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

How to Be More Creative in Your Writing

how to be more creative

How to be more creative when you’re writing.

Here’s an age-old question: is creative writing an art or a craft?

Artistically minded writers will say that writing is most definitely an art while those who who think more analytically will claim writing is a skill, a trade, and a business.

My answer is that writing can be either an art or a craft, and usually it’s both. You can approach writing armed with learned skills and an ability to string words together in a sensible manner, or you can approach writing as a purely creative endeavor and call it your art or your passion.

Both approaches work, and either one can lead to good, strong writing. However, the best writing is a hybrid. It’s both an art and a craft, a marriage between skill and creativity in writing. Read More

How to Improve Your Writing Skills

writing skills

How to improve your writing skills.

Today’s post features excerpts from 10 Core Practices for Better Writing. These excerpts are from “Chapter Five: Skills.” Enjoy!

Writing Skills

When we talk about writing skills, we usually think of the basics: the ability to write sentences and paragraphs correctly with proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. But a lot more than that goes into writing well.

Ambitious writers strive to consistently produce better writing. We study the rules of grammar, spelling, and punctuation, and we work at expanding our vocabularies. We memorize literary devices and storytelling techniques. We develop a distinct voice.

There’s a lot to learn, but over time, we learn to write prose and verse that captivates readers.

From learning how to comprehensively use tools, like writing software, to mastering concepts that are specific to form and genre, a professional writer needs to build skills that go far beyond the basics. Read More

Talent Isn’t Everything

talent

How far will talent take you?

Every writer hopes for talent, but what is talent, exactly?

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary offers several definitions:

  • a special often athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude.
  • general intelligence or mental power: ability
  • the natural endowments of a person

Talent gives people an edge or a head start. With talent, you can learn faster and perform better. Success isn’t guaranteed, but it’s within reach.

In writing, we see a variety of talents. Some authors are natural storytellers. Others have a way with words. Some are fast learners who quickly pick up new writing skills without a lot of effort. Some are simply good at organizing and communicating their thoughts, ideas, or knowledge in writing.

However, I’ve never encountered a writer who was born with the ability to whip out a brilliant piece of writing without years of learning, practice, or dedication.

Some aspects of writing simply must be learned.

Read More

The Reviews Are In: 1200 Creative Writing Prompts

creative writing promptsWhen I wrote 1200 Creative Writing Prompts, my goal was to provide writers with a treasure trove of inspiration and ideas for writing fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.

Writers often struggle with writer’s block or lack motivation. I wanted to fire up imaginations and help writers get to work creating poems, stories, and other written works.

The prompts aren’t complicated or elaborate. Each one offers a simple idea starter designed to make your creativity flow and get your pen moving. Read More

A Week’s Worth of Experimental Journal Prompts

journal prompts

A week’s worth of journal prompts.

As writers, we are constantly told (usually by other writers) that we should be writing every day (without exception!), but rarely are we provided with details of what we should be writing.

Of course, many writers already know what to write. They are poets, short story writers, novelists, memoirists, literary journalists, and bloggers. Their niche informs what they write.

But poets don’t necessarily want to write poetry every single day. And fiction writers may want to take a break from storytelling. Exploring different types of writing broadens our abilities and keeps our skills sharp. Plus, we can learn a lot from experimenting with various forms. Read More

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