by LOUISE CARTER for TALK OF THE TOWN [Port Alfred, Eastern Cape]
THE stench of blood and death hung in the air last Thursday morning following the discovery of two butchered white rhino cows and a severely injured bull at Sibuya Game Reserve, near Kenton-on-Sea. All three rhino were older than 14 years, and one cow had a calf aged three, while the other had a eleven-month-old calf. The cows were de-horned and dead when discovered around 4am, while the bull’s face, according to owner Nick Fox, had been butchered. The massacre of the rhinos has devastated local communities as well as Sibuya Game Reserve staff, and has had anti-poaching teams and law enforcement departments on high alert. According to reports it is determined that the animals were darted and their horns sawn off at around 3:30am in a clearing in the reserve’s thick bush. (more…)
The Write Journey workshop for budding screenwriters
Following in the tradition of 19-years-of-workshops throughout South Africa, The Write Journey workshop is ideal for aspirant screenwriters who would like to sharpen their storytelling skills and is on at The Waterfront Theatre School on Sunday afternoons from 2 to 5 pm on March 6 and 14, and April 10 and 17.
With 33 local films released this year, it has never been a more promising time to be a screenwriter in South Africa. If you are a first-time screenwriter, this workshop explores the fundamentals of what it takes to be a screenwriter in South Africa and examines the fine art of writing visual narrative, mastering the skill of plotting and structure, and developing and fine-tuning ideas and characters.
The Write Journey is ideal for first-time writers who would like to define their writing skills, and also recommended for seasoned writers who are trapped in the web of re-writes and unfinished projects, or lost in the maze of the daunting writing process, and novelists or playwrights who would like to adapt their story to a visual medium.
In four sessions writers will know what it takes to be a screenwriter and how to conquer the daunting writing process, how to read and evaluate film, what to write, who to write about, and how to write. Writers will look at the unique nature of their stories that reflects their culture, history and experience, push their ideas to its maximum dramatic, comedic or tragic potential, and learn how to dramatize ideas, bring these characters to life, and learn the art of plotting a story effectively. Writers will complete the first 10 pages of their screenplays at the end of the workshop that will be reviewed and developed through further one-on-one sessions.
The coach is Daniel Dercksen, the driving force behind the successful independent training initiative The Writing Studio, who has been a published film and theatre journalist for 30 years and has been teaching workshops in creative writing, playwriting and screenwriting throughout South Africa the past 19 years. Hosted by The Waterfront Theatre School, The Write Journey workshop for screenwriters takes place on four Sunday afternoons, from 2 pm until 5 pm on March 6 and 13, and April 10 and 17. Daniel Dercksen is an independent educator and writing coach; film & theatre journalist; screenwriter and playwright. For more information and registration, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website www.writingstudio.co.za.
If all it takes to be a good writer is to read a lot of different genre to get inspired by others’ writing, then it should be logical to conclude that you will eventually recognize your specialty and join the ranks of professional writers. It’s not an overnight execution; obeying the rigors of a strict learning curve can be demanding of your time and energy. It usually requires that you enroll for courses in writing, attend workshops, join writers’ groups, shadow a seasoned writer, or revise your work numerous times to achieve the required standard.
Few other professions offer more career paths than writing. Choosing the right path requires a candid review of one’s interests, talents, level of creativity and language skills. It should not be assumed that every writer has the ability to pen a novel or develop a story that will captivate the imagination of young readers. However, to be a good writer you must be inspired to produce quality content that will encourage the reader to read your work. The reader is wholly dependent on the writers’ choice of words to create a mental image of what is being conveyed. Hence, the writer must cultivate the ability to first visualize the intended written text through content strategy.
In reality, most professionals make a living writing non-fiction for commerce or topic-specific publications. Lucrative writing careers include article writers, copywriters, ghostwriters, speechwriters, research writers [non-fiction] and journalists. Newspapers, magazines and website managers employ article writers to prepare non-fiction pieces on relevant topics.
While some writers are comfortable tackling any given topic as needed [apparently a sign of a competent writer], many prefer to specialize in subjects they know well such as food, travel, technology, fashion, politics, local issues and others. Copywriters write text for commercial advertisements and other marketing-related materials such as press releases, product reports, advertorials, and branded packaging. This type of writing must be concise and effective in capturing the attention of consumers.
A ghostwriter is a writer who authors books, manuscripts, screenplays, scripts, articles, blog posts, stories, reports, whitepapers, or other texts that are officially credited to another person. The writing process involves developing a purposeful relationship with the author to make sure the storyline is authentic and exemplifies their individuality.
A speechwriter is a person who is hired to prepare speeches that will be delivered by another person. Speechwriters are employed by many senior-level elected officials and executives in the government and private sectors. The writer must be thoroughly acquainted with the rules of public speaking, including cultural etiquette, when not to use humor, body language, using visuals, and duration of the speech.
A research writer, or non-fiction writer, typically works independently to develop their manuscript or partners with a book publisher or other business on a freelance or contract basis. They write general-knowledge, academic, technical, or biographical books on an extensive range of subjects. Web content also falls in this category.
Writing a manuscript intended for publication usually requires the author to possess extensive specialized knowledge of the subject. Non-fiction book writers are generally hired to write one book at a time, working from a well-planned brief. Journalists, in the employ of newspapers, magazines and online services, investigate and report on people or events. Journalists must be able to instantly gauge whether a story has newsworthy appeal, write quickly, effectively and meet deadlines. Other writing paths include translators, screenwriters, reviewers, columnists, content for gaming applications, and novelists.
Writing can be a challenging career choice, and requires extensive knowledge and skills, as well as years of actual writing experience and being published. Anyone considering a career as a full-time writer must determine what style of writing they excel at and who their target market is. Important qualifications include a degree in English, diploma in Creative Writing & Editing and a working knowledge of publishing. Showcase samples of your work on the Internet; your dedicated Web site should be easy to navigate, provide an outline of your education, professional experience in developing a manuscript, preferred genre, writing samples, and related services. Decide whether you want to work at home as a freelancer or if you would prefer a more traditional employment environment?
Everyone has at least one book in them, but the desire to fight off procrastination long enough to get started often derails even the best ideas. They argue that sticking to a disciplined schedule of writing every day is hard enough, (more…)
Despite high unemployment figures and abject poverty in many parts of the world, there exists an equally high number of gainfully employed individuals who claim they feel disengaged in their job. This very inequality urges people across the board to re-evaluate their lives to become more self-aware; while it is one way to recognize our successes and failures, it also gives us a better understanding of who we are, (more…)
Do you have a yearning to express feelings and ideas using a distinctive style and rhythm? Perhaps you find joy in describing the subjects of love and emotion, or composing rhyming verses to soothe a tortured soul. But who reads poetry anymore? (more…)
The Writing Studio in Cape Town [South Africa] has launched an exciting new initiative to unearth the talents of local screenwriters. There are many opportunities for screenwriters in South Africa with the boom of the local film and television industries, as well as many co-productions being filmed at the first rate film studio in Cape Town. (more…)
The velocity of arbitrary change taking place within South African society has made chaos the defining feature that places the country in a constant state of flux. Farm murders, corruption, riots, strikes, crime, violence and electricity blackouts are steadily diminishing the country’s political and economic structures. (more…)
Any writer who wants to publish their work — whether it is fiction or nonfiction — should produce a Book Business Plan (Proposal) for each manuscript. Book publishers require writers to submit a proposal on their book together with sample chapters, for review. An acquisitions editor and select editorial personnel determine whether the manuscript fits the publishing firms’ book list profile and if it is a viable business proposition.
The book proposal prepared by the writer facilitates their decision-making process. Writing a Book Business Plan allows the author to think about how to go about creating a framework to write the manuscript, choose a title, decide on the number of chapters, which topics require research, whether to sell to a publisher or publish independently, how to identify the right publisher, what self-publishing involves, costs, revisions and new editions, film rights, how to pinpoint your specific readership and what quantitative and qualitative benefits this target audience seeks, and how you intend marketing your book (pre-publicity, launch, and what you intend to do once the book is successful).
When do you start writing your Book Business Plan?
The Book Business Plan starts at the moment you begin writing your manuscript. At this stage you should already have a clear vision of the plot and characters, the target audience and even the venues where copies of the book can be sold. Start with your end goal in mind; decide how much revenue (or number of copies) you want to generate from book sales. Be realistic; you probably won’t make the top ten best seller list with your first publication (don’t rule this out altogether) but by setting the right strategy you are establishing a future goal to potentially earn big money down your career path.
- How do you plan to organize and manage your new book?
- Do you need a publicist or are you competent to undertake the marketing campaign by yourself?
- Do you need to employ an advertising agency?
- Who will write a review?
- Who will write a literary critique?
- Who will undertake content illustrations and cover design?
- Who will write the back-page cover blurb?
- Who will register the ISBN and convert the number to bar-code?
- Who will edit the manuscript?
- Do you have the right contacts to organize a range of merchandising, including a book video, imprinted bookmarks, chap books, T-shirts, or posters?
- Bear in mind that as the author you too are the product. Could you schedule book signings, community events, workshops, and media interviews?
- A big part of your Book Business Plan is knowing beforehand who will want to buy your book. It’s vital to know precisely who your market and readership target is. Are they women? Men? Adolescents? Romance lovers? History buffs? Knowing who your market is will also make it easier to determine the venues they frequent when the book is ready to be launched, and choosing the promotional activity that will attract their attention.
- Establish what it is that makes your book so special and better choice compared to similar publications. Many writers write books they would love to read, or choose topics that are currently in vogue but write it from a different perspective. Make sure you know why you and your book is special; it’s the backbone of a good Book Business Plan and effective marketing strategy.
- Know how to promote your product; make a point of telling everyone you know about your book. Print and distribute copies of chap books with your book review. Print an edition of bookmarks to leave at libraries, book shops, and book events. Publicize your book through social networking. Print size A4 posters to display in shop windows. Offer to give a talk to members of local book clubs or writers’ groups. Create novel marketing strategies. Put your book online with Amazon. Negotiate with local book stores to accept a small edition of your books on consignment (they only pay you when the books are sold). Think creatively; if your book is about travel, you may want to distribute copies through travel agencies and run an advertisement (or blog feature) on their web site. Promote your book as a gift item. If your book is aimed at a young audience, consider including a small gift to make the purchase more attractive. Is your story about wine? Wineries have gift shops. If your book is historic in nature, museum gift stores would be an ideal venue.
- Market Research: Describe the book reading behavior of your target market.
- Similar publications in the marketplace.
- Format and length of proposed book.
- Biographical details.
- Media & PR Plan.
- Does the proposal provide sufficient commercial returns?
Contact Theresa (email@example.com) for any writing and editing assignments, including review, literary critique, book business plan (proposal) editing, ghost writing, graphic design, and self-publishing.
Need help writing a proposal?
Proposals are informative and persuasive forms of writing that attempt to educate the reader and convince that reader to do something. A good proposal is always readable, well-organized, grammatically correct, and understandable. Use a spell checker before submitting the proposal. Proofread carefully. In general avoid abbreviations; for example, use laboratory, not lab and mathematics, not math. The first time you use an acronym, write out what it stands for and put the acronym in parentheses. For example, the South African Writers’ Network (SAWN); after that you may use the acronym. Make sure all your references are correct. Consider using graphics to make your point stronger and clearer. A time line to show when different components of your project are to take place can be particularly effective. Include a table of contents which makes it easy for reviewers to locate important sections of your proposal. Budget information should be complete and unambiguous. Carefully review your budget to ensure that ineligible items do not appear in the budget and that adequate attention has been given to cost sharing.
Any proposal offers a plan to fill a need, and your reader will evaluate your plan according to how well your written presentation answers questions about what WHAT you are proposing, HOW you plan to do it, WHEN you plan to do it and HOW MUCH it is going to cost.
Any questions that the reader might pose should be anticipated and answered in a way that reflects the stated position of your proposal. It is important that the writer also considers all sides of the argument — providing other alternative solutions to the problem, but showing how the one chosen is superior to the others included. The goal of the writer is not only to persuade the reader to do what is being requested, but also to make the reader believe that the solution is practical and appropriate. In persuasive proposal writing, the case is built by the demonstration of logic and reason in the approach taken in the solution. Facts must lead logically and inevitably to the conclusion and/or the solution presented. Evidence should be given in a descending order of importance, beginning with the most important evidence and ending with the least important.
The writer must also determine beforehand the level of knowledge the audience possesses and take the positions of all the readers into account; for instance, its important to know whether the readers are members of the technical community or technical discourse community, or of both, which will enable the writer to use the appropriate materials and language to appeal to sectors. It is a good idea to include an executive summary that is written in non-technical (easily accessible) language, or even a glossary of terms that explains technical language used in the body of the proposal.
The most basic composition of a proposal, as with any other written document, is simple; it needs a beginning (the Introduction), a middle (the Body of material to be presented) and an end (the Conclusion/Recommendation).
- The INTRODUCTION presents and summarizes the problem you intend to solve and your solution to that problem, including the benefits the reader/group will receive from the solution and the cost of that solution.
- The BODY of the proposal should explain the complete details of the solution: how the job will be done, broken into separate tasks; what method will be used to do it, including the equipment, material, and personnel that would be required; when the work will begin; and, when the job will be completed. It should also present a detailed cost breakdown for the entire job.
- The CONCLUSION should emphasize the benefits that the reader will realize from your solution to the problem and should urge the reader to action. It should be encouraging, confident and assertive in tone. Look again at the goals and objectives and at your written plans and procedures for achieving the goals. Check to see that the goals are well-developed and realistic and that your plans are innovative and appropriate.
Contact Theresa [firstname.lastname@example.org] for proposal writing.