Style Guides: Essential Writing Resources for Professionals

writing resources style guides

A style guide is an essential writing resource.

When we’re writing, we run into a lot of technical issues. Where do the quotation marks go? When is it correct to use a comma? How should titles be formatted?

Some of these questions are answered by the rules of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. But other questions are not addressed by grammar: there’s no official rule for how to format a title.

We writers need trusted resources that we can use to resolve all these issues, especially if we want to produce work that is both grammatically correct and stylistically consistent.

That’s what style guides are for. Style guides answer grammatical questions and provide guidelines for consistency. Read More

12 Nature-Inspired Creative Writing Prompts

creative writing prompts

Nature inspires, and so do these creative writing prompts.

Today’s post includes a selection of prompts from my book, 1200 Creative Writing Prompts. Enjoy!

Creative writing prompts are excellent tools for writers who are feeling uninspired or who simply want to tackle a new writing challenge. Today’s creative writing prompts focus on nature.

For centuries, writers have been composing poems that celebrate nature, stories that explore it, and essays that analyze it.

Nature is a huge source of inspiration for all creative people. You can find it heavily featured in film, television, art, and music. Read More

From 101 Creative Writing Exercises: Haiku

101 creative writing exercises - haiku

Haiku, from 101 Creative Writing Exercises.

Today’s writing exercise comes from my book, 101 Creative Writing Exercises, which takes writers on an exciting journey through different forms and genres while providing writing techniques, practical experience, and inspiration.

Each chapter focuses on a different form or writing concept: freewriting, journaling, memoirs, fiction, storytelling, form poetry, free verse, characters, dialogue, creativity, and article and blog writing are all covered.

Today, we’ll take a peek at “Chapter 7: Form Poetry” with a poetry exercise simply called “Haiku.” Enjoy!  Read More

Archetypal Characters in Storytelling

archetypal characters in storytelling

Archetypal characters for fiction writers.

The hero, the mentor, the sidekick. We’re all familiar with archetypal characters in storytelling. We’ve seen them before. We know the roles they play.

Archetypal characters shouldn’t be confused with stock characters or stereotypical characters. Although we’ve seen all these characters before and will surely see them again, stock and stereotypical characters are based on character traits; archetypes are based on the characters’ function or purpose within a story. Read More

Poetry: Making Music with Words

poetry making music with words

Do you make music with words?

Most writers are primarily concerned with the meaning of the words they choose. Is the language precise and accurate? Do the words provide the best connotation for what the writer is trying to communicate? Does the language show, rather than tell?

But poets take language a step further and push it into the realm of music. Poets care about meaning, precision, and accuracy as well as connotation and imagery. But they also care about how words sound, because musicality is a fundamental feature of poetry. Read More

Keep Writing!

keep writing

Don’t give up. Keep writing!

When life gets hectic, it’s impossible to get your creative writing done. Inspiration might be knocking, but the house is so full, you’re not sure you can open the door and let it in. How can you keep writing?

What if all you need is sixty seconds?

We all have responsibilities to fulfill and obligations to meet. We’ve got bills to pay, jobs to do, children to care for, and pets to play with. The lawn has to be mowed, garbage taken out, laundry done, dishes cleaned; the list goes on and on and on. Read More

Can the Right Writing Tools Help You Write Better?

writing tools

Do your writing tools help you write better?

When I first started writing, it was just me, a ninety-nine cent pen, and a cheap spiral-bound notebook. Using those tools, I wrote dozens of poems, stories, and journal entries.

These days, I’m surrounded by far more sophisticated writing tools: fancy pens and journals, a computer with writing software, a library of writing resources, and the Internet.

My writing has come a long way since I was a thirteen-year-old curled up on the floor with a pen, a notebook, and my imagination. Certainly, experience and studying did a lot to help me write better, but did these newfangled tools also improve my writing?

Yes and no.

I think a few writing tools do help us write better, but for the most part, tools make writing easier or more comfortable. They don’t improve our writing, but they do improve our writing process. Read More

How to Critique Other Writers’ Work

how to critique

How to critique other writers’ work.

As a writer, it helps to be thick-skinned.

Professional writing is a highly competitive and saturated field in which criticism is omnipresent for two important reasons:

1) It’s the most efficient way for writers to improve their skills, and

2) Written work is often positioned to receive widespread criticism upon publication.

And guess what? Everyone’s a critic — because everyone has an opinion. Anyone can read a piece of writing and opine that it is good or bad, weak or strong, or that it succeeded or failed.

There’s an art to providing well-constructed and thoughtful criticism that is helps a writer improve the work and that recognizes the fine line between personal preference and the objective quality of the work.

The process of critiquing other writers’ work thoughtfully and intelligently will strengthen your own writing. The tips below explain how to provide critiques that are helpful and respectful. If you can apply these tips to the critiques you give, then you’ll better position yourself to receive helpful and respectful critiques in return. Read More

Writing Resources: Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones

writing down the bones

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.

“I used to think freedom meant doing whatever you want. It means knowing who you are, what you are supposed to be doing on this earth, and then simply doing it.” — Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones

Ah, words of wisdom.

I was assigned Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg for a creative writing course in college. We were supposed to read a chapter or two a week, but I had a hard time putting it down and ended up inhaling the entire volume in a couple of days. It’s one of the best writing resources on the market, but what’s great about this book is that it’s a blast to read. Read More

Poetry Prompts for Ranting and Raving

poetry prompts

Get loud with these poetry prompts.

It’s easy to think of poetry as soft, flowery, and convoluted. It’s the stuff of Shakespeare, greeting cards, and children’s books. It’s precious, sweet, and erudite.

But some of the most exciting modern poetry defies all those stereotypes, and you need look no further than the slam poetry and spoken word communities to see how poetry can be infused with rage, passion, and humor.

These poets have mastered the art of ranting and raving with passion via performance poetry. It’s no wonder that during live recordings of some of their most impassioned poems, the crowd can be heard hooting and hollering.

Today’s poetry prompts encourage you to write a poem that unleashes your passion. Read More