10 Good Grammar Resources

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Grammar resources for writers.

There’s good grammar and bad grammar, proper grammar and poor grammar. Some writers have fun with grammar and for others, grammar’s a bore. But in order to communicate effectively and for our writing to be professional (and publishable), we all need reliable grammar resources.

There is no grammar authority, no supreme court of grammar where judges strike down the gavel at grammar offenders. Grammar is not an exact science (in fact, it’s not a science at all), and even among the most educated and experienced linguists, the rules of grammar are heavily debated.

Of course, there are some basic rules we can all agree on, and these can found in any good grammar resource. There are gray areas, too, which are skillfully handled by style guides.

As writers, we need these resources. They help us use language effectively. Good grammar ensures that our work is readable. And we all know that bad grammar can make a piece of writing unreadable, unprofessional, and sloppy. Read More

What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers

what if writing exercises for fiction writers

What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers.

Good fiction includes many different elements: believable characters, realistic dialogue, and compelling plots. Every decent story has a beginning, middle, and end. Intriguing tales are built around conflict and are rich with themes and symbols. And those are just the basics.

It can be pretty overwhelming.

Fiction writing is hard work. It requires a complex and diverse set of skills. Stringing words together into sentences only scratches the surface of what goes into good fiction writing. Fiction that is truly worthwhile is layered with meaning. It’s made up of an infinite number of tiny parts. Most importantly, it has a sense of truth and realism that the real world often lacks.

Mark Twain said, “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn’t.” Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.” And Stephen King said, “Fiction is the truth inside the lie.”

In other words, fiction, at its best, feels truer than reality. Great writers make it look easy, but writing that kind of fiction, the kind that’s worth reading, is nothing short of magic. Read More

Writing Resources: Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

Zen in the Art of Writing.

Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing, a collection of essays on writing and creativity, is infused with unparalleled joy and passion for the craft of writing. It’s an easy, relaxing read that imparts unique insight to boost your writing habits and keep ideas flowing freely and naturally.

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” — Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury is one of the masters of science fiction, most famous for his novels Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles. He came up during a time when science fiction and fantasy were taken even less seriously by literary elites than they are today — yet his work not only went mainstream, it was academically acclaimed. I was first introduced to Bradbury as a reading assignment in high school. Later I delved into his life as an author, reading and watching every interview I could find online. The man was a fountain of wisdom, and his jovial demeanor makes him a pleasure to read and watch. Read More

Writing Resources: Wonderbook

Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer

Jeff VanderMeer’s Wonderbook.

Jeff VanderMeer’s Wonderbook is not your average tome on the craft of writing. It’s more like a portal, and once you enter, writing becomes a strange and awesome adventure. Subtitled The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction, the book addresses fiction in general but occasionally emphasizes speculative fiction; any writer will benefit from it, but there are extra morsels for science-fiction and fantasy authors.

Unlike most books on craft, this one’s packed with illustrations, photographs, and diagrams, which will inspire you and provide fresh perspectives on the concepts discussed in the book. The artwork is delightfully weird and certain to give your imagination a good workout. The primary artist is Jeremy Zerfoss, but the book includes a range of diverse artists and styles. One of my favorite pieces was a useful and creative diagram showing the life cycle of a story.

Here’s more about what you’ll find inside: Read More

Writing Resources: The Pocket Muse

the pocket muse

A handy little source of inspiration for writing

We writers can’t be inspired every day.

Sometimes we get burned out. Other times, we have ideas, but they just don’t seem appealing at the moment when we sit down to write. Sometimes we need to take a break from a writing project and spend a little time on shorter projects, which can recharge our creativity. Other times, we’re just stuck in a writing slump.

That’s when keeping a little stockpile of writing ideas and inspiration is a good idea. Read More

12 Gifts and Goodies for Writers

gifts for writers

Check out these gifts and goodies for writers.

All around the world, we have officially entered the holiday season. It’s a time for giving thanks, enjoying the company of loved ones, and gorging on scrumptious feasts. It’s also a time of giving.

While I have mixed feelings about the unbridled consumption that pervades America at this time of year, I also have a deep affinity for the act of giving. It’s not unusual for me to spend hours choosing the perfect gifts for loved ones. In fact, I started my holiday shopping several weeks ago, so I would have plenty of time to make my selections.

I’m also a firm believer that during this time of year, when we look outward and offer gifts to the most important people in our lives, we should also be generous with ourselves. Read More

Writing Resources: Stephen King On Writing

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Stephen King: On Writing

Elvis was the king of rock and roll. Michael Jackson was the king of pop. And Stephen King is the king of horror.

He’s one of the most successful authors in the world, the recipient of numerous honorable awards, and certainly one of the wealthiest and most recognizable writers alive.

While I’m not crazy about horror stories, I do appreciate the creativity and artistic merit that goes into writing good horror fiction. Maybe the fact that I’m bonkers over sci-fi and fantasy will redeem me. Maybe Stephen King will forgive me. Read More

The Reviews Are In: 101 Creative Writing Exercises

101 Creative Writing ExercisesWhen I set out to write 101 Creative Writing Exercises, the goal was simple: give writers the tools they need to succeed.

Many of the writing exercises I had done over the years were fun or interesting, but few of them imparted practical writing skills. I wanted to develop exercises that would convey constructive writing techniques that writers could apply to real-world writing projects.

I also wanted these exercises to provide hours and hours of creative writing practice, because practice is the only way to develop mastery of any craft.

Check Out What People Are Saying About 101 Creative Writing Exercises

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Writing Resources: The Practice of Poetry

writing resources practice of poetryWhen it comes to poetry writing resources, there are some special books out there that will help make you both a better reader and a more well-rounded writer.

Some academics argue that poetry is an intellectual pursuit, but that’s only partially true. Poetry is also artistic and emotional. Anyone can enjoy poetry, but studying it closely will help you better appreciate its nuances.

Learning various poetry writing techniques and literary devices (which are often taught in the context of poetry) can bring your writing to a more sophisticated level.

Whether you write fiction, memoirs, or blog posts, reading and writing poetry will equip you with language skills that make your writing stronger, more vivid, and more compelling. Read More

Writing Resources: Perrine’s Sound and Sense

Writing resources for more compelling language.

This is one of my favorite writing resources of all time. It is subtitled “An Introduction to Poetry,” but it’s full of concepts that can benefit any form of writing.

Whether you write fiction, articles, essays, or blog posts, Perrine’s Sound and Sense will enhance the way you perceive and use language to communicate an idea, a scene, or information.

After all, language is a writer’s medium. How do we choose words and string them together? What makes one sentence so vivid while another is practically impossible to visualize? How can we play with the meaning of words in a way that is meaningful? How do we craft prose that is musical?

These, of course, are questions that poetry actively asks and explores. Storytellers spend a lot of time on plot and character. Article writers spend a lot of time on research. Bloggers spend a lot of time under the hood. Poets live and breathe in language.

And language — or rather, a writer’s use of it — is what elevates a piece of ordinary prose to something regal. Through a light study of poetry, you will expand your vocabulary, learn simple techniques to make images out of words, and understand the deeper secrets of language — secrets that make your writing extraordinary.

Perrine’s Sound and Sense

This book is a delightful and comprehensive romp through the intricacies of poetry and language. It’s a perfect introduction to poetry because it’s liberally populated with fantastic poems that will satisfy a range of personal tastes and preferences, making it a veritable anthology that teaches concepts alongside each poem (or that uses poems to beautifully illustrate and illuminate various concepts).




Sound and Sense starts with the basics. The first two chapters are respectively titled “What is Poetry?” and “Reading a Poem.” If you’ve ever wondered what all the fuss was about poetry and why so many successful writers advocate poetry, these chapters will show you the light, both through their discussion of poetry and presentation of poems.

Later chapters deal with increasingly complex concepts. These concepts are taught in the context of how they are applied to poetry but they are applicable to any kind of writing. The chapter on “Denotation and Connotation” explains how we choose words based on their meaning, particularly when we can choose between two (or more) words with the same meaning:

The words childlike and childish both mean “characteristic of a child,” but childlike suggests meekness, innocence, and wide-eyed wonder, while childish suggests pettiness, willfulness, and temper tantrums. (p. 41)

We’ve all heard that imagery is critical to our writing, but many writers don’t quite understand what show, don’t tell actually means. Master writers refer to similes, metaphors, symbols, and allegories, all effective literary devices in any form. Sound and Sense helps you understand the importance of these devices, shows you how to identify them in a piece of writing, and therefore gives you the knowledge you need to apply those devices in your own work.

The insight doesn’t stop with meaning and literary devices. The book goes on to explore tone and dedicates a significant portion of its final chapters to musicality with chapters such as “Musical Devices,” “Rhythm and Meter,” and “Sound and Meaning.”

Everything that we do naturally and gracefully we do rhythmically. There is rhythm in the way we walk, the way we swim, the way we ride a horse, the way we swing a golf club or a baseball bat. So native is rhythm to us that we read it, when we can, into the mechanical world around us. Our clocks go tick-tick-tick but we hear tick-tock, tick-tock. (p. 187)

So if you’ve ever wondered how to make your writing sing and dance, if you’ve ever gotten a phrase stuck in your head and wondered what made it so catchy and then wondered how you could craft writing that is just as memorable, this book is for you.

Sound and Sense features tons of wonderful poems by some of the best known and loved poets of all time, including Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Andrew Marvell, Sylvia Plath, Edgar Allen Poe, Anne Sexton, Shakespeare, and far too many others to list here.

And it’s all capped off with a handy glossary and comprehensive index, which makes revisiting its contents quick and easy. I’m telling you, this is a resourceful little book!

Writing Resources

writing resources sound and sense
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This gem of a book doubles as an anthology of poetry and is useful for both readers and writers of poetry. But writers of all forms will reap great benefits by investing in this book.

Mostly used as a college textbook, it’s loaded with treasures packed in a dense landscape of writing concepts, some of which are practical and others that are whimsical, plus a bunch of writing concepts that are just plain magical.

Sound and Sense will transform the way you think about writing and will improve your writing at the levels of words and sentences, sounds and phrases. Want to make readers hungry? Want to make them think and feel and swoon and dance? Then get this book, because it shows you how to do just that.

Got any writing resources that you’d like to recommend? Do you find that studying one form helps you improve another? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment. And keep on writing!

Adventures in Writing The Complete Collection