Fiction Writing Exercises: Step Out of Your Shoes

fiction writing exercises

Step out of your shoes with these fiction writing exercises.

I recently shared a writing exercise that encouraged you to get into a character’s head. Today’s exercise asks you to go a step further and explore characters and ideas that are your polar opposites.

One of the most exciting and challenging aspects of being a writer is creating characters. It is an opportunity to step outside of your own reality and take on a completely different persona. Unless you’re an actor, an undercover agent, or just plain crazy, you don’t get many chances in life to do that. Read More

Story is Conflict

story is conflict

Find out how conflict drives any story.

If a story were a bus, conflict would be the driver.

Conflict steers a story, moves it forward, reverses it, stops it in its tracks, and slows or accelerates the pacing.

More importantly, conflict keeps readers glued to the page. Readers want to see how the characters will deal with conflict. Will they find solutions to their problems? Overcome their challenges? Resolve their issues?

Stories contain conflicts large and small, from an impending threat that would wipe out life on planet Earth to minor scuffles in which characters can’t agree on what to have for dinner. When well crafted and worked deftly into the plot, any kind of conflict can be interesting.  Read More

How to Construe and Convey Tone in Poetry

tone in poetry

Are you paying attention to tone in poetry?

In literature, tone is the mood, attitude, or emotional sensibility of a written work. In poetry, tone expresses the narrator’s disposition toward the poem’s subject, the reader, or the narrative itself.

We might describe a poem’s tone as irreverent, relaxed, sarcastic, solemn, jubilant, or desperate. Tone can be any emotion or state of mind, and a single poem can include a combination of tones.

When we’re speaking, our tone is expressed through inflection. We use pitch and stress to communicate the attitude behind the words we’re saying. If I say, “Get out of here!” the tone of my voice will let you know whether I’m literally telling you to leave the room or whether I’m figuratively saying, “You’ve got to be kidding.”

In writing, we must approach tone with care, because it is often and easily misinterpreted. For example, sarcasm is commonly misread in text messaging and on social media. Someone types a sarcastic statement in jest, but the recipient takes it literally and may get offended or confused. Some people mark sarcastic remarks with <sarcasm> to ensure clarity for this reason.

If communicating tone is so difficult, how can we interpret and communicate it effectively in poetry? Read More

Is It Plural or Possessed? When to Use Apostrophe -S

punctuation marks apostrophe s

Punctuation marks: how to use apostrophe-s.

It’s one of those grammar glitches that makes English teachers twitch, and it’s a perplexing punctuation problem.

Knowing when to use an apostrophe and when to use apostrophe -s can be tricky, but this grammar quickie provides all you need to know about plural versus possession when it comes to apostrophe -s. Read More

20 Creative Writing Careers

creative writing careers

Creative writing careers — they’re out there!

If creative writing is your passion, then you’d probably enjoy a career in which you could spend all day (or at least most of the day) pursuing that passion.

But creative writing is an artistic pursuit, and we all know that a career in the arts isn’t easy to come by.

It takes hard work, drive, dedication, a whole lot of spirit, and often, a willingness to take big financial risks — as in not having much money while you’re waiting for your big break.

When we think of people who make a living through writing, novelists and journalists come to mind immediately. But what other jobs are out there for folks who want to make creative writing the work that puts food on the table? Read More

Critiques Make Your Writing Better, So Grin and Bear Them

critiques

Critiques make your writing better.

Today I’d like to share an excerpt from my book 10 Core Practices for Better Writing.

This excerpt is from “Chapter Seven: Feedback,” which offers tips for giving and receiving critiques as well as coping with public criticism. The excerpt I’ve chosen to share today explains how to use critiques to make your writing better, and it also touches on dealing with difficult critiques.

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” – Winston Churchill

There are two schools of thought about whether critiques of your work are beneficial. Read More

Writing Tips: Show, Don’t Tell

show don't tell

Show don’t tell — what does that mean?

The first time I heard the advice “show, don’t tell,” I was young and it confused me.

Show what? Isn’t writing all about telling a story?

At the time, I shrugged it off as some kind of mysterious double-talk, but the phrase kept popping up: show, don’t tell.

It rolled off my teachers’ tongues. I spotted it in books and articles on the craft of writing. A couple of times, it appeared in red on my papers with an arrow pointing to a specific sentence or paragraph. Then I took a poetry class and had a big aha moment where show, don’t tell became abundantly clear. Read More

Creative Writing Prompts for the Young at Heart

creative writing prompts

Creative writing prompts that ignite your imagination.

Today’s post includes a selection of prompts from my book 1200 Creative Writing Prompts. Enjoy!

Stories and poems for children are among the most magical and delightful written works in the literary canon.

Children’s literature has a universal appeal; the phenomenal international popularity of the Harry Potter books and movies is a testament to the power of children’s stories. Read More

Writing Resources for Naming Your Characters

writing resources

Have you ever read one of those epic fantasy novels in which the magical characters can gain total control over any living being simply by discovering their real and true name? I’ve read about ten of those novels.

What do you think is more perplexing, the fact that authors continue to use this rule of magic (even though it’s tired and ready to be retired) or the astounding number of unique names that writers come up with for all the characters in these stories? Read More

Philosophical Journal Prompts

journal prompts

Philosophical journal prompts.

What is philosophy?

Let’s turn to Wikipedia for a simple, straightforward definition:

“Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language…It is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument.”

Today’s journal prompts encourage you to ponder and challenge your own beliefs and ethics.  Read More