Writing Tips - Organisation
Writing Without Confusing Yourself (Or Your Readers)
Writing is a very personal, individual undertaking. Everybody approaches the activity a bit differently from the next guy. Some people can come up with concept, plot, characters, and everything else and just sit down and write. Others need to take time to figure out what's going on; what's going to happen in the story, and how it all fits together. Others still will find themselves getting stuck somewhere along the middle, losing track of everything or changing an idea mid-way through, or never know how to end. These are the people for whom this has been put together. Those of you who can barrel through a story overnight are still welcome to look, though.
There are different ways in which a writer can and will get stuck on any given piece. Motivation, immediate environment, too few (or too many) ideas available, lack of organisation; the list goes on, but life is short and I am lazy. The sticking point that we're going
Writing Tips - DialogueWriting Tips - Dialogue6 years ago in Writing More Like This
If youre writing fiction, the dialogue is arguably one of the most important parts. And its the bit thats the easiest to mess up, if were strictly honest. And why not? Theres so much going on in that single sentence that any number of them can go wrong; voice, character, tone, point of view, punctuation. Well start with punctuation, because Ive already written that bit.
Go here. I was originally going to copy and paste that part of the lesson into this lesson, but then the thing wound up being ten pages long. So, read that, and then come back to this if you feel you might need help with the mechanical bits.
When to use Dialogue
Right. So, youve got a story all set up in your head (or on a piece of paper if youre inclined to pre-write), and its great. Your hero is blasting through space with a whole heap of misfits, and you
Writing Tips - Grammar, pt 3Writing Tips - Grammar, pt 36 years ago in Writing More Like This
Part three: Cases and Grammar Nazi Nit-Picks
Cases are, in a sort, ways of conjugating a noun that is, defining its role in a sentence. Kind of. Not really. Well, sort of. Its a bit swimmy, because we dont really have them in the English language. Well, thats a lie. We do, but theyre not very prominent. Despite this, were going over them anyway. Why? Because theyre big in some foreign languages and extinct languages. Why do we care? Because there will be a lesson on foreign and extinct languages in the future. But dont worry; we will cross that bridge when we come to it. Those who couldnt give a pair of fetid dingos kidneys about adding foreign languages into their stories can feel free to scroll down the page to the next bit, which is a good one, and talks about Grammar Nazis.
Nominative: Sometimes known as subjective, because it indicates the subject.
° I am tired.
Writing Tips - MechanicsWriting Tips - Mechanics6 years ago in Writing More Like This
Tips and Tricks for Writing Fluidly
No, were not fixing up your brothers car. Mechanics are the little technical bits in your writing; punctuation, spacing, spelling, capitalisation, et cetera. Well start there.
Different languages have different rules for what should be capitalised. If you speak English, youd capitalise I and leave your dog lowercase. You may find it interesting that German is a bit backwards. If youre German, youd capitalise Hund and leave ich lowercase. Why am I telling you this? Because its simple little things like this that have the potential to give your reader the wrong impression of you. If they think that English is not your first language, they may structure a critique differently than if they knew that you were born and raised in New York.
So, when do you capitalise something?
° At the beginnings of sentences.
The dog is in the park.<
Writing Tips - DescriptionWriting Tips - Description6 years ago in Writing More Like This
Description: Balancing Too Much and Not Enough
Theres an old adage about writing that says, show, dont tell. But what does that actually mean? Surely, were not expected to illustrate our stories, are we? Christ, I hope not. Some of mine are rather long.
No. What that means is that you should use your words to paint a visual picture for the reader. Talking heads are both boring and confusing, and should generally be avoided. If youre unfamiliar with the term, talking heads refers to the phenomenon where all, or most of story is carried out through the characters dialogue. You see it like mad in web and news paper comics, but it happens in prose as well.
The first, and arguably the most fun way to banish the talking heads is to make your characters act. This doesnt mean action, necessarily. The character can do any amount of going from place to place or thing to thing, but so what? Hes still not rea
Writing Tips - LanguageWriting Tips - Language6 years ago in Writing More Like This
Accents, Foreign Languages, and Regional Dialects
There are times when your story may have one or more character speaking a different language, or with a different accent than the rest. There are many different ways a writer can go about presenting this to the reader, and before we go any further, I will concede that some of it is a matter of personal taste, and on this particular matter, you wont be able to please everybody. So, consider this bit not so much a lesson, but rather a series of guidelines.
Everyone has one. Even if you think that you dont, theres someone, somewhere in the world who would disagree with you. Some people may have a very faint trace of an accent, whereas with others, you can hardly make out what theyre trying to tell you. But how should you translate these simple speech patterns to text? Well, that depends, really.
Since Ive been listening to the audio books lately, and its the best example I can come up with, let
Writing Tips: CharacterisationWriting Tips: Characterisation6 years ago in Writing More Like This
Characterisation: Avoiding the Dreaded Mary Sue
The characters you write are arguably the biggest part of your story. Theyre the vessel through which the reader is able to identify with the themes and ideas that youre trying to share. But creating brand new lives from thin air can sometimes be rather difficult. You have to find their voice, their needs, their personality; its a rather delicate balance, really.
Rather tempting, and often encouraged by teachers, is to do a Character Profile to help come up with some of the details. These are often pre-made sets of questions ranging from the mundane (eye colour, height, weight) to the fanciful (if your character caught someone looking at his girlfriend, what would he do?).
I dont like these. And heres why.
The questions are all a little too cookie-cutter. They promote stereotype characters, and you dont want that. The actual physical details about the character dont need to be mentione
Writing Tips - Grammar, pt 1Writing Tips - Grammar, pt 16 years ago in Writing More Like This
Part one: Parts of Speech
Now that you know how to use a comma and structure a quote, lets really get our hands dirty! Because all those commas and quotes and hard stops dont mean a thing if you have weak grammar. Grammar is huge. Theres a lot of it, so this will only be a blitz course, covering a lot in a small space. Hopefully, you already know most of it, though.
Parts of Speech
Thats right. Were doing sentence diagramming in this lesson. Youre going to need to know the difference between an adjective and an adverb later on, so this seems the logical place to start.
A sentence needs three things to make it a sentence. It needs a subject, a verb, and it needs to be a complete thought.
The subject is usually, but not always, a noun, a proper noun, or a pronoun.
Nouns: Nouns are something physical. Look to your left. What do you see? Thats a noun.
° Please pass me that book.
Proper Nouns: Proper nouns are exactly what
Writing Tips - Grammar, pt 2Writing Tips - Grammar, pt 26 years ago in Writing More Like This
Part two: Tense of the Narrative, and Plural and Singular Nouns
Tenses: No, were not talking about a hard day at work, but rather verb tenses. What, basically, is the time-direction of your narrative? Is the chronicler telling about something that has already happening, is happening, or will eventually happen?
In most works of fiction, the narrative is in past tense. Its already happened. Occasionally, youll find a book in present tense its happening now, as youre reading it and these are usually of the pick your own adventure sort. The ones where you dont read about the knight in shining armour, but rather, you are the knight in shining armour and the choices you make determine whether you rescue the princess or if the evil wizard turns you into a newt. Ive never seen a book written in future tense it will happen, but it just hasnt happened yet but if you
Research: How to do ItResearch: How to do It6 years ago in Writing More Like This
Weve already discussed where to do your research, so now were going to learn how to go about using those tools. Like everything else we do in life, theres a process to it, and once youve learned the steps, finding the information becomes a bit easier (admittedly, some of the harder queries will never get easier).
What do you Need to Know?
Knowing what it is that youre trying to research seems sort of obvious, but there are times when you wont have the first clue about what youre looking for. These are mostly situations when you already have your story plotted out, and now you need fact to work around your outline.
The situation: A group of police characters is out in the sprawling farmlands of the West Country in the middle of the night. After a brief struggle, one of them is shot. The character that has done the shooting and his accomplice flee. The remaining uninjured character dials
Writing Tips - Getting StartedWriting Tips - Getting Started5 years ago in Writing More Like This
You want to write a story. Great! But the problem is that you're stuck before you've ever even managed to get the first word down on the page. You're just being taunted by the white page (or screen, as the case may be) in front of you.
If you haven't already, you may want to look into getting your thoughts organised. Figure out what you're going to write about, before trying to write anything. This may mean anything from making a few notes on a page to writing down every single thing that pops into your head, whether or not it's immediately relevant (my preferred method). With a more general (or even a very concrete) idea of where your story is going to go, the words should hopefully come a little more easily.
If that fails to work, try putting on some music. I tend to find that just putting on any old music will actually be counter-productive. Instead, tr
Point of ViewPoint of View6 years ago in Writing More Like This
Point of View AKA Narrative Mode
Quite basically, who's telling the story? Not necessarily which character, since that doesn't always really play much of a factor, but rather who the chronicler is. As a general rule, you want the point of view to remain the same throughout, although, we'll talk a bit more on that later, and why people tend to hate it.
This is Running with Scissors or How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (the books; not the later live-action adaptations). The whole of the story is told in the words of the main character. By definition, first person point of view is limited, meaning that the narrator can only tell us what s/he has personally witnessed. And for obvious reasons.
° "It was one of those jobs that just got way too big way too fast. Before we knew it, the feds got called in for something completely unrelated. Course, we didn't know that, so we panicked."
The narrator tells us what they know, what they remember,
Punchlines and Pay-OffsPunchlines and Pay-Offs6 years ago in Writing More Like This
Set-Up and Punchline: Using Narrative to Tell a Joke
"Three blokes go into a pub. Something happens, and the outcome's hilarious!"
-- Bill Bailey
That's the basic recipe for any joke, isn't it? Set the scene, add a verb or two, and everyone laughs. But there's a problem with jokes, and it goes something rather like this:
"Three blokes go into a pub, and the whole scene unfolds into a tedious inevitability." -- Bill Bailey (again)
The formula to telling a joke is a bit more complex than just the basic recipe. The recipe is what you need to tell the joke; milk, eggs, flour, shortening, baking powder, saffron. But if you just look at the recipe, you don't really know what's going to happen. Are we baking a cake? Biscuits? Some sort of rock-hard bread that'll keep in the pantry for two million years? We don't know!
Telling a joke is the same thing. Just having the set up, verbs, and payoff without knowing how much of each, or if you should use the verbal equivalent to
Modifiers, and other thingsModifiers, and other things6 years ago in Writing More Like This
Modifiers, and Why You Shouldn't Misplace Them
Misplacing a modifier in a sentence is the single easiest way to confuse your audience. Unlike nigh on everything else we've discussed so far, this lesson transcends the written word and causes all sorts of issues in speech as well. Doubly so if the other person's first language is anything other than English.
So, what is a modifier?
Again, we're not talking cars, although that could arguably be a more interesting topic. In language, a modifier is a word or phrase that gives more information about another word or phrase.
Some can be simple.
° The gold watch.
° Your hair is grey.
Some aren't as obvious.
° That pair of trainers cost £200.
° She made her announcement over the weekend
In the simplest of terms, modifiers are something that just sort of seem like a no-brainer. They describe the thing. But how often do we really speak in four-word sentences? It's when we get more than on
A Guide to Writing StyleA Guide to Writing Style6 years ago in Writing More Like This
Writing Style - The Bottom Line
Words are like sunbeams. The more they are condensed, the deeper they burn. - Robert Southey
Prose is architecture, not interior decorating. - Ernest Hemingway
Writing style is made up of two things: cadence and variation.
Good style is clear, readable, and invisible. Its purpose is not to attract attention to itself but to transport readers into the world of your story. If your readers notice your style without purposefully intending to study it, your style needs to be improved and refined. Good style, however, is transparent so that your readers simply see the characters and world of your story rather than the words you use to portray them.
To write with cadence simply means that your writing should sound natural. If it sounds right to you, it probably is--but if it doesnt sound right,
The Ultimate Writing GuideThe Ultimate Writing Guide6 years ago in Writing More Like This
Have great tutorial that you want to show off to help others? Or need a great tutorial yourself to make your characters shine across the battlefield? Then check out the description for more information.
Tips to Creative WritingTips to Creative Writing7 years ago in Writing More Like This
1. Know what you're writing.
It's easy to get off track while you're writing. Thus it's always a good idea to know what you're writing. As soon as you have a good grasp on what your story is about, you'll find yourself writing quicker. This includes the main plot, a majority of the subplots, and where all the vital plot points are going to be.
2. Know what inspires you and stay around it.
Now this doesn't mean that you should go through an entire personal evaluation. It just means to keep track of where you get inspired and what caused the inspiration. For some, it could be listening to music of some sort, while for others, it could be watching families at the park. Whatever it is, try to be around it whenever you can.
3. Map out your story.
Now this is something that a lot of people take out of hand. When mapping out your story, you don't want to have everything in a certain slot. Things can't be one hundred percent organized. The story could change in a way that
Writing Style vs. VoiceWriting Style vs. Voice6 years ago in Writing More Like This
A Writer's Guide to Style vs. Voice
Here on dA, there seems to be a lot of confusion and general mass hysteria when it comes to the subjects of writing style and voice. What are they? What's the difference? Can you write one without the other? How important are they, anyhow? Do you really need either of them? Wait, what are they again?
Style is the form and structure with which you write.
Voice is the attitude and perspective with which you write.
In other words, voice is the emotion and feeling of a piece of literature, and style is the technical way of communicating that emotion.
Clearly, there is a tangible difference between the two. Style is a delivery system for voice. While voice can and should affect the form with which you write, you can most certainly write one without the other. However, the best writing is a masterful fusion of both.
I'm here to illustrate for you the difference between style and voice and to define exactly what they are and how you can us
Story Writing for BEGINNERSStory Writing for BEGINNERS5 years ago in Writing More Like This
I want to write a story. I have a couple of ideas, but no idea what to do with them, or even how to begin! Help?!
-- Newbie Writer
So when you wanna write a story, where do you begin? With your PASSION!
Write what you KNOW & LOVE
What do you KNOW, really? What do you love to Do, to Study, to Think About, to Talk About...? Whether it's cave-diving, model trains, skate-boarding, sewing, horses, mythology, ghost legends, or particle physics your passion is where you will find your most unique and powerful work.
Make a list of all the things you know well and all the things you've done -- seriously! Mythology, history, any retail jobs you might have had -- anything you might have seen, done, or studied.
Sticking with your passions and your personal experiences also helps you make fewer MISTAKES.
Case in point, someone who has never kissed isn't going to be able to write a kissing scene as well as someone who Has. Worst of all,
Writing ANGSTWriting ANGST5 years ago in Writing More Like This
One way to add excitement to your story is by adding lots of bad-guys, also known as EXTERNAL Conflict. Another way is by adding INTERNAL Conflict, more commonly known as Angst.
I'm sure most of you have noticed by now that most movie characters, and far too many book characters, are One-Dimensional. They do stuff, but they don't face any personality issues: a hang-up, a fear, paranoia, a moral code, a love interest, a strong dislike Or worse, they do have all these things, but they never really affect the story.
There's a Plot Arc, things happen, but no Character Arc. The things that happen don't affect the characters emotionally.
Where's the ANGST?
Answer these two questions:
1. What is your character's biggest character flaw?
(Think: 7 Deadly Sins.)
Writing DESCRIPTIONWriting DESCRIPTION5 years ago in Writing More Like This
Tricks for Writing DESCRIPTION
------------- Original Message -----------
"I think the biggest problem I have is lack of detail. I can see things in my head, but other than the general surroundings, I'm always too intent on what my characters are thinking, or doing, or about to do to remember to add the details necessary to paint a really clear picture of where they are and their environment." -- Wanna Rite Reel Gud
The way to deal with that is by writing what you can. When you're done, go back and put in all the rest. Also, in situations like this, a beta-reader is your best bet at seeing where you skipped something.
As for What to describe and How Much to describe
Getting the IMAGE on Paper
Avoid Simple Nouns:
- Use a Specific Noun rather than a simple and vague noun to automatically pop in description.
Instead of: the door, the car, the tree, the house, the sword, the robe, the hat...
Write: the French doors, the
Punctuation BasicsPunctuation Basics7 years ago in Writing More Like This
Writing is like math. If you dont follow the right formula, you end up in a state of mass confusion. Synonymously, punctuation is like following a map. If you miss the street signs, youll end up completely lost. The following is a list of common English punctuation marks and their most basic functions. Contrary to popular belief, there are no exceptions to these rules. Breaking them has never been in style.
The most common English punctuation marks include the following:
. = period
? = question mark
! = exclamation point
, = comma
= quotation marks
; = semicolon
: = colon
- = hyphen
( ) = parentheses
. . . = ellipse
Wow, thats a lot of symbols! So, how do you use them as you write? Here's a quick and dirty list.
1) Every sentence must end in a period, question mark, or exclamation point.
2) A comma signifies a pause, distinguishes betw
Character Creation TipsCharacter Creation Tips8 years ago in Writing More Like This
Note: I wrote this after reading a similar article in The Writer magazine about a year ago. Hope it's helpful!
Not all characters are created equal. Here are some steps to make yours superior.
Figure out what your character wants, needs, desires. A closer relationship with God? A place to belong? Just to survive? Figure it out. You cant move on to number 2 until you have.
Now that you know what your character most desires, you should be able to figure out what he/she most fears. Doing the wrong thing, being alone, death? They are the polar opposites of your characters desires.
Go back in time to before your story begins and create a detailed backstory for your character. What happened in to past to create in him the desires and fears that he has now? Be specific. Write out individual scenes, or at leas
Interior MonologuesInterior Monologues6 years ago in Writing More Like This
"I was just wondering what you think about interior monologues, long passages of reflection?" -- Curious Kitty
A note on:
-- Interior Monologues
Whether you are considering adding a lengthy monologue to a story, or intend the monologue to be the story itself where the focus of the entire story is on one character's thoughts and feelings with very little action -- from my observations and experimentation, the readers either love them or hate them. There's no in-between.
However, it is notable that the internal monologue stories that are sought out most frequently tend to focus on a profound emotion of some kind: grief, loneliness, heartache... Usually by either those seeking to deal with such an emotion, as a kind of therapy, or by those that have never felt such emotions. (Strong emotional stories are extremely popular among young adults.)
In both cases, not only does the reader seek to submerge the