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Simplicity, universal values, and commitment sell big in fiction books and on the screen

Simplicity, universal values, and commitment in best-sellers.
Anne Hart, novel and photography.

Simplicity, universal values, and commitment sell big time in works of creative writing, fiction or nonfiction. You write stories that stick in the minds of readers. The values about which you write can make or break your career as a content writer and storyteller.

It all depends on whether you have enough followers who can buy your content over a long span. Will your content stand the test of time? The subject can change as fast as audience’s preferences, but their values remain constant: Simple solutions that work, universal values we share, and commitment to what's valued most in people's lives.


Most authors are concerned with books going out of print if they don't sell a high enough number in a publisher's quota to stay in print


Writers want to know whether they are on the right path, the best-fit road for success in being a creative writer and a content handler. See, "Digital books never go out of print. They are always there." You also may wish to view, "The DNA of Information." It's important to have some control over what happens to the content of your book, story, script, or article.


Doing the right thing may make a best seller if enough people do the same thing and choose to reinforce their nourishment and pleasure from your subjective fantasy in cyberspace. Is it real enough so people can identify with the character? If the audience can put themselves in the role of your hero or live your storyline, they will return for more.


One issue is whether you're writing for one media or another, for digital content or for print markets or both. Online, your book may have a longer shelf life than if it has to meet a specific quota sale of books in print from a publisher. The question is how to promote your writing. Selling self-published fiction can work if your story makes a memorable impact on readers.


The next step is promoting your book online and making sure fiction has no inconsistencies or typos that reviewers emphasize more than the amount of research, years spent writing and revising, and labor. Sometimes your editing may be overlooked by critics if you self-published, even if you have worked decades as a freelance book editor. So gaining credibility, reliability, and accessibility counts as much as learning to write stories in three acts that don't slow down or sag in the middle. The objective is to hold the reader's attention.


What do you need to learn in creative nonfiction writing?


“Narrative arc” is a four-syllable way of saying that every story needs to have a beginning, middle, and end. Whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction, you need an act one, act two, act three. Your creative nonfiction piece needs an opening, a place in the middle where it won't sag or slow, and a finish.


Every story has a beginning, middle, and end, if it's labeled a story, novel, script, or play. Even a monologue needs a start, a middle that uplifts the audience and holds their attention, and a finish that makes an impact or solves a problem so that people remember your conclusion.


First you find your story. Then you write beginnings by showing instead of telling or describing. You leap into a narrative arc. See, "Narrative Arc - What is Narrative Arc in Literature?" Every story has three narrative arcs. Check out, "The Three Narrative Arcs by William Kenower." Or see, "How to Create a Narrative Arc for Personal Essays | WritersDigest.com."


So you want to write a page-turner which also is a cliffhanger? You start by building dramatic sentences for emotional impact. You put it together, reveal character in words and actions. Readers sometimes like actions more than words as in theatrical effects. But you first need to create compelling characters. That means a study of character psychology. You design and outline your plot and story structures. Then you let the characters move the plot forward quickly without sagging slow in the middle of your story, novel, or script.


Next you vary your narrator's perspective and use tag lines for emotions or body language and gestures


Then you prepare your characters or words to perform using active verbs instead of lots of adjectives and adverbs. You shape your writer's voice. You sharpen your dialogue technique. Then you revise and edit your work. You build your audience and niche market appeal. You get published or publish your own works. And you're a writer. What gives you ideas about writing about universal values, using simplicity, and sticking with commitment as your characters transcend past choices and go with their commitment to universal values? You flesh out proverbs in new ways.


Proverbs, song lyrics, values, and real lives of women and men or even children struggling to put bread on the table for their families made best sellers in the past. Values that last have lasted since Paleolithic times. Even Neanderthal man buried his family with daisies. Some things don’t change with technology, and technology reinforces values that don’t change. To write a best seller, shape the values of your audience in your manuscript.


Are your principles good for your career?


Online critiques often say that a best seller has integrity.What set of ethics is in your script that shows honesty wins? How strict is structure in the lives of your audience?


Intuitives and visionaries may need less structure than sensors who pattern their success on the success of giants of the past who have been profitable over long periods. Are your values hindering your story or moving it forward? Best sellers don't demand that the audience accept your values. Never give your audience a strict set of rules and insist they adopt your values.


It won’t sell to audiences outside of your niche. For the mass market and more profit, define your values before you write. Then define the values of your audience by letting them speak for themselves and define their own values. That’s how you do your market research before you write fiction.


Rank the values of your audience before you rank them in the same way in your story plot,Web channel script, novel, or story. It works the same in all types of fiction—rank values in the order of how your audience uses them to solve problems.


With which values can’t your audience live? Do the same for yourself as a writer. When you have a list of the values you can’t live without lined up next to a list of the values that your readers/viewers/audience can’t live without, compare them. Do they align? Do you have a match? If so, take a third list of the values with which you’re producers can’t live without. Is there a match between you and your investors, producers, or employers? If you have to eliminate, the audience comes first. That’s who will pay.


Writing for a three-way match regarding the values in your story, piece, or script: Ranking the values in your work


Rank the values in your story or nonfiction piece. You want to aim for a three-way match. What value comes first in your ranking? Is it integrity, honesty, creativity, artistic expression, earnings, ratings, number of books sold, web acceptance, virtue? Pick and rank your values in the order of importance to you, your audience, and your employer. Now rank the values of the characters in your story. Is it a four-way match now? That’s even better. What your audience wants is matched now to the values of the characters, avatars, and heroes in your story or script.


Does the audience’s values match those of the character’s in your story? Pick a proverb about your values—integrity, honesty, and commitment. and expand it into a story, script, game goal, or novel. Make it interactive. Put it online on the web. Ranking values helps you organize your story so that it focuses on being profitable, commercial, moves towards being a best-seller, appeals to a mass or niche audience, and supplies ranked values of characters matched with audience.


The audience comes first


Sometimes it’s necessary to reach the hidden values in your audience and nourish them with feelings of omnipotence to get them to return to the good feelings and pay for your content. How do you get money out of a tycoon with values? Through content.What values can you live without? Conversation? Open versus closed communication? Extroversion? Introversion? Intuition? Imagination? What’s your value’s rank? Can introversion—the power of solitude—be a value like integrity or honesty? Define your values first before ranking them in importance.What makes a value a value?


What can your work of writing live without? For me, Creativity, Honesty, Integrity, Kindness, Politeness—are values. How I rank them will differ from other people’s ranking. Which ones can I live without? Probably a constant stream of extroversion and conversation. Can’t live without? Creativity, honesty, integrity, clean air, and being around green plants and trees, a body of water, art to gaze at, teddy bears, and hugs. Best sellers depend on how much your audience will compromise in the ranking of their values.


Check out the simplicity and values in your writing. Ranking values and commitment first can creates best sellers. Every novel, story, or script compromises in value when it goes up online or in print. It will require less compromising in the future. The entertainment industry has invested billions this year alone in streaming entertainment fiction or news online in new ways.


Matching and ranking your values to your audience’s is the first step to writing and producing a best-seller online


It’s the right hemisphere of the brain that fiction appeals to, and the benefits to writing for the “right brain” hemisphere are profitable. All emotions need nourishment. Your online experience with providing content helps you know your own right or left brain hemisphere preference. Writing fiction can emphasize either—the left brain logic of science and technology fiction combined with the emotion of time travel romances, searching for immortality in virtual reality fractals that heal fears, or bringing the Internet to a new era of entertainment workspaces.


Sum up your story in one sentence as your pitch. Every story needs a chant, an ideology like fiber optimism in the morning chanted to a collection of fables based on traditional values such as kindness, respect, and friendship. Fiction, like nonfiction creative writing is read often to make the heart sing. Look at collections of fables based on traditional values such and kindness, inspired by international tales from around the world. Check out sites such as "Fables | Mara Wood " and "What Makes Your Heart Sing? | Awakening the Power of Inspiration." Or see, "Steve Jobs: What Makes Your Heart Sing? - Forbes." You can check out the site, "What Makes Your Heart Sing? | Facebook."


What works in a best seller?


For writers who want to create best sellers, smaller is better, even though there are plenty of best-selling fiction with a lot of pages to turn. On a Kindle or other e-reader, the page number isn't heavier. It just takes longer to finish. And it all depends upon the novel not slowing down in the middle. Then there's always that first-time novelist who writes very thick books and keeps on selling that way with a reputation for books that take up a lot of pages. It's about reputation and for what style, story, and page number the writer is known.


For those who want to start out with a shorter novel, unveil a smaller way to tell your story, a lighter way. Your content can grow smaller and be written as if it's going to be read in a smaller mobile device. Compression is in.


The question is whether publishing content parallels the holster mentality


Tuck cybersoaps into a pocket. Write the content for mobility. Write for hours of continuous talking with smaller chips, smart buttons, no hands use of technology, headsets, and entertainment that focuses on enjoying the entertainment, hands-free, while doing other things on your computer or offline.


A decade ago, you had technology delivering the age when pistol-shaped remote control devices, such as the TV Terminator, made by TVT Inc., Canada, which allowed users to register how they felt about what content is on screen by shooting a pistol that made the sound of gunshots, a booing crowd, a cheering audience, or machine gun fire. Back then you pulled a trigger to change channels, or have the choice of pressing the button. It’s this kind of audience that makes or breaks the writers future.


Content now has it’s own pistol to shoot you down on screen


You are writing for this kind of audience where such remote controls worked on any type of TV,VCR, or cable box. Now, years later, you have the social media to review what you've read as well as the websites of those who distribute/sell books.


Can you imagine how ten or fifteen years ago shooting at the screen programs the unconscious of those watching political debates, what the potential could be for conditioning the unconscious? Think about the consequences. Shooting the tube does something to the shooter. It touches the emotions in a hands-on way. As a content writer, what value does this evoke in you? How would you rank it? How would your audience rank it? How would your producer or publisher rank content? Nowadays, there are the reviews.


Are we watching one another, including writers and publishers or producers in new ways?


How has the media in general changed since the age of digital journalism became the new world of information? Are we watching one another, including writers and publishers or producers in new ways? Journalism today also includes social media information connections that broke into mainstream media in 2004, even though 'push' news technology had been bringing journalism to computers since 1996.

See, "November, 1996: "The Digital Absence of Localism." Or take a look at, February, 1996: "The Future of the Book." Or take a look at the piece, June, 1995: "Digital Videodiscs: Either Format Is Wrong." What happened at the dawn of the Internet reaching the media and the public? You may wish to check out, January, 1997: "Updated List of Columns, with a brief summary," by Gérard Martin.


And journalism research existed for media professionals and students since at least 1993, even though the first easy-to-use browser came into existence for the general public in 1995. See, December, 1996: "Laptop Envy." Or check out, June, 1996: "The Next Billion Users." Or see, January, 1996: "Where Do New Ideas Come From?"


Before 1993, media connections and fresh news stories were posted on various bulletin boards that journalists could access with computers. Many journalists first learned about how to user the Internet to research news and feature pieces by attending journalism conventions where Internet demonstrations were shown. See, "July, 1996: "Object-Oriented Television." Check out, July, 1995: "Affordable Computing."


You had computer bulletin boards where professionals posted information for different industries: Some news for journalists, other employment news for animation scriptwriters. Outsourcing journalists was at the dawn of that new age even though artists already were outsourced overseas for drawing animation. The nineties was the era when information was referred to as a new age of communication, catalysts, and connections. See, August, 1995: "Bit by Bit, Pcs Are Becoming Tvs. Or Is It the Other Way Around?"


Michael Dertouzos, director of MIT’s Laboratory for Computer Science wrote the book, How the New World of Information Will Change Our Lives. And Bill Gates wrote the forward to his book. Also check out, October, 1996: "Electronic Word of Mouth." You also may be interested in the article, October, 1995: "2020: The Fiber-Coax Legacy."

More than a decade ago, Nicholas Negroponte, MIT’s Media Lab director, wrote “Being Digital.” See, November, 1995: "Being Nicholas," the Wired Interview by Thomas A. Bass. Also see, September, 1995: "Get a Life?" Or see, May, 1996: "Caught Browsing Again."


This new genre of future trend forecasting in technology as it affects people and culture, is hot on the tracks even today, a decade later. The next step is the Internet plugging into us, because Dertouzos forecasted back then “bodynets” in your clothing that will allow you to get e-mail, make calls, watch TV, shop, pay bills, surf the ‘Net, as you’re in motion doing something else. See, ""Being Digital" by Nicholas Negroponte, Contents of Online Version." Check out, December, 1995: "Wearable Computing."


Do we have such gadgets today? Sure, we can pay bills online, shop, bank, or watch smart TV and surf the web or stream movies on computers instead of having to watch them on discs or flash drives, should we choose. You also may wish to check out, August, 1996: "Where am I?" Or see, April, 1996: "Affective Computing."


The key is that everyone must work smarter to keep jobs


Working harder and smarter is the forecast, but the whole genre of these books emphasizes how new technology will give everyone freedom. However, freedom means control, and control is achieved by customizing everything to our interests, values, personality, and needs. And now, more than a decade later, technology does have gadgets such as Google Glass and other devices including those from biotechnology. You may wish to see, March, 1996: "Pluralistic, Not Imperialistic."


A decade ago, Bill Gates focused on how people are shaped by forces and information filters. Several years ago, Gates saw a fire hose of data delousing us down. Gates also saw consumer preference as king. For the writer, in all this forecast, now that we are looking back a decade, today, the bestselling escape fiction still appears to be letting us choose our own destinies. You may wish to check out the article, November, 1995: "Being Decimal."


We all want to feel like we’re free-thinking individuals, but there’s nothing like the power of social pressure to sway an opinion


New research, "Conformity to the Opinions of Other People Lasts for No More Than 3 Days," suggests that people do change their own personal judgments so that they fall in line with the group norm, but the change only seems to last about 3 days. The research is published online since May 21, 2014 in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Have you ever wondered why conformity to the opinions of other people lasts only three days? “Our findings suggest that exposure to others’ opinions (social influence) does indeed change our own private opinions — but it doesn’t change them forever,” says psychological scientist and study author Rongjun Yu, according to the May 23, 2014 news release, "Personal judgments are swayed by group opinion, but only for 3 days." Yu is with South China Normal University. “Just like working memory can hold about 7 items and a drug can be effective for certain amount of time, social influence seems to have a limited time window for effectiveness.”


The fact that personal judgments are swayed by the opinions’ of others is a well-established phenomenon in psychology research.


But it’s unclear whether oft-observed social conformity reflects public compliance, motivated by a desire to fit in with the group and avoid social rejection, or private acceptance, which leads to a genuine change in personal opinion that persists even when social influence is removed.


Yu and colleagues Yi Huang and Keith Kendrick decided to investigate this question in the lab. They recruited Chinese college students to participate in a study exploring how “people perceive facial attractiveness.” The students looked at 280 digital photographs of young adult Chinese women and were asked to rate the attractiveness of each face on an 8-point scale.


Are we really free-thinking individuals? Or are our opinions we swayed by social pressure?


After rating a face, they saw the purported average of 200 other students’ ratings for that face. Importantly, the group average matched the participant’s rating only 25% of the time. The rest of the time, the group average fell 1, 2, or 3 points above or below the participant’s rating.


The students were brought back to the lab to rate the faces again after either 1 day, 3 days, 7 days, or 3 months has passed. The data showed that the group norm seemed to sway participant’s own judgments when they re-rated the photos 1 and 3 days after the initial session. There was, however, no evidence for a social-conformity effect when the intervening period was longer (either 7 days or 3 months after the first session).


To the researchers, the fact that participants’ opinions were swayed for up to 3 days suggests more than a superficial lab-based effect — rather, group norms seem to have had a genuine, albeit brief, impact on participants’ privately held opinions. These studies are notable, says Yu, according to the news release, because they were able to control for methodological issues that often arise in studies that use a test-retest format, such as the natural human tendencies to regress to the mean and to behave consistently over time.

The one question that Yu and colleagues still don’t know the answer to is why the effect lasts for 3 days. They plan on investigating whether there might be a neurological reason for the duration of the effect, and whether the effect can be manipulated to last for shorter or longer durations. The National Natural Scientific Foundation of China (Grant 31371128 to R. Yu) and the Scientific Research Foundation of Graduate School of South China Normal University (Grant 2013kyjj060 to Y. Huang) supported this study.

Is overpopulation the transparent elephant in the room causing crucial modern crises?

A review of nearly 200 research articles (~75% published in the last ten years) shows how the issue of population growth is being downplayed and trivialized despite its fundamental role on modern crises related to unemployment, public debt, welfare, for example reduced access to food and water or even health and education, extinction of species, and climate change, says the March 17, 2013 news release, "Overpopulation: The transparent elephant in the room causing crucial modern crises."

The study suggests that no foreseeable pathways, to fix or ameliorate such crises, are likely without seriously dealing with natality rates by both developed and developing nations. This new paper is written by Camilo Mora, assistant professor of Geography in the College of Social Sciences at University of Hawaii at Manoa, and appears today in the March 17, 2014 issue of the peer-reviewed journal Ecology and Society. You can check out the study online, "Revisiting the Environmental and Socioeconomic Effects of Population Growth: a Fundamental but Fading Issue in Modern Scientific, Public, and Political Circles. 2014. Mora, C."


To feed the world, give women equal rights


Around the world, at least a billion people are hungry or need better diets. To feed a global population projected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050, we will need to increase food production by as much as 70 percent, most analysts believe.

Achieving that goal requires civilization to address overpopulation and overconsumption through a bottom-up movement focused on agricultural, environmental and demographic planning, among other strategies, argues Stanford University's Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellow Paul Ehrlich (Biology). A crucial first step is to give equal rights to women worldwide, Ehrlich says, according to the February 15, 2013 news release, "To feed the world, give women equal rights."


Ehrlich discussed this roadmap at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Meeting in Boston last year. Ehrlich's talk, "Feeding All While Avoiding a Collapse of Civilization: Science's Greatest Challenge," was part of a symposium called "Global Food Security in Relation to Climate, Population, Technology, and Earth Changes," presented on Feb. 15, 2013 in room 210 of the Hynes Convention Center, according to the February 15, 2013 news release, "To feed the world, give women equal rights."


The talk touched on themes from a recent Proceedings of the Royal Society commentary, "Can a Collapse of Global Civilization Be Avoided?" that Ehrlich and his wife Anne Ehrlich, also a Stanford biologist, wrote.


The report calls for improving agricultural practices, replacing fossil fuels and giving women equal rights to enlist more brainpower in finding food supply solutions and to slow birth rates. "There is widespread agreement that the evolving food situation is becoming very serious," Ehrlich says, according to the news release. "But virtually all such warnings, in my view, underestimate the potential impacts of climate disruption on the food system, the way the energy situation may negatively interact with producing enough food and the progressive ecological deterioration of the agricultural enterprise. Perhaps most important, virtually all analyses simply treat the need to feed an additional 2.5 billion people by 2050 as a given."


Instead, Ehrlich says, there should be more focus on slowing population growth. "A program of improving the status of women everywhere and supplying all sexually active people with access to modern contraception and back-up abortion would be relatively quite cheap and would greatly reduce the numbers that must be fed."


Stanford Woods Institute Senior Fellow Paul Ehrlich is the Bing Professor of Population Studies at Stanford. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a recipient of the Crafoord Prize, the Blue Planet Prize and numerous other international honors. Ehrlich investigates a wide range of topics in population biology, ecology, evolution, and human ecology and evolution. He is the author of numerous publications, including the best-selling book, The Population Bomb.