Popular writing questions answered – shared to Quora from HTWB

I’ve been answering quite a few questions about writing, on Quora recently – and given that #HTWB is such a huge writing resource these days, it’s great to be able to share some of its expertise (and not just mine, but that of all contributors) to an even broader audience.

Questions on writing are being answered by Suzan St Maur and other contributors on How To Writer Better - a great resource for writing at all levels

Have you tried answering questions on Quora yet ?

Some of the questions on Quora are, er, interesting to say the least … it’s fascinating to see how some people expect answers to questions that are so vague and garbled. And it annoys me when responders sneer at such questions. Why not just respond by asking for more information so we can help more effectively? Grrrrr…

A few answers to questions about writing, on Quora, that could help you, too

Here is a selection from what I’ve been working on recently…

Where can I find direct clients for academic writing?

This was a hard one for me because I “disapprove” (gosh that makes me feel old!) of essay writing services that ghostwrite essays for students, thereby allowing them to pass their grades just by paying someone else to do it. Ergo, cheating. Here’s what I responded, as tactfully as I could…

I see from your profile that you’re already aware of Essay Writing Services and there are literally millions of them … just Googled that term and there were more than 44 million results.

I have very, very mixed feelings about these activities because to be blunt, if you get paid to ghostwrite an essay for a student you’re being paid to help them cheat, right?

Obviously I can understand that it’s tempting for young academic writers like you and could be a useful revenue stream, but to make it less dishonest, could you perhaps set yourself up as an academic writing coach to help students learn to write essays, etc. better themselves?

You might even find that you could get work from universities in your country (Pakistan?) to coach their students who need help with academic writing skills.

And at the end of the day, working in the ways I suggest would probably pay better, because you can bet your bottom dollar that those 44 million agencies pay very little for the hard work academic writers do for them.

NB: if you want some help on how to write good academic essays yourself (without taking yourself TOO seriously…LOL…) have a look here.

What are the benefits of video content marketing?

LOL … you know how “realistic” my views are on video marketing and as you could guess, fellow respondents here were keen to shove the absolute necessity of video marketing down everyone’s throats. I was a little more circumspect…

I can honestly say that I am genuinely unbiased here, because I write/create both video and text-based marketing communications!

Statistics showing what percentage of people prefer video content depend a lot on who has collated them, and why. The bottom line, though, is that some people absorb information faster and more easily via images, and some absorb it faster via text. Simple.

I, for one, feel irritated by the time it takes me to watch and listen to a video when I could absorb its content in half the time by reading a text transcript. But that’s because I read huge amounts of words in my job (and for leisure, too) and so read very fast.

A client of mine, on the other hand, hates reading words so much that he would prefer to have his shopping lists in video rather than in writing. Chacun à son goût.

Many canny bloggers, in particular, now do both – a video of themselves or someone else speaking the blog with appropriate illustrations, with a full transcript in text below.

You may find it interesting to read this article of mine, which goes into just what video IS good for, and what it isn’t, across most types of marketing communication. It could save you a lot of wasted time and money.

How does reading improve your writing skills?

I read more voraciously than a dinosaur eating Hollywood extras, so I deliberately restrained my response. Anyway the others’ responses were excellent so all I did was to add a little nugget…

Terrific answers so far! Another thing that reading does for me is to trigger ideas for my own writing – especially fiction in which I am a newbie (although I’ve had 35 nonfiction and humour books published so far.)

It’s very useful to analyse plots and sub-plots and see how other authors build suspense, create cliff hangers and various other devices to keep readers gripped. It’s also useful to warn you of some of the pitfalls, when you read a novel that disappoints you in some ways. Why did it disappoint you? How would you have written it better?

Finally, it’s a great way to learn how to create and sustain interesting characters, and to avoid making the classic newbie-novelist goofs like using too many adjectives and adverbs.

Have you tried answering questions on your own expertise area, on Quora?

It’s fascinating! And I daresay it’s not bad for your exposure on social media and all that – particularly when helping to grow your own “tribe.”

What do you think? Please share your views here.