Creative writing prompts for exploring society and culture.
Today’s post includes a selection of prompts from my book 1200 Creative Writing Prompts. Enjoy!
The unofficial motto of the United States of America is E pluribus unum, which means, “out of many, one.” It’s sometimes translated as “one out of many.”
The phrase can be interpreted many ways. According to Wikipedia:
“The traditionally understood meaning of the phrase was that out of many states (or colonies) emerges a single nation. However, in recent years its meaning has come to suggest that out of many peoples, races, religions, languages, and ancestries has emerged a single people and nation—illustrating the concept of the melting pot.“
I offer a simpler interpretation, in which “the many” is comprised of every individual, and “one” is the unification of all those individuals. That’s the essence of any society or culture. Read More
A guide to various types of publishing companies.
Publishing used to be simple. An author wrote a proposal or a manuscript and then found an agent who was willing to represent the book. The agent shopped it around and sold it to a publisher. The writer received an advance and then the agent, publisher, and writer worked together until the book appeared in book stores about a year later.
That model hasn’t gone away. You can still find an agent to help you get published, and you can still aim for selling your book to a publishing house, but technology has opened more doors for writers.
Terms get thrown around, like traditional publishing, legacy publishing, self-publishing, vanity publishing, and indie publishing. But what does it all mean? What’s the difference between self-publishing and indie publishing? Is there a difference? Why should we care? Read More
Poetry writing exercises in time and space.
Poetry is the most artistic form of writing. A poem can be concrete or abstract. It can be expressive or pensive. It can cover just about any subject imaginable.
But despite what poetry can be, it is most often used as a form of emotional self-expression, especially by young and new poets. When we’re feeling sad, angry, or elated, it’s easy to sit down and mold our emotions into words. It’s cathartic.
Poets also tend toward writing about nature. Tributes, politics, religion, family, and romance are some of the most common topics that poets tackle.
Why not try something different? Read More
“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word to paper.” – E. B. White
What are your ideal writing conditions? Is it quiet, or are there stimulating background noises? Are you alone, curled up in a chair with a pen and a notebook, or are you in a bustling café, gleaning inspiration from fellow patrons and a tasty meal or cup of coffee? Are you already rich and successful with all the time in the world to dedicate to your craft, or are you a starving artist, hungry to get that first publication credit, desperate to complete that first novel? Read More
Tips for writing description in fiction.
Today’s post includes excerpts from What’s the Story? Building Blocks for Fiction Writing, chapter eight: “Description and Exposition.” Enjoy!
Without description, readers wouldn’t be able to visualize what’s happening in a story. We need to see the setting and the characters. Because there are no visuals in prose, writers must use words to describe a story’s visual elements in a way that helps readers see the story playing out in their minds. Read More
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
Descriptive writing: Do your readers see what you see?
Descriptive writing is the art of painting a picture with words.
In fiction, we describe settings and characters. In poetry, we describe scenes, experiences, and emotions. In creative nonfiction, we describe reality.
Classic literature was dense with description whereas modern literature usually keeps description to a minimum. Read More
Do you have good grammar habits?
Can you imagine a nutritionist who eats exclusively at fast food restaurants? A personal trainer who never exercises? A writer who can’t be bothered with grammar, spelling, and punctuation?
In most professions, best practices and tools of the trade are mandatory. If you want to be a doctor, you have to earn a PhD. If you want to land a job in accounting, you need math skills. But writers can easily finagle around best writing practices, especially with the increasing accessibility of self-publishing.
Basic grammar skills used to be mandatory — not just for writers but for all high school graduates. These days, you can get out of college with a degree but no clue how to properly structure a sentence or differentiate between they’re, their, and there. Read More
Using Pinterest for writing ideas.
Over the years, I’ve used various systems for organizing and storing my writing ideas.
Of course, I use notebooks and journals, which are great for keeping track of my own ideas and not so great for storing ideas I collect out in the world — materials culled from blogs, magazines, websites, and other mediums.
I’ve created folders on my hard drive for storing images I find online. I’ve had manila envelopes for stashing articles and images cut out of magazines and newspapers. Folders, boxes, scrapbooks…it all gets pretty messy and disorganized.
I’ve always wanted a way to keep everything in one medium (preferably electronic) and in one location. Pinterest has been an excellent way to save digital and online content. Read More
Writing tips for self-editing.
If you’re the token writer at your office, among your friends, or in your family, then you are probably asked on a regular basis to edit, review, or proofread written documents.
Academic essays, business letters, and resumes will land on your desk with the word “HELP!” scrawled across the top.
Or, maybe you’re like me, a professional who offers editing services to writers and business people who want their text to be squeaky clean and irresistible to readers.
Most of us are happy to help. After all, it feels good to help people, especially when it involves doing something you love, like writing or proofreading and editing other people’s writing projects. And the good news is that editing other people’s work makes you more proficient at editing your own work. Read More