Simple Writing Secrets: How To Get Published

This site is about writing. Periodically, I will post tips here to help you improve your writing, get published, and sell. Whether you’re trying to give life to a compelling short story, thinking about forging a provocative novel, aspiring to write poetry that paints a mellifluous sound picture, attempting to construct your first play with dialog that vaults off the page, or tinkering with song lyrics, I will try to help you improve the odds of success. When I say this site is about writing, I mean quality writing. If you want to emulate authors and produce second rate copies of submarine thrillers, this is not the place for you. Rather, I want to promote writing as an art. Like a painting, a piece of writing requires a palate of colors. The writer chooses his “colors” to create a style that is intriguing and timeless. Just like painting, writing can be learned, but there is a part of writing that cannot be learned—what each writer brings that is unique. Readers enjoy writing that transports them to another level of consciousness—without drugs. The writer’s imagination connects with the readers imagination to create another dimension outside the pages of the book. Being a writer is close to being a god who creates something from nothing. Don’t be put off by this, being a god is fun.

Rule Number One: Don’t try to write like somebody else. Being unique is the best way to get published. In fact, the only thing you really have to sell is your own uniqueness. Everyone is different, like a walking fingerprint. It’s your personal, individual experience and idiosyncratic style that will get you noticed, not your ability to impersonate. Rule Number Two: Avoid clichés. There are so many of them floating around. Given the society we live in today, we are bombarded with clichés, and in the midst of this ocean of bromides we sometimes lose our own voice. Don’t write the obvious. Write something surprising. It’s like trying to get someone’s attention in the middle of New York’s Pennsylvania Station. You have to shout (metaphorically). Speaking of New York, I remember walking through Central Park and coming across an acrobatics troop. In a few succinct moves they were able to capture the audience. Then they didn’t let go. The act was honed. No dead space. No letdown of energy. That’s the kind of writing I am talking about.

Here’s the opening of St Vitus’s Dance, my new novel published by All Classic Books:

Dawn came up from riverside, throwing warm pineapple light across greasy streets. I swam with rip tide. Dawn. Noon. Dusk. Full moon. Sundowners’ land of blue giraffes, doctors’ night of howling beasties. Emergency shifts have no beginning, middle or end. They’re haunted. Big, red rescue trucks come and go, carrying gorked storks from senior homes, frozen men off grates, mouthy winos out of funky bars, shattered women beaten senseless, chubby cops with chest pain, punks in cuffs claiming brutality, pregnant girls with no clue, accident victims sent by Jacoby and Meyers, and Williams and Sonoma. Trauma code alert!

Does it grab the reader’s attention and hold on? I hope so. If you notice, I begin by animating dawn, as if it is a creature crawling up from the river bank. “Pineapple light” and “greasy streets” are both unique modifiers for the voice of the narrator. I emphasize the narrator’s idiosyncrasy with “I swam with rip tide”, which is a troubling image. Then our narrator encapsulates the strange miasma of time in the emergency department with the terse “Dawn. Noon. Dusk. Full Moon.” The surrealistic atmosphere of the emergency department is further illuminated with “Sundowners’ land of blue giraffes, doctors’ night of howling beasties.” The ensuing descriptions of patients use exotic modifiers, such as “gorked storks” and “mouthy winos”. I am trying to establish the mood of the piece and I am trying to imagistically create the fast-paced, crazy world of a trauma center in a big city. I am also describing the character, the narrator, through the words he uses—in essence, he is both telling the story and drawing a picture of himself at the same time. As you can see, much thought went into the choice of words. I am always trying to defy the ordinary and heighten the extraordinary in the world I am creating.

In my next post, I’ll go into more detail about how writing can be infused with electric
pace and poetry—which will help sell your work.

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Medical Fiction

St. Vitus' Dance

“…I like his somewhat dark sense of humor, and enjoy medical fiction…”

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There is a Movie here waiting to be made . . .

Dead Still

By Grady Harp (Los Angeles, California, USA), Top 10 Reviewer, Amazon

David Wolman is a man of many talents: poet, novelist, critic, music historian, playwright, medical writer, and nature lover and dog sledding aficionado are among his categories of interest.  And now with the release of this thriller, DEAD STILL, it looks as though he may be adding “screenplay writer” to his resume!

Wolman knows how to seduce his reader into his tale and uses the technique of seemingly disparate character introductions to slowly and insidiously ferret out the lines of each character that will intertwine inevitably.  Divided into short chapters (always a plus for this reader for getting a book started) we meet first an incident in the past that in retrospect is intensely important in the development of the plot – a short description of a murder in the British Virgin Islands that allows some terse philosophy about death, greed, double indemnity and other onerous signs that signal what is ahead.

We meet two people – Mason Wolff, a tortured soul of a painter, whose mental stability is in the hands of pills and who has decided to live a life of anonymity – easy prey for the likes of Gary Paige, a sinister bloke who has a scam for identity theft and insurance fraud.  Wolff lives in Philadelphia in a ratty section where his acquaintances include a dying man Peter Novello, Doggie, and Sarah.  Slowly but surely Wolff is extricated from his poor environment and transferred to an outpost in Maine under the identity of – yes, Gary Paige!  We know something is awry but it takes his connection with the town doc Susan to bind it all together.  Susan lives alone after being the victim of an abusive alcoholic marriage that produced a son who at teen years has become a sociopath.  Susan rents an apartment to ‘Gary’ and finds him attractive, even posing nude for him to paint.

Everything begins to shatter when Gary disappears and is ‘found dead’ in the frozen lake.  The real Gary Paige (under the pseudonym of yes, Mason Wolff!) enters the little Maine town determined to get the death certificate on Gary.  Susan is suspicious, loses her job as the town doc because of small town gossip about her posing for a patient, and takes off to her real love of dog-sledding from her snowy hideaway in the secret parts of the country – a lake where her friend Dave Dawes lives, his face brutally disfigured by a grizzly bear attack.  Her nemesis follows her with his strange girlfriend Kendra and eventually pursues his plan to identity change Susan with Kendra in another scam, one that leaves Susan to die in the snow until she is discovered by her loyal dog Seer in the company of Dave Dawes.  How the now wise crew is joined by the non-dead Mason Wolff and pursues Paige and Kendra to the British Virgin Islands ends the tale of intrigue in yet more deaths and terrifying adventures for all concerned.

Wolman writes with such authority about things medical, things of the wilderness, and tidbits of wise thought such as the following: ‘It was supposed to be a nation of laws, not attitudes – a nation of science, not superstition.  But all around her seemed to be the seeds of a different kind of America in which diversity was being replaced by compulsory conformity.’  And,  ‘Our identities become a house of nameless cards falling into a pit of deceit.  For all our security protection, we are the least secure people on earth.’ 

When an author can blend a very exciting fictional novel with informed ideas about medicine, fraud, identity theft and our communal psyche, he most assuredly is on to something worth reading.  And DEAD STILL is that something.  It is a true page-turner! 

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