Grammar Rules: Fewer or Less

grammar rules fewer or lessIt’s a battle between words: fewer or less. Are they interchangeable? Do these words have different meanings? How can we use them correctly?

Many people don’t realize that these two words do not share the same meaning and therefore cannot be used interchangeably. As a result, both fewer and less are often used incorrectly.

The difference in meaning may be subtle, but it’s significant and remarkably easy to remember. Let’s see what Dictionary.com has to say about these two words:

fewer: adjective 1. of a smaller number: fewer words and more action.

less: adjective 1. smaller in size, amount, degree, etc.; not so large, great, or much: less money; less speed.

The grammar rules are clear; let me break them down for you. Read more

Exploring Genres in Creative Nonfiction Writing

creative nonfiction writing

Creative nonfiction writing is a growing genre!

Creative writing includes more than just fiction and poetry. Creative nonfiction is a wide category of creative writing, which includes several genres.

Creative nonfiction is a relatively new field; only in recent years have works of creative nonfiction received the kind of attention from critics and readers that fiction and traditional nonfiction have enjoyed for decades.

It’s likely that creative nonfiction will continue to gain strength as a dominant force in the world of writing. The world wide web is growing at an astounding rate, and much of the content on the Internet is considered creative nonfiction. Take blogs, for example; many would be considered creative nonfiction. 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 every other element of fiction is 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

Artistically Inspired Journal Prompts

journal prompts

Get artistically inspired with these journal prompts.

We, the people of the arts, feed off each other.

A painter is inspired by a song. A musician is inspired by a novel. A photographer is inspired by a sculpture.

So we come full circle by inspiring one another.

Journal prompts are a useful tool for getting inspired. When you want to write but find yourself without any ideas, you might think your muse has gone MIA, but ideas abound. You need only look to the arts, where there is a whole world of inspiration waiting to move you (and your pen). 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 (or non-living object) simply by discovering its 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?

Dubworthy or Dubless?

I have been known to spend hours pondering names and wondering how a writer managed to choose a name that so perfectly fit a character, especially characters that are iconic: Holden Caulfield, Harry Potter, Hamlet, Hanibal Lechter. And they don’t all start with the letter H: Ebenezer Scrooge, Mary Poppins, Sherlock Holmes, Gollum, Cinderella, Willy Wonka, Scarlett O’Hara. The list goes on and on. And it doesn’t stop with literary characters. Remarkable character names can also be found in movies, comic books, and on TV.

Think about the most famous, unforgettable, and compelling characters. They have names that are memorable, names that resonate with the character’s energy: Bond. James Bond. How do you forget a guy like that?

You don’t.

But here’s a better question. How does a writer come up with a name like that? Read more

How to Get the Most Out of Your Writing Practice

writing practice

What’s your writing practice?

Young and aspiring writers often contact me to ask what they need to do to become professional authors. The simplest answer is to read and write as much as possible. But I like to place special emphasis on the importance of getting plenty of writing practice.

In the early days of self-publishing, we saw heaps of books published by writers who hadn’t yet put in the practice required to produce work that was of professional quality. Some of them admitted that they were publishing first drafts without even bothering to reread what they’d written, and that’s the mark of an amateur. Read more

Essay Writing Ideas, Topics, and Publishing Tips

essay writing ideas

Tips for developing essay writing ideas.

Around here, we’re usually so focused on fiction, poetry, and journaling that we often forget about another form of creative writing: the essay.

The first essay that captured my attention and got me interested in essay writing was Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal,” which was also my first introduction to satire:

Written and published anonymously in 1729, the essay suggested that impoverished Irish might ease their economic troubles by selling their children as food for rich gentlemen and ladies. This satirical hyperbole mocked heartless attitudes towards the poor, as well as Irish policy in general. (Source)

“A Modest Proposal” is a harsh piece of writing but is both creative and socially conscious. Essays can also be academic, personal, or analytic. In terms of subject matter, essays can run the gamut. And while essays are often associated with academia because they are often assigned by schoolteachers and professors, plenty of writers have eked out careers publishing essays on a wide range of topics.

Today, we’ll focus on developing essay writing ideas, but first let’s look at a few types of essays. Read more

Fiction Writing Exercises: Change the Tail

Fiction writing exercises: change the tail

Change the tail on these fiction writing exercises.

Fiction writing exercises improve your writing by challenging you, providing you with fresh ideas, and forcing you to approach fiction writing from new angles.

This is a flexible writing exercise that could also be called Change the Tale. But in this exercise, we’re going to change the tale by changing the tail.

The idea is to take an existing plot and change the ending to make it completely different. This will help you understand the basics of story structure, particularly the part where you bring the story to a close.

Take the tail end off a story, right after the climax, and change it to something else. Choose a story from a book, magazine, newspaper, or film, and change the ending! Read more

Meet Your Muse: Every Writer’s Best Friend

Meet your muse

Meet your muse.

Please welcome guest author Lisa Tener with a post on connecting with your muse as a way to overcome writer’s block and achieve better creativity.

Maybe you’re familiar with the term muse, which comes from the ancient Greeks and refers to the goddesses who inspire the creation of literature and the arts.

In my work with writers, I often refer to “the muse” or “your muse” as a point of access for inspiration and as a resource to get out of a rut, unblock, find clarity on a particular question, and consistently write in a state of flow.

You can think of your muse as an aspect of yourself—imagine a part of you that has solutions for every creative challenge. It has the power to shift negative beliefs and habits that get in the way of your creative flow. Your muse can boost your creativity and help you tap into it with ease. Your muse may help you find the perfect title or even the perfect time of day to write. Read more

Five Things I Learned in Creative Writing Class

creative writing class

What can you learn in a creative writing class?

People ask me all the time whether I think a formal education is necessary to a successful writing career. A degree certainly helps, but no, it’s not necessary. There are master writers who did not finish high school and plenty never went to college.

I want to be clear: I fully support higher education. If you pull me aside and ask whether I think you should go to college, I’m going to say yes, of course you should! At the same time, I encounter plenty of writers (and other professionals) who are insecure because they feel they need that degree to back up their abilities. That’s just not so. If you want to write, you should write, regardless of whether you have a degree.

Keep in mind that while a degree is helpful (and you certainly learn a lot of valuable things in college), it’s neither a license to write nor a guarantee that you’ll be successful. Whether you pursue higher education or not, it is important to study the craft of writing. You can read books, join a writing group, or take a creative writing class. Read more

Grammar Rules: Capitalization

grammar rules capitalization

Grammar rules for capitalization and lower case lettering

Proper capitalization is one of the cornerstones of good grammar, yet many people fling capital letters around carelessly.

Not every word deserves to be capitalized. It’s an honor that must be warranted, and in writing, capitalization is reserved only for special words.

Most of the grammar rules are explicit about which words should be capitalized. However, there are some cases (like title case) in which the rules are vague. Read more

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