How to Use Google News to Break Writer's Block by Brian Scott

How to Use Google News to Break Writer's Block by Brian Scott

Google News is just packed with story ideas that are waiting for writers to write them. The trick is finding themand then, once you do, knowing how to use them. If you're ever at a loss for ideas, plot elements, characters, settings, or just inspiration, pair up with Google News and try one or more of the following techniques to break your writer’s block:

Main screen of Google News
Main screen of Google News

1. Headlines

On the Google News home page, scroll down and read the headlines. Choose three interesting ones that have nothing to do with each other. Take each word in each of the headlinesyou should have about thirty wordsand use them to write a poem or paragraph. Make sure you use all of the words, even the difficult ones; that's part of the challenge.
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6 Writing Techniques to Start a Travel Article by Brian Scott

6 Writing Techniques to Start a Travel Article by Brian Scott

Strong travel writing should hook a reader from the very first sentence. Here are six top techniques for opening an accomplished piece of travel writing.

Technique #1: The Anecdote
A tried and tested method of opening your travel essay is the anecdote. A short, pithy story that illuminates some of the greater themes or topics in your larger piece, the anecdote is an excellent way to instantly engage the audience. For example, in a piece about bullfighting in Pamplona, instead of a belabored history of the event, an accomplished writer might begin with a brief story of climbing the steps to their viewing balcony and being so anxious to see the running crowd and the angry bulls that they spill wine all over their white shirts. This anecdote foreshadows the bloody festivities to come and highlights the excitement and raucous nature of the event.
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Poetry in the Palm of Your Hand: 7 Types of Poetry to Write by Brian Scott

7 Types of Poetry to Write

Poetry uses the power of words to evoke a large variety of feelings, both happy and sad. There are as many different types of poems and poetry as there are book genres. Let’s take a few minutes to examine some favorites.

The Nursery Rhyme

The first poems we are usually introduced to as children, although at the time we wouldn't know to call them poetry, are nursery rhymes. Nursery rhymes are usually brief, fun, silly and full of rhymes. Some nursery rhymes were recited along with games such as “Pat-a-cake, Pat-a-cake.” Others told stories of history such as “Ring Around the Rosie” which was a poem about the Bubonic plague. It’s hard to pinpoint the origins of nursery rhymes. Many times they were simply passed down verbally from generation to generation. The most widely known author of nursery rhymes was Mother Goose, whose book of poems for children was published in England in 1781. Of course, historians don’t even agree whether or not Mother Goose was a real person, and if she was, if she was English or French!
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5 Query Letter Hooks to Grab Your Editor’s Attention by Brian Scott

Every line of a query letter is crucial, but the hook is the first part of the query that an editor will read, making it the most important. Most readers tend to move on to something more interesting if the first few lines of an article don't grab their attention. It only makes sense—and is plainly obvious--that an editor won't finish your query letter if you fail to grab his or her attention from the start. Much like the “mission statement” of a job resume, the hook of a query letter is your chance to yank the editor in and then use your writing skill to discuss succinctly how exactly your article is relevant, engaging, and interesting to the publication’s readership.

You can employ a proven hook when writing your next query letter. Each hook comes with its own context and set of benefits. I have listed the five recognizable hooks below, along with tips on when and how to use them.
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Top 10 Most Embarrassing Spelling Mistakes Made by Popular Politicians by Brian Scott

For politicians churning out multitudes of sound bites, press releases and Tweets in our 24-hour news cycle, the probability of making a spelling or grammar mistake is high. Some are inconsequential, others are laughable, and a few are downright embarrassing. Take a look at these famous flubs from the last few campaign cycles.

1. The Obama Campaign's "Congrssional Budget Office"—In a video blasting Republican Mitt Romney for offering misleading information on the national debt, the Democratic President's policy director appeared in a searing video citing numbers directly from the nonpartisan congressional budget watchdog. However, when the screen flashed to the slide citing the CBO, it was erroneously labeled as the "Congrssional Budget Office." The ad lost its bite and the President took some ribbing in the press.
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How to Pitch Story Ideas to Online Magazine Editors Without Annoying Them by Brian Scott

How to Pitch Story Ideas to Online Magazine Editors Without Annoying Them

With more people working part-time and looking to supplement their income with freelance work, it's important for creative-types to learn how to pitch, communicate, and correspond with editors the right way, especially if they dream of becoming full-time freelance writers.

A difficult but essential writing rule I had to learn as a budding freelance writer was to communicate and interact professionally with print and online editorswithout agitating their pet peeves. If you are beginning your quest to write articles for websites and publications, then you should know these four basic rules because they will help you build new and lasting relationships with editors. I refer to these rules as "duh!" rules because they are so obvious to seasoned writers but often ignored by beginners.
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To All Big Mouths: Junk the Jargon and Write in Plain English by Brian Scott

Jargon is a specialized writing style often abused by big business, certain trade industries in the legal and medical fields, federal and state governments, and institutes of education. Jargon contains "workshop words," vague figures of speech, hackneyed expressions, and pompous writing that communicators use obsessively to communicate with their peers and colleagues. Many communicators who are recipients of such jargon-wretched writing often complain about struggling to understand the written work's meaning.

Jargon creates wordiness in a document. Wordiness often creates confusion. Confusion leads to a lack of understanding. Overuse of passive voice, using bigger words instead of simpler synonyms, and lack of specifics contribute to jargon. Too much jargon in a document is said to "muddy its meaning" because readers have trouble understanding its true purpose.
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The Query Letter: Advice for the Aspiring Writer by Brian Scott

The Query Letter: Advice for the Aspiring Writer

Freelance writing can be an exciting career choice or a creative way to make extra money on the side. The daily chore of freelancing involves seeking out new editorial markets, whether print magazines, online ezines, news journals, etc. If you have an idea for an article, the most common method to procure a writing assignment is with a well-written, compelling, and persuasive query letter.

Typically, you will encounter submission guidelines that state the following:
well-written, compelling, and persuasive query letter
A query letter is a brief synopsis of the article that you plan to write or have already written. Ideally, you should craft your query letter to convey the premise of your article and explain why you are the most qualified person to write it. While some editors still ask to submit query letters via snail mail, most editors accept email pitches. The right query letter can grab the editor's attention and convince him or her to publish your article.
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10 Fascinating Facts about William Shakespeare by Brian Scott

10 Fascinating Facts about William Shakespeare
Few figures in history have had a lasting effect the way William Shakespeare has. Simply stating the man's name is enough to make a connection to literature, drama, and the written word as a creative tool rather than just a means of communication. But even with a legacy as robust and celebrated as time has awarded William Shakespeare, other trivial facts make this historical giant even more of an enigmatic character.
Fact #1
William Shakespeare is more famousFact #1: Google lists 83 million pages when you search for the name "William Shakespeare." Of course, this figure is not totally accurate, but it does present a statistical curiosity of Shakespeare's popularity around the world. This surpasses the returns on searches for literary heavyweights like Ernest Hemingway (11 million) and H.P. Lovecraft (3 million), and even contemporary darlings of the writing world like Stephenie Meyer (4 million) and JK Rowling (6 million).
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10 Style Guides for Writers, Authors and Editors

Style Guides for Writers, Authors and Editors

Style guides provide writers and non-writers with a manual of rules for writing, formatting and creating documents. They govern consistency and uniformity. Many of us have used a style guide in school, such as APA Style, MLA Style or Chicago Manual of Style, to format and cite sources for a thesis, dissertation or research paper. You may have used a style guide when you composed an article for a journal, magazine or website. Some of us who copy edit or proofread for publishers use either a common style guide or the publisher's in-house style to ensure all written materials are consistent in substance and structure.
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