Posts Tagged ‘magazines’

Writing Assignment: Writing About Three Objects

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Writing a description of a single object is always a good exercise. If you add another thing, write about two objects, you can compare and contrast them. Add a third and you have a set and the possibilities multiply. The set is often more interesting than the objects contained in the set.

Sets go beyond mathematics. They are they ways we organize our lives. Two objects are interesting—three is a collection.  Look around you: the things that you use and value are often found in groups of at least three. My desk contains no fewer than ten manual writing implements at any one time. Observing that alone would give you a clue that I may be a writer.

Here’s my example:

Above my office bookshelf I have a selection of science fiction pulp magazines. I’ve had each carefully prepared and framed with museum-quality mounting. The entire issue is carefully preserved—not just the cover. They are also primarily Volume 1, Number 1 issues (accept for the three issues of Astounding carrying the serialization of Robert A. Heinlein’s “Double Star”).

One of my favorites is a single frame holding three small format magazines, each v.1, no.1. They are a set: Vanguard, Venture, Vortex.

Their covers are endlessly fascinating. Vanguard shows the tail of a blasting rocket in space where an unlucky astronaut has fallen into the fiery exhaust. Venture’s cover has a powerful, bare-chested caged man in the background. He appears dominated by the strong, redheaded women in the foreground. Her breasts are covered by metallic cones and she wears a sheer top. It is clear that she is in charge, but of what? Vortex displays either a giant microscope focused on a man and a women fallen upon the slide surface, or is it a miniature couple, reduced in some mysterious way?

Each cover promises a story, action, and exotic adventure. I’ve learned that most of these magazines, called, “pulps” because of the poor quality paper used in their printing, also have equally poor writing, but not all do. Within their covers the greats of the golden era learned their trade and built a powerful genre. The stories, good or bad, were wrapped in glorious, lurid covers. There’s a promise in these covers. And that’s why I display them in the room where I write, where I work.

For today’s assignment, take three like objects, even if they are very little alike, and write about them. You can spend some time, but not much, describing them. Your task with this assignment is to talk about them as a whole, a set. What does the set itself evoke? What does combining these objects unlock, allow you to think and then write about?

It shouldn’t take you long to look at your surroundings, find three like objects and begin writing about them as a single thing.


Click here for more Writing Assignments.

Three Secrets Of Dealing With The Press

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

While I am a strong advocate of the power of social media, working with the conventional press is still one of the most effective ways to spread your message and attract attention to your cause, product, or service. Working with the press is an important skill that many people simply don’t possess.

But it’s not that difficult. Reporters and writers are wildly busy, overworked, and on hard deadlines. They need help. And they are flooded with pitches and people clamoring for attention. When they find someone who knows how to work with them and won’t waste their time they’ll call you time and again.

I’ve had a lot of success over the years in getting into industry and national publications and media by following these three rules:

  1. Be Available
  2. Be Prepared
  3. Be A Resource

Be Available — sending out press releases will get you very little. You need to do it, but that’s not how most articles and stories end up being developed. Your first job should be to identify the publications and outlets you most want and introduce yourself to the reporters and editors. Let them know about your offering, but also let them know about the areas of your expertise. And here’s the big secret: when they call, drop everything and immediately help them. They won’t call until the last minute and if you wait to call them back it will be too late. Treat any reporter or writer’s call like they were the President of the United States. There is nothing more important than helping them.

Be Prepared — writers and reporters are always in a rush, so you must never, ever, waste their time. Yes, you’d like the president of your company to be on the news for five minutes. But you’ll get fifteen seconds. When you or anyone in your organization talks to the press make sure that you are prepared with short, detailed statements. It’s not the time to figure out what to say when you’re standing in front of a camera. Be ready with the sound byte. If it’s good, you’ll get a follow-up question. Be ready for that answer, too. This applies to print as well as video.

Be A Resource — Be sure not to just pitch what you are selling, but present yourself and the other in your organization as experts in subject areas. Let them know that if they need someone on any of these areas or anything loosely related to contact you and you’ll be happy to help them. Be ready to talk about your industry and never mention your product. Getting elevated to the expert level is money in the bank.

A really good PR firm will train you how to do all of these things, but you can get started on your own. If you follow these three steps and work with the press over an extended period of time, you’ll be surprised at how much impact you can have.