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Are You a Highlighter?

November 28th, 2014

pray-blog (2)First, thanks to Esther for last Friday’s post. We wish her well with sales of The Siege!

I was out Christmas shopping last weekend and made a donation to The Salvation Army. In return I was given  a copy of The War Cry. Glancing  through it when I got home I saw an article on e-readers and highlights that people make when they’re reading a novel. This got me thinking.

The short article was very cleverly targeted, starting off with a subject that might interest anyone, not just a religious person. It looked at how many times the opening passage from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice had been highlighted – to date 4491! And just in case anyone could have forgotten it:

It’s a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

It then went on to discuss other commonly highlighted passages such as this one from JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings:

The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out – 1631 highlights!

Apparently, The Hunger Games, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and all the Harry Potter books have thousands of highlights.  But enough of that – back to the point!

The article in The War Cry came back round to the number of highlights the most popular passage in The Bible had – 3899. The passage was quoted, and the article ended with a brief discussion of that particular passage and its relevance to readers.

You can see what the writer has done – they’ve taken a general interest topic but then put a twist on it that would make it appeal to the editor of The War Cry. They would probably be able to use the same idea for a woman’s  magazine (more emphasis on Jane Austen and Fifty Shades of Grey, perhaps);  a student magazine  (the use of such highlights for study purposes); or a literary  magazine. I’m sure you can come up with other alternative, too, if you put your thinking cap on.

But, that’s what you need to be able to do if you want to earn a living from your writing. All it takes is a bit of lateral thinking!

Next, if you’re a poetry lover, watch out for a new series of The Echo Chamber starting on Radio 4 on Sunday afternoon. As usual, Paul Farley will be presenting a series showcasing the best of the latest poetry. This week, apparently, it’s going to be ‘poems of extinction’.

And finally, don’t forget that our Flash Fiction Competition closes on 30th November so this is the last call for entries.  In my next blog I’ll be giving you the lowdown on what I enjoyed reading and what you should avoid if you decide to enter future Writers Bureau short fiction competitions. So don’t miss that!

My guest next Friday is Rebecca Boxall. She’s a Writers Bureau student who has just published her first novel and she’ll be explaining how to write about what you know in a style that’s  ‘you’.

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