cherish language

Words Are Radical! (or, How to Cherish Language)

Years ago, I was hiking with someone around the Scotts Bluff National Monument in western Nebraska. A bird flew over our heads, black against a metallic July sky. A lover of all things beautiful, my hiking partner was the first to point it out. I shaded my eyes. “Cool. What do think it is?” He […]

How to Decide Between Plain Prose and Beautiful Prose

How to Decide Between Plain Prose and Beautiful Prose

Truth is beauty. Beauty is truth. This is perhaps nowhere more evident than in art, which deliberately and consciously explores both. Words, in particular, are the explicit context in which humanity presents, investigates, and shares its truth. Perhaps more than any other art form, writing gives us a blatant venue for exploring the truth side […]

6 (More) Ways to Improve Your Book by Writing Humor

6 (More) Ways to Improve Your Book by Writing Humor

Humor is like any other type of writing: setup, payoff, setup, payoff, lather, rinse, repeat. That’s all there is to it! Okay, that’s not all there is to it. Humor is a craft that can be learned and perfected. With that in mind, let’s look at how a joke is crafted. How to Write Funny: Set […]

Don’t Write Scenes–Write Images

When you think about it, the transformative power of the written word is no less phenomenal than the technological miracles of computers, televisions, and smarts phones. Both are alchemy. Technology uses wires and circuits to turn code into the wonder of light and color. Writing does exactly the same thing. Little black squiggles on the […]

Most Common Mistakes (Purple Prose)

Most Common Writing Mistakes, Pt. 63: Purple Prose

Words, glorious words! Fellow logophiles, were we not initially drawn to writing because of our sesquipedal amours? We love words. We love big words, arcane words, chewy words, beautiful words. We love combinations of words that are bold, poetic, eloquent, and sometimes even showy. So it’s little wonder many of us risk creating purple prose. […]

5 Paragraph Mistakes You Don't Know You're Making

8 Paragraph Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making

Words, sentences, and paragraphs–they’re the bricks and mortar of the writing craft. They’re fundamental. If we’re not using them correctly, it doesn’t matter how wonderful our mastery of characters and story structure may be. They’re make-or-break territory. Not long ago, a Wordplayer messaged me, asking if I could write a post on paragraph mistakes. She explained, […]

4 Methods to Invigorate Your Prose With Surprising Sentences

4 Methods to Invigorate Your Prose With Surprising Sentences

Good storytelling is all about the big pieces: structure, character, theme. But good writing? That’s much more intricate, much more intimate. Good writing is about creating purposeful and interesting prose. Creating prose of that caliber starts with the mechanics of grammar and spelling. But any middle-schooler is supposed to be able to do that. The art of […]

To Be or Not To Be: In Defense of the Passive Voice

To Be or Not To Be: In Defense of the Passive Voice

Recently, one of my critique partners asserted that any use of the verb to be formed the passive voice and deserved to be stamped out with as much vigor as possible. This got me to thinking about that misunderstood verb form and the use of passive voice in modern fiction. All of my critique partners […]

You've Been Writing Sentences Wrong All Your Life! Find Out Why

You’ve Been Writing Sentences Wrong All Your Life! Find Out Why

The sentence. It’s the building block of all books. Without it, we may have a poem, a song, a movie, a painting, an interpretative dance. But we sure as scuttlebutt don’t have a book. Most of us learn how to write (and diagram!) sentences in grade school. Out of the many potential pitfalls of writing a […]

Do Writers Really Have to Learn All That (Yucky) Grammar?

Do writers really have to learn all that (yucky) grammar? In a word, yes. In two words: absolutely yes. I hear groans. I hear protests. You hated English Comp in school? Old, crotchety Mrs. Snigglegrass made you dissect sentences and name the parts of speech? You got a what as your final grade? I feel […]