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
Today’s post is an excerpt from my book, 101 Creative Writing Exercises. This is from “Chapter 11: Creativity,” and it’s called “The Incubator.” This exercise helps you process and organize your creative writing ideas.
Many creative professionals and hobbyists have found that creative ideas need time to incubate. In other words, you don’t start working on an idea as soon as it occurs to you. You mull it over, give it some time to take root, and wait for it to mature a little before you start executing it.
Some of us are full of ideas, and some of us spend a lot of time waiting or searching for ideas. In either case, the trick is to figure out which ideas are worth pursuing. Read more
You see it everywhere, but most people don’t know what it’s called or how to use it properly.
In fact, it’s often referred to as “dot, dot, dot” even though it does have a name. This punctuation mark is the ellipsis.
It is a series or row of three periods, which is usually used to indicate an omission. It may also be used to indicate faltering or interrupted speech or a pause.
Some punctuation marks are clear-cut while others cause a lot of confusion. Most of us mastered periods and question marks back in elementary school. Commas, semicolons, and ellipses aren’t as easy to master. As a result, many punctuation marks are frequently misused. Read more
Today’s post includes excerpts from What’s the Story? Building Blocks for Fiction Writing, chapter nine: “Chapters, Scenes, and Sequences.” Enjoy!
Chapters, scenes, and sequences are structural units of storytelling. These are the basic blocks of a story that contain all other elements, from characters, plot, and setting to action, dialogue, and description. Read more
My little niece used to love to sit with a grown-up book spread across her lap, reading a story out loud — except she couldn’t read yet. She was making it all up — pretending.
During play, she invented new words. One time we were playing with some toys, and I asked one of their names. Without missing a beat, she made up the name Hoken. Hoken sounds to me like a great name for a character in a science fiction or fantasy story.
Play and pretend can lead to some innovative writing ideas, whether you’re looking for a simple concept for starting a new writing project or trying to break through a block in a project that you’re already working on. Read more
“Only a generation of readers will spawn a generation of writers.” — Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg is one of my favorite storytellers. He and I have something in common: we were both English majors! He knows what he’s talking about when he emphasizes the importance of reading. The simplicity and elegance of Spielberg’s remark makes this one of my favorite quotes on writing.
I encounter a lot of writers who don’t read. Some read in their younger years; others have never been big readers. Many want to read but simply don’t have time. And their lack of reading is evident in their writing, regardless of how much writing practice they’ve put in. Read more
Today, I’m sharing one of the oldest and most popular posts on Writing Forward. This one dates back to 2007, but it’s still one of the most-visited posts on the blog and one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy these writing tips and find them useful!
Brian Clark over at Copyblogger has issued a challenge to bloggers in his post “The Cosmo Headline Technique for Blogging Inspiration.”
The idea is to use headlines from magazines like Cosmopolitan for inspiration, and to write your headlines before composing your article.
I’ve taken Brian up on his challenge and as a result, I bring you the 22 best writing tips ever. Read more
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
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 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