Writing World Newsletter Archive
Return to Newsletter Index · Home


                    W R I T I N G   W O R L D

A World of Writing Information - For Writers Around the World


Issue 15:02          13,000 subscribers          January 15, 2015
MANAGE YOUR SUBSCRIPTION: See the bottom of this newsletter for
details on how to subscribe, unsubscribe, or contact the editor.
COPYRIGHT NOTICE: No material published in this newsletter may be
reprinted or posted without the consent of the author unless
otherwise noted. Unauthorized use is a copyright infringement.

     The Pen and the Sword
CRAFTING FABULOUS FICTION, by Victoria Grossack     
     The End
     Presentation Tools
Who Stumbled on the Secret of Making 6-Figures from Home as a
Writer! Click Here for Free Video
* FEEDBACK. Get feedback for every poem and story that you write.
* CONTESTS. Over 50 contests are always open and free to enter.
* FUN! Get feedback, enter writing contests, and learn.
A WRITER'S YEAR is the ONLY 365-day planner designed specifically
for writers! Plan your schedule, track billable hours, organize
tasks, and track your progress and achievements.  Each week brings
you an inspirational writing quote.  Best of all, it's F*R*E*E!
Download an electronic version in PDF or Excel, or access the print
edition: http://www.writing-world.com/store/year/index.shtml
readers) on your gift list?  Then check out the new line of "mugs 
for writers and readers" designed by Writing-World.com editor 
Moira Allen! Our gorgeous mugs (the kind you drink from, we mean) 
are designed especially for folks who love books -- who can't get 
enough books -- who can't stop writing books -- you know.  
Folks like you!  See our growing selection at 


The Pen and the Sword
As  most of you probably know, on January 7, 2015, the Paris
offices of the "satirical weekly" magazine "Charlie Hebdo" were
attacked by Muslim extremists, leaving 12 people dead.  Needless to
say, this assault on writing, publishing, and speech has fueled
hundreds of articles, blogs, tweets, and who knows what else -- and
will continue to fuel discussion and debate for months to come.

Some of that discussion, inevitably, trots out the old adage that
"the pen is mightier than the sword."  Now, let me digress just a
moment, because as soon as I wrote that line, my inner editor
inquired, "Who said that first, exactly?"  The answer is
interesting.  The phrase we know so well today was written by
Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839 in a play titled "Richelieu; or, The
Conspiracy."  The speech in which it appears concludes: "Take away
the sword -- States can be saved without it!" The adage itself,
however, goes back considerably farther.  The Assyrian sage Ahiqar
reputedly wrote, in the 7th century BC, "The word is mightier than
the sword." And a bit more ironically, the prophet Muhammed is
quoted as saying "The ink of the scholar is holier than the blood
of the martyr."*

Regardless of who said it first, whenever writers or words come
under attack, the phrase gets trotted out, sometimes with good
effect, sometimes not.  Unfortunately, what often tends to happen
-- and what can certainly be seen in much of the commentary on the
Hebdo incident -- is a rather simplistic interpretation of the
whole question of pen vs. sword.  It's such an easy answer, isn't
it?  After all, the people who died were "word" people; the
attackers were "sword" people.  Word people, therefore, are good;
sword people are bad.  Words are good, swords are bad!  End of

Now let's digress yet again, to point out that the adage does not
actually state that the words (the pen) are BETTER than the sword. 
The adage says "mightier," not "better."  It is not a measure of
good vs. evil. "Might" can be used for either.  

And that's an important point to keep in mind, because it's easy to
lose sight of the fact that words are involved on both sides of
this tragic equation.  On the one side are the words, cartoons and
images published by Charlie Hebdo.  On the other side are the words
-- writings, teachings, speeches -- that incited the act of
violence that occurred.  The attackers didn't simply erupt
spontaneously in response to a publication they found offensive;
they were motivated by the words being used on THEIR side of the

Bulwer-Lytton wrote that the "States can be saved" with words, not
swords.  Around the world, there are states that suppress and
censor words because they know the opposite is also true: States
can be lost with words.  Such states know that the danger isn't
simply that words make people think.  They know that if words start
making people think in certain directions, those people have a
tendency to start looking around for some swords.  Conversely, in
those states where the right of free speech DOES exist, you can be
certain that at some point it was either won, or defended, by the

If words are not always "good," are swords always "bad?"  Imagine
if things had happened differently in Paris last week.  Imagine if
officials had somehow learned of the pending attack and arrived
just in time to prevent it.  One suspects that the attackers would
not have surrendered peacefully -- and if, instead of gunning down
twelve civilians (including two policemen), they themselves were
killed, what would be the response of writers around the world
then?  If things had gone in that direction, I think there is
little doubt that the officials in question would be feted as
heroes -- despite their necessary use of "swords" over words.

Words are a raw material.  Raw materials can be used for many
purposes.  Steel, for example, can be forged into hospital
instruments designed to save lives -- or swords designed to take
them.  Words can be forged into the same types of instruments. 
They can save lives, defend ideas and ideals, protect the innocent,
change minds, and, ultimately, make the world a better place.  They
can also be used to destroy lives, suppress ideas, trample ideals,
condemn the innocent, bring out the very worst in the human mind
and heart, and ultimately turn the world into a living nightmare.  

Perhaps most importantly, it is words that dictate, throughout the
world and throughout time, how the swords are used.  THAT is what
makes the pen mightier than the sword.  The pen commands; the sword
obeys.  We need to remember, when we start discussing the
importance of protecting free speech, that we are protecting all
words, not just the good ones.

As wordsmiths, we know perhaps better than anyone how much power a
word can hold.  We know the beauty of words, their music, their
magic, their majesty.  We know their might -- and we know their
danger.  Most of all, we know that words have consequences.  So let
us use them wisely!

* For more details, see 

Copyright 2015 Moira Allen

This article may be reprinted provided the author's byline, bio and
copyright notice are retained. (For an author bio and complete
details on reprint terms, please visit 

Link to this article here:

The January issue of Moira Allen's "Victorian Times" launches two
new serials: Author E. Nesbit's reminiscences about her childhood, 
and a look at a Brit's experiences as a rancher in 19th-century
southern California! This issue also launches a series on British
country customs and folklore.  Plus, meet Queen Victoria's favorite
dogs, learn about job opportunities for women in Victorian America,
and enjoy a delightful selection of recipes, craft ideas and more!
Download the free electronic edition or access the print edition at

WritingCareer.com is a free online resource to find paying markets
for your poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Updated daily, we report
on current needs of editors and publishers who are open for
submissions, pay competitive rates, and do not charge reading fees.


Teens Prefer Print Books
While we may think of teens as life-forms permanently grafted to
their electronic devices, when it comes to books, a recent Nielsen
report shows that they prefer print.  According to the study, 20%
of teens purchase e-books, compared to 23% of readers age 18-29 and
25% of readers age 30-44.  One explanation offered is "lack of
credit cards for online purchases" (which, even to a non-Mom like
myself, also translates to "Hello?  Not working, not financially
independent, not a lot of disposable income maybe?").  Another (and
rather obviously related) explanation is that teens prefer to
borrow and swap books rather than buy them - something that is
really only possible with print books.  The report also found that
the single most important factor for a teen in choosing a new book
to read was "enjoying an author's previous books." For more on this
story, visit http://tinyurl.com/n3pnuq4

E-Readers May Keep You Awake
Using a light-emitting e-reader before bed-time may interfere with
your ability to get to sleep, according to a study published in the
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  A recent survey
showed that 90% of Americans "use some type of electronics...
within one hour before bedtime."  The light emitted by such devices
is believed to suppress melatonin levels and "phase-shift the
biological clock."  The study found that participants who used an
e-reader before bedtime took longer to fall asleep, and experienced
less evening drowsiness, than participants who read a print book. 
Note that e-readers that don't emit are not a problem.  Presumably
the effects also apply to doing anything else on a light-emitting
device, such as playing games or handling last-minute e-mails!  For
more on this story, visit 

Authors Unhappy About Amazon's Kindle Unlimited Program
Kindle Unlimited is Amazon's new subscription service, offering
access to over 700,000 Kindle books for a monthly fee of $9.95. 
The books on offer include traditionally published and
self-published titles.  The problem, according to a New York Times
article, is the glut of books on the market.  For the past few
years, authors have been churning out books by the thousand in
hopes of cashing in on the growing electronic market - but ebook
revenues levelled off in 2013 and "the world has more stories than
it needs or wants to pay for."  Amazon had 600,000 Kindle books in
2010; it now has more than 3 million (and presumably the number
increases daily).  Authors say that the Kindle Unlimited program
makes things even harder for authors, enabling readers who might
previously have spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars on
books to obtain the same amount of reading material for under $120
a year.  Unfortunately (from the "glut" perspective), many authors'
response is to put out even more books to make up for their loss of
revenues!  For more on this, visit http://tinyurl.com/ozemo9n


choose the best pricing method for the job, negotiate if the 
client balks, keep useful records, and more in the award-winning 
"What to Charge: Pricing Strategies for Freelancers & Consultants." 
In print and ebook formats. http://tinyurl.com/obo5c2o

by Victoria Grossack

Even though it is the start of the year, in this column we'll focus
on the finish of your story.

Why "The End" Is So Important
Many columns and articles are devoted to the beginnings of books. 
Certainly beginnings are important, as they are what draw in your
readers.  But the ends also matter, and it helps to have yours in
mind as you commence a project, or even as you slog through the
middle.  Here are some of the reasons the end is so important:

The end of your story is where you're trying to go, and you're much
more likely to get there if you plan in advance.  How many people
start journeys without destinations in mind?  Granted, some
incredible journeys DO begin as aimless strolls; the same is true
for stories.  Some people will write marvelous stories even though
their first words wandered; somehow a muse shows up and gives

However, although some journeys without planned destinations turn
into great adventures, they are more likely to turn into wastes of
time.  You get lost.  You never get there, because you don't know
where "there" is.  The same is true for writing stories and novels.

This doesn't mean to say that you won't have to make course
corrections along the way.  You may even change your mind about the
end and decide to finish your story differently.  (Oddly enough,
even if you're not happy with something you have written, writing
it or just sketching it out may still move your story forward.  It
is easier to articulate WHY something is not satisfactory when you
have something to articulate about.)  At any rate, having a final
destination in mind makes it easier to plot everything else.  When
deciding whether a character should go left or right, you can ask
yourself which choice will serve your story's end.  Note that your
approach does not have to be direct, for it is the journey (the
scenic route) on which you take your readers that provides the bulk
of the entertainment.


The end of your story will be the last experience that your readers
have in your story.  How they feel influences whether or not they
are likely to pick up your next book, and if they will recommend it
to friends or warn them to stay away.  The end of your story is
important if you want to have anything like a career as a writer.

Types of Ends
Stories can finish in many ways, but they are often categorized by
how the readers are supposed to feel.  The extremes are the happy
and the sad endings.


In the typical "happy end," the good guys are happy and alive and
often their greatest wishes have come true.  Frequently there are
romantic pairings, and if there was some sort of threat, that
danger is thwarted.  The bad guys are either dead, or in prison, or
repentant, or some combination of the above.  Readers are reassured
by happy ends; such endings give them a sense that all is right
with the world (the readers may hope that things will turn out
right in their own lives).


In the typical "sad end," a main character often dies.  Generally
there is a tearful scene, with words of love and regret. 
Understanding and reconciliation may come, but they come too late. 
If a main character does not die, perhaps the protagonist suffers
some other tragedy, loss or disappointment.  Perhaps the love of
his life has rejected him, and in such a way that the readers can't
hope for reunion in the next chapter.  Perhaps the character is
maimed or forced into exile.  At any rate, with a sad ending,
readers may not exactly be reassured, but they may experience
comfort, especially if they, too have suffered.

You don't have to end your story with either everything-is-rotten
or everything-is-roses.  In fact, many stories stop somewhere in
between: some characters may be doing fabulously, while others
discover that their ointments are full of flies.  Maybe not all of
the good guys make it, or even if they do, they are not content.  A
Weasley brother dies in the Harry Potter books.  In "The Lord of
the Rings," Frodo is not just missing a finger, but he suffers from
intense Post Ring Stress Disorder.  

How you choose to end your story depends on your genre and its
limitations and how you want your readers to feel.  In some genres,
such as romances, everyone has to be happy and all the problems
have to be solved; in most detective stories and thrillers, the
good guys are supposed to win.  In other stories, such as
historical fiction based on actual history, your endings may be
pre-determined by facts.

Nevertheless, you can sometimes tweak or mitigate.  My co-author
and I had one incredibly depressing story, a consequence of basing
stories on Greek myths.  Nearly all of our main character's
children died, and she herself was expelled from the city where she
had reigned as queen for decades.  Even though we were aiming
mostly for tears, especially when Niobe's husband sacrificed
himself, we did what we could to alleviate the depression.  We made
Niobe an object of comfort to the grieving and focused on her
surviving daughter.  We could not make the end happy, but we could
cast an aura of serenity, and give our readers the sense that life
goes on.

Earning Your Ends
Once you have determined how you want your readers to feel, the
next question is, how can you make them feel that way?  The best
method, I believe, is to prepare them emotionally beforehand.

If you want your readers to mourn the death of a character, then
they have to care about the character before the death occurs.  You
can do this by making this character beloved BEFORE she dies, or by
making that character important to another whom the readers care

If you want your readers to rejoice in someone's success, then they
should care about that person's goals earlier in the story.  Again,
this starts with making sure your readers care about the character.
 Second, they have to agree that the goal is worthy.  Finally, it
helps if your character has attempting to achieve this goal
throughout the story, especially if he has been thwarted unjustly.  

If you are including surprises and twists, you should probably have
hints beforehand, or your readers may feel cheated.  Creating a
balance so that your end is "surprising but logical" -- adjectives
that don't seem to go together but which describe the desired
effect -- is a delicate matter.  Even if your end is altered by
something as out of the blue as a lightning strike, perhaps you
should insert a weather forecast somewhere and make sure that your
setting is a logical place for lightning to strike.

Your End Won't Please Everyone
However you choose to end your story, it is hard to please
everyone.  While you write a story, it has a multitude of
possibilities and can go anywhere.  However, at some point you need
to commit to a direction.  I believe that what some people enjoy,
without their even being aware of it, is a sense of potential.  The
mere fact of deciding on one path -- any path -- destroys that
potential.  This only a theory of mine -- I have no scientific
study to make this claim -- but given the comments I have heard
people make about stories, and my observation of people in general,
I find it makes sense.  Some people prefer anticipation to actual

Even if you discount the portion of your audience that prefers
beginnings to ends, you still will not please everyone.  Some
readers yearn for ends that are completely happy, and may not be
satisfied with anything less.  Others want the catharsis of tears,
while others demand more ambiguity.  Some reader will be cheering
for one character while another reader prefers another.  People
truly have different tastes.

Still, you should try to satisfy them.  By aiming for a particular
ending all along the way, and by earning your finish, you are more
likely to satisfy more of your readers.  Those who are perpetually
disgruntled may at least concede that the end suits the story.  

When Should You Write the End?
When you start your story, sometimes you don't know how it
finishes.  Sometimes you have an idea that is so compelling that
you have to develop it and see where it goes.  Sometimes these
ideas are the nuggets of very successful stories, and you only
discover the end later.

On the other hand, if you do know how your story ends, you can
write it in advance!  You don't have to, and you can delete or
severely edit whatever you write, but if you're inspired or if you
think it will help, go ahead and put some words into a file.

Nevertheless, at some point you will, if you persist, reach the
finish.  Then you will have to see if what you wrote before
supports it and leads to it (you will probably have to do this even
if you know how it ends).  You need to make sure that the end of
your book suits the characters, your readers, and last but not
least, yourself.


Victoria Grossack studied Creative Writing and English Literature
at Dartmouth College, and has published stories and articles in
such publications as Contingencies, Women's World and I Love Cats.
She is the author of Crafting Fabulous Fiction, a step-by-step
guide to developing and polishing novels and short stories that
includes many of her beloved columns. With Alice Underwood, she
co-authors the Tapestry of Bronze series (including Jocasta,
Mother-Wife of Oedipus; The Children of Tantalus; and Antigone &
Creon), based on Greek myths and set in the late Bronze Age. Her
independent novels include The Highbury Murders, in which she does
her best to channel the spirits and styles of Jane Austen and
Agatha Christie, and Academic Assassination (A Zofia Martin
Mystery). Victoria is married with kids, and (though American)
spends much of her time in Europe. Her hobbies include gardening,
hiking, bird-watching and tutoring mathematics. Visit her website
at http://www.tapestryofbronze.com, or contact her at tapestry (at)
tapestryofbronze (dot) com. 


Copyright 2015 Victoria Grossack 

This article may not be reprinted or posted without the written
permission of the author.

Link to this article here: 

Want to learn more about crafting fabulous fiction? Get one-on-one
guidance with Victoria Grossack's personal writing class; visit


struggle to keep your butt in the chair? Contact me through my 
website and let me know what's got you down; we'll brainstorm a 
way forward with a coaching regimen designed just for you!
Victoria-Lynn Winning, Writing Coach - http://vlawinning.ca


The Advanced Guide to Writing Powerful Press Releases
This is an amazing site  it really is a "guide,"not just a brief
article.  Each of the seven sections is packed with useful
information, and I plan to go back and read it more than once. 
Only downside: repeated pop-up ads and a nagging "chat now" menu.

How to Successfully Sell Your Travel Writing, by Roy Stevenson
This site is more like a book than a website.  It is one of the
best (if not THE best) travel-writing sites I've seen in a long
time.  It is packed!  And most of the articles will be useful to
any freelancer, not just travel writers.  

Writers' Infusion
Here's an interesting site  a live critique group that you can
submit to.  Each critique is filmed, so you can watch the group
comment on and/or dissect your story on-screen (without actually
having to be there in person).  Participation is free.


EVERY WRITER NEEDS A HOLIDAY!  "The Writer's Guide to Holidays, 
Observances and Awareness Dates" offers 1800 events worldwide --
Instant inspiration for those days when you can't think of anything
to write about!  Holiday topics are a favorite of editors, so fuel
your inspiration and jumpstart your articles today!  Available in 
print and Kindle editions; for more information visit

FREE STUFF FOR WRITERS: Presentation Tools
By Aline Lechaye

After researching, writing, and publishing your book, the most
important task at hand is the marketing and promotion of your book.
While you can do a lot of marketing via blogs or social media, you
may sometimes want to host (or be invited to) give readings or
speeches about your area of expertise. Depending on the nature of
the public promotional event, you may need to prepare a
presentation of some sort to explain your book or your ideas. Read
on for some nifty and interesting presentation tools. 

If you want to display web pages during your presentation, you may
find it frustrating to click back and forth between your internet
browser and your presentation as you give your speech. Installing
the LiveWeb add-in for PowerPoint (
http://skp.mvps.org/liveweb.htm#.VLEgPtKUd8E) allows you to embed
live web pages into your PowerPoint presentation. Other files such
as PDF files or Java applets can also be embedded into your
presentation. The add-in supports PowerPoint 97 and above
(PowerPoint 2013 is supported as well!), but unfortunately does not
currently have a Mac version. Other free add-ins for PowerPoint can
be found on the download section of the LiveWeb website (

Apart from PowerPoint or Keynote, there are many web-based tools
that you can use to create your presentations. One of these is
emaze (http://www.emaze.com/), which allows you to choose from
several breathtakingly designed slide themes (some of which come
with amazing 3D animation effects that have to be seen to be
believed). You can edit and view your presentation right inside
your web browser -- there is no need to download or install
anything in your computer. Unfortunately, while you can share your
presentation online, you cannot view it offline or download it if
you are using a free emaze account. You also cannot make your
presentation files private. 

A simpler and more basic online editor is Slides
(https://slides.com/). The online editor is easy to use and allows
you to add text, images, shapes, web pages, and codes to your
presentation. However, as with emaze, you cannot download your
presentations, view them offline, or make them private on a free

If privacy and collaboration matter a lot to you, you'll probably
be better off making your presentation with Google Slides.
Presentations are automatically saved to your Google Drive and can
be downloaded as PowerPoint, PDF, JPG, or plain text files. As with
all Google documents, on Google Slides you can collaborate with
friends and co-workers in real-time, and comment on each other's
work. You can view and edit your slides offline, and the mobile
Google Slides app means that you can take your slides with you
everywhere you go. To learn more, go to: 

At the end of your presentation, you might want your listeners to
visit your author website or social media page. Instead of having
them write down your website or social media handle, why not go
high-tech and have them link to your website via a QR code? Make
your own QR code at http://www.qrstuff.com/. Got a sample chapter
of your book to share or a book trailer video explaining the
premise of your new book? QR codes can also link to videos or plain


Aline Lechaye is a translator, writer, and writing tutor who
resides in Asia. She can be reached at alinelechaye at gmail.com


Copyright 2015 Aline Lechaye 

This article may not be reprinted without the written permission 
of the author. 



on how to reach more than 100,000 writers a month with your 
product, service or book title, visit


Writing World is a publication of Writing-World.com

Readers are welcome to forward this newsletter by e-mail IN ITS
ENTIRETY. This newsletter may not be reposted or republished in
any form, online or in print, nor may individual articles be 
published or posted without the written permission of the author
unless otherwise indicated.

Editor and Publisher: MOIRA ALLEN (editors"at"writing-world.com) 

Copyright 2015 Moira Allen

Copyright © 2017 by Moira Allen. All rights reserved.
All materials on this site are the property of their authors
and may not be reprinted without the author's written permission,
unless otherwise indicated.
For more information please contact Moira Allen, Editor