Rich Writing for Riches


Rich writing can bring riches to those who want to retire from the rat race early.  See how planes can help you do this.


Glorious old plane.


Fantastic new plane.

Few industries have changed as rapidly as aviation and publishing.  Yet there is one huge difference.

The publishing industry is going through one of the largest shifts since the invention of the printing press and this shift favors the independent writer – self publisher. Changes in aviation favor big business instead.

We can use airplanes though to learn how to sell enough to make us rich! One part of book selling is to write compelling stories.

We give subscribers to our online Self Publishing courses assignments that help them write better.

Here is a sample from a recent self publishing lesson that focuses on airplanes.

This exercise will help you learn how to enrich the fabric of your story.

The book  “Torpedo Squadron Four –  A Cockpit View of World War II” was written  by Gerald W. Thomas and is offered as a Kindle book by

Thomas describes the purpose of his book as:  This document presents a view of WWII as seen from the cockpit of a torpedo plane and the later rehashed in the Ready Rooms of three aircraft carriers. The focus is on the activities of one squadron, Torpedo Four (VT-4).  When we lost a squadron member, we did not have time to mourn the loss because of the continual pressures of the ext combat operation. This historical record compiled 60 years after the end of WWII, is one way to recall and acknowledge those who made the sacrifice.

This may not be a book that Thomas wrote “for the buck”.  Instead I suspect that for 60 years this story was inside him and he just had to get it out.

Because I was never involved in a major military conflict, I do not think  I can truly understand the feeling of surviving and the mourning of the ones lost… the buddies… the best friends… the multitudes who were lost… missing and their fate so often unknown.

I make this observation as the son of a wounded veteran who survived invasions including Iwo Jima.   My dad appreciated every day he lived… any small thing he gained from life.   Just being alive was the miracle.

He never spoke much nor dwelled on his year at war but was never able to forget his battle buddies who did not make it. Then in his last years… as his mind slipped just a little… he could not recall all their names…  the guilt  began to overwhelm him… a gathering gray cloud hiding his more normal positive attitude.  “I have had this great life and they (my friends) have been gone all these years”… was his growing refrain.

I’ll be presumptive and guess that Gerald W. Thomas was feeling somewhat the same and this book was written as a personal memorial for his lost buddies.  He did not care much about making a profit on this book.   This was a labor of love.

My comment is “Well Done! Mr. Thomas”.  This is a thoroughly researched and accurate historical document that helps describe the war from an aircraft pilots’ point of view.

Yet this book was not a compelling read.  Mr. Thomas accomplished his task and should be proud. You cannot help but honor a man who flew repeatedly into heavy aircraft fire for what he believed in.   However the book’s prose… the nature of the human mind and the growing competition for a reader’s attention suggest that this book will not spread in a viral way (the dream of every writer who writes to earn).

We can use the power of his writing to see how to enrich the fabric of any story we may write.

“Torpedo Squadron Four” is a compelling historical document but it is not told in a story-like form.  This makes it hard on the reader and makes it more likely that the book will be put down before it is fully read much less referred to others.

Often reality is better served embellished… if the purpose is to hold the attention of the reader, to get him to recommend the story and to get the reader to buy more of the author’s books.

Gerald Thomas did a great job with this book but I suspect that sales will be limited.  The booked served its purpose as a memorial but not as a profit generator.

We can use this thought to become better story tellers by enriching the fabric of one part of Thomas’s story.

The passage we’ll work with describes the type of plane that Torpedo Squadron Four  originally flew… Douglas TBD Devastator, which was very slow and vulnerable.  Torpedo bombing was dangerous enough. The bomber had to dive right into a gunner’s sites and remain in that mode flat and level for a period that must have seemed (and was) far too long.

Wikipedia describes the plane:  The Douglas TBD Devastator was a torpedo bomber of the United States Navy, ordered in 1934, first flying in 1935 and entering service in 1937. At that point, it was the most advanced aircraft flying for the USN and possibly for any navy in the world. However, the fast pace of aircraft development caught up with it, and by the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the TBD was already outdated. It performed well in some early battles, but in the Battle of Midway the Devastators launched against the Japanese fleet were almost totally wiped out. The type was immediately withdrawn from front line service, replaced by the Grumman TBF Avenger.


Thomas describes the replacement to the TBD with a newer plane the Grumman TBF Avenger.

Wikipedia describes this plane:  The Grumman TBF Avenger (designated TBM for aircraft manufactured by General Motors) was a torpedo bomber developed initially for the United States Navy and Marine Corps, and eventually used by several air or naval arms around the world.

It entered U.S. service in 1942, and first saw action during the Battle of Midway. Despite losing five of the six Avengers on its debut, it survived in service to become one of the outstanding torpedo bombers of World War II. Greatly modified after the war, it remained in use until the 1960s.


Grumman Avenger

Here is what Thomas wrote:

Conversion to the Grumman “Avenger”

The ranger returned to Quonset Point Rhode Island. in March 2942. where the first TBF (Grumman Avenger) was assigned to the squadron.

April and May were spent with the Grumman factory representative working out the bugs in the new monstrosity.

Torpedo squadrons on the USS Enterprise (VT-6), the USS Yorktown (VT-3) and the US Hornet (VT-8) received TBFs -1s about the same time as did VT4.  a land based contingent of  Torpedo

All of the carrier based TDBs were shot down by the Japanese and only one of six land based TBFs was able to limp back to the Midway strip.

Most VT-4 pilots were still flying the old TDBs by the end of July; even the on September 8, 1942, “the squadron went abroad and qualified in deck landings in the TBf.”  

The Avenger was the largest single engine plane built for Navy combat duty early in WWII. The first TBFs designed by Grumman had a top speed of 271 MPH and a ceiling of 22,400 feet.  Defensive armaments consisted of one.50 caliber machine gun on the the starboard side of the cowling fired by the pilot and a .30 caliber machine gun in the belly set to fire aft.

Gruman eventually contracted the production of the Avenger to General Motors and the TBF became known as the TBM.

Now let’s look at a another way to describe such a plane.

“The Twilight Warriors” was written by Bob Gandt. This book tells the story of the deadliest battle of WWII, the invasion of Okinawa.  “At  the heart of this story are the real life heroes of Air Group 10.”

“The Twilight Warriors” was given the  RADM Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Naval Literature and the author, Robert Gandt, was honored by the Naval Order of the United States at a ceremony at the Racquet & Tennis Club on Park Avenue, New York City, November 2011.

The prize is named for the late Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison, a Harvard University history professor widely considered to be America’s most distinguished naval historian.

This award in my opinion comes not only from the great historical accuracy but because this history is presented in such a compelling form.

The Twilight Warriors relives the drama of the world’s last great naval campaign. From the cockpit of a Corsair fighter we gaze down at the Japanese task force racing to destroy the American amphibious force at Okinawa.

Gandt uses three important techniques to make this a compelling read….impossible to put the book down.

The first compelling technique is that Gandt personalizes the story.   All great stories are about a sympathetic character striving for a worthwhile goal.

The story of The Twilight Warriors is personalized as it is seen through the eyes of the Tail End Charlies.

The specific persona that holds the story together is one among the Tail End Charlies… a 22-year-old former art student who grows to manhood on the day of his first mission over Japan and his best friend, a ladies’ man and intrepid fighter pilot, whose life abruptly changes when his Corsair goes down off the enemy shore.

Here is an excerpt from the Prologue of “The Twilight Warriors” that creates this group and the specific persona from the very first page:

Alameda Naval Air Station, California
19 February, 1945

It was late, nearly ten o’clock, but the party was going strong. You could hear them singing a hundred yards down the street from the officers’ club.

I wanted wii-iings
‘til I got the goddamn things,
Now I don’t want ‘em anymoooore . . .

Getting plastered before deployment was a ritual in the wartime Navy, and the pilots of Bomber Fighting 10 were no exception. It was the night before their departure aboard the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid. The entire squadron had suited up in their dress blues and mustered in the club for their farewell bash.

The party began like most such occasions. Pronouncements were made, senior officers recognized, lost comrades toasted. The liquor flowed, and then came the singing. It was a form of therapy. For the new pilots, the booze and the bravado and the macho lyrics masked their anxieties about what lay ahead. For the veterans, the singing and the camaraderie brought reassurance. Most knew in their secret hearts that they’d been lucky. They’d lived through this much of the war. There were no guarantees they’d make it through the next round.

Leaning against the bar and clutching his drink, Ens. Roy “Eric” Erickson bellowed out the verses of the song. Erickson was a gangly 22 year old from Lincoln, Nebraska. He was one of the new pilots in the squadron. They called themselves “Tail End Charlies.” They flew at the tail end of formations, stood at the tail end of chow lines, and now they were catching the tail end of the war. They’d spent the past year and a half training to be fighter pilots. Their greatest fear, they liked to boast, was that the war would be over before they got there.

The Tail End Charlies stared at the map. They knew some of the place names–Shikoku, Kyushu, Okinawa. Until today that’s all they were, just names. Now reality was setting in. Those places on the map–the ones with the hard to pronounce names–were where they would see their first combat.

But there was more. What none of them yet knew–not the pilots or the intelligence officers or the flag officers planning the operation–was that the island in the middle of the chain, the one called Okinawa, was where the Imperial Japanese Navy would make its last stand.

The second compelling technique is that Gandt leaves each chapter with a cliffhanger.

Look again at the last paragraph of the prologue.

But there was more. What none of them yet knew–not the pilots or the intelligence officers or the flag officers planning the operation–was that the island in the middle of the chain, the one called Okinawa, was where the Imperial Japanese Navy would make its last stand.

This makes the reader want to read on to see “What’s next?”.

Again and again Gandt uses this tactic to keep the story moving along.

The third compelling technique is that Gandt keeps the story in motion. He views the fighter planes through the pilots seeing them through their eyes rather than just a description.  This keeps the story moving.


Here is how Gandt describes the airplanes flown by Air Group 10.

Erickson and four of his buddies – Maurie Dubinsly, Jack Erhard, Bill Ecker, and Joe Arvidson – received the top assignment in the class. They were going to be fighter pilots.

They were sleek and sexy, at first sight intimidating. They were lined up at the naval air station in blue livery and adorned with white lettering and broad bars with a star.

The newly winged naval aviators stared in awe at the voluptuous objects. They were Chance Vought F4U  Corsairs. and they were arguably the hottest fighters in the world.

It was what Erickson and his buddies had been training for all these months.

And here they were, standing on the ramp of the Atlantic City Naval Air Station, gazing at the row of long-snouted fighters.

The Corsair had several nicknames, some complimentary, some not. They called it the “Hose Nose,”  “Ubird” for its frontal shape, “Bent Wing Bastard,” and sometimes “Hog.”  The name that bothered the Tail end Charlies was “Ensign Eaters.”

The Corsair was harder to fly than more forgiving planes such as the Hellcat, and had a reputation for turning on inexperienced pilots like a mean-tempered pit bull.

As fighters of the 1940s went the Corsair was big. Powered by the Pratt and Whitney R2800 Double Wasp radial engine, the Corsair mounted a 13 foot four inch Hamilton Standard propeller.

The Corsair was fast – faster than almost any other fighter in the world.  

In the hands of Marines such as Pappy Boyington and Ken Walsh and Navy aces such as Tommy Blackburn and Ike Kepford the Corsair proved itself to be one of the most lethal aerial killing machines ever designed.  And it was then that the big fighter earned another nickname, this one from the Japanese – “Whistling Death” for the high-pitched howl from its wing-root air coolers.

From his office on the Atlantic City naval air station, Lt. Cmdr. Wilmer Rawie could see the row of new Corsairs. 

Here is your assignment.  Write a description of something from a person’s point of view about the arrival of something new and seeing it for the first time.  

I recommend that you buy and read both books.  Links to each are below.

Torpedo Squadron Four

The Twilight Warrior

Learn more about the books written by Robert Gandt

Each of the Self Publishing subscribers were given a writing assignment from this lesson.


See how to attend one of our summer writer’s camps


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