According to results from the PBS poll called The Great American Read, there’s hope for every fledgling author. Public Television’s survey of 7,000 American readers, found many surprises; we don’t care about literary masterpieces. What we like are:
- tales read to us as children – think Charlotte’s Web
- genre writing such as science fiction, mysteries, thrillers – how about The Martian, The DaVinci Code, or Lonesome Dove
- adventures that use straight-forward prose that gets us to a conclusion rather than stylistic elegance – remember To Kill a Mockingbird?
- We like epic stories that are easily converted to popular films or television serials – Game of Thrones ring any bells?
Sounds like PBS has a winner here. They’ve already published the list of America’s 100 favorite works of fiction. Next comes this month’s publication titled “The Book of Books” which will discuss the background and significance of the top 100. Following that, in September, PBS will broadcast The Great American Read series featuring interviews with celebrities further detailing each winning book. Come October, they will announce America’s Favorite Novel as determined by audience on-line voting. I bet they will have a big audience.
So, what should each of us take from these survey results? We all, whether beginning or seasoned writer, need to use our heads to create exciting plots and use our hearts to flesh out our characters. There is a reading audience out there waiting for interesting new stories.
Since beginning my career as a writer, I’ve had this on-going love-hate relationship with my computer. It’s wonderful to be able to correct a word, rearrange sentences (or paragraphs), and insert new thoughts without having to retype entire pages, or chapters! And a thumb drive is much more portable than a manuscript when it comes to taking my work on the road. On the other hand, it can be downright maddening when inexplicable glitches intrude on my train of thought and I have to figure out why I’m suddenly typing in italics—or why the spacing between lines expanded, or why the computer insists on changing “tempus fugit” to “tempt us fugitives” —when I want to be working on how to get Sweet Sue off those railroad tracks.
I’ve decided to send out a periodic newsletter to interested followers in which I discuss the various computer-related problems I’ve run across and how to overcome them. The newsletter is intended for writers who are not computer geeks and have no desire to become one. They really are interested in knowing only what’s needed to get the job done. Each issue will cover a single topic and will feature down-to-earth explanations about some of those computer mysteries that pop up at the most inconvenient time.
The first newsletter will appear on this site for all visitors within the next few days. My plan is to publish on a quarterly basis and distribute only to those who sign up. So if you like what you see there, use the easy sign up space soon to be provided. See you in the pages. The first topic, titled “Font Follies,” concerns issues arising when you send a document to someone who doesn’t happen to have the font you used when writing it. Ideas for future articles include:
- Learn the do’s and don’ts for using hyphen, N-dashes and M-dashes. It’s not a simple as you think
- Lean in and learn how to use Word intelligently – ditch all those spaces and tabs.
- Styles – what every beginner should know
- HTML – what’s it all about, Alfie?
So, look for an announcement in the next few days (I need to figure out how to implement the sign-up and distribution process) and check it out.