From 101 Creative Writing Exercises: Your Gang

101 creative writing exercises - your gang

From 101 Creative Writing Exercises: Your Gang.

Today’s writing exercise comes from my book, 101 Creative Writing Exercises, which takes you on an adventure through the world of writing. You’ll explore different forms and genres while learning practical writing techniques. You’ll also get plenty of writing experience and ideas for publishable projects.

Each chapter focuses on a different form or writing concept: freewriting, journaling, memoirs, fiction, storytelling, form poetry, free verse, characters, dialogue, creativity, and writing articles and blogs are all covered.

Today, we’ll take a peek at “Chapter 3: People and Characters” with an exercise called “Your Gang.” Enjoy! Read More

Originality in Storytelling

originality in storytelling

Has everything been done before?

Most storytellers strive to write fresh, original stories. They’re hoping to come up with an idea that’s never been done before.

Is that even possible?

Most stories are built with universal structures, or they use elements that can be found in the plethora of stories that already exists. That’s why readers can often predict the outcome of a plot (we’ve seen that plot structure before) or why some characters feel familiar, cliché, or stereotypical (we’ve seen those characters and their problems before).

But if it’s true that every story contains elements of stories that came before, then why do some stories feel original, even if they’re not?  Read More

Figurative Language in Poetry Writing

figurative language in poetry writing

Figurative language in poetry writing.

Figurative language says one thing but means another. However, figurative language does not intend to deceive. There is an expectation that figurative language will be understood and correctly interpreted by the listener or reader. We get the term “figure of speech” from figurative language.

In poetry, we frequently use figurative language, because it can be more meaningful, vivid, and expressive.

Let’s take a closer look at figurative language and how we can best use it in poetry writing. Read More

Grammar Rules: Subject-Verb Agreement

grammar rules subject verb agreement

The grammar rules surrounding subject-verb agreement.

The rule is simple: singular subjects take singular verbs and plural subjects take plural verbs.

But sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether a subject is singular or plural. That’s why subject-verb agreement errors crop up in so many pieces of writing.

Making matters worse is the fact that most people don’t know what subject-verb agreement means. In fact, too many people don’t know a subject from a verb.

When you’re fixing up your sentences and making sure they are correct, it helps to know the parts of speech, how to conjugate a verb, and how to diagram a sentence (so you can identify the subject). If you understand all those basic elements of language, then you can easily make sure your subjects and verbs are in agreement. Read More

How to Collect Writing Ideas While You’re Procrastinating Online

writing ideas

Work while you play: gather writing ideas while procrastinating

I love the web. In fact, I think it’s the single greatest invention of the twentieth century. It allows people to meet, connect, conduct business, and gather information quickly and easily, all from the comfort of…well, anywhere. It’s also an entertainment mecca. All that art! Music! Films! Literature! And games.

The web is an enormous resource center, playground, and time suck.

We’ve all been there: You hop on the web to look up a quick fact, check your e-mail, or post an update to one of your (many) social media profiles. But what was supposed to be a two-minute action item stretches into a two-hour adventure as you click through an endless stretch of videos, articles, and cat memes. Read More

Eight Characteristics of Good Writing

good writing

What’s the difference between bad and good writing?

How important is it for a writer to be able to discern the difference between good writing and bad writing?

Pretty important, if you ask me.

I know some writers aren’t concerned with quality. In today’s do-it-yourself and get-it-done-fast world, quality plays second fiddle to quantity. Who cares if your books are full of typos, bad grammar, and poor logic as long as you have published lots and made a bunch of money?

Readers care. Agents, publishers, and reviewers also care. And while you can still make a million with a bunch of badly written books and a stellar marketing scheme, your work won’t be taken seriously. Also (and this is critical), while it’s possible to make it big by writing badly, it’s not likely. It happens, but it doesn’t happen often. The better your writing, the better your chances for securing a readership and building a career. Read More

How to Defeat Writer’s Block

writers block

Let’s diagnose and defeat writer’s block!

Wikipedia defines writer’s block as “a condition, primarily associated with writing as a profession, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work.”

However, I have come to believe that in most cases, writer’s block is a symptom, not a condition.

Before we can cure writer’s block, we have to diagnose it.

Writer’s block is almost always presented as some mysterious disease. A writer sits down to work and nothing happens. The ideas are gone. The words don’t come. It must be writer’s block!

At times, writers certainly lose their inspiration or face challenges that prevent them from working. I’m not saying we shouldn’t call this writer’s block. What I am saying is that in my experience, there’s usually some underlying cause, and it’s often something that’s easily remedied. Instead of blaming our inability to work on a vague condition, we can figure out what’s really preventing us from writing and fix the real problem. Read More

Writing Resources: The Crafty Poet

the crafty poet

Poetry workshop in a book!

One of my favorite classes in college was a poetry workshop. Sometimes we did poetry prompts or exercises. Occasionally we read and analyzed poetry. But mostly we shared our poems and received feedback that would help us see the strengths and weaknesses in our work. And then we could make our poetry even better.

I’ve often wondered whether it would be possible to capture the experience of a writing workshop in a book. Since the key component of a workshop is interaction — giving and receiving feedback — I didn’t think it was possible.

But The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop comes pretty close. It’s an ideal book for a poetry workshop, but it’s also useful for individual poets who can’t attend a workshop or class.  Read More

Creative Writing Prompts for Sci-Fi & Fantasy Lovers

creative writing prompts

Fantastical creative writing prompts.

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

In the world of creative writing, we’ve only begun tapping the possibilities in speculative fiction, a genre that includes science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, and superhero stories, as well as anything that ventures beyond known reality.

Speculative fiction is an under-recognized genre: academia and literary elitists traditionally haven’t given it much credence, although it has been gaining acclaim in recent years.

But the genre’s fans are rabid. In fact, you won’t find a more dedicated group of readers anywhere else, which makes reading and writing speculative fiction a delight.

Plus, it’s a lot of fun to step outside of reality and see just what your imagination can do. Read More

From 101 Creative Writing Exercises: Couplets and Quatrains

Couplets and quatrains

Couplets and quatrains, a poetry writing exercise.

Today’s writing exercise comes from 101 Creative Writing Exercises, which takes writers on an adventure through different forms and genres while offering tools, techniques, and inspiration for writing.

Each chapter focuses on a different form or writing concept: freewriting, journaling, memoirs, fiction, storytelling, form poetry, free verse, characters, dialogue, creativity, and article and blog writing are all covered.

Today, we’ll take a peek at “Chapter 7: Form Poetry” with a poetry exercise called “Couplets and Quatrains.” Enjoy! Read More