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 […]

Have You Chosen the Wrong Tone for Your Story?

Have You Chosen the Wrong Tone for Your Story?

The tone you choose for your story can make or break your book. It will affect every single page you write. Tone guides readers in figuring how they’re supposed to view a story. Funny? Serious? Edgy? Sarcastic? Wielded with understanding, tone will help you create a more cohesive story and will pull readers that much […]

How to Make Adverbs Work for You

This post is by Janice Hardy (@Janice_Hardy). We hear it all the time: never use adverbs in your writing. Sound advice, but if we follow it to the extreme, we could miss out on their very useful properties. As bad a rep as adverbs have, they’re actually pretty handy during a first draft. They allow us to […]

3 Ways to Add Repetition That Pleases Readers

We all know to avoid “bad” repetition—our overused pet words, unintended echoing phrases, and repetitive sentence structure. But there’s also useful repetition that we can use to enhance our stories. Repetition can be used to reinforce a sense of unity or to supply readers with a satisfying feeling after tying up loose ends. Let’s look at three examples […]

How Humor Can Make You a Better Writer

How Humor Can Make You a Better Writer

This post is by Gene Perret. Following are a few quips that have something interesting in common: You know what an agnostic is? A cowardly atheist. Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today. Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint. The common factor is that they were all created by distinguished writers. The first […]

10 Sentence Slip-Ups

Top 10 Sentence Slip-Ups

Good writing comes down to two totally different factors: solid prose and “it.” The latter is that special something that brings stories to life, infuses vibrancy into characters and themes, and just basically makes stories work. But an author who has been blessed with all the “it” in the world still won’t make it if he isn’t also able to […]

Motivation-Reaction Units: Cracking the Code of Good Fiction

Motivation-Reaction Units: Cracking the Code of Good Writing

What’s the secret to good prose? What makes it work—not just on the aesthetic level of vivid and poetic word choices, but on the deeper and ultimately more important level of functionality? In short, is there a method authors can learn to create clear and powerful prose—or is it all luck and gut instinct? All […]

The Startling Effect of Too Much Clarity in a Story

The Surprising Effect of Too Much Clarity in a Story

This week’s video warns against the temptation to eliminate all subtlety and ambiguity. Video Transcript: Did you know that there’s such a thing as an author being too clear? Most of the time, we’re worrying our heads off to ensure our stories are clear enough. One of my first questions to beta readers and critique partners is always, […]

Use Adverbs to Create Music for Your Readers’ Ears

The problem with modifiers in general, and adverbs in particular, is they are notorious tellers and a hindrance to good showing. Instead of telling us, “He stormed out of the room angrily,” show us by his actions how an angry man storms out of the room. Show us his clenched fists with white knuckles. Let us hear the boom of […]

Why the Adverb Isn’t as Dead as Mark Twain Would Like

This week’s video points out three reasons writers need to be even more dedicated in stamping out the dreaded adverb. Video Transcript: Perhaps the most famous condemnation of adverbs is Mark Twain’s, “If you see an adverb, kill it.” I’m going to take a wild guess and say that, right about now, you’re probably nodding your head in sage […]