog he’d been when they’d left all those months ago.

Once more, there’s not really anything wrong with any of these sentences in the most technical sense of grammatically sound writing. But it almost feels as though we’re reading a book in between each sentence’s subject and predicate, doesn’t it?

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