A Writer’s Guide to Punctuation

Punctuation in a story is like the spice in a soup. When we’re sipping that soup off our spoons, we’re not likely to notice or identify every spice that has created the uniquely delicious flavor caressing our taste buds. Same goes for punctuation. When shaken out with a skillful hand, the very effectiveness of punctuation […]

Why I Hate Grammar Nazis – And Why I Am One

You know those mornings when you wake up, drag your bleary-eyed self over to the coffeemaker, pour that steaming cup of Joe (mostly) into your mug, then stagger to the laptop to see what new and fascinating developments Facebook and Twitter have dumped into your inbox overnight? Somebody’s posted a link to the latest free […]

4 Tricks for Picking the Perfect Word

Ironically, since words are our stock in trade, we’re often pretty casual in our selection of them. One of Charles Schulz’s incisive “Snoopy at the typewriter” strips from his Peanuts cartoon features poor ol’ Snoopy laboring away, sweating and smacking himself in the forehead. Finally, he turns to his typewriter and taps out, “The.” With […]

Most Common Writing Mistakes: Why Vague Writing Is Weak Writing

Vague writing is weak writing. Precision is the domain of the skilled and confident author. As the creator of your worlds and your characters, you will always have the ability to make statements of authority in your writing. After all, if you’re not the authority in your stories, who is? What this means is that […]

overusing passive verbs

Are You Overusing Passive Verbs?

In narrative writing, active verbs are usually preferable to passive verbs for the simple reason that the active voice offers more options for bringing a sentence to life and infusing it with… action! Although passive verbs certainly have their place, it’s good to remind ourselves from time to time of how much more power we […]

Are You Guilty of These 8 Common Grammar Mistakes?

Grammar. Some of us love it, some of us hate it. Either way, it’s an inevitability all writers have to deal with. Your story may be the best thing since ink first hit paper, but if you’ve confused your homonyms and mixed up your pronouns, readers aren’t likely to battle their way past your first […]

3 (Brief) Benefits of Writing With Brevity

Ernest Hemingway is famed for his sparse prose. Love his style or hate it, the man knew how to say what needed saying in the fewest words possible. In reading his World War I tragedy A Farewell to Arms, I was able to study the three main benefits of writing with brevity. The 3 Main […]

Is the Thesaurus Your Friend?

5 Pros and Cons of Using the Thesaurus

Writers are surprisingly divided over the value of using the thesaurus. Some consider it their secret weapon; others regard it as a crutch. So which is it? Stephen King’s opinion, from his 1988 essay “Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully—in Ten Minutes” is now well known: Any word you have to hunt for […]

Making Clichés Work in Your Writing

3 Ways to Make Cliches Work in Your Writing

True story: Sometime last year, I encountered a man named Howard (name changed to protect the not-so-innocent) who had written a fantasy novel that he couldn’t seem to sell. And he just couldn’t understand it. “My work is 100-percent cliché free! I hate, loathe, and despise clichés. I’ve scoured my work and eliminated every single […]

Why Authors Should Be Using the BIG Words

I’m a vocabulary nut. I admit it. I love words. Little words, big words, unusual words, archaic words. In high school, I kept a piece of paper in the front of whatever book I was reading, so I could write down unfamiliar words and look them up the next day. Whenever I looked up a word, I underlined it, and […]