Friday, April 27, 2012

What the Experts Say: Tips to Create MEMORABLE CHARACTERS by Karen Rose Smith

Karen Rose Smith, romance fiction author,
has sold 82 books since 1992 as well as Indie
published her Search for Love series.

--Choose a strong background that affects who your character is, how he or she sees life.

For instance, if your hero is a former Marine, he had motivation to serve his country. Focus on that. He also had training that colors how he sees the world, how he reacts when startled, how he sleeps, how he organizes his belongings, how he problem-solves.

If you have a heroine who lost her parents and was shuffled into the foster care system, she will most likely have trust issues, fear of abandonment and, therefore, she will protect her heart.

--Give your characters life-long passions.

Example: One of my recent heroines is a music therapist. Music has always been an escape for her, a joy, a means of expressing herself. I use music imagery in her thoughts, especially when she and the hero have intimate moments.

If your hero hikes for a hobby, that face-the-wilderness passion will charge his goals and his passion. He will be detail-oriented and maybe adventurous in his business undertakings.

--Create family bonds

If your hero has sisters, that can affect his reactions to women, his understanding of their motives and fears. If your heroine has brothers, maybe she was a tag-along, or a tomboy in order to earn her brothers' respect. If your characters' parents have a happy marriage, they will look at a relationship as a forever possibility. On the other hand, if parents divorced, that could crete a negative rather than positive view of marriage.

--Personality quirks

Everyone has idiosyncrasies. What are your characters' quirks?
Maybe your heroine likes to sing in her car. Maybe your hero always has a cup of coffee as he watches the sunrise. Why do they do these things? What created their habits? Weave their story around their present life so nothing is random.

--Former romantic relationships

The lack of romantic relationships reveals that your character might be afraid of commitment. On the other hand, former relationships have taught your character something about love. Whatever they learned or felt will fuel the conflict in their romantic relationship now. You can use this history to make tension high and to create impediments to finding true love.

--Physical perfection or imperfection.

A model will have a different view of life than a heroine with a port wine stain on her face. A hero with war injuries will look at himself differently than a man in buff shape. Give your character a distinctive physical characteristic--deep tan, long waist, brown hair with blond strands, a scar above a brow.

When you create a character, every detail in his or her past, every detail about his or her life now should have a purpose. If you meld these tips and create a "real" person with a heart, soul, and mindfulness of who they are, you will create memorable characters.

Karen Rose Smith

Karen Rose Smith was born in Pennsylvania in the Susquehanna Valley. As a teenager, music became as important to her as reading. She and her cousin took their first sojourn into writing by collaborating on a script for the MONKEES television program.  They sent that script to every concert venue where the group appeared that summer!

In college, Karen began writing poetry and also met her husband to be.  They both started married life as teachers, but when their son was born, Karen decided to try her hand at a home decorating business.  She returned to teaching for a while but changes in her life led her to writing romance fiction. She has sold 82 books since 1992 as well as indie published her Search For Love series.

A winner of New Jersey's Golden Leaf Award in Short Contemporary Romance, Colorado Romance Writers Award Of  Excellence for short contemporary, as well as the Phoenix Desert Rose Chapter's Golden Quill for Traditional Romance, she has also been honored with's award for Best Special Edition. Her romances have made both the USA TODAY list, Borders Group Bestseller list for Series Romance as well as the Amazon Contemporary Romance Bestseller list.

Married to her college sweetheart, believing in the power of love and commitment, she envisions herself writing relationship novels (including mysteries) for a long time to come!


Karen's website:
Karen's Search For Love Series website:

Six Tips on Making Time to Read

We’re all busy. We commute to work where we spend at least eight hours a day. We chauffer our children to school and their various activities, or we change diapers and attend to baby’s needs. We prepare our meals and those of our family – even picking up fast food takes time. We travel for work or pleasure. Then there’s the cleaning, clothes-washing, food shopping, dry cleaning – whew.

When do we ever have time to read?

Well, the answer lies in making time to read, not finding time!  Here are a few suggestions:

1    Set a reasonable goal for reading. Plan which book you want to read next and by when. Don’t make it hard on yourself. Allow plenty of time. 

2    Schedule reading time

Share some of your TV-watching or other entertaining time. By recording TV shows, you can schedule when you watch your favorite shows and work reading into that schedule.

Check how much time you are spending on housecleaning – could you break up your dusting into different sections each week—I mean, do we really need to dust the entire house EVERY week?—and use the extra time for reading a chapter or two.  I heartily encourage you not to take the time from your family. I have always been willing to do less housecleaning, however! 

What’s important is that to consciously set aside time to read – even put it on your calendar. And you’ll need to take it from somewhere.

3    Alert your family when you are starting your reading time. Ask them not to disturb you. Oh, sure, I know that sounds tough, but it might work—especially if you suggest they join you and read their books at the same time. Arrange for family reading time.

4    Discuss your book with your family. That might make them more willing to give you the time to read, especially if you keep them updated.

5    If you have a long commute, you might consider “books on tape”.  In today’s digital world, you can easily download them to your iPhone (or other device) and play them through your car speaker. Or, you can listen to a book with ear buds while commuting on a train or subway.

6    Try an e-reader, e.g., Kindle, Nook, or iPad. You can carry it with you. I keep mine in my purse, and when I have to wait at the dentist or doctor’s office or in a long line, I pull it out and read my newspaper or whatever novel I have underway. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project indicates that e-book readers are reading one-third more than print-only readers.

Regardless of which means you choose, take some time to figure out how to make time for reading.  You will be rewarded with engrossing characters, mysterious circumstances, and maybe even a little romance.

Other articles for additional ideas on making time for reading:
Dave Astor, “Finding Time to Read More Novels,” The Huffington Post, 4/20/2012

Blogher Original Post, “How do You Find time to Read? My top ten answers,” October 25, 2008

MichaelHyatt: Intentional Leadership, “5 Ways to Make More Time to Read,” Guest post by Robert Bruce,

Saturday, April 21, 2012

What the Experts Say: Paul R. Hewlett "What Will Get Children to Read?"

This is an age-old question.  As a children’s author I have asked myself this very question many times. 

There are several points to examine in order to answer this question.  First, is reading age dependent, and if so, does one need to use different means for different age groups? The next question deals with how to get them to read.  Is there a certain approach that should be used?  Finally, we must ask what kinds of characters and situations children want to read about.  In taking a closer look at these points, we will find the answer to our question.

I don’t believe that reading is age dependent.  I believe exposure to reading should start at a very young age and continue throughout one’s life.  I do believe, however, that different means should be used for different age groups.  Exposure should start with reading aloud to children.  Reading to children creates an interaction between child and parent that is very strong.  They will remember this time spent with Mom and/or Dad and will look forward to this time and the story that is being read to them. 

Continue to build on that, adding to it piece by piece as they get older.  I like to view this approach as layering.  Layering is a fantastic approach to help children build a strong foundation in reading.  As children get older, another layer should be added.  Introduce them to libraries and book fairs.  Make sure to sign them up for a library card.  Most libraries issue library cards to children older than the age of five.  This will make them feel invested in the experience. Let them pick up books, handle them, examine them, and check them out using their very own library card.  It doesn’t matter if they are reading advanced books or comic books, as long as they are reading.  Libraries often have activities such as book clubs or readings.  This is another great opportunity to further expose children to the wonderful world of reading. 

Add another layer to that, such as setting aside family reading time.  Parents can read aloud to younger children, and then as children get older, set aside time for the family to read their own individual books together in the family room.  Teenagers may want to read on their own, and in this case I would still encourage parents to ask questions and encourage discussion about the books they are reading.  Do not be afraid to reward children for reading, even if the reward is simple praise.  I believe parents are the biggest influence on getting children to read.  By incorporating these different means for different age groups and layering these activities, I believe, the foundation will be built for a lifetime of reading pleasure and enjoyment.

The next point to be examined is what kind of characters do children want to read about?  Do children want to read about certain types of characters?  I’m not convinced that there is any one type of character that appeals to all children.  Children have different tastes, just like adults do.  With that being said, there are certainly specific types of characters that they seem to prefer to read about.  A strong main character that they can relate to is important.  A likable character that has flaws and a good heart is always well received, everyone has flaws after all.  They can identify with them and they tend to pull for these kinds of characters.  If you don’t believe me, ask yourself how many children are rooting for Harry Potter?  Children, for the most part, want to read about strong, likeable characters with flaws that they can relate to.
That begs the question then of what kind of situations do children enjoy reading about these characters in?  They enjoy all kinds of situations, quite honestly.  They certainly enjoy ones that they can relate to.  Many children imagine themselves as the main character and enjoy reading about them in situations that they have experienced and can relate to.  They also enjoy fantasy; finding themselves in other worlds or using magic is very well received.  These types of situations allow children to leave everyday life, go to new places and experience new things, things that are impossible to do in the real world.  Whether it is a familiar situation or a fantasy, the only thing that really matters is that it reaches the child.  That is why it is so important to take them to the library or book fairs, read to them, encourage them to read, discuss what they are reading, and let them pick up dozens of books and look through them.  By doing this, they will learn what characters and situations appeal to them.

In closing, I believe getting children to read is extremely important.  We have determined that reading is not age dependent and that different means should be used for different age groups. We have examined these means and in doing so, have identified the layering approach to help get them to read.  Like building blocks, layer one experience onto the next as children get older to build a solid foundation. We also looked at types of characters and situations that they like to read about. The comprehension skills, vocabulary, and imagination that they develop and use from reading are invaluable.  Parents play a vital role in getting children to read and should take steps to encourage it.  Ultimately, it is up to the child whether they will read or not, but by exposing them to the many layers of reading mentioned here, I have no doubt that read they will.  Children are very smart and as a children’s author, I always write with Maxim Gorky’s words in mind:

            “You must write for children in the same way as you do for adults, only better.”

Let’s all put our best foot forward and get children to read.  They deserve it!

Paul R. Hewlett writes books for children. His first book is Lionel's Grand Adventure: Lionel and the Golden Rule. It is an early chapter book for ages 7-10. It is the first book in the Lionel's Grand Adventure series. Paul is a US Air Force vet who is married and has a "senior" dog named Joe that he and his wife adopted from the local rescue facility. His aim is to increase and foster children's interest in reading by combining entertainment and values

Lionel's Grand Adventure: Lionel and the Golden Rule link:

Lionel's Grand Adventure: Lionel Turns the Other Cheek link:

Lionel's Grand Adventure Facebook Page:

“But” Is a Stopper: The Difference between Marketing and Fictional Writing

When I decided to become a writer of fiction, I was confident I could leverage my 25 years of experience as a corporate communications writer for biotech and high tech companies. I figured if I could write a decent press release – which even includes dialogue in the form of quotes – I should be able to write a novel. After all, writing is writing.

Well, yes and no.   I realized the “no” when, after reading my first novel, a colleague said that I really needed to let go of the marketing tendencies.  There’s no need to repeat things – “we mystery readers get it the first time.”

That started me thinking. What other habits of marketing writing was I instilling into my fictional novels?

First, marketing writing is geared to influence the reader to “do” something—to buy a product, to listen to a recording, to watch a video, to read a flyer, to consider investing.  Ooops! - I had chosen to write mysteries to entertain.

So what writing tendencies had crept into my fictional writing?

Early in my marketing writing career I learned a few key rules:

(1) Target your recipients and address their needs – this may even require some surveys to understand the gap between what your readers know and what you want them to know. Understand what they read, and how they read it. Also, consider that your readers are your potential customers.

(2)  Clarify what you want to say to help achieve the results you want

(3) Write your key messages and supporting messages ahead of time so that you can integrate them into all document

(4) Back up your key messages with supporting data

(5) Repeat your message at least three times – more if possible. 

(6)   Never use “but” – it’s considered a stopper, that is, people stop reading when they see that word.

(7) Write short, succinct sentences

(8)  Use action verbs; no passive tense
 Of course, there are many more guidelines attached to effective marketing writing. But (please keep reading) you should get the idea – marketing writing is intended to influence.  Admittedly so is some fictional writing – but its first goal is to entertain.

When I wrote my first novel, I was very careful never to use the word “but.” I did indeed repeat  references to assure that the reader picked up key points, and I included lots of backup information to substantiate statements and provide context.  Those are the misguided things I did.

However, there are some valuable lessons to apply to fiction writing from that of marketing writing. Perhaps the most valuable is to target your reader.  People are different, and we can’t write to all of them. By defining the potential readers – our target market, so to speak – we can write to them with the intent that they will be more likely to enjoy our stories. 

By selecting mystery as a genre, I made the first targeting decision. I chose to reach out to readers who enjoy a good puzzle.  I also decided that my target readers preferred less violence, more character development; a little romance, but not too graphic. And that they want to learn something – but not too much.

In addition, I have also leveraged certain writing skills from marketing, such as, the use of action verbs, reduction of passive voice, and prevalence of succinct sentences. I have been able to build on those simple guidelines. And I have also used many of my marketing skills to help me promote my book. 

Nonetheless, I have learned to appreciate the differences – I even use “but” occasionally.

Joyce T. Strand, Author
Jillian Hillcrest Mysteries

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What the Experts Say: Deborah Garner, Author - Intermingled mystery, romance and adventure with a touch of magic

We’re talking today with Deborah Garner, author of Above the Bridge: A Paige McKenzie Mystery. Of course, I am particularly fond of mysteries, so I am pleased to have a fellow mystery writer drop by. I have so many questions. Let’s get started.

JOYCE:  First, tell us why you decided to become an author?

DEBORAH: I don't think it was a conscious decision. I've had the urge to put pen to paper since I was very young, as evidenced in my author photo, taken a few years...ahem...make that a few decades ago. I have several dusty manuscripts I've accumulated over the years. But Above the Bridge was one that I thought needed to get kicked out into the world.

 JOYCE: So, about Above the Bridge. How did you choose to write about a reporter, the northwestern Wyoming area, buried treasure and a handsome cowboy? I'm particularly interested in the handsome cowboy!

DEBORAH: For many years I've done freelance travel writing and photography. I've made numerous trips across the country and back, always alone and always stopping impulsively in small towns and areas with intriguing back roads.

When I arrived in Jackson Hole a few years ago, the area just called to me. The scenery is outstanding and the history very rich. And work is plentiful during summer months, thanks to the millions (literally) of tourists who come through the area to see both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. I picked up seasonal work and settled in to research the area and pull a story together that would combine both the modern setting and the history of the area.

The buried treasure concept came to me as I read about local prospecting during the late 1800's.

The handsome cowboy came in because, well, what good would a western adventure be without at least one handsome cowboy? ;)

 JOYCE:  Who are your target readers? Who are the readers who would be most likely to enjoy your book?

DEBORAH: With the high volume of visitors Jackson Hole sees, Above the Bridge offers tourists a vacation read that ties in with their immediate surroundings. Internet access is limited in the area and - believe it or not - guests find themselves resorting to activities like playing cards, conversing (in person!) with each other and...what was that old-fashioned thing called...oh, reading!

Aside from those visiting the area, the story serves as a light, fun read for anyone who likes a bit of intermingled mystery, romance and adventure, with a touch of magic, as well.

 JOYCE: Where is your favorite place to write? When do you like to write?

DEBORAH: I wish I could say my favorite writing spot was beside a misty, tumbling waterfall or under a shady, weeping willow, because it would sound so romantic and poetic. But the truth is, I do my best writing when curled up awkwardly in an armchair or scrunched down against the pillows of my bed, laptop precariously balanced above my waist. I am a chiropractor's dream come true.

 JOYCE: Do you have a muse? (I have a roadrunner who scurries back and forth outside my window who inspires me.)

 DEBORAH: If weather can be a muse, that's it for me. Without a doubt, wind and/or rain. Either will send me running for the nearest paper, pen and armchair. Or laptop and fluffed pillows.

JOYCE:  Where do you get your characters' descriptions and dialogue?

DEBORAH: I can usually visualize my characters, though I have to pin down details like hair color, eyes and facial features to clarify them in my mind. The dialogue just develops on its own. I have no idea why. I find dialogue the easiest part of writing. I know not all authors feel this way. Maybe it's just the chatterbox in me.

JOYCE:  Do you let your characters take control of your writing? Or do you sketch out your book and follow an outline? Or how do you plan your book?

DEBORAH: Outlines don't work for me. Even when I try to create them, my characters just laugh and head in a different direction. I do use outlines when faced with family trees, historical chronology or geographics, to keep the details straight. It seems my memory went out the window long ago, when it comes to specifics of that nature.

JOYCE:  Do you have any hobbies? What kind of music to you like? Do you prefer wine or beer or coke? What about coffee? Are you a foodie?

DEBORAH: I love photography, especially capturing images of old buildings, dilapidated walls, rusty, abandoned farm equipment, that sort of thing. I love close-up textures and soft lighting. I also adore wildlife photography, though I can't always get those critters to pose for me.

I'm fond of most types of music - classical, country and soft rock, in particular. My playlists are likely to be bizarre assortments of songs. That is, unless most people have Bruce Springsteen, JoDee Messina, Quicksilver Messenger Service and The Fray all back-to-back.

Beverage? Diet coke all the way, morning, noon and night - a habit I know I need to break. Coffee - only the absolute first thing in the morning.

A foodie? Carbs are my downfall.

JOYCE: Join the club with carbs. Pasta is at the top of my favorite food list.

What was the most difficult part of your book to write? How did you overcome the difficulty?

DEBORAH: I don't think there was any one particular part of Above the Bridge that was the most difficult to write. What I always find most difficult in writing is knowing when to stop revising. I'm never satisfied. I'm constantly changing phrasing, scenery and dialogue. Unfortunately, the easiest way for me to overcome this is to have someone else pull a manuscript out of my hands.

JOYCE: What’s next?

DEBORAH: I'm quite certain that our NY reporter, Paige MacKenzie, is destined to head out on another adventure. And I have a hunch we'll see our handsome cowboy, Jake Norris, again, as well. What, where and when? My lips are sealed :)


Six Tips on Writing about Yourself

Regardless of age, gender, or status, most of us are confronted with a request to write a few sentences, paragraph or a biography to sell ourselves.  And we hate it.

Nonetheless, work sources ask us for a brief summary of our background and experience to initiate a job application.  Teachers or colleagues in high school require a few sentences for a newspaper, program, or high school yearbook –whether for the debate or football team.  Non-profit Boards of Directors ask you – a retired executive—for a paragraph about your qualifications for their organization.

But we just don’t like to talk about ourselves. It’s not part of our upbringing. We’re told not to brag about ourselves. So how do we make it easy and fun to draft those few sentences that will achieve what we want?

There are many ways to write a biography. However, if you can remember a few key tips, it will be easier and more fun.

-1- Know what you want to achieve.

What is your goal? Go beyond “because I need to fill out this form!” Take advantage of the opportunity to make something happen. This doesn’t have to be a life-changing objective. A simple “I’d like my fellow students to understand why I enjoy football or the debate team” or “I want the Board of Directors to know why I desire to serve with them.” Or, it could be “I need to get this job, so I want to impress the recruiter with my qualifications.”

-2- Know what the requestor needs.

Typically when someone asks you for this information, they have a need to fulfill. Obviously a recruiter is looking for background information to assess if a job applicant is qualified. Those responsible for printing yearbooks, programs or school papers require information to interest their readers in their publication or event. Non-profit boards want to assess how your qualifications will benefit their organization. 

-3- Match your goal to the requestor’s needs. 

This is the fun part. Matching your goals with the requestors needs is the magic in writing an effective bio. For example, if a recruiter is looking for a specific set of qualifications, and your goal is to fulfill that set of qualifications, well – you’ve got the first step towards consideration for the position. (Even better if you have the specific set of qualifications.)  Yearbook editors will welcome an interesting bio that tells why football or debate is of value to you especially if that is something of interest to their readers. And there’s no doubt that if you can couple your business qualifications to the needs of a non-profit, you stand a chance of being asked to join their Board.

-4- Write a first sentence to state this connection between your goal and their needs. You may decide to change this sentence later, but it helps to clarify your own thinking.

·      Jillian Hillcrest is dedicated to using her 10 years of corporate communications experience to achieve your business needs.
·      Joe Quarterback feels a sense of fulfillment whenever he throws a touchdown pass, which spills over into his everyday life.
·      Johnny Debater debates to help him appreciate multiple sides of issues.
·      Retired Exec wants to apply her business experience to advance the cause of a non-profit.

-5- Support your claims with sentences that back up your initial statement.

Jillian supports her statement regarding her experience by describing her successes in getting media coverage to promote products, and mentions her educational degrees that qualify her. Joe Quarterback adds his stats. Johnny Debater can talk about the number of topics he’s argued. And Retired Exec describes successful programs and people he has managed and revenue he’s generated. 

-6- Conclude with sentences that tie your statements back to the needs of the recipient of your bio.

·      Jillian concludes that with her experience and education she is positioned to advance the company’s image and brand.
·      Joe Quarterback might end with his belief that football has taught him how to be a leader.
·      Johnny Debater might mention that his ability to appreciate multiple sides of an issue will help him make better decisions.
·      Retired Exec can claim that he will make a financial difference on the non-profit Board.

Again, there are many ways to write the dreaded bio. But by considering your objective and your recipient’s needs, you have a guide that will lead you to a more interesting and effective description of yourself. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

What the Experts Say: Heidi Ruby Miller

Your characters want it. Your readers want to see how far your characters will go to get it. 
It is a grail. 

The grail we’re concerned with here is a goal, the ultimate goal, the one possession, love, or desire that your character wants so badly, you’ve devoted 400 pages to help her reach it. This driving power is true of all popular fiction. And, when other goals stumble in the character’s way and need immediate action, the grail shifts. The possibilities for reader engagement have just expanded ten-fold.

Here's how to shift your grails, using The Bourne Identity as our example novel:

1. A good, believable grail should be evident to your readers immediately because character motivations provide the foundation for a gripping plot.

In The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum, Jason Bourne’s driving motivation, after being fished out of the ocean with nothing but amnesia, bullet holes, and numbers to a Swiss bank account, is to find out who he is.

2. Straightforward plot progression works well for some stories, however, getting a character from POINT A (desire) to POINT B (achievement) may involve making a few other stops along the way. All of those little sidetracks are what keep us reading.  What your characters desire may change as your story progresses.

Your characters now have to resolve this (a lesser grail) before they can achieve that (the main grail).

Ludlum throws secret government assassins, a love interest, and the guilt of a bloody past at Bourne.

3. By placing secondary and tertiary grails in your characters’ paths, you not only increase tension and anticipation, but also provide mounting satisfaction as these lesser goals are attained. Internal and external conflicts serve to distract your characters and precipitate a shift in focus.

Your characters were able to resolve this, even through such harrowing ordeals, so they will be triumphant in achieving that when things are at their worst.  

Or if the challenge is too harrowing, it worries the reader that: 

Your character barely survived this, how will he manage that when the circumstances seem impossible?

Some of these lesser grails are like rungs on a ladder—they aid the characters in reaching their main goal.

Finding one of many passports in a safe deposit box leads Bourne to his apartment in Paris and to another clue about a particular hotel room.

But some lesser grails stand in direct opposition to the main goal, forcing characters to rethink their original motives and make agonizing choices.  

Bourne may not find out his name, but by saving the woman he loves, he discovers who he is.

Ultimately, sometimes what the characters wanted all along doesn’t matter as much as what they find along the way. And, just like in life, a good read isn’t so much about the end, it’s about the quest.

-FROM: "The Shifting Grail: A Quest for a Good Read" by Heidi Ruby Miller
Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction (Headline Books, Inc.)
Heidi Ruby Miller believes the relationship is as important as the adventure. She teaches creative writing at Seton Hill University, where she graduated from their renowned Writing Popular Fiction Graduate Program the same month she appeared on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. The writing guide Many Genres, One Craft, which she co-edited with Michael A. Arnzen, is based on the Seton Hill program and her novel Ambasadora was her thesis there.

Read her bi-weekly column on Inveterate Media Junkies called Heidi Ruby Miller's Geek Girl Underground and her author interviews series at lives near Pittsburgh with her writer husband, Jason Jack Miller.

Five Tips for Writing Effective Messages

Every time you write an e-mail, a letter, a Facebook message, an article—wherever you say it with words—you have an opportunity to make something happen. Before you choose the words you want to use, keep in mind the following easy guidelines.

1. Identify the recipient’s characteristics.  

Is it someone who is always in a hurry and thus will only read part of your message?  Is it someone who needs to be convinced, requiring more details?  Is this a procrastinator who you know will need follow-up messages to achieve action?  Is this a group of people

2. Know what you want to accomplish.  

What is it you want your reader to do?  There are many reasons for writing: introduce yourself or your company; correct a mistake – theirs or yours; complain about poor service or a defective product.  
If you are clear in your own head what you want to accomplish, you will have direction when you write.  This is true for the simplest e-mail.  Just ask yourself when you start writing it:  What do I want the recipient to do?

3. Inform the reader immediately what you want—in the opening statement. 

There are some exceptions to this rule, but in general your first sentence should be an action statement:  this is what you want them to do or this is what you want them to know.  I find it exasperating to get a message that doesn’t tell me until the end what I’m supposed to do.  Or worse, the requested action is buried in the middle somewhere. Often, I miss the requested action, and neglect to respond appropriately.   If you tell us immediately what you want, we are more likely to read on to understand why we should do it, and are more likely to do as you request.

4. Provide supporting statements. 

After you have stated what you want, amplify your request.  This is where you provide the details for the reader to give your message credibility.   When you have clearly stated your goal in the beginning, these supporting statements help to convince the reader to do what you want

5.Inform the reader clearly what the result or benefit will be of doing what you ask. 

 Make a simple concluding statement:  the result of learning about my new company is that you will have a place to go to buy the most unique widget.  When you need a widget, you will be happy that you know about it.

Joyce T. Strand, Author
Jillian Hillcrest Mysteries