How to Stand Out in the Slush Pile

How to Stand Out in the Slush Pile

Standing out in the slush pile is one of the key ways to get published as a freelance writer, novelist, or poet! When you send story ideas or book proposals to editors and publishers, you need to float to the top – and stay there.

Do you want to know how to get published? New research reveals one way to get people to remember your writing; it’s a tried-and-true literary technique.

“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.” – C.S. Lewis.

Fellow scribes, don’t worry about being original. Focus on being authentic and honest. Here’s a tip for standing out in the slush pile, which is from new research about making readers remember your writing.

How to Stand Out in the Slush Pile

Alliteration doesn’t just make you a better writer or your writing fun to read – it can make your writing easier to remember. Why is this important? Yikes, where do I start?!

If editors, publishers, and readers don’t remember your book titles, subtitles, and ledes, then they won’t give you writing assignments, publish your books, or become a fan of your writing. The more you stand out – and not in the article-query-on-purple-paper “Look at me! Look at me!” way – the more successful you’ll be as a freelance writer.

How Alliteration Improves People’s Memory

In one recent study, participants read works of poetry and prose with alliterative sentences to show the importance of repetitive consonants on memory (this was conducted by researchers R. Brooke Lea of Macalester College, David N. Rapp of Northwestern University, Andrew Elfenbein and Russell Swinburne Romine of University of Minnesota and Aaron D. Mitchel of the Pennsylvania State University and published in July 2008).

The result? Alliteration improves memory.

Past research has shown that alliteration improves memory more than imagery or meaning. So, whether you’re memorizing writing tips or your grocery list, make sure you incorporate a lot of alliteration. Alliteration may retrieve similar sounding words and phrases from a person’s memory, which makes it a useful tool for memorization and poetry comprehension.

Alliteration in Article Titles

How to Stand Out in the Slush Pile

How to Stand Out in the Slush Pile

If you’re lucky enough to have a name like Peter Parker or Walt Whitman, your chances of being a successful writer may increase because you may be more likely to be remembered. But, if you’re unlucky enough to be saddled with a name like Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen (no alliteration), you may want to start thinking about using alliteration in your article and book titles.

The first article I ever sold was to alive magazine; it was called “The Upside of Ulcerative Colitis.” Is it a coincidence that the title contained alliteration? Maybe. But, one of the most popular types of article is the “Top Ten” lists – another example of alliteration in action.

Before you can stand out in the slush pile, you need to know how to find the courage to write.

Fellow scribes, do you have any tips on standing out in the slush pile? A well-written query letter is the best way to attract an editor’s attention…but learning to write and pitch queries that shine is a full-time job!

Source: “The Power of Peter Piper: How Alliteration Enhances Poetry, Prose, and Memory.” ScienceDaily. July 31, 2008.

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