Writing advice from a success story

You may not have heard of writer Lynn Vincent, but it’s possible you’ve read one or more of her New York Times bestsellers. Millions of people have seen her name on the cover of several bestsellers but probably did not notice.

Vincent is a collaborative writer, and you’ll find her name in the small print just below the author’s name. For instance, in the book Never Surrender by former US Army Special Forces Commander and founding member of Delta Force LTG. (ret) William G. Boykin, you’ll find just beneath his name “with Lynn Vincent.”

She collaborated with Boykin to put in his own words his fascinating stories of military history. And Vincent is a very good collaborative writer as I read two of her works and thought I was reading the words of the headliner author. Perhaps you too have read one of her books. She has collaborated on six books and a seventh is about to hit the bookshelves.

Among these are: Same Kind of Different as Me, Heaven is for Real and Sarah Palin’s book, Going Rogue.

Vincent spoke on Feb. 16th at the “16th Annual Writer’s Symposium by the Sea” at Point Loma Nazarene University, located seven blocks from my home in San Diego. At the conclusion of her workshop on collaborative writing, she gave us a handout to help us get on with our career, should we want to do collaborative writing.

Her handout suggests we do three things to improve our writing skills: Read, study and write, a worthy plan for any kind of writer.

First Vincent says, “Read widely and also read deeply in the genre in which you hope to collaborate.”

Second, she says, study. “Take writing classes or undertake a program of self-study.”

This is the part of her three suggestions I want to share with you since it comes from such an accomplished, well-recognized, successful writer.

The handout provided a synopsis on the four books that have helped her writing career the most. She suggests we read these four books to self-educate ourselves into becoming better readers:

  • Write Away by Elizabeth George: This book on novel-writing will help you bring the elements of fiction – such as characterization, setting, dialogue and suspense – to your nonfiction writing.
  • How to Tell a Story by Peter Rubie and Gary Provost: This book covers critical elements of both fiction and nonfiction storytelling such as conflict, structure and writing in scenes.
  • On Writing Well by William Zinsser: A classic guide to writing tight, crisp nonfiction in any category.
  • The Art and Craft of Feature Writing by William E. Blundell: …is indispensable in the library of a storyteller. It delves not only into the writing craft, but also into research, pacing, sourcing and how to develop a story from various angles.

I own and have read On Writing Well and join her in recommending the book to you. I am not familiar with the other three but intend to check them out at my local library soon.

Vincent’s third admonition to writers: WRITE. “Don’t think about writing. Just write.”

Continuous practice of your craft, and continuous education and training is necessary to become a really good writer with lots of readers.

That is why we offer excellent training for active and aspiring citizen journalists once they become members of the National Association of Citizen Journalists. We offer online writing courses with the following titles:

  • How to Write News Stories
  • How to Write a Sport Article
  • How to Write Headlines, Edit Copy, Use AP Style and Avoid Libel
  • How to Write a Feature Article
  • How to Conduct an Interview
  • How to Generate Story Ideas

Get started today. Take advantage of these online courses now! More information is available at www.nacj.us.

Read, study and write, and you too may one day be a New York Times bestselling author.

Dr. Ross is the co-author of Handbook for Citizen Journalists and the co-founder of the National Association of Citizen Journalists.