by Kathi Kamen Goldmark and Sam BarryMarch 2010
Now you're talking
Dear Author Enablers,
I have a natural flair for dialogue as opposed to exposition and narration. I won third place in the 2008 Writer’s Digest Stage-Play contest and was one of 10 finalists in the Tennessee Williams One-Act Play Contest. I’m told my dialogue sparks interest in readers, but only my dialogue. Are there novels that are comprised exclusively of dialogue that have been bestsellers?
Bronx, New York
There are several famous examples of novels written mostly in dialogue: The Awkward Age by Henry James, Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway and Point Counter Point by Aldous Huxley come to mind. William Gaddis is well known for using this technique. And Sam and I carry on most of our conversations in dialogue. So you are following an established tradition.
However, we think you should consider a writing group or adult-education class in which you can develop your narrative and descriptive skills. Even if you choose to continue writing only in dialogue, developing these additional skills will enhance your abilities and confidence as a writer.
Dear Author Enablers,
I work for the public library and have been considering freelance writing to supplement my income. I’ve read about websites such as Examiner.com, Textbroker.com and Myams.net, which promise to establish you as a writer and pay you for articles. How legitimate are these websites, and are they really the proper way to establish oneself as a freelance writer?
We asked Evan Karp, San Francisco’s “Literary Culture Examiner” for Examiner.com, to give our readers an insider’s perspective on the website that recruits “citizen journalists” to create its content:
"The claim that [Examiner] columns—or blogs—can establish you as a writer has some legitimacy. It all depends on what you put into it and how you make use of your resources. I had no experience in any kind of journalism and had only previously published three articles when I applied to Examiner.com; now I contribute regularly to the San Francisco Chronicle. This is a result of the networking the column made possible. Of course, the networking is only worth as much as the caliber you bring to the site. The majority of Examiners are neither good writers nor serious about what they’re doing, which limits the site’s credibility. But if you’re starting out, it is a way to establish a body of work: I have 70 articles to my credit and a significant presence on the web. I’ve received almost 12,000 hits in four months—not bad for a beginner! Ultimately I recommend this path, but you’ve got to do the work.”
If you’re considering a website that offers opportunities to untested writers, we recommend three steps: research the site thoroughly so you understand the potential rewards (or lack thereof), focus your writing to meet the specific needs of the site and don’t expect a get-rich-quick payoff. If you’re more interested in building a body of published writing than in earning a paycheck, you may find the risk worth the reward.
Dear Author Enablers,
My grandson has high hopes of publishing his memoir. He is 30 years old and suffers from OCD, alcoholism and drug addiction. He writes about these afflictions in the hope that he can save some young person a trip down the rabbit hole. Self-publishing is costly, agents are expensive and questionable with this kind of book. We know we need to take certain steps to get him published, but don’t know what to do first.
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
Is your grandson in a writing group or class, or has he ever attended a writer’s conference? We think these settings can be great resources for beginning writers. After he’s had some experience in a group, his librarian or local bookseller can help him find a book that will lead him through the process of writing a book proposal and/or finding an agent or publisher. There are many excellent ones out there, but one that we like is Putting Your Passion Into Print by Arielle Eckstut and David Sterry.
With more than 25 years of experience, Kathi Kamen Goldmark and Sam Barry have the inside scoop on writing and publishing. Email your questions (along with name and hometown) or visit the Author Enablers blog at BookPage.com.