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

Fiction Writing Exercises: The Power of Prose

fiction writing exercises

Fiction writing exercises for crafting strong prose.

When we writers discuss fiction, we usually focus on plot, setting, dialogue, and especially characters. These, of course, are the essential elements of decent storytelling. But what we often forget to address is the prose.

The words we choose to depict action, express characters’ thoughts, and render their dialogue is another important, albeit often overlooked, element of storytelling.

Language can raise a story to new heights or it can make a story sink. If readers are struggling to understand words and phrases or if they’re constantly distracted by unnecessary words and repetition, the story will take a backseat to the poorly constructed prose, and you’ll risk losing the readers.

No matter how compelling your story is, if you can’t convey it through well crafted prose, it will get lost in the slush pile and end up in the discount bin. Today’s fiction writing exercises encourage you to set story aside and focus instead on the language, which is at the very heart of the craft of writing. Read more

Grammar Rules: Ending a Sentence with a Preposition

ending a sentence with a preposition

Is ending a sentence with a preposition ever acceptable?

A longstanding grammar myth  says we’re not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition. For years, this myth has persisted, tying writers up in knots and making their heads spin around sentences that simply must end with a preposition.

For example: Which store are you going to?

Folks who were taught (and are now attached to the idea) that one should never end a sentence with a preposition will argue that the proper way to write the sentence is as follows: To which store are you going?

But nobody talks that way. Read more

Narrative Techniques for Storytellers

narrative techniques

Find out how narrative techniques can improve the stories you write!

Today’s post includes excerpts from What’s the Story? Building Blocks for Fiction Writing, chapter ten: “Literary Devices and Narrative Techniques.” Enjoy!

Writers use literary devices to convey or illustrate thoughts, ideas, and images or to strengthen their prose. Narrative techniques are a subset of literary devices that are specifically used in narrative writing. Both literary devices and narrative techniques occur naturally in writing but are also used intentionally. Learning about the many literary devices and narrative techniques that are available will add weight to your writer’s toolbox. Read more

Five Personal Journal Prompts

journal prompts

Journal prompts for self-exploration.

Most writers keep a journal of some kind to jot down ideas, scenes, thoughts, and questions.

Journals can be used in many different ways. However, one of the most traditional uses for a journal is to write about one’s own life. Often, this type of journal is also called a diary.

It’s not always easy coming up with topics to write about, and writing about oneself is difficult for many writers (just ask any writer how hard it is to write a bio). Surely, journal entries can be more than simply recounting the events or routine of each day. Read more

How to Stay Inspired

writing ideas

How to stay inspired.

Writer’s block is probably the most frustrating experience any writer faces. You feel creative and you want to create, but you’re just not inspired.

It happens to most artists from time to time, this disconnect from the muse. Yet there are creative people who seem to have overcome artistic roadblocks — authors who publish multiple novels every year, filmmakers who produce annual blockbusters, and musicians who are on the top-ten list week after week. They know how to stay inspired, but how do they do it? Have they tapped into a secret, endless stream of ideas?

How can you tap into that stream? Read more

Are You Writing Effective Sentences?

writing effective sentences

Are you writing effective sentences?

Nothing ruins a great piece of writing like weak words and poorly structured sentences.

We’ve all been there. You’re working through your first draft or perhaps making your way through revisions. The scene plays out in your mind like a movie. But when you try to put it into words, it just doesn’t flow right.

In literature, language is what makes a piece of writing tick. The plot and characters move through time and space on their own accord, but the words you use to tell their story give it rhythm and clarity. That’s why writing effective sentences is paramount for any writer. 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

Mysterious and Thrilling Fiction Writing Prompts

Mystery thriller fiction writing prompts

Mysterious and thrilling fiction writing prompts.

Sometimes it’s hard to start a new writing project. Maybe you’re overwhelmed by too many ideas and can’t decide which one to tackle. Or maybe you’re searching for the right idea, something to spark your imagination and inspire your next story.

Fiction writing prompts are an excellent source of inspiration. They’re useful for generating new ideas, but they can also help you make breakthroughs in projects you’re already working on. If you’re stuck on a scene or chapter, you might find a fiction writing prompt that offers the seed of an idea to help you push your story forward.

All of today’s fiction writing prompts came from my book 1200 Creative Writing Prompts, which is available from your favorite online bookseller. Read more

10 Tips for Writing a Book

tips for writing a book

Tips for writing a book.

Writing a book is a big deal. It takes a lot of time and effort, especially if you want to do it right, which means creating something that people will find entertaining or useful and then polishing, marketing, and promoting it.

It all begins with an idea–a concept. It might start with a few characters or an intriguing plot you’ve dreamed up. It might start with an audience you want to write for or a topic you want to explore.

Many writers start writing as soon as an idea strikes. This approach works for some people, but for most of us, it’s a road to nowhere. If we attempt to write a book every time we get a good idea, we constantly leave previous ideas half finished. If we don’t stop to think about whether the idea is viable, we may get in over our heads or write a book that’s unpublishable or unsalable due to market saturation or lack of interest. Read more