An Idea A Day Tips

Read these 89 An Idea A Day Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Writer tips and hundreds of other topics.

An Idea A Day Tips has been rated 3.2 out of 5 based on 2764 ratings and 16 user reviews.

I want people to hear my opinions!

Very few traditional methods (such as printed newspapers and magazines) allow you to voice yourself unless you have been a consistent writer/journalist for an extended time. This is a tough route and not recommended, unless you already have years of experience in the field. Now is the time to embrace technology and blog your way to fame! Experienced bloggers know that in order to be successful, you have to write for OTHER PEOPLE. This means, at the most basic level, keeping your spelling, punctuation and grammar at an above-reasonable level. People will not consistently read your work if it is peppered with mistakes or hArD2rEEd!!1! Also, you have to choose a style and stick with it. Go to great lengths to get your blog noticed. RSS is a good tool to get a single blog onto a million pages. People want an informed opinion to rely upon when they read blogs so do your research before you shoot your mouth off. There's nothing better than a passionate blogger fighting to overthrow the system. Then again, theres nothing worse than a passionate blogger ranting unfounded allegations and generally making a big, ignorable mess! Treat your audience like adults and respect them as you write.

   

I want to write for the Washington Post! Or the London Times!

Very few people in this world write for the biggest national and international newspapers in the world, so keep your sights high, but realistic. The most sage advice you can get is to start from the bottom and work your way up. Begin at the local of localest news outlets. You can often get unpaid journalist experience, which is invaluable for when you want to step up a gear and write for better-known rags. Also, if you think you are genuinely talented, then you know the cliche: the cream always rises to the top! Keep trying. If you show determination and unfaltering grit, then you WILL get noticed, and once you are noticed, it's a question of consistency. Your career can only rise if you keep going.

   

Should I kill off my characters?

Killing a character should always be a last resort. Why? Because the death of one character will have more impact, more emotion, more everything you could want in a story than the death of thousands. Even if you are writing gruesome horror; keep the death count down, as the fewer deaths there are, the more impact they have on the reader. (Plus if you keep many of your characters alive, it will keep the reader guessing who could snuff it right until the end!)

   

I want to write epic fantasy!

Here's a tip: Everyone loves immersing themselves in a world, and escape reality, and a book is the fundamental way to do this. If you have created your own world, then write a tale set in it, but always remember your goal is to tell a story; not to inform the reader of the most minutae details of this world you have created. This is a common pitfall. If you let the physics of your world interfere with the story you are telling, then you have lost the reader. You need to engross them! Fantasy epics are full of thrilling adventures: Make sure your adventure gets priority over forcing your readers to acknowledge every detail of your own fantasy universe.

   

I have a lot of "he said"s and "she said"s in my writing. How do I combat this?

Writing with a lot of dialogue is certainly going to bring up the annoying repetition of the phrase "he/she/they/it said" but there are ways to avoid these pitfalls.
If there are only two characters speaking to each other, then you can dispense with the "he said"s by only putting it in the first lines of conversation. Providing they take it in turns to talk, your audience will be aware of who is talking at all times, and needn't be reminded who is talking. (Perhaps putting a "X said" every 5-10 exchanges would suffice)
Another was is to find synonyms for "said". But beware! If you put too many of these together your writing will look ridiculous and you will come off as pretentious. Several synonyms you could try are "he intoned" "she questioned" "Billy shrugged" "Joanna remarked" "Kevin shouted/yelled/screamed" "Helen moaned/wailed/sighed" A thesaurus is a useful tool for finding alternative words...but remember to limit this technique to as few times per dialogue as possible! And never repeat the same action on a single page. Trust me, if you read "Joanna shrugged" followed by "Billy shrugged", it will jolt you out of your engrossment of the book: Always a terrible error for any writer!

   

How do I write stories?

All good stories have three key aspects: idea, structure and imagination. Every story begins with an idea. Have a good idea? Then jot it down in a single sentence. The next step is to introduce a sctructure. This can be as simple as "beginning", "middle" and "end"; or as complex as you like (without it getting too muddled!). The structure is tough, but necessary, otherwise you might find your story trailing off or, even worse, leading you to a place you cannot get back from. I suggest creating a table of 3-5 parts, and you write short sentences in each asking yourself "what gets accomplished in this part?" Then, once your idea has order to it, let fly your imagination; using the structure as a simple reference guide to keep you steady and in the right direction!

   
How can I tell if a child has been molested?

Can You Recognize A Molested Child?

How to tell if your child has been molested. Are there tell-tale signs? Is it in the eyes? The movements? Things s/he says or does? Pictures s/he draws? Are there ways to tell? What can you do if you suspect? What if the child you suspect is not your own? Who do you tell - or do you tell?

   
How is my charity donation spent?

Where does your charity money go?

When you donate to local charities, do you assume your money is going to the needy? Do you think your money is used to buy the turkey for Thanksgiving or the Easter dinner? Is it used to pay phone bills, light bills, to buy new lighted signs, or for retirement presents for company employees? Are employees paid good wages, or is it run by volunteers? Does your Salvation Army pay top wages for bell-ringers or do people donate their time? (Watch for classified ads and the employment office for paid bell-ringers around Christmas time. Who supplies the outfit? Who keeps track of that donated money?)

   
How much does a hot air balloon cost?

Hot Air Balloons - making

What are hot air balloons made of? Are all baskets alike? What is the price of a hot air balloon? What's the price of a hot air balloon that is especially made - such as the Energizer Bunny or the Burger King hamburger? How much are the handlers paid -- or are they volunteers? How far do the handlers travel each year? How many festivals to they attend? Who foots that bill?

   
How can I follow someone without getting caught?

How to tail someone

How to tail someone without getting caught. How do local detectives do it? (For example, breaking a tail light on the victim's car so it shines white ahead of you. You'll be less likely to lose him if he gets too far ahead.) What other tricks of the trade are there? How to keep your brake lights or inside lights from coming on in the dark and giving you away.

   
Scanners Can Get You Free Items

Scanner policies

Are register scanners good for the customers? What you need to know when your items are scanned. What is the store policy if your item rings up wrong? Will they give you the product free or just change it to the correct price? Do you have to ask for it free, or do they do it automatically? If you buy 5 identical bars of soap and they each ring up wrong, do you get them all free? What if you have two items not related and they each ring up wrong? What does the store policy dictate? Does the amount of the purchase make a difference? (For instance, over or under $3.) Does the item itself make a difference? (For instance, alcohol or cigarettes.) Why do they make these differences? Do a comparison shopping chart of various stores and their scanner over-ring policies. If an item rings up wrong, does the store change it immediately or does the next customer pay the higher price, too - and maybe doesn't notice. Is this a scanner or a scammer?

   
Where can I find coupons?

Using Coupons

How using coupons can save you tons of money each month! How to collect them - where they're found (newspapers, magazines, hand-outs, inserts, mail - just to give you a start). Filing systems used by shoppers in your area - how to use them before they expire. What to do with unexpired coupons you don't use. (Donating to animal shelters, trading with friends, giving away).

   
Is it legal to use false name or a pen name?

Using a false name

The use of a pseudonym -- and what purposes you'd have for one. Is it illegal to use a false name? Especially with the Internet where you can be anybody and are encouraged to use a fake name -- a screen name -- does this encourage crime? How does it differ (or does it)? from movie stars who have a legal name and a star name. How does Sandra Dee (Alexandra Zuck) sign her legal papers? How did Archibald Leach (Gregory Peck) sign his checks?

   
Where can I double coupons?

Double Coupons

What stores in your area offer double coupons? If there are none, why not? How do store managers feel about double coupons and how can they make money from this? What are the limitations of double coupons? What is the reasoning behind only allowing customers to double coupons up to 50 cents or up to 75 cents? Do any stores double the entire face of the coupon? What if the coupon itself says, "not subject to doubling". Will they double it anyway? Should this be the decision of the store? How do stores get repaid for those coupons? Can you buy a can of Del Monte and use a Green Giant coupon? Is that why they're scanned in or does the scanner take it anyway? How many customers in your area use only a few coupons and how many (generally) use a handful. What are their average savings?

   
Should you snoop on your kids?

Snooping on your kids

Snooping in your kids' rooms? Is it invasion of privacy or good judgment? Should you read a diary? Should you read papers and notes or listen to phone conversations? Do you feel you need to? Where does invasion of privacy and good parenting run into each other? Using a police scanner to eavesdrop on cordless phone calls.

   
How can I tell if a child is being abused?

Signs of sexual abuse

Sexual abuse and your teenager - signs or warnings of abuse. Can it be handled within the family or must you tell authorities? What will happen to the child and to the offender if it's reported? How do you prove your suspicions? What to do if your child tells you he's being abused? Where do you go from here? Do you just not believe the child or are you in denial? What happens if you're wrong? What kind of proof do you need? What if you think a child other than your own is being abused? Who do you report it to and will you have to be brought into it?

   
How can I enhance my psychic powers?

Can You Really Talk To The Dead?

Can you talk to the dead? How can you enhance your powers? How do you know if you have any powers? Can powers be created or are you just born with them? Do you need any special items to speak to the dead? Do Ouija boards work? Seances? Are these types of things needed or can you just sit in your living room and converse? How can you become a medium?

   
What happens to confiscated items at school?

Confiscated Items

Confiscated items at school - when, if ever, are they returned? What kinds of items get confiscated and why? What are the most popular items? What is the most unusual? If the items are not returned, what happens to them? How expensive are these items? Have there been any lawsuits over getting the items returned?

   
What kinds of birds can I see in my area?

All About Birdwatching

What birds are available to watch in your area? What is the best kinds of foods to attract them? How can you create your own homemade recipes and what kinds of store-bought foods are available?

   
How can I hide my own information?

Hiding your own information

How can you protect yourself from having people find out things about you? What kinds of information have you already given out without realizing it? If you ran a check on yourself, what would you find? How can you run a check on yourself? Can you change anything you've found? Is the information correct? Is there a way to eliminate the information?

   
How can I save money on seasonal presents?

Shopping Thrift Store and Garage Sales for Seasonal Gifts

When a kid gets something new, it doesn't have to be brand spanking new. It may be used, but it's "new" to him! Give tips on buying gifts at garage sales, thrift stores, and mark-down sales. Just because you found a brand new in-the-box Barbie doll at a garage sale for $2.00 doesn't mean it isn't just as good as the one Aunt Marcie bought for $29.95 at a retail store. They're the same. Only you know what you paid. Children, especially, don't have to have brand new toys as long as they're in excellent shape. Give tips on what to watch for, what's trendy and what is always popular. Don't forget about checking on-line auctions and local auctions, too. Show how you can get a room full of toys and gifts for very little money - as compared to the same room full of toys and gifts bought at regular prices. Don't forget to mention to wrap all presents individually so it looks like a mountain of gifts. A pack of batteries would be a separately wrapped present, perhaps taped to the object it goes into.

   
How Can I Recycle to Save Money?

Recycling To Save Money

Ten (or more) things you can do to save money by recycling paper in your office. All that printer paper - you know the kind - the papers that print out with only one or two lines on them and you have no use for. Find a use. For instance, drawing paper for the kids, turn it over and use it for printing unimportant papers to file, cut it into stacks and use for scratch paper beside the computer ... how many more things can you come up with?

   
How can I cope with teenage driving?

Learning to drive

So, it's time for junior to learn to drive. Setting ground rules for driving - who's allowed in the car, curfews, setting a good driving example, focussing on driving, paying attention, and avoiding loud music. Who pays for insurance and gasoline? Drinking and driving, remaining ticket-free and crash-free (and the rules if he fails this), getting past the "I know, I KNOW, mom!"

   
Can I wear a flag as clothing?

Flag Etiquette

What is proper flag etiquette? When should your flag be raised and lowered? Is it correct to display a flag on clothing, on your car, on your window? Should you clean your flag? Should you repair your flag? How should you dispose of your flag? Is a flag pin or brooch proper?

   
What´s the best way to shop for sales?

How To Shop For Sales

What is the best way to shop for grocery sales? This is a good poll question for shoppers on the street. Here are some options:
1) Go to one store all the time and shop their specials.
2) Check all the sale papers, buy so much from one store, then go to the other store, and then another store until all my shopping is done. Do I lose money in gas?
3) Take all my sale papers to one store that offers to sell me the same items at the sale prices. What stores do this? (Hint: Wal-mart is one! and there are plenty others. Find them and tell your readers.) If three is the limit at one store, does that limit pertain here as well?

   
How can I return something I´ve had too long?

Getting back your borrowed item

What is a polite way to retrieve things that people have borrowed over the months or years? Should you be polite or is it worth a fight? What can you do if the person won't return it or it's returned damaged? What if you're the borrower? Are you too embarrassed to return an item you've had for too long? What would be a good way to return the item and save face? What if you lost the item and it cannot be replaced? What are the best ways not to get into this predicament?

   
How can I make my own cleaners?

Make Your Own Cleaners

Research for recipes to make your own basic cleaners - laundry detergent, scouring powder, floor cleaner, glass cleaner ... any cleaner you can think of. You might include bug repellents, air fresheners, or bleach products. How many kitchen products can you replace by making them yourself? Will they be safe?

   
Do restaurants in my area donate food?

Restaurants who donate to charity

What do restaurants do with unused food? Some fast-food restaurants throw away burgers and fries, untouched, after a 10-minute wait time. Why aren't these items donated to charity? Many hungry people may welcome a warmed up hamburger. How much food is being thrown away in your city each day? Is there a way to salvage this food? What about using this food for the animal shelter? How many restaurants throw away food at the end of the day - and what happens to it? Do some places allow employees to take home the leftovers - different employees take turns? What keeps them from cooking an overload so they'll have food to take home? How do restaurants keep the food usable if they do make donations?

   
Can I listen to my neighbors´ conversations legally?

Listening to conversations

How to listen to your neighbors' conversations via a police scanner. Can you break a digital phone's code so you can listen in? Is it against the law in your state -- or is it against the law only if you repeat the conversation? What if you hear a criminal act or the planning of a criminal act? Will you get in trouble for listening? Should you report it?

   
What are some remedies for toothache pain?

Toothache Pain

How to endure the pain of a toothache when you can't immediately get to a dentist - remedies and methods of relieving the pain. How to tell if you have a tooth that is infected, abscessed or can wait a while longer. What can happen if you keep putting off dental repairs for too long a time?

   
Why do people dumpster-dive?

Dumpster-diving in your city

Are their laws against it? Why do people dumpster-dive? Are they bargain hunters, needy people, flea market sellers, UPC rebate and refund people, or do they have other reasons? What are the best days for diving? What kinds of items can be found? Where are the best places? What are the consequences of getting caught -- or seen by friends? Grocery stores that throw away a whole carton of eggs if one egg is broken or throw away a whole bag of potatoes because one or two potatoes are rotting.

   
How can I preserve my family history?

Family history

Support your family history. Take this time to interview members of your family, especially the older ones, and ask for names and birthdates and places of birth of family members here and gone. Once these people are gone, it will be harder for you to construct your family tree. Start your notes now
with those that are still with you. Ask not only for history information, but for stories and other memories as well. Either write them down or use a tape recorder. Save the tapes as well as write
them into a scrapbook or memory book.

   
How is my donated money used?

Charity money rip-off

You've donated a prize or your hard-earned money to a local charity. Now what? How many charitable organizations celebrate the ending of the charity drive - and how is it celebrated? Do they use those donated prizes as door prizes at their celebration? Is the donated money used to fund their celebration? Did the businesses who donated the prizes know their prize was going to the fund-raisers or did they think it would be sold or auctioned off for money toward the charity? Talk to the low-end volunteers as well as the ones in charge. You may get two different stories. What kinds of records do they keep to show where the money is going? Can you publish these records? If not, why? Is it public record? Exactly what have they done with the past year's collected money? Who are the people in charge? How much are they paid? What do they do?

   
Why do stores not donate their unusable items?

Store donations

Stores that throw away good items that could be donated to needy organizations. Are there stores in your area that cut slits in shoes, then throw them away? (The slits would keep dumpster-divers from digging them out and returning them to the store for a refund.) Why aren't these shoes (or other items) donated to charity? For what reasons do stores throw away brand new, never used merchandise? Why don't the employees just take it home? Check grocery stores that throw away a whole carton of eggs when one egg is broken or dump a whole bag of potatoes because one or two potatoes have rotted. Could this food be donated to a local charity or soup kitchen? Why is it not donated?

   
What´s the best way to beat my opponent?

Be A Game Guru

What's your favorite game? Chess? Checkers? Spades? Scrabble? Wordox? On-line games? Board games? Card games? If you're a great player at any game, write a booklet, book or e-book about it. What are your best tips and strategies? Stategies of other great players? Explain what each piece or each character or button does, how to score more points, how to hinder your opponent, strategies for playing with partners, how to obtain extra lives in on-line games, and other important points. Give links or references to leagues, other players, various places to play games, tournaments, and accessories.

   
How do I use a geneology site?

Using genealogy sites

How using genealogy sites can help you investigate someone. What sites are available to find old friends and lovers? Go through the investigative process step-by-step to help someone find someone from their past. How easy is it? How hard? What are the obstacles? Did you find the person? How much did it cost? Were there ways around any fees? Were their sites you were not permitted to enter because of lack of credentials? What credentials were required? Are criminal records available online in your state? How long after inmate release do the records stay online? What information is available on the criminal records? Happy reunions with those you've located.

   
How can I have perfect teeth?

Teenagers and good teeth

Teenagers and good teeth. How to handle the remarks made by other kids when it's your kid with the braces. New developments in braces and comparable costs. Teens need good brushing techniques just as they did when they were kids. Interviews with dentists and tips from teens with perfect teeth.

   
Is there a good dictionary somewhere?

Need to know a definition?

Need a dictionary/Thesaurus? Go to dictionary.com.

   
How can my teen create his own job?

Creating your own job

Jobs for teens that they can create on their own. Teens in your area who have created and run their own businesses. Should teens be taught to work for themselves instead of working for the other guy? How to instill work values in your teen. Teens who volunteer to learn work skills.

   
How can I identify inhalant abuse?

Inhalant abuse

Inhalant abuse and your teen. What household items are considered inhalants and how do they affect a person? Why would a child do this? Signs and symptoms of using inhalants. Are they different from other kinds of drugs? What can you do to prevent it? Which products are worse on the brain?

   
How To Save Money Making Your Own Clothes

Make Your Own Clothes

To save money, would it pay you to take a sewing class? Is it worth buying a sewing machine? Compare the price of a store-bought dress or pantsuit and the price of a home-made dress or pantsuit. Give approximate prices of various materials per yard - perhaps a seasonal party dress or suit. What kinds of things can you make at home that don't usually come to mind? Underwear, for example. Compare cost and perfection of fit. Is it easier to sew for those of us who have a size 16 bottom and a size 18 top? What kinds of patterns are available, what sizes. How to make a pattern larger or smaller. What can you do with leftover material? How to make matching doll clothes.

   
How can I save money on seasonal decorations?

Create Your Own Decorations

Give specific directions to create your own ornaments, stockings, seasonal cards, gift wrap, gift tags, table decorations, place cards - anything to do with the season. It could be an e-book or booklet for a complete seasonal kit - Christmas kit, Easter kit, Valentine kit, Baby Shower kit, Football Season kit - anything and everything you need to have a complete holiday. All your items can be kept in one seasonal box (decorated for that season, of course).

   
How can I recognize a child molester?

Can You Recognize A Molester?

Is there a way to tell if someone you know is a molester? What kinds of things do you look for? Are there certain actions, movements, any tell-tale signs? Is every person who enjoys pornography a possible molester? Why or why not? Where does one draw the line? Is it a starting point?

   
How secure am I?

How Secure Are You?

What things are public record in your city? Is it really public? Try it and see! First, you or someone go in as an everyday citizen and ask for certain records - these can be records at the courthouse, sheriff's department, police department, wherever you choose. Use as many places as possible. You might want to make a chart. What records were available and what records were not. Then go in as a reporter. You need the same kinds of records. Were you able to get them? Finally, have someone with more prominent records -- a lawyer, a policeman, someone you think might be able to get such records -- and see if those same records are available. Who could get the records -- anyone, no one, some people? Are they "really" public records? Is there a way to make your records sealed? How well can you check out someone in your city?

   
How much does it cost to restore an antique car?

Antique cars

An antique car club in your area. How much does it cost
to restore an antique car? How old do they have to be to be considered an antique and what kind of tags are necessary? Getting parts and exact replicas for restoration. What are the current values of the cars? When does the club meet and what is its purpose? Do they charge for admission? Most car clubs do good things for the community -- what does yours do? Have
any of the members had wrecks in their antiques? How does this affect insurance -- does the insurance come through and pay more for an antique to be restored? How much more expensive is such insurance?

   
How can I learn to haggle?

How To Haggle

How many times have you been to a garage sale, saw an item you wanted for $5, but didn't buy it because you thought it was too high? In all probability someone else bought that item later for $4 or $3 or less - because they knew to haggle! When you go to garage sales, many items are marked up a little higher so the dealer can haggle (come down a little on the price). Learn to do this and you can save lots of money on items that are already at cheap prices! Just what do you say to haggle? What if the dealer comes back with another price, higher than my price, but lower than the original price? What if the dealer won't haggle! What's the best time to haggle? (Perhaps at the ending time of the sale, but seldom at the beginning!) How much can I lower the price so he won't feel insulted? How can buying a lot of items induce the dealer to lower his price? Interview shoppers and dealers and find out how they feel about haggling and if they do it. What is their success rate and what are their suggestions?

   
How are birthdays celebrated?

Birthday Celebrations

How do local well-knowns celebrate their significant other's birthdays? Is dinner out and flowers the norm? What did the sheriff's wife receive from the sheriff on her last (or past) birthdays? What about a local pastor?

   
How I can help my child save money?

Helping Kids Save Money

Speak with financial gurus for facts on how to make your child money savvy. How young should they be to have their own created job? Should they receive an allowance? Tips on teaching them to save this money or invest it and use it wisely. Should they be allowed to save their lunch money instead of eating with it? (Is this dangerous to their health?) Rewarding with money. How young should they be taught to use coupons? When should they have their first checking account or savings account? How about a Christmas club at the bank? What's the best way(s) to teach children the value of a dollar. Do we live by our own examples? Should your kid run around with a piggy bank asking for money to every visitor to your house?

   
How can passwords help my child?

Passwords Are Not Just For Computers

How to use passwords for your kids - even if a policeman or friend comes to your school to tell your child that you have been in a wreck or hospitalized - if the policeman or friend does not know the "password" for your child, how your child should not go with him or her unless the information is verified with someone else. What makes a good password and how often should it be changed? How this tactic could save a child's life.

   
How can I help my child get onto a baseball team?

Baseball tips

Interview baseball coaches in your area for tips on teaching little league players how to play ball. What equipment is absolutely necessary, prices, or used equipment availability. Is any equipment furnished? What about nutrition tips, eating before the game, drinking water, chewing gum? (Notice how many players have a round can of gum in their back pockets.) All about uniforms, making them fit, emblems, and how to get them clean. How to help your child not sit on the bench all season.

   
Do rats or mice make good pets?

Rats And Mice As Pets

Do rats and mice make great pets? Sure, they do! How many people in your area own rats or mice as pets? Can any of the pets do tricks? What kind? How popular are they, especially for apartment dwellers or people who have little space to own a pet. Visit www.arfma.org for tons of information on this subject to get you started. What is required to care for such a pet? Are they expensive? How long do they live?

   
How can I make a low-cost seasonal gift?

Create Your Own Seasonal Gifts

Need to give a gift and have little money? Create a coupon book for each recipient geared especially for their needs. Are you a hairdresser, writer, baby-sitter, seamstress or tailor, for instance? What personal craft or profession can you turn into a gift? Whatever it is, make a coupon booklet to give as a present with coupons to use all during the year. Show your readers how to create the booklet, various things to offer (especially time), decorating the booklet and giving it special touches. These are items that kids can give as well.

   
What is a price book and how do I use it?

Keeping A Price Notebook

A price notebook? What's that? It's a small notebook you can keep handy to take with you to the grocery store or retail store or produce market. In it, you keep a chart of the foods and brands you buy most often. Next to each food, you (in chart form) have the name of the store at the top, then column where you put prices. Today you go to Winn-Dixie and buy Sunbeam bread and Ball Park Weiners and milk. The next time you go to Albertson's, you check the Sunbeam bread, Ball Park weiners and milk. You jot down the prices each time. As your list grows, your chart grows and before long you'll know who has the best prices and where. Sale prices do not count - you'll check them in sale papers. This way, you can always get the best items for less. Create a chart that people can tear out and use or one that will give them their own ideas.

   
How can I tell if I am addicted to the internet?

Internet Addiction

How does internet addiction compare to addictions such as alcohol or gambling? Can any of the same rules be applied? How does one become addicted to the internet? Are there symptoms? Are there cautions? Cite some court cases where parents have neglected their children while they surfed the net, for example.

   
Where can I find a bargain?

Finding local bargains

Where can you find bargains in your town? Check out Goodwill stores (how many are available in your city?), Salvation Army Thrift Stores, mission stores - any stores that accept donations for re-sale. Can you spot any "real" bargains? Give specific items and prices. Are they in good shape? Find any items that were worth a small fortune - but you got for a bargain?

   
How can I cover my tracks when I´m on a computer?

Covering your tracks on a computer

How to cover up your tracks when you've been to places on the computer you don't want people to know about. How to send emails that can't be traced. When you use a screen name, then dump it -- is it really dumped? Can it be found somewhere on your computer to tell on you? How to "hide" folders and files by burying them in other folders or making them invisible.

   
Should I clean my state quarters?

State Quarters

Are locals collecting the state quarters? Who has the biggest collection so far - how many sets can they boast? Are the sets for relatives or for sale later? Which is the most popular quarter? Which quarter has had the shortest run? How will short-run quarters effect the collections? For what price are quarters selling? Are they hard to get? What is the difference in quarters in your change, at the bank, or in mint condition? What is the best way to save your quarters? Tips on cleaning (if you should), storing, or searching for state quarters.

   
What is refunding all about?

Refunding for fun and profit

Learn how to refund to save and make money! What kinds of items can you refund? Where can you obtain refund forms? How to approach a delivery man or a store manager for refund forms. Has refunding popularity declined over the years or is it more popular than ever? How long do you have to wait for a refund? What's a coufund? Can you get around the "one to a household" rule?

   
How can I tell someone she can´t borrow from me?

Lenders and borrowers

Never a lender nor a borrower be ... but if you are ... how to teach your kids that when they borrow, they must return. How to say no when someone wants to borrow something. Can you do it without making that person mad? What are some alternative answers you can give when someone wants to borrow from you? What are some ways to teach your kids to return items in a reasonable length of time?

   
How can I get assistance?

How to get assistance in your area

What is required to get assistance? What do you have to go through, what papers do you need, what are income requirements, how long does it take to get food stamps, WIC, or any other kind of assistance? Do you have to have kids? Are there age or disability requirements? What kinds of assistance are available? Where can you go to get your heating bill paid or to get emergency food? Is housing available? Is there a waiting list and how long might you have to wait? What do you do in the meantime? How many ways can you find to get food and what are the qualifications? (For instance, Salvation Army food vouchers, local soup kitchens, government cheese/food give-aways, local food cupboards, food stamps, etc.) How often can you get assistance?

   
How can I create a coupon table at my grocery store?

Starting a Coupon Table at Your Grocery Store

Can you undertake the creating of a "coupon table" at your grocery store? How to approach the manager with your idea. Upkeep of the table. Is there a way to keep it orderly and up to date? Weeding through to get rid of expired coupons. How often should you check the table? Where can you get a table or will the manager supply it? What can you do to make your table more interesting and encourage people to use it? Is this a plus for a store manager or a headache? What kinds of coupons should NOT be left on your table (or bin). How big should it be? Can you have board behind it with refund forms attached?

   
How can I get important papers replaced?

Replacing important papers

When you need important papers and you don't have them anymore, how do you get replacements for social security, birth certificates, car title, insurance papers? How long does it take to get them? How much does it cost? (If you live out of state, it may cost you $10 or more to have your birth certificate sent to you, in addition to the cost of the certificate. Why? If priority mail is $3.50, why does it cost any more?) When you have to order a paper out of state, how do you prove who you are by mail? What do they do with any copies you send to them? Is it on file for anyone to see - or take? Who is allowed to get copies of any of this information? Are faxed copies allowed? (If not, why?) Can any of these important papers be obtained/sent on-line? If so, which ones?

   
Where can I find the best deals on-line?

Save Money Online

Research for sites that can save you money - find places to save on cars, appliances, books, gifts, car parts - a list of categories and a list of sites. What kinds of payments to they take - perhaps you could include payment sites as well - those with the cheapest interest or finance charges.

   
What can my kid do this summer for a job?

Summer Jobs For Kids

What are kids in your neighborhood doing for jobs this year? Is lawn mowing a favorite? Have computer tutorials taken over? Is anyone doing a neighborhood newspaper or walking dogs? You might want to advertise and even offer the kids a free ad if you use them in your story (although the story will be plenty of free advertising!).

   
Who pays for student uniforms?

Uniforms In Local High Schools

Students who wear uniforms - sports, bands, choirs and other events - and how they are used year after year. Who pays for the uniforms? Where are they kept? Most popular sizes. How are they kept clean? Who does the repair work on them? Who pays for that repair work? Who designed the uniforms? Any changes coming up soon? Are the students happy with the uniforms? What is the cost of the uniforms - individually and collectively? What happens to uniforms worn by celebrity students? Are any uniforms on display - and why?

   
How can I keep my teen from smoking?

Teenagers and smoking

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 90% of all smokers begin the habit during their teen years. Are there ways to help your teen ignore the "coolness" of smoking? Is smoking on the rise or is it decreasing, especially now that much of the media has cut down the advertising. Has it helped? Do teens steal to get the money to buy cigarettes or steal the cigarettes themselves? Or do most teens just "bum" a cigarette from friends to continue their habit? How can you encourage your child not to smoke or to quit smoking?

   
What´s the difference between a refund and a rebate?

Refunds or Rebates?

What's the difference between refunds and rebates? Which is more popular? Where can you find refund forms and rebate forms? Do you have to always have a form or can you submit your refund or rebate without one? What else is required? Is it worth the savings after you pay for postage and the envelope? What is the wait time for your refund or rebate to arrive? When it says "one to a household", do they make allowances for families who have one person as opposed to families with 5, 6, 7 or more? What are proofs of purchase and what's the best way to save them? Will it cause bugs if you have empty wrappers lying around for months?

   
How can I do a background check on someone?

Doing a background check

How to do a background check on someone. Are there ways to find out things without paying out a lot of fees? What can you really find on the computer about your neighbor or friend? What can you find at your local courthouse or police station -- and is the information readily available to anyone? If not, what is required? What about all the advertising you see that says you can find out about anyone? Can you? What's the average cost (if any) and just what kinds of things can you find out?

   
What can I do if I think my mate is cheating?

Is Your Mate Cheating on You?

Do you have reason to think your mate is cheating on you? What are the tell-tale signs of cheating? When you think you have something, do you face-off immediately and acuse or collect your evidence, then spread it all out on the table and talk about it? Or do you go right to a lawyer? What are the best ways to collect "evidence" and what kind of evidence is "good"? What is admissible in court and what do you need as "proof"? For what reasons can a divorce be filed - have reasons changed over the years? How have divorce laws changed in your state?

   
How can I help my teen get his first job?

Getting that first job

Preparing for that first job - what companies hire teens? Do teens make good employees? Is there a large turnover or do teens last through the summer or for several years? Do employers discriminate against teens and prefer older, mature employees or do they look at teens as the leaders of tomorrow? Teens in your area who have worked in the same place for a long period of time - or have worked their way up the ladder of success.

   
How can I make flavored shaved ice at home?

Making Shaved Ice

A summer cooler is flavored (or not) shaved ice. How can you make your own? From Pampered Chef to children's toys, the various items available for making your own snow cones and shaved ice. What can be frozen to make the ices? Plain ice, Kool-Aid, punch, colas - think of some easy ones, colorful ones, tasty ones - how can you make watermelon, banana, orange and other flavors? What kinds of cups or paper cones are available? What is the cost of making these delicious treats?

   
How can I have perfect teeth?

Teenagers and good teeth

Teenagers and good teeth. How to handle the remarks made by other kids when it's your kid with the braces. New developments in braces and comparable costs. Teens need good brushing techniques just as they did when they were kids. Interviews with dentists and tips from teens with perfect teeth.

   
How can I start a coupon club in my area?

Coupon Clubs

How to start your own coupon club - where to meet, how often, rules and regulations, how to bring and submit your coupons (usually in file boxes, sorted by category), can you take as many as you want or exchange one for one, how to advertise for members, how long do meetings last, announcements, will you include refund and rebate forms. How to start chapters in various parts of your city. Can your city sponsor a convention some day? How is that handled?

   
How can I decide the best way to distribute gifts?

Gift Giving Decisions

Interview various families - especially big ones. How do they handle their gift giving? Does one person give everyone in the family a gift, do they draw names, do they select who gets gifts and who doesn't? How does it work? If they draw names, do they each pick one name and buy for that person? Do they each bring a same gender gift, then choose a gift of their own gender? Do girls exchange names with girls, boys with boys? How many variations can you offer your readers?

   
How can I find a real pen pal?

Getting A REAL Pen Pal

How to get a "pen" pal - a writing buddy from within prison walls. Why would you want to? Is anyone not allowed to have mail? How is the mail censored? What is not allowed in? What is not allowed out? Is there a limit to the mail - the number of letters that can be sent or received? Are there any taboos or rules for letter writing? What's a DC number and can you get a letter to someone in jail if you don't know the correct address? How can you get the correct address? Are there pen pal programs available and who sponsors them? Are there any rules? What about the fear of wondering what might happen when your pen pal gets out?

   
How to get assistance

How to get assistance in your area

What is required to get assistance? What do you have to go through, what papers do you need, what are income requirements, how long does it take to get food stamps, WIC, or any other kind of assistance? Do you have to have kids? Are there age or disability requirements? What kinds of assistance are available? Where can you go to get your heating bill paid or to get emergency food? Is housing available? Is there a waiting list and how long might you have to wait? What do you do in the meantime? How many ways can you find to get food and what are the qualifications? (For instance, Salvation Army food vouchers, local soup kitchens, government cheese/food give-aways, local food cupboards, food stamps, etc.) How often can you get assistance?

   
How can I cure acne?

Acne treatments

Newest acne treatments available, how to keep clear skin, why some teens have perfect skin and other don't - is it in the genes? Best ways to "cover" those blemishes without causing more. The myths of what makes bumps or makes them worse, like certain foods, "catching" acne, or dirt. What really does make acne worse. Step-by-step action for helping acne disappear.

   
How can I find out where my children have been on the computer?

How to be a computer detective

How can you be a detective when your child uses the computer? What are the ways you can check to see where your children have been? Are there certain programs that will give you this information? Are there things on your computer right now where you can look to see where people have been? (Perhaps histories, folders, spam and downloads.) How to set up a checklist of computer folders to see where your child, co-worker, or mate has been.

   
How can I create my own booklet?

101 Uses For ...

Pick an appliance or item and see how you can enhance it and write about it. For instance, the Tupperware steamer. (Or your favorite kitchen item.) How many recipes can you create for it? What else can you use it for? Are there special tips for cleaning it? Have you found other uses for it than steaming? Perhaps you have a vacuum packer. How many ways can you use it? Is it just for foods? What else can you keep fresh, and for how long? Does it need special cleaning? How portable is it? Find an item you like and create 101 or more uses for it.

   
How do I write a short fictional piece?

Begin with What You Know

The easiest way to create a piece of short fiction is to take some of your own life experiences and embellish them. Create a plot revealing a conflict that needs to be resolved. Try writing in first person point of view so at least one of your characters will be under your complete control because you will be writing about what 'you' as the character does. Develop your other characters; get to know them well even if you don't use the details in your story. Create an interesting setting using details that make your story believable because you are writing about places you know.

To keep your fiction short, don't use long descriptive passages, a long introduction, or extensive dialogue. Plunk the reader down in the middle of the action. If you are writing short, flash or micro fiction, don't use subplots. Stick to the main story and keep it moving with colorful images, snappy dialogue, and active verbs.

   
How can I write to a celebrity in jail?

Celebrity Prisoners' Mail

How much mail do celebrity prisoners get? (Celebrity prisoners are prisoners who made big news during their trials or were celebrities before they were imprisoned.) For instance, Robert Blake, Charles Manson, or the Menendez brothers. Do they write back? Are their signatures worth more or less than celebrities that are not imprisoned? What kinds of mail do they get? (Religious, fans, girls looking for marriage ...)

   

What's the best way to write intense fiction (i.e. horror, sexually explicit, etc.)

If you want to write words that pack a punch, the most invaluable thing to remember is that it is not the words themselves that have impact, but rather the IMAGES they conjure up in the reader's mind. If you are writing a gruesome horror, then describing every single detail about a mutilated-zombie-feasting-off-the-flesh-of-the-living is just going to be boring. Why? Because it leaves nothing to the reader's imagination! The best horror is IMPLIED horror. Make your reader aware that the zombie is eating the poor soul. Their own imagination can take it from there, so long as you imply what is happening, rather than explicitly say so. A clever technique, and one that Stephen King frequently uses, is to give a point-of-view description of the horrific scene where the viewer can only see a small fraction of the event. Once you have what the viewer sees, your own imagination is limitless and it creates a infinite landscape of gruesome possibilities. Far better than being told every single detail of what's going on! Similarly with sexually explicit material, it is the implication that can conjure more intense imagery in the reader's mind, rather than the outright description, which will never live up to the same expectations: In conclusion, you have to ask yourself, which is more powerful, the printed word or the reader's mind? And it's the latter every time.

   

How do I keep my readers engrossed?

Never make a sentence too long. The human eye needs to rest frequently, so a sentence should rarely be over three lines of the page. It is more dramatic to use short sentences if you are writing thrilling action. The shortness and succinct sentence writing is a fantastic tool employed by writers; Agatha Christie used a special structure of gradually decreasing sentence length throughout a paragraph, which encouraged the reader to subconsciously read faster: when the reader's eye was trained to read as fast as humanly possible, she would stop the action dead, similar to a climax in a movie when the music stops suddenly before the big finale, and this technique would make the reader yearn to read more. Write to lure your readers in! If it interests you, it will interest someone else, so always keep it interesting. Finally, always keep the reader guessing and asking questions. The ideal achievement you can have is by making the reader not want to stop reading for a second.

   

What is the best way to introduce a journalism piece?

The key is to get your reader interested from the first line. Write a line that you know someone would read first, and then ask themself "why?" For example, if you were to write that Pizza Place makes the best pizza in town, the first line would goad the reader into thinking "WHY is it the best pizza place in town?" and then you have them hooked. They will want to read on simply to answer the question you have made them ask themselves.

   
How can I help my teen with depression or suicidal tendencies?

Depression and suicide

Dealing with teen depression or suicidal actions. Is it treatable or preventable? How? Warning signs of a suidal or depressed teen. What to do if you think your teen is depressed. What if you can't afford a professional therapist? What can you do at home to help?

   
Are some charities a rip off?

Charity stores in your area

How do the Goodwill/Salvation Army Thrift/Mission stores work? What happens to the items when they are donated? (You might want to donate a week's time to working there to get an inside view.) Do workers take the "good" items home? Do any workers let relatives and friends in on the good donations - and let them cart them out the back door or mark down the price for them at check-out? Do any employees use on-line auctions to make money on their "finds"? Are yard sale leftovers donated on a regular basis? Are trucks available to come pick up the stuff? Does it all make it back to the store?Who determines the "monetary amount" of charitable donation for your taxes? Since these items are donated, why are prices "set" and not allowed to be haggled? Is any price a profit if the item was donated?

   
How can I encourage my teen to wear his or her glasses?

Teenagers and wearing glasses

Teenagers and glasses - designer glasses and contacts. Are they for your child? Who can wear contacts? Self-esteem and glasses. Poll boys and ask them if they'll make passes at girls who wear glasses - and ask the girls if they'll make passes at boys who wear glasses. Are glasses a sign of a geek? How to teens view glasses today? Do prescription sunglasses seem to make a difference in attractiveness? Why is there a difference in shaded and clear? Glass and plastic lenses. Glasses accessories such as cases and bands and decorations on the lenses themselves or the frames. Can anyone wear contacts? What are the dangers? Making glasses more attractive.

   
How do I find a unit price of an item?

How To Find Unit Prices

How do you know you're saving money? Take a calculator with you to the grocery store and calculate the unit price. What is the formula for finding the unit price? Although some stores post these prices on their shelves, many of these prices fall off, are under the wrong product, or were just never there. Learn to do it yourself so you can save money. You may find out that bulk is not necessarily cheaper. Give some specific examples. Comparison shop at a warehouse and at a general grocery store. Were unit prices better at some stores or the same? Take a poll to see how many people know how to find a unit price - and don't take their word - ask them to do it!

   

Should I write for myself, or an audience?

If you love writing and simply want to write stories, then by all means write for yourself. But remember, writing is there to be read, and if you want others to read your writing, then you must work to an audience. The other benefits include helping you keep focused on your writing, as you will constantly ask yourself, "what would my audience enjoy here?" The key is to imagine your target audience. What would they want? Would they want short, witty speech, or long, elegant Shakespearean dialogue? Either way, once you have chosen, it allows you to be creative within the realm of your specified style. So, ideally, if you want people to read your work, imagine what kind of people you would want read it... and write for them!

   
Not finding the advice and tips you need on this Writer Tip Site? Request a Tip Now!


Guru Spotlight
Lynda Moultry