Five Poetry Prompts

poetry prompts

Poetry prompts.

You know what’s great about writing prompts? On those days when you’re feeling uninspired but you want to write, they’re there for you. On days when you want to get your writing practice in but don’t particularly feel like writing, they’re there for you. Writing prompts give you a little push to kick-start a writing session, making it easier to face the ever-dreaded blank page.

I adore poetry. When I first started writing on my own, I wrote poems. The creative freedom and elusive nature of poetry captivated me, and as a music lover, I felt that writing poetry was similar to writing songs. Plus, poetry was a great way to capture and express my thoughts and feelings.

Over the years, I’ve learned that poetry is an excellent way to enrich one’s writing. Whether you’re a copywriter, storyteller, or blogger, the skills acquired through the study and practice of poetry writing will give your work flair and personality.

But where to start?  Read More

Setting in Time

fiction writing exercises setting in time

Fiction writing exercise: setting your story in time.

Today’s fiction writing exercise is an excerpt from my book, Story Drills: Fiction Writing Exercises, which imparts lessons and techniques on the craft of storytelling and provides practical exercises for study and practice. This exercise focuses on setting and more specifically, making sure readers know where every scene in a story takes place. Enjoy!

Setting in Time

An aspect of setting that is often overlooked is time—when a story takes place. This is an element of setting that historical authors pay close attention to, often conducting deep research to get every detail right—the clothes, the methods of transportation, and the society and culture as it existed at a particular moment in history.

But even authors of contemporary fiction must remain cognizant of a story’s timeline. When do the story events occur? What year? What season? What time of day?

In addition to establishing when a story takes place, we need to make sure readers always know where they are in a story’s timeline. If there’s a scene jump, did an hour pass? A day? A month? How do readers know? Read More

12 Character Writing Tips for Fiction Writers

character writing tips

Character writing tips.

Characters are the heart and soul of every story.

Almost every great story is about people. Plot, setting, theme, and other elements of fiction are secondary to realistic characters that an audience can connect with on an intellectual or emotional level.

There are exceptions, of course. Some readers enjoy plot-driven stories, but they never seem to achieve the massive popularity that stories with rich, layered characters achieve. Why do fans adore Harry Potter and Katniss Everdeen? Because they feel like real people. Read More

36 Poetry Writing Tips

poetry writing tips

Poetry writing tips.

Poetry is the most artistic and liberating form of creative writing. You can write in the abstract or the concrete. Images can be vague or subtle, brilliant or dull. Write in form, using patterns, or write freely, letting your conscience (or subconscious) be your guide.

You can do just about anything in a poem. That’s why poetry writing is so wild and free; there are no rules. Poets have complete liberty to build something out of nothing simply by stringing words together.

All of this makes poetry writing alluring to writers who are burning with creativity. A poet’s process is magical and mesmerizing. But all that freedom and creativity can be a little overwhelming. If you can travel in any direction, which way should you go? Where are the guideposts? Read More

Homophones: Compliment vs. Complement

compliment vs complement

Homophones: compliment vs. complement.

Homophones are words that sound alike but have different meanings. Sometimes, they’re also spelled differently: compliment vs. complement.

Since homophones sound the same, they are often misspelled. Sometimes they’re misspelled because the writer doesn’t know there are two different spellings. In other cases, misspelled homophones are the result of typing too fast or failing to proofread carefully.

Spell check will not catch these typos because the spelling is legitimate, even if it’s for a word with a different meaning.

To make it easier to remember which spelling goes with which meaning, we can use mnemonic devices, which are memory tricks. Today, we’re going to learn how to remember the difference between the homophones compliment and complement. Read More

How to Develop Your Creative Writing Process

creative writing process

What is your creative writing process?

What steps do you take to get a creative writing project completed? Is your method sheer madness?

One day, many years ago, I was working in an office. The executives were having a meeting to discuss new procedures. It was a hot day and the conference room was small and crowded, so the door was open. As I passed by on my way to the filing room, I overheard my boss saying, “Melissa can handle that. She’s very methodical.”

Methodical. I tried it on and decided yes, it fit. “I am methodical,” I declared, and went about my business.  Read More

Tips for Better Writing

better writing

Tips for better writing.

By now, you’ve probably heard that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at anything.

There’s some debate as to the truth of the 10,000-hour rule, but there is definitely truth to the notion that nobody’s born a master at the craft of writing. It takes time, energy, and practice to become a truly proficient and professional writer.

Personally, I think 10,000 hours sounds about right, although some people will become experts at 7,500 hours (those lucky talents!) and others might need to put in 15,000 hours before they’ve mastered the art of writing. It doesn’t really matter how much time it takes — if you want to become a pro, you’ll invest the time necessary to constantly and consistently improve your skills and produce better writing.

Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take toward producing better writing, and maybe these steps will help you become an expert just a little bit quicker.  Read More

Plot Points: A Storytelling Exercise

fiction writing exercises plot points

How to use plot points for creating stories.

Today’s fiction writing exercise is an excerpt from Story Drills: Fiction Writing Exercises. This exercise focuses on plot points, which you can use to construct stories and to resolve issues with a story’s plot and structure. Enjoy!

Plot Points

Plot points are the events that move a story forward—the twists, turns, and developments that push the characters toward the climax and resolution. Each plot point is a significant moment in the grander scheme of things. If a character loses her keys as a way to show us she’s absent-minded, then it’s not a plot point (it’s characterization). But if she loses her keys when she needs to drive to the emergency room in a life-or-death situation, then it becomes a plot point. Read More

New Book – Story Drills: Fiction Writing Exercises

story drills fiction writing exercisesI’m excited to announce that the second book in The Storyteller’s Toolbox series is now available.

Story Drills: Fiction Writing Exercises is packed with exercises that impart the tools and techniques of storytelling and then prompt you to study stories, practice writing stories, and further contemplate the craft of storytelling.

About the Book

The greatest storytellers make it look easy, as if stories arrive fully formed, and we writers need only type the tales into our word processing software.

Writing stories is rewarding, but it’s not easy. Think about all the elements that go into a good story: characters, plot, setting, theme, chapters, scenes, action, dialogue, exposition—not to mention point of view, tense, style, tone, and voice. That’s a lot to learn.  Read More

Writing Tips: Know Your Audience

know your audience

Writing tips: know your audience.

It’s an old adage for writers: know your audience. But what does that mean? How well must we know the audience? And does knowing the audience increase our chances of getting published or selling our books?

Some writers insist that the best way to write is to just write for yourself. Sit down and let the words flow. It’s true that sometimes a freewheeling approach will result in some of your best work. And writing that way is immensely enjoyable. But there are times when a writer must take readers into consideration. Read More