21 Ways to Improve Your Writing

how to improve your writing

Are you ready to improve your writing?

It’s not possible to improve your writing overnight, unless you hire an expert to do it for you.

People study the craft for years, decades even, and still they strive to make each piece of writing better than the last.

Sure, there might be some quick tricks and shortcuts you can pick up and apply immediately, but these only improve your writing in small increments.

If you want to become a good writer (let alone a great writer), be prepared to make a long-term commitment to the craft. Read more

How to Make Good Grammar Part of Your Daily Life

good grammar

Make good grammar part of your lifestyle.

I recently started relearning how to play the guitar after a rather long hiatus. It’s not like I ever learned how to play it properly in the first place — so I’m a true beginner. And at times, I find it frustrating. I just want to pick the thing up and rip out a song, but I’m constantly tripping over my own fingers, and let’s not even talk about the pain that comes from pressing your fingertips against thick metal strings, repeatedly and for extended periods of time.

Writing’s not so different from playing the guitar. Sometimes we get hung up on the technicalities of the language, and the creative flow is hindered. It’s not easy to rip out a short story when you’re worrying about whether you can end a sentence with a preposition or whether your terminal punctuation marks go inside or outside of the quotation marks. These kinds of setbacks can be painful. Read more

Flash Fiction Writing Exercises

flash fiction writing exercises

Try these flash fiction writing exercises.

These fiction writing exercises are designed to help fiction writers shave away the fluff and reveal the bare bones of a piece of fiction.

We’ll start with one exercise that will help you assess the core structure of a story and then explore a few bonus flash fiction writing exercises that are good for developing concise writing.

What is Flash Fiction?

Flash fiction is a short story that is extremely brief. There is no official word limit, but generally, stories of fewer than 1000-2000 words would fall under the flash category. Read more

Write What You’re Willing To Learn

write what you are willing to learn

Write what you want!

Please welcome guest author Tamara Girardi with a post that challenges the old adage, “write what you know.”

In mid-October, I attended a literary evening with Jodi Picoult as part of the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures series.

My immediate impression of Picoult: she was incredibly gracious and pleasant. At a reception prior to the event, she worked the room with a genuine smile, taking pictures and shaking hands. During one conversation, she laughed so loud with an attendee the room took notice. In other words, she was lovely.

So was her talk. Read more

Tips for Critiquing Other Writers’ Work

writing tips critiques

Tips for providing helpful critiques to other writers.

As a writer, it helps to be thick-skinned.

Professional writing is a highly competitive and saturated field where criticism is omnipresent for two important reasons:

1) It’s the most efficient way for writers to increase their skills, and

2) Written work is often positioned to receive much criticism upon publication.

And guess what? Everyone’s a critic — because everyone has an opinion. Anyone can read a piece of writing and opine that it is good or bad, weak or strong, or that it succeeded or failed. Read more

Living the Creative Writing Lifestyle

creative writing lifestyle

Is creative writing a lifestyle?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines lifestyle as “a particular way of living: the way a person lives or a group of people live.”

Dictionary.com defines it as “the habits, attitudes, tastes, moral standards, economic level, etc., that together constitute the mode of living of an individual or group.”

A lifestyle is something you build for yourself from all the elements that make up your daily life: your thoughts, dreams, actions, routine, work, family, friends, food, hobbies, habits, and interests.

So is creative writing a lifestyle? Read more

Creative Writing Prompts for Crafting Compelling Imagery

creative writing prompts

Creative writing prompts for crafting stunning imagery.

Today, I’d like to share a collection of prompts from 1200 Creative Writing Prompts, which contains a variety of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction writing prompts.

Some of the prompts in the book are story starters. Some are word lists. The prompts I’m sharing today are simple but provocative images that are designed to spark a writing session.

In writing, imagery is the key that can unlock a reader’s imagination. When an image is rendered with the right combination of words, it magically appears in the reader’s mind like a photograph or film clip. Read more

Writing Resources: Wired for Story

wired for story

Are you wired for storytelling?

Are you a storyteller? Do you want to be? Then I suggest you pick up a copy of Wired for Story, ASAP.

This is easily the best book on writing fiction that I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. The book takes a fresh approach and tackles fiction writing from a scientific perspective. Thus the subtitle: “The writer’s guide to using brain science to hook readers from the very first sentence.”

Before all you left-brained creatives bristle at the word science, know this: the book is completely accessible. It doesn’t confuse you with complex scientific jargon. Instead, it uses simple examples (mostly told as stories) to demonstrate the science behind story.

What keeps the reader’s brain engaged? What causes the reader’s brain to wander off in search of something more compelling? How do you hook readers in the first place? If you want to know the answers to these questions, you need to read this book.

Not only does Wired for Story answer these questions, it explains what are the most critical elements that your story needs in order to resonate with readers. And as an avid reader, I found myself nodding along with every piece of insight and advice this book offers. Read more

How to Write Better Fiction

write better fiction

A few insights to help you write better fiction.

You know that feeling you get when you read a novel and become completely lost in it? You can’t put it down, so you lose track of time. When you finally finish, you wish it would just keep going.

Isn’t that the kind of novel you want to write?

Over the past year, I’ve read only a few books that I couldn’t put down. Unfortunately, several of the books I started to read didn’t keep my interest past the first few chapters. There was a time when I forced myself to finish every book I started, no matter how boring it was. But I don’t have time for that anymore. My book pile is big and my reading list is long, so if I’m not compelled by the time the second act gets underway, I move on and find something more intriguing. Read more

Traditional Versus Digital: The Book Launch and the Aftermath

digital publishing

Digital Publishing.

Please welcome Warren Adler, author of The War of the Roses, with an article that compares print and digital book launches and examines the impact of traditional versus independent publishing on authors’ careers.

The launch of a book, be it the first for an author or their most recent release, has always been the established gateway for traditional publishers to introduce a new work. The launch of a book is like the birth of a baby: crucial and necessary. There is, after all, no future for an unsuccessful birth. For the author, like anything born into a lifecycle, it is the aftermath that really matters, and for those authors seeking career continuity, and even enduring recognition, digital publishing has offered a widening arena of options for keeping a book from disappearing. Read more

Writing Exercises: Freewriting

writing exercises in freewriting

FREE writing exercises (literally).

One of the most valuable writing exercises I learned in college was freewriting.

When you sit down with a pen and paper and let words flow freely, amazing things can happen.

At first, freewriting is a bit of a struggle, but if you stick with it, you will produce some gems. The trick is to get out of the way, and let your subconscious take over. Most writing exercises ask you to think. This one requires you do anything but that.

Freewriting is not like other writing exercises; it allows you to generate written material for a variety of projects. It can also help you clear your head or tap into your deeper thoughts. Read more

Good Grammar, Spelling, and Punctuation

good grammar

Good grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Let’s get technical for a minute. What, exactly, is grammar?

According to Wikipedia:

In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules that govern the composition of sentences, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules….Linguists do not normally use the term to refer to orthographical rules, although usage books and style guides that call themselves grammars may also refer to spelling and punctuation.

Technically speaking, in linguistics and academia, spelling and punctuation are not components of grammar. When we discuss the mechanics of writing, we don’t refer to grammar. We refer to grammar, spelling, and punctuation because they are separate components that provide the rules for written language. Read more