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The concept of Astrology or “study of the stars” has been around since the ancient world and can be traced as far back as the first dynasty of Mesopotamia.

For some the stars are a portent of the future and help inform one on the best course of action to take based on the stars’ alignment. If born under a specific “star” or month during the year you may have certain characteristics and mannerisms that correspond to a horoscope sign. There are 12 different horoscope signs which make up the zodiac with each sign representing a different animal. Those born between the late January through late February fall under the 11th sign of the zodiac: Aquarius.

Aquarius (January 20 — February 18)

The Aquarians are the “water-bearers,” descendants of “Hyas,” who was killed by wild animals while fetching water from a river.  His sisters still cry for him, their tears being the falling rain. This rain from the heavens is why Aquarius is the zodiac sign based in air and water.  Children of the water-bearer are known for their independent nature, general weird humor, and quirkiness. An air sign, they are intellectual and witty having been gifted with an analytical mind. Always living in the future, they are ahead of their time and may come off as a bit strange to others.

Aquarians really know how to stand out from the crowd and have great leadership potential. This sign is also the sign of friendship having the ability to make friends with almost anyone and most like has a wide social circle. Their sign rules surprises and originality, they enjoy shock value and love to change their minds. A practical joker at heart they are always fun to be around. Ruled by Uranus, Aquarians are tech savvy and all about progress, the love next generation technologies and can usually be found tinkering with the latest gadgets and gizmos. Water Bearers also have great imaginations and tend to see possibilities where there appear to be none.

  • Symbol: The Water Bearer
  • Element: Air
  • Ruler: Uranus — planet of originality, revolution, and electricity
  • Season: Winter
  • Stone: Amethyst
  • Secret Desire: To experience total freedom
  • Character Traits: Communicative, individualistic, inventive, open-minded, logical, friendly, eccentric, detached, opinionated
  • Compatible With: Libra, Gemini, Sagittarius, Aries

Your Thoughts

  1. What is your horoscope sign?
  2. Do you read your monthly horoscope?
  3. If you do read your horoscope, do you trust or follow its advice?

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Journal Entry: Thu Jan 29, 2015, 12:49 PM

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  • Mood: Joy
  • Watching: Hunter x hunter (2011)
  • Playing: bayoneta 2

Hello everyone, and welcome to the second installment of our "tWR Interviews", where we interview experienced writers of our community about the art of writing!
If you're reading, please favourite:+fav: the article and share it so we can spread this amazing resource around!

The other articles posted are:

What will this article's interviews center on?

This interview will be double:

The second lesson of our Mentorship Project for poetry will be about verses, linebreaks, stanzas and other basics. And the prose lesson will be on paragraph division and dialogue. So our guests will be answering some questions about these aspects of writing.

Before We Start...

A couple of things for you to look at.

Grammar Natzee: Wall O' Text by dinyctis

And our illuminara has the most useful folder of writing guides written by her. They are incredible, and so worth your time. Especially your time, dear prose mentees. ;)

And one last thing...

The first interview had more deviants interviewed, because the questions were broader and so the answers shorter. But our interviews are getting more technical, and with that, we'll be interviewing less persons each time, but have more knowledge from each - as you'll see here, each deviant has a lot to say about everything.

Ready for some poetry knowledge?

Many beginners seem to be drawn to the convenience of minimal line-breaks and stanza use, instead preferring a 'wall of text' approach. In your opinion, what are the pros and cons of this approach? What role can linebreaks and stanza division play in poems?

Vigilo - Firstly, re: the wall-of-text. It's a tough call, because its effect is really dependent on - among other factors - enjambment and end-stopping. If you're using a lot of enjambment, it's going to make your reader rush; if you're using a lot of end-stopping, it's going to make your reader pause. Sometimes, this works to your benefit (that's the pro), but if you're not careful, it can leave your reader feeling breathless or awkward (that's the con). 

Line-breaks and stanza divisions are so, so important for a poem. They make your poem. Literally, they form its structure and its shape - it's not only about the aural (the sound and the rhythm), but also the visual effect. Anyway, so, I came up with this metaphor especially for this interview, so you'd all better appreciate it. 

Think of your poem as a house. Some poems are studios: they don't need many, if any, rooms or floors. Other poems are bungalows, in that they need rooms, but not many, if any, floors, and other poems still are apartment buildings, in that they need rooms and floors. And so on. (I don't know many types of houses.)

In this metaphor, 'room' can refer to 'stanza' (seeing as stanza comes from the Italian word for room!) and 'floor' can refer to 'line-breaks'. It's a slightly messy metaphor, okay, but the point is, firstly, the problem with the wall-of-text approach is, often, there's not enough room (heh) for the poem to breathe. Secondly, I would generally advise against going with the same approach towards lineation (a broad term involving everything from stanzas and strophes to line-breaks and enjambment) for every poem. It's not a technique you can replicate easily across poems - it's something you have to build for your poem, much like how you'd build your house according to how many rooms and floors you need.

For advice on lineation that is way more concise and coherent and less metaphorical, I'd suggest a look at this. It's not the end-all, be-all, but it's very sensible and useful.

Carmalain7 - In my mind, stanzas are somewhat used like paragraphs. They can act as a visual and aesthetic representation of a transition of thought or subject that becomes easier to follow because you can see the change as you read it. The break also helps minds find like things and what belongs where.

Similarly, a tactfully used stanza break can create an air of influence for important things; this is most easily observed, I believe, when a line is left on its own amidst full stanzas.

Line breaks similarly act as a way of giving the mind a mental pause, or - if punctuated cleverly - an anti-pause and can lead to some clever wordplay. In many ways, line breaks help lineup like thoughts and give the writer structure and control over how their poem is read.

jade-pandora - I have always attempted to observe meter and cadence, and form of one kind or another, even with poems that are free verse with no rhyme scheme at all.  I feel that this is equally important in both free verse and fixed form. There should be a rhythm in a person’s mind as they read through a piece.  I find that the primary methods to use that help get emotion and imagery across are: 
#1: “Line Breaks”, #2: “Stanza Division”, #3: “Form”, and equally important, #4: “Brevity vs Overuse”, #5: The Partnership of Word Choice and Sound”, and #6: “Punctuation – When and when not to”.  
These make the difference every time, allowing for appreciative flow and artistry.  All six are each key categories to a more successful effort, no matter if the poem is fixed form or free verse. Regarding free verse: if beginning writers think this means no form need be observed, this is a misnomer.  From my own experience over the years since I started writing free verse is that form always has its use and function.  Free verse may seem free of discipline, but it has its own set of observations that need to be learned and applied for your best results.  In both fixed form and free verse, be mindful where you choose your line breaks, and be consistent. With some poems the breaks seem indifferently placed, losing the artistry, and disrupting the flow.  For a reader this is distracting if not confusing.  These breaks give the writer more ability to convey everything: action, thought, and description in every sense, shift, and tense.  Let them work for you.  Line breaks: those are your brush strokes.  Poetry is art.
Red Queen  is a slender form, using stanza/verse, no punctuation and minimal use of capitals in one of my free verse poems.

TwilightPoetess - I think both forms of poetry--the more "prose" oriented and the flowing, lilting of enjambments--have a way of touching people.  Prosetry is far and wide becoming a more known way of writing--though often, I find people writing "wall of text" poetry, as you put it, do so on pieces that are meant to be more raw, perhaps more character-oriented, without the dialogue (and sometimes, the punctuation) required by prose.  These pieces, I find, tend to be more emotional and often less abstract to readers than poetry.  This is a good thing, if the writer is striving to reach more people and/or write a fairly relate-able piece.  (Of course, this isn't to say there aren't abstract prosetry pieces--just that I see more of the human variety).  However, readers can sometimes find this form confusing.  If you're a writer who abstains from punctuation and wants readers to take away from the pieces a specific mood or tone (from your words, from the placement, from the rhythm) you'll find that "wall of text" writings seldom achieve this.  Readers struggle, for good reason sometimes, with this form--the words tend to run together, and without proper punctuation or a sense of "formatting," the rhythm you were striving for (unless that rhythm is meant to be "stream of conscious" or panicky) is often lost. I feel line breaks, therefore, help to keep readers on track--successful enjambment draws a reader's eye down the page at just the right speed, stops them on just the right words, and lets them take away the emotions of the piece in an easier, more succinct way. The same is true of stanzas. For pieces especially that convey many different events or moods, stanzas can help to break up the sections and tell readers, "Okay, we're moving on now."

Do you have any preference between shorter, or longer verses when writing? If so, why do you choose one over the other?

Vigilo - I don't really have a preference for either - it's a poem-by-poem basis. I think my poetry tends to longer verses (in terms of the number of lines), but it's not due to any (conscious) personal preference. Brevity in poetry is fantastic, though, and definitely worth exploring - groups like minimalit and TheSimulacrum (though I don't know if they're active at the moment) are great resources for that.

Carmalain7 - I think the goal should always be to use whatever best allows you to communicate what you are trying to communicate with your reader. 

I think an important aspect of this is to break up large concepts into digestible amounts through spacing, but I'm also a time honored hypocrite of such things. Thus, I think you should ultimately just try to keep it as natural as possible. 

Always keep in mind, if it sounds even remotely complicated or difficult to read in its current state to you, it's a thousand times more complicated and difficult for your reader.

Rule of thumb: break it up / simplify.

jade-pandora - Over the years, I have gradually morphed from longer to shorter verse, but there is a history as to why, being from my studies with Haiku and Eastern poetry; to say more with fewer words, and do it in a light and artistic way.  I enjoy writing both ways, but in each case, with subtle control and discipline.  Whenever I write long verse, it is the more appropriate method of expression at that particular moment.  It is actually case-by-case.  I tend to lean more toward short verse because of the everlasting influence my studies have had on my preferences.  In recent years my work definitely reflects a preference for short verse. Here are samples of both long and short verse from my gallery:

Fringe :how long verse can always be satisfying yet not overbearing.

River Dream and Elysium : minimal without editing the life from it – 2 short verse poems.

TwilightPoetess - My poems are usually of the shorter variety--haiku and other forms of brevity are my go-to whenever I need a writing pick-me-up or find myself stuck. I think this is because brevity poses a sort of challenge that longer pieces (for me!) don't--for brevity to be successful, you have to have a firm idea of where your ideas should fall, what words would make the most impact, etc.  It's like a crossword puzzle for poetry with only a few very right answers and a HEAP of boxes you can't fit words into, if that makes sense? You have to really THINK about what you're trying to say, and find the best way to do it right away, instead of spending the whole of ten stanzas working it out to end on your best two lines after sixty or whatever amount of other, more convoluted, writing.

Of course, this isn't to say long poetry doesn't accomplish the same as short! There are SO MANY writers I envy for being able to write longer pieces and bring something new to the forefront with each stanza. If you prefer long poetry, that's awesome! I envy you. It's just not for me. Short poetry is more like throwing back a shot glass filled with imagery--you get one punch to make a mark. I like that.

Do you have any techniques (such as reading poems out loud) that you use to figure out how your line and stanza are structured that you would be willing to share?

Vigilo - I don't have anything important that comes to mind, unfortunately, so no, not really. I sometimes read certain lines aloud, to see how the pauses work out, but that's not a very common habit.

Carmalain7 - I've never been much of an out-loud reader, despite seeing the value in such a technique, but I'm a dedicated self-editor.

Nothing I write gets posted as soon as I complete it; I'll sit on things for a month, reading it through every few days whenever I'm in different places mentally, to make sure that it's right before posting.

That's not to say that I fix everything by the time I post stuff (as my amazing watchers & friends are all too quick to point out on a regular basis), but I seem to always improve upon what I am trying to do in that time.

I think being open to editing - at least over a fixed period of time - is one of the biggest gifts you can ever give to your writing.

jade-pandora - Yes, absolutely. And before going further with my answer, I would like to point out that originally, poetry was always meant to be read aloud, usually to a small group of people. The Greeks did this with a passion. As for how this helps me, I print out a newly written poem and read it aloud to myself. I scribble notations, adding a word here, crossing out an entire line there. I type a draft with my revisions, and repeat the routine. I do that because it is better for me than trying to do it from the glare of a monitor screen. The more cohesive the poem becomes while using this method, the more improved my audible recitation becomes. That is when I know the poem has been scrubbed and polished to completion – and to my satisfaction.
Wishing : to appreciate my own poem, reading it aloud gives me the upper hand to hear if I am on point with the flow and pace of each verse.

TwilightPoetess - Because I write and read (novels, poetry, whatever) so much, I don't necessarily need to read what I'm writing out loud--UNLESS it's a rhyming piece.  I think, especially for fixed poem writing that has a set meter or rhyme scheme (i.e. sonnets, LaChartas, Magali Shairlis), reading what you're writing out loud is a LIFESAVER.  There's no other real way to be sure that your meter/rhythm is where it should be. But when I'm free writing, I try not to think TOO much about my words. I can always go back in and edit it later. In the moment, sometimes, just to write is enough.  

In regards to enjambment and word placement....I think that all really depends on what mood or tone you're trying to convey.  If you're writing about fear, you'll probably want more staccato, choppy lines--places where words maybe break off midway and start again further down the page.  Disappointment might be related in longer, more word-heavy lines--where the words drag at you, pull at your thoughts, or hang from your tongue like chains. A lot of this means you'll be using thesauruses and dictionaries to find JUST the right word; I also often rely on google images if I'm writing a nature-based piece about a subject I don't know much about.  The internet is the best tool available to writers these days; use it!

Omitting capitals seems a stylistic choice that many young writers are attracted to, what are your thoughts on capitalization in poetry? As an experienced writer, does the use [or lack] of capitalization have a purpose for you, or a context in which they can be best utilized?

Vigilo - I tend to capitalise the letter at the start of a sentence, rather than capitalising every line or not capitalising anything at all. That doesn't mean I never do either - I think capitalisation has a purpose and a context, for me, and like with length, it's a poem-by-poem basis. 

Capitalising every first letter in every line creates a completely different effect than capitalising nothing at all, and so does anything in the middle. You can figure this out by reading different poems, or by trying different methods out yourself and seeing how it changes your reading of your poem. I'd avoid always relying on a particular style on capitalisation, not only because it turns what should be a stylistic choice into a habit (for individual, unrelated poems, at least) but also because it limits your options, and you don't want to do that.

Carmalain7 - Not gonna' lie, I didn't capitalize things for a bit when I started writing. I then went on to the more tradition 'Capitalize All The Lines!' thing, and now I try to keep it as close to standard grammar rules as I can.

As someone who's worn all the shoes, I think each can be beneficial depending on what you are trying to achieve with your writing; that said, you should definitely take the time to evaluate what is going to be beneficial to your piece.

Capitalization can be a great way to add emphasis or importance where it otherwise wouldn't be; inversely, lower-cases can diminish the importance of words.

I, personally, think a good mix of the two is the best way to go until you have a concerted reason for opting for one way over another.

jade-pandora - I often omit the use of capitals completely if I want the piece to have the flow, feel, and look of Haiku and Eastern poetry, for instance.  However, I am also comfortable starting a stanza with a capital, as long as it represents a new thought or descriptive in the poem, and a period at the end of that thought or descriptive.  I feel all writers should be learned in the use of capitals; they can be useful and even help the reader capture imagery and more of an understanding about dialog.  I also feel when using the first person pronoun “I”, it looks and reads better as upper case.  Lower case can be disruptive if a reader does not expect, and it does not have a pleasant aesthetic.  Of course I refer to poetry, but for prose my feelings are stronger. A writer should observe upper and lower case consistently where it is traditionally applied. I did not always feel this way while my writing style was going through several transitions, when I felt freewheeling to stretch and reach far beyond anything staid and traditional, celebrating my new found freedom. However, using lower case exclusively is not especially stylish, or clever.  What it is to many readers is, inconvenient and distracting.
Ghost : showing a sample from a poem that avoids heavy-handed application, and uses merely the lightest dusting of capitals and punctuation. I submit that it illustrates the best of both worlds.

TwilightPoetess - Coming from someone who, lately, has been writing a lot more pieces that lack capitals, this is an interesting (and slightly more complex) question.  I feel like both poetry WITH capitals, and poetry without, offer to a degree the same things--they're both art forms striving to put a thought onto paper, to relate in some way (even if unintentional) to their audience.  Therefore, I personally don't put much stock in whether or not a piece is capitalized; often, I don't even NOTICE if it is or isn't, unless I'm the one writing.  In that case, I weigh my options; if the piece is more "fictional" and not necessarily being written to make a point, I use capitals.  If I'm writing more from my heart or making a statement about the world, I tend to steer away from capitals (though I'm not sure I can explain WHY this is). 

Also, there are more "famous" writers who avoided capitals--and are never questioned about it.  e.e. cummings, for instance, doesn't capitalize anything--not even his name!--except for a very few instances in a piece. Certain words, words he wants to have a deeper impact, will often be the ONLY capitalized words in a piece--and usually in the middle or at the end of a line. I guess I don't necessarily see what the fuss over capitals and the lack of in poetry is--just like there are poets who capitalize the very first word on every line, there are those who don't capitalize hardly at all. It doesn't make a bit of difference, so long as the piece speaks to you as a reader. Right?

Similarly, subtext writing. Why, or why not?

Vigilo - I wouldn't, unless I thought it would make or break my poem.

neurotype has a nice article on this which pretty much sums up everything I can think of. It also has Game of Thrones gifs, check it out. I like the last question it has: am I doing this for myself or for my audience? It's a good question to keep in mind, not only with regards to subtext, but also other choices in formatting.

Carmalain7 - Words are historied and powerful, and I think that using fonts, font sizes, spacings or even most ellipses to visually convey what you are trying to write is in many ways a disservice to the power of words to speak for themselves.

I think many can fall into using that as a crutch and hurt their development as a writer because they use general words and rely on aesthetic to convey their message for them.

jade-pandora - In the case of subtext, this often relates to the art of writing dialog, whether for the page, stage, or screen.  People rarely say exactly what they mean, and dialog written too plainly (referred to as “on the nose”) sounds stilted and false to the ear.  My use of subtext would be something similar to a stage direction found in a script, such as “He watches her leave the room while clenching his fists, saying not a word.”  That gives you a lot of information between the person who left the room and the person remaining in the room, without a word being spoken. That is subtext, and I love what a difference it makes. Whether penning dialog, shaping a theme or relationship, be it purposeful, imagined, discovered en route, or developed over time, subtext lends real emotional and intellectual depth to any dramatic or literary work.  One of the hallmarks of a good writer is a dialog rich in subtext.
Coffee and Caffeine  : from one of my poems, here is an example of the use of subtext.

TwilightPoetess - This --along with bolded, italicized, underlined, etc. text--is more up to stylistic choices, in my opinion.  For a while, I (and many other writers here on dA particularly) was drawn to using subtext in my writings.  I don't know that there was really a reason for it; it just seemed "cool."  However, I have since changed my mind about it--I feel that subtext (or bold, or italicized, or underlines), while not necessarily annoying in a piece of writing, can BECOME annoying or confusing if used in excess.  If you're determined to use these formatting options, weigh your words carefully; you only really need to use them once, MAYBE twice, in a piece to completely change/alter the tone.  So use them carefully!  Your readers will notice (and become irritated, or give up on the piece completely) if you make it TOO hard to read.

What are your opinions on repetition in poetry? Any best practices you can share?

Vigilo - Repetition is great. I love repetition. Watch me repeat the word 'repetition' an unreasonable amount of times in this answer. 

Repetition is a pretty broad term, actually. You can repeat sounds - alliteration, assonance, consonance, and whatnot - and words - anaphora, diphora, etc. The cool, cool thing about repetition is that, unlike some other techniques (punctuation, I'm looking at you), very often, as the writer, you will (hopefully) have a pretty solid opinion on when it's a) really lame or b) really effective, which will help you figure out when and how you want to use it.

Repetition is also the worst, because your readers might or might not agree with your opinion. It's difficult to do right. Practicing with fixed form poetry helped me a lot with repetition, so I'd suggest giving fixed form poetry a go. There's nothing like writing, say, a villanelle or three to help with understanding how repetition can structure a poem.

Carmalain7 - I very much enjoy self referential poems and think that, when planned and executed well, repetition can be one of the greatest tools in a poet's arsenal to getting their message across and stressing its importance.

That established, I think it needs to be used sparingly and should be playing off of itself and constantly evolving and moving forward in order to be effective.

Some of the top-of-mind best examples are Poe's 'The Bells', Eliot's 'Hollow Men', Crane's 'War is Kind', or even 'The Understanding' by oracle-of-nonsense.

All are differing uses of the same technique to grip the reader; all are perfectly planed; all are deftly executed; all are learning opportunities.

jade-pandora - Since song is frequently a sub-genre of poetry, repetition definitely earns its presence, providing the writer is alert and knowledgeable of how often or how little repetition should be used to best serve a poem.  Abuse would be when a piece is glutted with noticeably unnecessary repeated lines that ruin the flow.
letting go and Eternal are two examples from my gallery that demonstrate the use of repetition. 

TwilightPoetess - It depends on the poem, I think. Repetition is an AWESOME tool--if used correctly. If you're repeating a word ONLY because you think you need to, I'd suggest thinking it over again. If you're writing a poem about fear, you don't HAVE to start every line with "fear is like" or "being afraid is" ; this is what titles are for, after all!  In certain form pieces (the sestina, for instance!) where repetition is KEY, however, it becomes an entirely different aesthetic--and often points readers in the right direction/makes readers reconsider your message. These repeated lines, therefore, are often the ones the most thought goes into when writing--because they HAVE to mean something, they HAVE to change the piece, they HAVE to matter.

So my advice here is, if you're going to use repetition as a tool in your poetry (or any of your writing!), MAKE IT COUNT. Don't just repeat words willy-nilly because you can.

On to the prose wisdom!

A lot of new prose writers' first obstacle are paragraphs; avoiding the wall of text is fundamental, but not everyone understands this immediately. Could you tell us, in your opinion, what is the most important reason why paragraph division exists and should be used?

LiliWrites - Think about the way we talk. There are pauses in between thoughts and images when we're telling someone about our day. We have to organize our experiences into cohesive thoughts so the person we're relaying the information to can then organize their experience of our experience into cohesive thoughts! It's a complicated business, talking. 

Writing is even more complicated because we're relaying information without the benefit of our audience being there to interrupt if something gets confusing or we're talking too fast and they missed something. That's why paragraphs are important. They artificially create that pause that happens naturally in a conversation so the reader has time to digest the last bit of information before moving on to the next. If you never pause while you're talking, no one knows what you're saying. It's doubly true for writing.

illuminara - There are two very important reasons for the existence of paragraphs:

1) To provide your readers with clarity. Clarity is always, always, ALWAYS the most important part of writing. We write in order to share our ideas, thoughts, expressions, and emotions with others. If we fail at clarity, we fail at the fundamental purpose of writing.

2) Because white space is beautiful. Writing is art. It should be beautiful, like painting to the ear—or rather to that little voice you hear inside your head as you read. Prose should have a rhythm to it, a heartbeat, its own sort of visual punctuation.

Paragraphs are an essential part of that heartbeat.

See what I did there? You can and should use paragraphs (and sentence structure!) to emphasize important thoughts or dramatic actions.

Now for a few basic rules:

1) You should have no more than one character acting or talking in a single paragraph. Every time a new or different character speaks or takes action, hit the enter key.

2) Open your paragraphs with a subject sentence or key element and expand from there. For example, start a descriptive paragraph with the most important aspect of the scene, and then expand on that image with any necessary supporting details.

3) You should only write about one subject per paragraph. This can be a bit subjective, so remember that paragraphs exist to provide clarity to your readers and use them accordingly.

Otherwise, paragraph breaks are a stylistic choice. Use them to make music.

Another thing is punctuation: essential, again, but potentially tricky even for non-beginners. Do you have any small suggestion for our mentees?

LiliWrites - I never struggled much with punctuation. If there's a pause in your thought, there should be a pause in your sentence. Figuring out which pause to use is important. Commas, periods, colons, and semi-colons are all very useful tools with very different purposes. They are the next layer of what paragraphs begin. If a paragraph is vital for the reader to be able to digest information, then punctuation is vital for the reader to digest how you're saying the information.

My best advice for learning to use punctuation is to first make sure you understand what the punctuation mark does (great tutorial for that right here:… ) and to use it the way it is intended to be used. Too many writers feel the need to distinguish their "style" early on, but that's rubbish. You are a student for a very long time after you leave your traditional classrooms. You should always be working toward perfecting your style within the boundaries of traditional use before you resort to breaking the rules. Breaking punctuation rules needs to have an extremely good justification if you want your work to be read by people who are serious about writing. If you can convey the same message with your word choice and sentence structure, do so. A professional writer is a lot like a professional horse trainer. They both work with willful, stubborn animals, but the sweet spot is getting them to bend their will to yours without breaking their spirit.

illuminara - This subject can turn technical really fast, so I’ll simply share the one fool-proof way to learn every punctation rule known to English: obtain a resource book from Amazon or borrow one from the library and consider it your Bible. The Chicago Manual of Style is THE standard used by editors and the publishing industry. It can be a bit expensive brand new, but you can find discounts on used copies or older editions.

If that’s a bit out of your comfort zone, I’d suggest starting with something like the book I originally learned from back in high school called Writers Inc. Both these books contain lots of other great information about the nuances of the English language and the technical side of writing in addition to rules for punctuation.

While you’re waiting for your new book to arrive, take a look at websites like The Punctuation Guide that was recently shared with me by the lovely SadisticIceCream. Keep in mind, however, that the internet isn’t the Bible, and some resources on the subject are written by amateurs and contain inaccuracies.

Unlike most everything else about writing, punctuation is distinctly NOT subjective. It has set rules you must always follow or risk looking like a n00b. The good news is that they are constant and without exception (unlike most other parts of the English language), so memorizing them is fairly quick and easy. If you get hung up on something, you now own a handy resource that will provide you with the correct information. 

Do you think paragraphs in prose can be compared to stanzas in poetry, do they serve the same purpose?

LiliWrites - They can serve the same purpose, though I feel that stanzas in poetry are often more important for visual reasons. The "flow" of a poem can be heavily dictated by what words the author chooses to end a line on as well as how they space the stanzas apart. A poem that has, for instance, 5 stanzas of 5 lines each with 10 syllables in each line is going to flow much differently (whether or not it rhymes) than a poem that has 10 lines of 5 syllables each with only the last two lines separated from the rest of the work. Much of that has to do with the visual aesthetic of a poem on a page. Stanzas are not necessary in a poem the way paragraphs are necessary in prose though. In poetry, the breaking of the line is what causes the pause in reading for that moment of mental digestion.

illuminara - Not exactly … but I’m far from an expert on the rules of poetry. I’d say there are some metaphoric similarities between the two, but they’re subject to a completely different set of rules. However, when it comes to bringing rhythm to your words, paragraphs do play an important role, though not as important as sentence structure and the words themselves.
In perfect prose, if there is such a thing, sentences and paragraphs should be used in harmony to effortlessly guide a reader from one thought to the next, much like a dancer leads his partner through the steps of a dance. Paragraphs are a big part of the rhythm of this dance. It’s kind of hard to explain without examples, so I suggest reading "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald. His prose is beautiful, and I regard it to be the best example of well-written prose one could study.

You've been on deviantArt a good while, so I'm asking you to stretch your memory a bit. Giggle What do you think is the most common mistake writers make when it comes to dialogue, and do you have any advice as to how to avoid it?

LiliWrites - Adverbs in dialogue tags. It was the mistake I made constantly as a new writer. If what your character actually says is not strong enough to stand on it's own, then you need to revise your character's words. Adverbs in dialogue tags are the result of not fully developing what your character needs to say. They're a crutch, and an obvious one. 

The second most common mistake is trying to make completely unique characters. Even if your character is an alien from planet X-99Alpha and has six eyes and one leg, if there's nothing ordinary about him that we as everyday humans can relate to, we're going to lose interest. We're selfish like that. We want to read aboout someone that has something in common with us so we can feel like his story could somehow be our story. 

illuminara - Punctuation errors aside (which a quick glance through your shiny new “Bible” will correct), there are a few big areas where writers miss the mark with dialogue.

1) It’s boring and long winded or just uninteresting because it contains no conflict or tension.

2) It’s too cryptic. This tends to be a problem with more advanced writers, and I catch myself struggling with it often.

3) It doesn’t actually belong in the story because it does nothing to move the character along his or her character arc.

All of these problems can be avoided in the same way. The first step is to identify them as a problem, and the only real way to do that is to hold your dialogue up to the litmus test of story arc. Ask yourself, “Does this dialogue move the story forward and cause progression toward an ending that contrasts the beginning?” If it doesn’t, it’s gotta go. That might sound harsh, but dialogue in and of itself is not a story. It’s a tool writers use to tell a story. The story is king, and the dialogue is its loyal subject. It has no right to rebel just because it’s witty!

A few general guidelines for dialogue include:

1) If a character is “conveniently” providing information that can be worked into the narration instead, cut it from the dialogue and cleverly work it into your narration. That’s a no-brainer and will prevent your dialogue from becoming a dreaded “info dump.”

That said, skilled writers can work bits of information into dialogue without making the characters sound forced or unnatural, but it’s an advanced skill. If you’re just starting out, keep information in the narration and only authentic-sounding dialogue in quotation marks. If you’re up for a challenge, experiment and see what you can pull off.

2) Leave out the parts of conversation you hate having to deal with in real life. Awkward, lengthy greetings, goodbyes, small talk, etc. have no business being written into a story. Why? Other than being a terrible bore, they don’t provide any forward momentum or dramatic tension and bring the story to a screeching halt. No one likes sitting in traffic, which is the story-telling equivalent of boring dialogue. Ultimately, it's preventing your story from getting where it needs to go and where your readers want to be.

3) Every character should have their own unique style of speech, just as people do in real life (with the boring bits cut out, of course). If it helps, do a little research into regional speech patterns and find out how your characters from different regions would talk. What phrases would they use, what grammatical errors would they make, and what are their most-used words? Your readers should be able to tell your characters apart just by their speech patterns even without dialogue tags. (Unless they’re family members. Family members often sound freakishly similar.)

4) Speaking of dialogue tags, keep them short and sweet. Action tags are best, or a simple “she said” will do the trick nicely. Anything more is holding up traffic again.

5) Ask yourself if the dialogue “stands alone” and makes sense without any explanation. Sometimes it’s hard to tell in the moment because you know what your character means and is trying to get at. However, if you come back to a story a week or two later and aren’t exactly sure what your character meant, you have the “too cryptic” problem. Take step back, stop worrying about trying to be witty, and focus on clarity.

Clarity is king. Nothing you write should ever, ever sacrifice clarity, and this includes dialogue. This was a hard lesson for me to learn, but it’s one of the most important things I’ve ever learned about writing. We write to be understood, and if we can’t be understood, we are fundamentally failing. I know I’ve said this twice; it’s THAT important.

Also, as with every other aspect of writing, enter as late into a conversation as possible and exit as early as possible. As long as doing so doesn’t sacrifice clarity, you’re golden.

Do you think a piece with no dialogue can be as strong and engaging as one without? Why (or if not, why not)?

LiliWrites - Absolutely. Some of the most profound writing I've come across on this website had no dialogue. Dialogue is a tool, just like anything else in your writing kit. If the tool isn't necessary for the story, don't use it. I've read pieces that were only dialogue that were incredible as well. It's all about finding the right way to tell your story. If you feel like you can't possibly write a good piece without dialogue, I would encourage you to try. Writers who rely too heavily on one tool in the kit tend to stop growing in their other skills.

illuminara - This is totally a matter of personal taste as well as a measure of stylistic skill. In "The Great Gatsby" for example, there are countless passages that contain no dialogue that are more beautiful and engaging, in my opinion, than many of the parts with dialogue. Typically, I prefer witty dialogue to just about anything else, but I know people who prefer well-crafted narrative instead.

That said, dialogue is a tool used to tell a story—not the story itself. Engagement can be amplified by the tricks and tools a writer employs, but ultimately you’re only as engaging as your story. The best stories revolve around a compelling arc, e.i. a dramatic change from the beginning of the story to the end. You can write a 5,000 word story full of dialogue that ends about two feet from where it stared (metaphorically), and it won’t be very engaging. Or you can write a tension-filled piece of flash fiction composed entirely of narration with a 180 degree arc that’s utterly bone-chilling.

Ideally, with a little practice and trial and error, you’ll learn to use all the different tools of storytelling in perfect harmony to tell the most engaging story possible.

Direct and indirect dialogue - any instances when one is better than the other, in your opinion?

LiliWrites - Again, it comes down to what best serves your story. Sometimes just a quick rehash of a conversation is important. Sometimes your character's interpretation of that conversation is more important than the conversation itself. In those cases, indirect dialogue can help cut down on the wordiness of your story. But other times, you need that direct dialogue to keep the reader interested. They're both great tools with lots of applications. You just need to decide what best suits your work.

illuminara - I would advise always using direct dialogue. Why? Aside from the fact that everyone hates reading indirect dialogue, there's this little thing called dramatic tension, e.i. what is happening right now and in the moment. Or as screenwriters phrase it, tension happening “on screen now.” Dramatic tension revolves around the very simple question: what will happen next? Your narrative should keep asking what will happen next until the central question of your story is answered and the story ends. Dialogue, and every other part of your story, should revolve around this over-arching dramatic tension. If it doesn’t, you have a serious problem.

Unless you’re writing a scene that employs a type of tension other than dramatic tension (such as ironic tension), always use direct dialogue. Readers care about what’s happening right now. If you take the time to develop an interesting story with compelling dramatic tension and conflict, using indirect dialogue will never cross your mind—neither will a lot of other things that plague bad writing.

Good writing always starts with good storytelling! Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how beautifully you can craft your prose if readers don’t care about the story you’re telling. And if readers are swept away by the magic of your story, they won’t even notice any small blunders you may make along the way.

And with this, our second tWR Interview is over. (: I hope you could keep some knowledge from all of this - although it is a long article and it takes some time going through it, it's truly worth your time! Especially for writers seeking improvement, there's so much wisdom packed in here. :heart:

A huge thank you to our Alain, Beth, V, Grace and Lili for letting me stalk them with questions. :hug: 

And see you all soon, with the next interview! :salute:

>>All hail ginkgografix for this beautiful skin.

3k Watchers GIVEAWAY!

Journal Entry: Thu Jan 29, 2015, 8:02 AM

I can't believe I've already reached 3k watchers since I did my 1k watchers raffle just in December! :iconyuiwahplz:
I want to thank you all so I'm doing another raffle. Maybe it's not enough for all the support you guys give me, but it's the least I can do ; v ;/

- - - WHAT YOU CAN WIN - - -

One lucky winner will be getting a chibi in this style. Since it's not a pagedoll yours will be a bit more detailed though.
FREE Miku Pagedoll by rimuuFREE Sakura Miku Pagedoll by rimuuFREE Miku 2020 Pagedoll by rimuu

- - - HOW TO ENTER - - -

To enter you simply have to share this journal and :+fav: it (I'll be using the numbers of the fav lists, so you won't be participating if you don't fav!)
This raffle is for watchers only. New watchers are welcome though!

- - - DEADLINE - - -

You have time to enter until March 1st
Sorry for the long deadline, but I need to study for finals in February and won't have much time orz

Best of the luck to all! (´・ω・`) /

Cooler by IgorWolski
In our continuous effort to improve the DeviantArt experience, we're publishing weekly Site Updates to keep members informed and to gather feedback. Below is a list of recent changes to the site, bug fixes, and feedback that was brought up by members in the last Site Update.

Change Log

  • When a deviant submits multiple deviations close together, they will now be grouped on the Watch Feed. Changed by helloandre
  • In last week's Site Update, we mentioned that under certain circumstances, literature and Journal deviations could end up in a partially submitted state, creating a deviation page and duplicate item without sending a Message Center notification. The affected deviations have since been repaired. Fixed by inazar
  • The sidebar of the Journal Portal was overlaying on top of the site header. Fixed by trezoid
  • When updating one's DeviantID, if a file uploaded to the widget was too large, the upload would fail without any indication. It will now issue an error message. Fixed by szlosek
  • In the Watch Feed, written deviations that had been shared by a deviant would have display issues related to the "Read more" button. Fixed by inazar
  • For Firefox users, trying to change one's email address on the Settings page would result in an incorrect error message. Fixed by baclap
  • Under specific conditions, trying to remove a deviation in storage from one's Favourites would not work, and the deviation placeholder would reappear upon reloading the page. Fixed by DEVlANT
  • The About Us page was not displaying correctly on mobile devices. Fixed by elhsmart

Your Feedback

Thank you for the feedback on last week's Site Update

We appreciate the feedback regarding the old Webcam widget; however, it won't be returning. The widget lost its original value as a way to stream a webcam through a static image URL. The widget also caused security issues where deviants were unintentionally embedding URLs flagged by browsers as malicious — causing some pages of DeviantArt to be inaccessible. We've absolutely noted your passion for Profile Page customization and self-expression, and realize we need to offer more ways for personalization in the near future.

Here's some of the additional feedback on last week's update:
  • Deviants were positive about the updated mobile website header, though a few deviants mentioned that they would like to see their message total at a glance.
  • The most common response to the Discuss topic was that deviants edit their deviations to correct typos or to add links in the artwork's description. 
  • Deviants also said that they edit their deviations when they spot an error in their work and wish to correct it, or else when they've uploaded a work-in-progress and want to replace it with the completed work.
  • On average, deviants said they edit deviations 1 to 3 times, though with particular deviations they may edit more or less than that.


Creation Habits

Do you find that you are more spontaneous when it comes to creating art, or do you prefer to work in a set routine? If you prefer a set routine, do you set a schedule with time for yourself to create, or do you fit it into unscheduled time in your day? 

Header artwork: Cooler by IgorWolski 

Lightbulb Have a suggestion, idea, or feedback? Leave a comment here!
Lightbulb Check out a list of common suggestions!
Lightbulb Want to keep track of known issues? Check out our Status Forum!
:bug: Find a bug? Report it to the Help Desk! (Be as detailed as possible!)

Fun Facts about Daily Deviations!

Thu Jan 29, 2015, 1:59 PM by Mrs-Durden:iconmrs-durden:

Daily Deviations Week

Daily Deviations are an incredibly exciting feature within DeviantArt, and it is always fun to look at the past and see how some things have changed, and learn some of the things we might not have known about a feature that we love so much! Here are a few random fun facts for you to enjoy:

  • The first Daily Deviation ever featured was:
    Thredz by dangeruss set on August 15, 2000.
  • Over 55,000 deviants have received a daily deviation.
  • To date, over 113,000 daily deviations have been featured.
  • Gallery Moderators became Community Volunteers in July 2011: Presenting: Community Volunteers.
  • Community Volunteers' symbol used to be a hat: ^ and changed to the current heart in October 2013: New Username Symbols.
  • In February of 2012 the three-month rule limit on receiving a Daily Deviation became the 6-month rule.
  • The infamous and amazing Moonbeam13 was a volunteer in 2004, and joined DA staff in 2005 to oversee Community Relations.

Now that we've looked at some of the changes that have been made over the years, and at some fun facts about Daily Deviations, it's time to ask you guys some questions!

  1. What do you love the most about Daily Deviations?
  2. Have you ever received a Daily Deviation?
  3. Do you suggest Daily Deviations?
  4. Do you have any of your own fun facts or memories about Daily Deviations to share?


**PLEASE read before you ask. ^.^~~~
Decided to open a very fun contest!!

The contest rules are simple!!!

(So you don't have to draw my OCs, which most people hate from contests~)
Banner by KPJ11
<-*by tilt-shift -> *typo, cinderella bg (c) disney

There's no restriction over the design, but it has to be: Blond haired, Cute characters (loli, or traps whatever, as long as they look cute), comes from a fairy tale (wether it be influenced by fantasy rpg, steampunk, gothic , I don't mind. I wouldn't mind if their original hair color is other than blond, you can change it!!).
Example: Beauty and the beast, Red riding hood, alice in wonderland, cinderella, snow white, rapunzel etc (can you imagine a gothic styled red riding hood with chainsaw etc~? Or an RPG styled alice in wonderland?)

:star:  :star:  More points: :star: :star:
(+) I do prefer these things: long hair, short skirts, short pants, not overly mature characters. I mean. Seriously, don't limit yourself. Wether it be a rpg setting, present setting, scifi , I don't mind, just come up with something. Even oriental design can be mashed with cinderella! if you have a creative mind~ It'd be cool to have the character resembling their original settings in someway, and recognizable is very important.
(+) Digital / cleanly scanned traditional artworks.
(+) Finished clean quality .

:star: :star:  Prize: :star: :star:
1st Winner - 1 free license *without the term of limitation of CLIP PAINT STUDIO EX (retail price $219) + Full colored CG 3/4 body artwork from :iconvillyane: + $50
2nd Winner - 1 free license *without the term of limitation of CLIP PAINT STUDIO PRO (retail price $49.99 ) + $30
3rdd Winner - $30

:star: :star:  Deadlines & general rules : :star: :star:
:bulletyellow: February 28 , 2015 - 23:59 GMT+8 singapore time.
:bulletyellow: Submit as many times as you want.
:bulletyellow: Let me know if you are unsure about what fairytale that is acceptable, please feel free to ask me.
:bulletyellow: Note me your entries. And let me know from which fairytales it comes from!
:bulletyellow: Design must be fully made by you, I do not accept stolen adoptable, pay/free bases by other artist, illegal design copies from other artists. Just no art thief!! I will know if you do, trust me.
:bulletyellow: Design must be specifically made for this contest!! I do not accept your pre-made existing adoptables design that you're not able to sell.
:bulletyellow: Put about this contest link in your entries ^^
:bulletyellow: I know the prizes are quite humble, so really you don't have to really be stressful about this contest, be chill! and have fun :heart:

!! IMPORTANT for winners!! Please take note that this adoptable character will belong to me, with your design credit of course, and I will be free to use it for whatever things I want, including drawing them, RP with them, include them for my stories, alternate their design, use them for my other characters, include them in my incoming artbooks that I will sell (it is about blond anthology of fairy tales characters), make artworks that can be profitable for me. But I will not resell the design as it own. If you do not agree, then please don't join this contest. You're strictly not allowed to resell the design that have won.


And even if you don't win, there's a probability that if I like your design enough, I might even buy it with the price you're comfortable with (of course if the price suits me, I will buy it. And even if I don't, feel free to sell that design!!!
So there's nothing to lose by joining this contest!!! It's a win win for everyone :heart:
I can buy your adoptable copyright (so I don't have to credit you anymore, feel free to discuss the price with me.)

Share are highly appreciated!!

This will be such a fun contest, I mean there are so many fairy tales to choose!!! And there's really nothing to lose right~? :D

*FAQ (I dont answer the same questions again.)
1. If I dont win , can I sell the design? YES OF COURSE. I dont own copyright. It belongs to you. Nothing to lose if you dont win. (why would I take your design for free?;; orz))

2. Does it have to be chibi / full body or other style?
Up to you. Design matters the most. And of course like common sense that full body shows more details, but it doesnt matter so much. 

3.  Does the adoptable have to be the main character of the story? No. Just make sure theyre recognizable.

Well have fun!!!

Daily Deviations Week 

What to look for when searching for DDs

In order to understand what it takes to choose and search for a Daily Deviation, let's look at what a Daily Deviation ( or DD ) is. Taken from DeviantArt's FAQ
"A Daily Deviation is a daily feature chosen from the galleries here on DeviantArt. A small assortment of submissions are chosen each day by a select group of staff/volunteer members who wish to showcase an image which they found impressive or otherwise interesting enough to deserve being brought to the attention of the community-at-large.

For more information please refer to FAQ 18: Who selects the Daily Deviation and how is it chosen?"

Usually when you want to look for a Daily Deviation, you want to start on DeviantArt's front page and make sure you are on the browse section. You can choose from the last 8 hours, 24 hours, 3 days, 1 week etc. You can even choose your favorite category on the left hand side just below the "sort".

After choosing your desired gallery, scroll away! Make sure to look at the daily deviation guidelines of that particular volunteer's gallery. To see a list of volunteers go here:

What To Look For


Imagine you are about to suggest a piece of art that could potentially be featured to millions of people on a single day. Center stage! So if you think about that, think about the quality of the deviation you are suggesting. Does it have style, technique and uniqueness? When I say "quality" I don't mean it has to be the best of the best because each and every one of us has our own opinion on how amazing something looks which is totally fine. However, when suggesting a DD consider how appealing it is and detailed it is. Or sometimes, how simplistic but how clean it looks.

Quality is the standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something. So if you look at previous Daily Deviations, you can more or less get the quality in which each volunteer tends to look for.

Dragonbro storms the castle by theDURRRRIAN
Red Head by streetX222
We are dancing in our chains by AquaSixio
Forest spirit by GaudiBuendiamaehwa by len-yan

Piercing Spectacle by denismayerjr


Does it demonstrate enough skill to be featured on the front page? We are all at our own skill level and exhibit that through our art. There are pieces that can be featured that may seem simplistic but have a huge impact with vibrant colors, details where it matters and interesting composition. 

Look for those fine details in the overall piece. Where is your eye drawn to the most? Is it unique? Does it demonstrate enough skill?

It's tough to be a critique on every piece of artwork, but these are somethings to consider when suggesting artwork for a Daily Deviation for these are some aspects volunteers will look for too!

Interstellar by jasric
Tree of Life by balaa
Transformation_02 by drazebot
Nice place for sketch by RHADS

Over All Impact

How interesting is the piece? Does it share a meaningful message? Is it appealing to look at? What is the over all impact the piece makes you feel? Sometimes these seem like trivial questions, but in fact they're one of the most important to ask.

Art is expression of someone's thoughts and imagination painted for you to admire or enjoy. There is no wrong or right piece of artwork because as humans, we have an emotional response to what we see or can relate to and there's nothing wrong with wanting to share that with the rest of DeviantArt! However, think about what the piece means to you and if it meets the suggestions above.

Heart of a King by Kinko-White
Autumn Chill by SpaceTurtleStudios
Blue by m-eralp
The Ghost Nebula by TylerCreatesWorlds
night valley by Reinmar84
She tamed the Wolf by RaphaelleM
No Tusks Yet by sketchinthoughts
Prophet by yakonusuke

As A Volunteer - What We Look For In Suggestions

Everything stated above more or less applies to volunteers. Every volunteer has their own guidelines so make sure you take a look at them ( usually on their profile or in their journal ) when you are suggesting to avoid any confusion or misunderstandings as far as what Daily Deviation goes to what Volunteer.


Weekly Members Feature

Thu Jan 29, 2015, 2:01 PM

Thank you!

Thu Jan 29, 2015, 11:33 AM by Andorada:iconandorada: