Readymades: Hallmarks of Lazy WritingReadymades
Hallmarks of Lazy Writing
ShadowedAcolyte here for projecteducate's Prose Basics Week. I decided to tackle "lazy writing" as a topic, because they always say "write what you know" and boy, do I know laziness. Then I realized there were dozens of ways to be a lazy writer, so I heroically narrowed the scope of my article down to one broad topic: readymades. After talking about what a "readymade" is, I'll explain why they should be avoided in writing prose*, and I'll finish with some tips to help you avoid using them yourself.
Before we go any further, I should note that the term is not a technical one. It is the word I was taught to use to identify a set of common problems with weak writing, so it's the word I use. I hope you'll find this article helpful, but it's not a textbook.
*I say "prose" because it's Prose Basics Week, but readymades infect poetry as well. If you're more a poet than a prose
Prose Basics: What is Voice, Anyway?At this point, you've all had awesomesauce articles on word choice, varying sentences, dialect, and dialogue. Which is great, because it cuts my job down to five minutes of nattering on about how you bring all these elements together to create that elusive thing people always go on about: VOICE.Prose Basics: What is Voice, Anyway?2 years ago in Literature Features More Like This
Voice is the personality of the book.
You know that thing about avoiding cliché except every single plotline ever has been done and has the TVTropes article to prove it and OH GODS WHY?!?!
Voice solves 97% of that. It lends originality to your story by tossing a filter over the whole thing. 'The Shining' needed that kid-voice so readers could stare in horror over his shoulder, understanding things like the dark cloud of suicide in his father's head without having his reaction ruin half a page of ominous build. 'Dir
PE Prose Basics: Pacing ( and Show vs. Tell)Hello, everyone! As you all know, this week over at projecteducate is Prose Basics. We're here to help all you prose writers (whether flash fiction, short stories, or novels) get better at your craft with some basic tips for growth. Today, I'm going to be talking about something you've probably heard about again and again: pacing.PE Prose Basics: Pacing ( and Show vs. Tell)2 years ago in Literature Features More Like This
What is Pacing?
No, it's not what you do when you're stuck on a scene and need to get up and stretch those leg muscles to get your writing juices flowing. It's actually a very important ability that writers have to control the speed their story is read. You as the author get to manipulate the reader in a way and make the speed of the story match the scene. What better way to drop the reader right into the moment? But, pacing also holds the ability to make or break your story and keep or lose your reader's interest. This is why it's so important in writing.
Setting the Scene:
PE Prose Basics: Revise and EditProse Basics Week is winding down now and hopefully you've learned a lot from the brilliant past articles. But, there's more to writing than just getting that first draft done, isn't there? That's where the next big crucial step comes in: revision.PE Prose Basics: Revise and Edit2 years ago in Literature Features More Like This
The Art of Revising:
Revision is such a huge topic to cover, especially since there are many ways to go about it. You can do self-edits, which always are a good first step, or you can get outside revisions from peers. Both are good ideas to really get your work to be top notch. But, the big thing to remember is that there's more to just editing your work than cleaning up a few spelling and grammar mistakes. Revising also includes corrections to sentence flow, scenes, and sometimes overall plot. So, before we jump into some ways to edit, here are a few different terms of methods of editing that may be handy to know-- especially if you're asking a peer to help you with revisions.
Making the Most of the Words You UseHave you ever opened up a dictionary and just starting reading it? (Oh, come on, I know I'm not the only one!) Well, if you haven't, you should go do that, right now, before you read any further. Okay, you're back. There are literally hundreds of thousands of words out there, and all of them are waiting for you to use them in your next literary masterpiece.Making the Most of the Words You Use2 years ago in Literature Features More Like This
Now, you may be asking "So what?" Words are just words, right? So long as you get your point across, that's all that matters, right? After all, green is green, whether you call it olive or neon or sea-foam. Right? Right?
Wrong! Consider this scene: Abigail walked through the quiet garden. The hedges formed a maze for her to navigate.
It gets the point across, but doesn't paint much of a picture without context. It's kind of boring, and doesn't give you any details or reason for caring. By adding or changing a few words, you can turn this dry piece of toast into an enchanting seedcake of delight.
Using Colloquialisms: Are you down with it? Colloqualism: You down with it?Using Colloquialisms: Are you down with it?2 years ago in Deviant Events More Like This
A word or phrase that is not formal or literary and is used in ordinary or familiar conversation. synonyms: slang, idioms, patois, dialect.
Examples: whatcha, gotta, face on, ovver.
I’m sure you’ve had a good telling off by your teachers for using colloquial language inappropriately in your writing. I’ve had essays returned with the word “too informal” scrawled along the margin or a big red exclamation mark next to a certain word, who hasn’t? What just me? Oh right… my bad!
So WHY would we use colloquial language in our writing, after years of tackling the angry red pen?
I know we’re not supposed to judge a book by its over – or a person by their accent – but it happens. You can tell us a lot about a character by the kind of language they use. Are they all gangsta, dropping hooded verbs
PE Prose Basics: Varying SentencesVarying Your SentencesPE Prose Basics: Varying Sentences2 years ago in Literature Features More Like This
When I was in college, I took an early morning Anthropology class. I had to wake up at five to catch the bus. Ugh. Yeah, I'm not a morning person. But I did it. The first day, our instructor stood before us and starting reading from the textbook. Word for word. Completely monotone. I was asleep within ten minutes. The rest of the week was the same; arrive, begin listening to the instructor, pass out. I had to drop the class and get whatever refund I could, while I could. It was my worse class experience there.
Most people know that in public speaking, the person talking needs to vary their tone and speech patterns and such to hold their audience's attention. They need to have a rhythm. Otherwise, they'll end up putting the audience to sleep. The same applies to writing. If you use the same sentence length or structure continually, you'll be the literary equivalent of my instructor. Repea
PE: ''Said'' and Effective Dialogue TagsI have horrifying news, everyone: I'm teaming up with Project Educate for Prose Week, so you inquisitive readers are about to fall victim to me and my terrible sense of humor. Today I'll be torturing you with a discourse on a subject of constant debate in the writing world: the word said. It's a simple word that encourages authors to write descriptively, but it's far from the only good choice when it comes to writing fluid dialogue.PE: ''Said'' and Effective Dialogue Tags2 years ago in Art Features More Like This
I'm going to be using the word dialogue tag often, so if you're unfamiliar with the word or just need a refresher, here's the definition:
Dialogue Tag—a phrase used in the same paragraph as a piece of dialogue, both (1) identifying the speaker and (2) using a verb to describe the speech. Examples of dialogue tags include Rose said, he begged, Adrian whispered, and she asked.
Get the picture? If so, great, and if not, you'd better Google it, because we're moving on.
Anything besides 'said' and 'ask
Hook, Line, and Sinker: How to Start Your StoryHook, Line, and Sinker: How to Start Your StoryHook, Line, and Sinker: How to Start Your Story2 years ago in Literature Features More Like This
You have the story idea, a brief outline (or not), and enough motivation and/or preparation to place your fingers on the keyboard and think, Let's begin. But how does one, in fact, begin a story? How do you select the perfect scene to situate your reader without putting him to sleep? It's easy to become overwhelmed by the sea of possible beginnings before having typed a single word. This article provides a list of different ways to begin a story, long or short, pointing out their respective advantages and disadvantages. The right beginning can give you just the push you need to send you flying into the world of your characters.
A prologue is a scene or chapter that pertains to the story without featuring your protagonist at the present time. It might show your hero as a child; it might show your antagonist plotting to take over the world; it might show a
Passive Voice vs Active VoiceHello everyone!Passive Voice vs Active Voice2 years ago in Literature Features More Like This
You've probably already read some of this week's wonderful journals on audience and beginning a story, and you're also probably wondering what exciting topic I've brought for you today. I suppose I'll tell you instead of keeping you in the dark.
Passive Voice vs Active Voice
I can see you're all excited.
To begin this article, I'll start by defining exactly what passive and active voice are.
With active voice, the agent (the person or thing carrying out the action) is the subject:
Harry ate six shrimp at dinner.
John opened the door.
Sue changed the flat tire.
There are two different types of passive voice constructions. In
PE Prose Basics Wrap UpAs projecteducate's Prose Basics week comes to an end, let's look back at all the awesome articles that came out this week. We learned all sorts of new things and hopefully got a refresher on some oldies. Whether you're just starting out in the world of writing or a well seasoned writer, there was plenty of advice to be taken in and lessons to be learned.PE Prose Basics Wrap Up2 years ago in Literature Features More Like This
Review of the Articles from this Week
Hear Me My Audience!! Formatting for the Interweb Era ''Said'' and Effective Dialogue TagsHook, Line, and Sinker: How to
PE Prose Basics: Hear Me My Audience!!Hello everyone!PE Prose Basics: Hear Me My Audience!!2 years ago in Literature Features More Like This
Throughout this week we will be discussing a variety of elements in prose writing and this topic is something which isn't just relevant to prose writers, but can be applied to all forms.
Imagine your piece of work is laid out on a stage for people to read. In the seats are the people who you want to read it- who are they? Can you see their faces, imagine their lives? Why have they been drawn to come see your work and read your story? What did you to to keep that audience sat down and interested in your work? Did you think about them when you wrote?
An audience is anyone who could potentially read your work. In writing, we talk about "target audience" and how understanding that audience can help shape the way you write. That intended audience could be specified by age, interests, personalities, cultural background, religion- anything! Of course you may gain readers outside of that target group, but considering your audience will involve your reader in the wr
All the Literature Educate! Updated 26/02All the Literature Educate!2 years ago in Literature Features More Like This
Over the past few years, projecteducate has worked hard to provide educational articles for various art forms. Within literature, we've seen our fair share and over the past 2 years we've used our own group CRLiterature to manage these articles to ensure as much of the community can see them. However, sometimes we miss people and that's a shame because the articles we've written as a community have been pretty spectacular and still valid today.
So to help people pick up the articles they may have missed, here is a list of them all! This is a great chance for you to read what you may have missed, or tag your friends who may find them useful!
Most Recent First
Publishing Week: March 2015
COMING SOON! Make sure you watch CRLiterature & projecteducate for articles!
Lit Basics Week: July 2014
Formatting for the Interweb EraFormatting for the Interweb EraFormatting for the Interweb Era2 years ago in Literature Features More Like This
Why worry about formatting once you've got your text looking pretty?
We've been introduced to why audience matters, but once you have an audience, you need to keep it, too. One of the easiest ways to lose your audience is to make it physically difficult for them to read your text.
Authors have had books printed for centuries in varying formats and sizes. If it mattered so much to the quality of the writing, publishers wouldn't take liberties from edition to edition. Much as you shouldn't underestimate the importance of good formatting, you shouldn't overestimate the need for frills, either.
Note: I'm going to reference "default" a bunch here. Mostly this means "don't touch it," or "unmodified." Let the viewer make any changes on their end. (For instance, the default font size on my desktop is 16px, versus 12px on my teeny low-resolution netbook. If you made me see 16 on both, or vic
PE: Literature Basics SettingsLiterature Basics WeekPE: Literature Basics Settings2 years ago in Literature Features More Like This
Along with characters and plot, setting is one of the most important choices we make when we write. In the most basic terms, setting is where your literary work takes place. It's up to you, as the author, to use it and mold it to fit the needs of your writing, make it more than just a backdrop to your prose or poetry.
A good setting becomes like a character itself. It can be express moods, offer comfort or hindrance. The setting can even be the main antagonist - consider the Overlook Hotel in Stephen King's The Shining, or the island in the 2000 Tom Hanks' film, Cast Away. In both of these examples, the protagonist(s) have to survive their surroundings, one mundane, the other ... less so.
Make Your Setting Work For You
Everything in your written work must be chosen for maximum effect. When deciding on your setting, decide what you want to accomplish with it. Here are some possibilities.
How To get PublishedOr be Satisfied when You Aren'tHow To get Published2 years ago in Literature Features More Like This
A Beginner's Guide
Poetry publication is awash with literary magazines, internet journals, print-on-demand presses, vanity presses, indie presses, and major publication houses. So many options! It's a lot to navigate. But before we delve into the 'How-To's,' it's important to understand the 'Why.'
I'm talking about the the Big Why, the biggest WHY after 'Why write poetry?' Which is, of course, 'Why are you publishing your poetry?'
"BECAUSE!" I hear you shouting.
But that's not the best answer. You'll be happier, or at least more content with the results of the following advice if you understand your motivations behind the urge to publish. What specifically do you hope to achieve?
How to Succeed in Poetry Without Really Trying
If, for example, you want your poems out in the world, in a place people might read them; if you want to be able to say that you're a published poet; if you're not feeling great a
Introducing Prose BasicsOnce again, the Literature Community is taking over projecteducate and this time it's to work on our prose writing. What better way than to go back to basics, right?Introducing Prose Basics2 years ago in Literature Features More Like This
What is prose?
Okay, maybe not that basic. Over the course of the week, we're going to be educating (or re-educating) you on the fundamentals of prose. Simple things that we overlook, but hear about constantly when receiving feedback and critique. You know, the flow of your story, crazy text walls, your dialogue and it's effectiveness, point of view and NOT switching it in the middle of the story, even how to start your story to have an effective hook and a bunch more but we don't want to give away all the surprises!
And since I don't have fancy schmancy GIFs to share :
I keep six honest serving men. (They taught me everything I know); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who. -Rudyard Kipling
When and How to EditLit Basics WeekWhen and How to Edit2 years ago in Literature Features More Like This
Earlier in the week I got into what editing is and how to love it. Now, let's talk about the entrée following this apéritif: when to edit, and how to do it. And, perhaps even more importantly, how to stop.
Stop, you say?!
Yeah, it's really not that hard to get caught up in this perfectionist funk where all you do is wind around in circles on the same piece. Curb it from the beginning by having an idea of where you want to end. What should the reader walk away thinking about? What should the reader walk away feeling? Do things move fast enough to be interesting?
I stop editing when I get to a point where all my edits are just minor wording tweaks. At that point I'll go back and forth, and I'm not even changing the overall impression the story creates. If it's not productive, it's not worthwhile.
Now that we've gotten dessert out of the way:
Writers' Block: The MythLit Basics WeekWriters' Block: The Myth2 years ago in Literature Features More Like This
We've all suffered from sitting down at our desk, booting up our computer, ready to start writing a story and BAM nothing comes out. We sit there and sit there and still nothing comes out. We put everything away and try again the next day but have the same results. Then we go to our favourite blog site and write a journal about how the world is horrible and we're suffering from writers' block.
But are we really suffering from a block?
If, on the third day, someone came to us and said, "Have two pages, double spaced in 12pt text written by tomorrow at noon on a topic of your choosing and I'll give you $1,000," would we still be unable to produce something? I'm sure if given a deadline and incentive like this, the majority of us would be able to write two pages, double spaced in 12pt text by tomorrow at noon. Proving that writers' block is a myth. Well, in most cases.
I'm not saying there is absolutely no such thi
Literary Terminology GuideLit Basics WeekLiterary Terminology Guide2 years ago in Literature Features More Like This
This will be a straightforward article that lists some basic literary terms (in alphabetical order) that can be found in, well, literary works. You could use some of these terms to write a spectacular poem or prose piece about cake.
Before we get started, head on over to this other PE article that lists a BUNCH of Poetry Terms and Techniques.
An item of soft, sweet food made from a mixture of flour, shortening, eggs, sugar, and other ingredients, baked and often decorated. Also known as the first half of my otp.
A narrative that has multiple layers of meanings. Allegories are written in the form of fables, parables, poems, stories, and almost any other style or genre. The main purpose of an allegory is to tell a story that has characters, a setting, as well as other types of symbols, that have both literal and figurative meanings.
A reference to someth
Poetic Terms and TechniquesPoetic terms and techniquesPoetic Terms and Techniques2 years ago in Literature Features More Like This
This article aims to give you a brief introduction to some poetic terms with which you can bemuse your friends and nonplus your enemies. Try and sling some of these terms into a casual conversation and watch the ensuing confusion.
If you don't want to confuse people, you could use these terms to discuss poetry like a badass
while smoking unfiltered cigarettes in a French cafe, when critiquing, or to give your own poetry a bit of a vajazzle.
These terms are arranged vaguely into alphabetical order for your convenience. Some of them will be covered in more detail in other articles throughout the week.
Alliteration (see also Sibilance)
Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds, often used for a specific effect in poetry.
the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
- - Wilfred Owen, ‘Anthem for Do
Specific Imagery: What Makes a Poem Good?Specific Imagery: What Makes a Poem Good?Specific Imagery: What Makes a Poem Good?2 years ago in Literature Features More Like This
So what makes a poem good?
According to Samuel Taylor Coleridge (please, never just call him Sam) the definition of poetry is "the best words in their best order".
Fine. But what exactly does that mean?
It means that good poetry is about much more than just matching rhythm and rhyme. What elevates any poem above its peers is the specific choice of words to match the poet's intent.
Say what now?
Think of it this way: our chosen words are our color palette, and the way we combine them equates to brush strokes and blending. Strong words equal bold hues, while overused and cliché terms are a lot like faded watercolors. You want your hard work to stand out, not blend in, right?
Of course I do!
Then my biggest piece of advice is this: choose your words.
What do you mean? I always choose my words; I'm a writer, after all!
What I mean is, do your best to choose the most appro
The Name GameThe Name GameThe Name Game3 years ago in Personal More Like This
Pitfalls to Avoid and Tricks to Use while Naming People and Places
We've all been there. You're reading a pretty interesting piece of fantasy fiction, and a few paragraphs in you learn that the main villain's name is "Abraxas the Cruel, Lord of the Black Tower." You wince at the unoriginality, close the deviation, and move on to something more interesting. We've all been on the other side of things, too, with a detailed plot outline in hand, staring at a Word document that displays only a single line: "???? knew what he had to do--kill the president." We're sure that once we get that protagonist's name down, that perfect name, we'll be able to write the whole thing in one gush of brilliance, but all that's coming to mind are banal names like "John Everyman" or over-the-top ones like "Staff Sergeant Max Fightmaster".*
*Yes, that is his rea
Poetry Basics: EmotionsEmotions in poetryPoetry Basics: Emotions2 years ago in Literature Features More Like This
Writing, at its very base, is communication. We write to communicate — with someone else, with ourselves — when we write, we arrange words in a manner that is intended to be read. This is very important because, no matter what or how you write, this one basic fact never changes. If you get stuck at any point, you can come back to this sturdy foundation. I am writing to communicate; what do I want to communicate?
Often, the answer is emotions: how you feel, or how you want your reader to feel. As Gregory Corso wrote, "You must feel! It's beautiful to feel!"
We all feel, but how we express our feels is a matter of perspective. If we are too flippant with our choice of words, our readers will think we are shallow. If we are too brooding and deliberate, our readers may find us incomprehensible. Finding a balance takes work and dedication.
But that work and dedication is what distinguishes
Writer's Block: Of Course It's RealLiterature BasicsWriter's Block: Of Course It's Real2 years ago in Literature Features More Like This
Ever feel like no matter what you do, you just. can't. write?
You're not alone. Many other writers have been in the same situation, left frustrated and exhausted trying to get through this. But what can you do about it?
What is Writer's Block?
According to wikipedia
"Writer's block is a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. The condition ranges in difficulty from coming up with original ideas to being unable to produce work for years.
Steps to Overcoming Writers Block
Quit. At least for now, take a step back and breathe. The more you struggle the more worked up you become and the worse the block seems to get. Before anything else, give your mind a break for a bit and come back. Sometimes that's all you even need to do. Remember, your mind, just like your body needs rest.