Finding Meaning in Poetry

meaning in poetry

Finding meaning in poetry.

We humans are programmed to find meaning in everything. We find patterns where none exist. We look for hidden messages in works of art. We yearn for meaning, especially when something doesn’t immediately make sense.

Of course, art is open to interpretation, and some of the best works of art have produced a fountain of ideas about what they mean. From the nonsensical children’s story Alice in Wonderland to the complex historical fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, we wonder what a story means, what it’s really about, at its core.

Poetry is no exception. When we come across an abstract or vague poem, we look for meaning in it. We might even impose meaning on it. Read More

Creative Writing: Skill vs. Talent

skill vs talent

What wins in a battle of skill vs. talent?

Is effective and compelling creative writing borne of skill or talent?

There has always been much debate about whether artistically inclined trades are a matter of learned skill or inherent talent.

On the one hand, there is the belief that some are born with an active and imaginative right brain and are therefore better able to manifest creativity. On the other hand, some argue that creative skills can be learned and mastered.

When it comes to creative writing, I believe that skill and talent work together. In fact, I would argue that almost every writer whose work is worth reading has some combination of both acquired writing skill and natural talent. Read More

How to Develop a Beneficial Writing Process

writing process

Find out how a writing process makes your writing better.

Today I’d like to share a few excerpts from my book 10 Core Practices for Better Writing.

These excerpts are from “Chapter Six: Process,” which examines methods, strategies, and other approaches to developing and fine-tuning a writing process that works for you. Read More

Writing Tips: Do It Anyway

writing tips do it anyway

Writing is hard; do it anyway.

 

From a distance, writing looks like one of the easiest jobs in the world. You get to set your own hours. You’re not tied to a place of employment. And you spend your days making up stories.

However, writing is anything but easy. It can be thrilling, exhilarating, daunting, and exhausting. Sure, sometimes it’s easy. But sometimes it’s really hard. Sometimes you think you’re not cut out for it. Sometimes you want to give up.

But you do it anyway. Read More

Writing Resources: The Chicago Manual of Style

chicago manual of style

The Chicago Manual of Style.

The Chicago Manual of Style is the most widely used resource for American English style, grammar, and punctuation. If you’re working on any kind of writing project and need a solid reference that provides answers for how to consistently apply style and grammar, then this is the book for you.

Often called Chicago or CMOS, the text was originally published in 1906 with just 200 pages under the lengthy, albeit descriptive title: Manual of Style: Being a compilation of the typographical rules in force at the University of Chicago Press, to which are appended specimens of type in use. Yes, that’s a mighty long title.

111 years later, in September, 2017, the seventeenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style was published with 1,146 pages. It is available in hardcover, and there’s also a handy online edition that you can pay to subscribe to.

Chicago is so widely used because it can be applied to almost any type of writing. It’s extremely flexible and offers writers options for various formats. Many smaller, niche-oriented style guides are based on the guidelines set forth in Chicago, making it the foundation for most writing styles and grammar usages found throughout America. Read More

Poetry Prompts for Fall

poetry prompts

Poetry prompts celebrating the fall season.

It seems like summer always passes too quickly and winter lasts too long. Maybe that’s why fall is a favorite season for so many people. It seems to hang around just long enough. It’s not too hot, not too cold. A mild, colorful, and comfortable season.

Every fall, my creativity goes into overdrive, and I doubt this year will be any different. I’m not sure what it is about all the rusty and golden hues that fills me with inspiration, but I’m always grateful when the leaves start to turn because I know that my imagination is about get fired up.

It’s the perfect time of year to write a little poetry. The seasons have been inspiring poets for millennia, and it’s up to us modern-day writers to keep the tradition alive. The poetry prompts below are a great way to get started. Read More

Getting Into Character: Fiction Writing Exercises

character fiction writing exercises

Fiction writing exercises for developing characters.

Writers are not actors, but sometimes we need to get into character.

To truly understand the nature of a character, a writer must step into that character’s shoes. You can use character sketches and descriptions while you’re creating a character, but the character will remain two dimensional until you can get into the character’s head and understand what makes them tick. Read More

Creating Authentic Character Relationships

character relationships

Are the character relationships in your story authentic?

As storytellers, we often look for ways to make our characters as lifelike as possible: we give them internal struggles, external goals, difficult challenges, and hard choices to make, all while raising the stakes and doling out consequences for every action our characters take.

Today let’s examine an oft-overlooked element of storytelling: character relationships. Read More

Using Allusion in Poetry Writing

allusion in poetry writing

Using allusion in poetry writing.

An allusion is an indirect or explicit reference. In poetry, most allusions refer to other works of art and literature or to historical persons or events. Cultural references are also common. Although allusion is a literary device, it’s often used in casual conversation and other forms of communication, expression, and the arts.

A quick reference can encapsulate a broad idea; therefore, an allusion allows us to make a deep and meaningful statement with just a few words. This is especially useful in poetry, because poets often seek to use condensed language to communicate big ideas. However, allusion requires an understanding between the poet and the reader — a common and shared knowledge about the reference that is being made. Read More

Homophones: Its and It’s

its and it's

Homophones sound alike: its and it’s.

Homophones confuse some people and annoy others. I often see people online complaining about other people who can’t differentiate between the spellings of homophones like your and you’re; they’re, their, and there, and of course, its and it’s.

While I find these mistakes mildly annoying, I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call them pet peeves, and I don’t feel any particular urge to vent or publicly complain about other people’s ability to spell (unless I’m discussing the quality of education in my country).

Just because the confusion of its and it’s makes me crinkle my nose a little does not mean that if I see this mistake I’m going to stop reading your blog or throw your novel into the recycling bin. It’s really not that big of a deal and is exactly the kind of typo that’s outweighed by good, strong writing. Read More