Is your story world reactive? How about your characters? In fiction, reader engagement depends heavily on the interplay between motive and world.
June 22, 2022 · 6 Min Read
Change should color the outcome of a work of fiction. If the protagonist and world aren’t transformed, then the story is effectively meaningless. But what separates rote action from satisfying change? Read more...
There are few punctuation mistakes as prevalent as those involving dashes and hyphens. But how exactly do hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes differ? In this article, we find out.
June 2, 2022 · 8 Min Read
Although the punctuation marks look somewhat the same, their functions are radically different. Use a hyphen when an em dash is needed, and words become compounded instead of a clause being offset. Use an en dash when a hyphen is needed, and the compounded word isn’t compounded at all. Read more...
Writers should be cognizant of their story’s structure during the writing and editing stages of a work. But what are the main elements of plot? More importantly, how is structure balanced with originality?
February 16, 2022 · 6 Min Read
Plot structures can and do vary. However, most novels with popular appeal conform to a variation of the tried and true. Readers want to be oriented, but they also want to experience tension. They expect tangible conflict, a clear climax, and an ending that doesn’t disappoint. Read more...
January 27, 2022 · 9 Min Read
In fiction, the two most popular points of view used by writers are first person and third person. When writing in the first person, the writer uses the “I” and “we” pronouns. Read more...
Point of view is a crucial element of any work of fiction. It determines the narrator’s intimacy with the reader, and affects plot and world presentation. In this article, we take a closer look at the differences between third person omniscient, limited, and objective.
Short stories should have compelling characters and clear conflict. But how do you write a cohesive work of fiction in just a few thousand words? In this article, we take a closer look at short story writing.
January 16, 2022 · 13 Min Read
Novels and short stories share many of the same considerations. Characters must be well developed, and conflict must be present. There must be a theme—a strand of something that ties the prose together. It should have structure. Yet the limitation on how many words can be used in short stories adds an additional layer of complexity. Read more...
Writers are often told to stick to the active voice. But how do active and passive constructions differ? In this article, we look at the impact of grammatical voice on sentence length, clarity, and tension.
January 7, 2022 · 6 Min Read
In English, grammatical voice can be either active or passive. Both are correct, of course, but their applicability depends on what’s being written. Fiction, which seeks to elicit emotion, should be written in the active voice. Read more...
It can be tricky to write the first chapter of a novel. Where should you start? How important is backstory? In this article, we look at some of the factors that impact the quality of a first chapter.
November 12, 2021 · 4 Min Read
The first chapter of a novel needs to pique the reader’s interest and showcase the writer’s prose. The voice of the writing should connect with the reader as soon as possible—but presentation should not come at the cost of accessibility. Read more...
Books that prioritize information are beholden to many of the same rules that inform creative writing. In this blog post, we look at the most common pitfalls of writing about real-world events and experiences.
October 5, 2021 · 4 Min Read
Expository nonfiction books prioritize information, but information on its own does not make for an enjoyable read. For knowledge to be impactful, it must be original, well researched, and delivered as succinctly as possible. Read more...
It can be tricky to write a novel that contains a nested story. It has to be structurally sound, of course—but the motives of the storyteller add an additional layer of complexity to the prose.
August 6, 2021 · 6 Min Read
Simply put, a frame narrative is a story within a story. It could be a character telling a tale to other characters around a campfire, or it could be a character sitting down at a desk to regale a story directly to the reader. The structure of such novels can vary; however, they usually start off with the narrator telling the story, then switch to the actual story being told. Read more...
Writers often labor away to get a description exactly as they want it—only to have it returned with, “Don’t tell me, show me,” scrawled in the margin by an editor or writing mentor. In this article, we take a closer look at showing and telling.
May 13, 2021 · 6 Min Read
Introspection and outward action both play an important role in fiction. Action is impactful only when the character’s motives are understood (or at least suspected). Conversely, the internalization of events can only carry weight if there is outward action. Read more...
Literary students are lectured to ad infinitum on the strengths of active verbs. Yet what makes an active verb not just okay, but great? In this article, we analyze the impact of verb choice on scene construction and characterization.
March 16, 2021 · 7 Min Read
Verb choice takes on added importance when writing isn’t solely functional. Fiction writers don’t just convey information—they entertain while doing so. Read more...
What gives a character authenticity? Elaborate backstory and emotion are not enough; instead, the writer needs to dig deeper.
Some characters don’t seem to be able to shake their blandness—writers reiterate and revise, draft after draft, but still feel unsatisfied with the authenticity of their creations. In this article we’ll look at two crucial, often overlooked, ingredients of characterization: the character’s self-identity and perception of the world. Read full article...
Dec. 8, 2020 · 6 Min Read
Although crucial to any story, excessive expository writing can severely hamper reader enjoyment. In this article, we define exposition and look at its common pitfalls.
Nov. 21, 2020 · 9 Min Read
One of the more frequent criticisms levelled at writers is that their writing is too expository. At first, this may seem vague and even unfair; however, upon closer inspection, it often becomes clear why the critic feels that way. Exposition deals with backstory, and backstory is a crucial element of storytelling. Read more...
In this article, we define and look at examples of personification. Most importantly, we determine how the writer can use this literary device to enhance the mood of a story.
Nov. 4, 2020 · 5 Min Read
Personification can make an object seem willful, angry, or wise—even though it is only an inanimate thing. Needless to say, such a tool can give life to what would otherwise be bland descriptions and observations. Read more...
How do adjectives and adverbs impact writing? These word classes are crucial for writing clear descriptions, but overusing them can lead to wordiness.
Oct. 6, 2020 · 9 Min Read
After defining and giving examples of adjectives and adverbs, we look at how they influence sentence structure and readability. We then analyze how these word classes can cause wordiness, and how wordy writing should be revised.
What are literary symbols and how can you use them to add depth to your writing?
Sept. 14, 2020 · 4 Min Read
Writers often think that symbolism as a literary device is cliché and cheesy; however, if used correctly, symbols can be stirring. This article defines and gives examples of symbolism in literature. It also explains how symbols can be successfully implemented in writing. Read more...
In this article, we address the differences between similes, metaphors, and analogies. We also discuss when and how they should be used in writing.
Aug. 26, 2020 · 6 Min Read
Simile, metaphor, and analogy are often used interchangeably. However, although all three are used as tools of comparison in figurative language, they are not one and the same. Read more...
Aug. 6, 2020 · 4 Min Read
In short, characterization is the display of a character’s personality, beliefs, and motives through action, dialogue, and description. These traits can be showcased either directly or indirectly, but they always help to answer the following question: What is the character’s ultimate purpose? Read more...
Writing and punctuating dialogue in fiction can be tricky. This article uses examples to illustrate how dialogue should be formatted.
July 27, 2020 · 3 Min Read
How to write good dialogue? Why, by formatting it correctly, of course! The proper use of quotation marks, commas, periods, and speaker attributions are extremely important. Read more...
July 14, 2020 · 3 Min Read
A writing prompt is used to prod a writer to start writing. Putting pen to paper for the first time can be daunting, whether you're about to begin a novel, a chapter in a novel, or something else. Writing prompts can be a sentence, image, or anything that stirs inspiration. Read more...