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Posts in category Craft

How Short Can Your Book Be?

How Short Can Your Book Be?

The most popular article on my website—by far—is How Long Should Your Nonfiction Book Be?. My writerly answer: “Use as many words as you need and no more.” My strategic answer: “Match your book length to your readers’ needs and your brand promise—while paying attention to genre norms.” My practical answer: “Probably 30,000 words for […]

Emotion in Writing: Do You Need It?

Emotion in Writing: Do You Need It?

In one of the first creative writing classes I took, we responded to the prompt “Write about the worst thing that happened this week, and the best thing that happened this week.” We went around the room, sharing what we’d written. As I read my piece, I began to cry. That was the week we’d […]

How to Write with a Conversational To...

How to Write with a Conversational Tone & WHY

If you think back to your high school English class, you may recall having been taught that the written word is different from the spoken word. That it requires more formality, that it must be “proper.” These lessons may have been cemented into place by a workplace requiring you to be “professional.” But “professional,” “proper” […]

3 Writing Techniques Nonfiction Autho...

3 Writing Techniques Nonfiction Authors Can Borrow from Poetry

(Welcome to guest blogger Rita Lewis, my editor extraordinaire!) It’s spring! It’s what you’ve all been waiting for… National Poetry Month! I can hear the eyerolling now. Nonfiction writers who want to change the world may find poetry a bit… irrelevant. Rhyme? Compressed language? Alliteration? Poetry can be all that—but so much more. It requires […]

Revision: You Mean I Don’t Have...

Revision: You Mean I Don’t Have to Get It Right the First Time?

When I first said, “I want to be a writer,” I took oodles of creative writing classes that incorporated “workshopping,” a process in which each student shares a draft and the group critiques it. After all the students had offered feedback, the instructor invariably would say, “I think your story starts on page three; cut […]

Find Your Voice to Engage Your Reader...

Find Your Voice to Engage Your Readers

“Find your voice,” writers are often admonished. We think we know what voice is, yet somehow it can be elusive. So let’s consider voice as it concerns your business book. Voice and its value Voice is the unique blend of elements—style, syntax, diction—that gives your writing a certain sensibility. It makes your writing distinct, individual, […]

My Top Business Writing Tips

My Top Business Writing Tips

Lately I’ve been fielding invitations to speak about general business writing—from talking with an NC State MBA class about making a strong business case to speaking with nonprofit arts organizations about writing strong grant applications. I realized I have some common principles for business writing that I consistently offer as feedback. First and foremost, whether […]

Crafting Strategy: Visionary, Intuiti...

Crafting Strategy: Visionary, Intuitive, or Both?

In my first real corporate management job, I was tasked with guiding our operations leadership team through a strategic planning process. One of my older, wiser colleagues gave me a 1987 Harvard Business Review article called “Crafting Strategy” by Henry Mintzberg. His article resonated strongly with me and became a touchstone over the years. As […]

The Secret to Earning Your Readers’ T...

The Secret to Earning Your Readers’ Trust

Welcome to guest blogger Rita Lewis! I recently wrote about the types of support you might need while working on a book project. If you hire only one person to help you, my top recommendation is an editor—and Rita is my editor, so I am delighted to have her sharing her advice here. When she’s […]

What Writers Can Learn from Artists: ...

What Writers Can Learn from Artists: Practice & Release

My friend Julie just started her final year of art school. Over the past three years she’s been blogging about her experience, and I’ve enjoyed watching her progress. After a recent touch-base, I started thinking about art—painting especially—and what lessons it can offer writers. I put my finger on two core principles: practice and release. […]

The Key Difference Between Speeches a...

The Key Difference Between Speeches and Books (& How to Plan for It)

Many of Clear Sight’s clients are both speakers and authors—not surprising, considering what speaking and writing have in common. Both benefit from strong storytelling, precise language, good construction, and unexpected imagery. There is a creative synergy as well as business synergy. However, there is one key difference between writing a book and giving a speech: […]

Book Quality: Lessons from Judging Ja...

I’m in the midst of judging the student essay contest for the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA). When you read a lot of one thing at a time—essays, grant applications, poetry—you quickly start to see the differences. (Teachers know this!) I use a scoring rubric to test my impressions objectively, but the essays […]