Punctuating Dialogue: A GuideStandard Punctuation: Dialogue
Sometimes we read dialogue so often, punctuated in so many different ways, that we either forget what we've learned (if that was anything memorable to begin with) or we rely on instinct to guide us. A common example of this can be seen in the opening dialogue of darksouldream's piece, Bobby:
No, replied Cindy `I think his sister Becky is staying with her, but she keeps muttering about parents out living children. The doctors been keeping her pretty sedated.
Most Americans will cringe at this. Why? Well, double quotation marks are the more acceptable usage (the "traditional convention") in American Standard English. However, in British Standard English, both the double quotation mark and single quotation mark are used. What's the rule? Stylis
Giving Prose Visual AppealAnyone who's spent any time reading text on a computer screen can tell you that things such as font, spacing, formatting, and size all play a role in how well a text is received. Often times people make comments that disregard the importance of formatting a text. What these people fail to realize is that many people find it difficult to read certain things, not because they're lazy, old, or uncool, but because they have vision problems that prevent them from digesting entire blocks of text with no clear paragraph breaks or focusing on more than a line or two of bold/italic writing. In fact, even people with 20/20 vision have a difficult time maintaining focus if text is improperly formatted. That's why we have proper formatting guidelines to begin with! With that in mind, WordCount is offering this quick guide to making your prose more appealing to the general public.Giving Prose Visual Appeal8 years ago in Editorial More Like This
Quick Reference List
1. Do not use subs
Write Better: Read MoreWe didn't believe it, either, but you really can learn a lot from reading a book! If you've ever wanted some worthwhile advice from someone other than your high school English teacher, this is the place to look. The authors below are experts in their fields, well-respected and admired by accomplished writers from all over the world, and we're bringing you a list of their most prized and collectively-effective books. (Tried-and-tested by our worthy administrators, no less!)Write Better: Read More8 years ago in Reviews & Guides More Like This
So what're you waiting for? Learn how to make every word count!
Reading Resource List for the Aspiring Writer
Writing Reminders: Tools, Tips, and Techniques (Jim Burke)
Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer (Roy Peter Clark)
Writing without Teachers (Peter Elbow)
Writing With Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process (Peter Elbow)
Active and Passive VoiceActive and Passive Voice11 years ago in Academic Essays More Like This
Active voice occurs when the subject or agent in the sentence performs the action, often towards an object. For example, let's look at the following sentence written in active voice:
Katie spilled the milk.
In this sentence, Katie is the subject, and she performs the action (spilling) on the direct object (the milk.) The most obvious way to spot active voice is through the use of active verbs, which are simply verbs that express actions. In most cases, the sentence will take on the simple form of the tense it's in, whether past, present, or future.
In passive voice, the object being acted upon is emphasized over the agent. A passive version of the previous sentence would look like this:
The milk was spilled by Katie.
In this sentence, our object (the milk) appears before the action (was spilled) and the agent (Katie.) You will also notice that this sentence is in the progressive fo
Wrath of the Grammar NaziIn favor of avoiding parallel structure debates (misplaced modifiers, ahh!) and a general crusade against passive voice, WordCount is offering a list of common "pet peeves" to satisfy the punctuation junkie in all of you.Wrath of the Grammar Nazi8 years ago in Editorial More Like This
Please understand that this list is by no means exhaustive, nor is it original, but it warrants saying from time to time. Nothing in here is meant to insult you, all rules can be broken, and there are always exceptions. One should also note that rules about comma usage and "the dash" differ from place to place and country to country, but this list falls back on Oxford's guide to style (because we all need a place to start).
1. Apostrophes are not there to make words look pretty. They do have an actual purpose (namely to indicate contractions or possession);
2. Semicolons connect two related thoughts while simultaneously separating two complete thoughts (or objects in a list);
3. "A lot" and "all right" are not words. They are
Showing, Part OneShowing, Part One11 years ago in Academic Essays More Like This
If you've ever taken a class in creative writing, you've no doubt heard the teacher repeat the phrase, "Show, don't tell" over and over again. While there are few hardest rules in creative writing, this persistent little mantra might be the ultimate. Teachers and writers who write about writing spout it out all the time, but what does it mean anyway? After, isn't all writing really "telling" on some level?
It's best to view "showing" not as a single technique, but a summation of the most effective writing techniques. If we know anything about poetry, it's that the best poetry usually conjures specific and concrete images. Beyond language itself, images are the meat and bones of poetry. So goes most of prose as well. The prose writer has the added duty of creating situations and characters that seem real and believable.
Showing invites the reader into the world of out poem and story. If the reader can see, smell, taste, and feel the world through our writing, the reader is more
So You Wanna Be a Writer?Many writers profess their desire to be novelists or poets, and sometimes even journalists, but very few--indeed, even those sitting with Creative Writing degrees, know what other options are out there for someone gifted with words. Your old Alma Mater wasn't lying when they said you could do "anything" with an English Literature degree, but they may have been leaving out much of the story.So You Wanna Be a Writer?7 years ago in Editorial More Like This
For writers, especially those trying to break into the publishing business, the world is a daunting (and often depressing) place. Securing a literary agent is almost necessary in today's oversaturated market and, while many publishers are still looking for the 'next big thing' or a new revival of the ever-dying 'literary fiction', just as many are happy to continuing publishing texts that make money. Do not lose hope, however! Publishing the Great American Novel is not the only way to call yourself a writer, and sometimes you can slip in through the back d
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
The Art of Refining ProseThe Art of Refining Prose8 years ago in General Non-Fiction More Like This
The Art of Refining Prose
Many writers dread the editing process. Not only does it delay the showcase of prose, it can seem a tedious and painstaking task. Often, editing is more time-consuming than the initial writing and consequently, it is either ignored altogether or briefly indulged. This is a great shame. Sincere editing not only proves a pleasurable experience but invaluable to prose, as this is a wonderful opportunity to buff, polish and tighten the impact of one's writing.
Some might argue that editing is not only unnecessary, but detrimental to the raw concept of ones inspiration. The answer to this is simple: select a prose that hasnt been edited and compare against one that has. Its soon evident that a well-edited piece is not only easier to read, but communicates the authors ideas with greater clarity. Few Bestsellers hit the shelves having skipped the editing office. And unless the author has behind them years upon years of writi
Voices... For and About KidsVoices in Writing For and About KidsVoices... For and About Kids7 years ago in Editorial More Like This
Well, the title of this piece promises a guide to writing for and about kids. This is an all-encompassing phrase that, I hope, will grab anybody who wants to write for or about any characters between the ages of about nought and eighteen. So, is this the part where I reveal that this guide is actually more limited than that? No it is not! At least, I have done my very best to cater to all possible needs, with the following handy headings:
Issues and Obstacles
The Voice of the Child: Advice on Writing Dialogue
Childrens Literature and the Narrative Voice
Young Adult Fiction and the Teenage Voice
I admit it: this guide is not going to be short, and while it is not going to be excessively long either, it will try to answer every question I have been able to anticipate.
Issues and Obstacles
Picture this. You have s
The Writing ProcessWhat is the Writing Process?The Writing Process7 years ago in Academic Essays More Like This
Many of us learned that the writing process is made up of five parts: Pre-writing, Writing, Revision, Editing, and Publishing. Indeed, this process has been so ingrained, and the vocabulary and terms have become such a part of our education, that some students (and adults) feel as if writing is a formulaic, rigid thingnot unlike learning mathematicsthat they simply never excelled in. Fortunately, this simply isn't true. While the five basic steps of the writing process are effective, they can only be effective if the people using the process understand the purpose of each step.
Experience has shown that many students do not know the purpose of drafting beyond a certain, vague understanding that you're supposed to "correct" or "fix" something for each new draft. Its unfortunate, but its also been shown that students who are forced to Pre-Write in certain ways, even when they have been
10 Tips for Novel Writers10 Tips for Novel Writers7 years ago in General Non-Fiction More Like This
1. Dont Find Time, Make It. Too many authors think that they will find the time to write sometime today or this week or next month. But think about it: when was the last time you said, Hey, look! I just found a twenty fifth hour in my jacket pocket! You know how many hours there are in a day, so stop fooling yourself. If youre going to have time to write, you need to make time to write. Whether you set aside the same hour every day or use those few minutes you have between classes, make sure youre devoting that time entirely to your writing, not sharing it with your favourite reality tv show. Writing during commercial breaks cuts your time by at least two thirdsimagine what more you could have written had you been able to focus your time and energy.
2. Have A Backup Plan. In this age of technology, the traditional pen and paper routine has been flung quite far out the window. It is rare that anyone will write a novel by hand
A word about haiku - MS JamesA word about haiku - by Michael JamesA word about haiku - MS James8 years ago in Academic Essays More Like This
I believe there are a few basic precepts about haiku that are largely overlooked, or just flat out just not taught in most basic literary (poetic) courses. Everyone seems to know that a haiku is supposed to be written in the structure of 5-7-5 syllables per line respectively, but there is much more going on than just a simple syllable constraint. I shall attempt to give a brief overview of the main points about haiku.
First off, the 5-7-5 syllable structure most often cited as being the sole 'structural rule' of haiku is based on the original Japanese constraint. However, the Japanese language and more specifically their word structure differ from English in a critical way when it comes to the definition of this structure. In the Japanese language, each sound unit is called an onji as opposed to our syllable. This unit of measure for a word is considerable more concise than what we use to define a syllable (typically only
How to write a summaryHow to write a summary7 years ago in Writing More Like This
NOTE!: This is a random tutorial that I wrote because of all the people I know that say they can't write a summary. I have left plenty of other info in the artist comments so go read that if you must, now! Oh, and I am looking for errors so tell me if you spot any, I need to change them, ktnxsbai!
HEY! Have you always wanted to write a summary that was so good your readers read the summary more than your story? Well I hope not, then no one would be able to read the writing would they. But have no fear, although I may not be the most amazing writer ever Im sure I can give you some basic tips on how to write a good summary that makes all the people who read it want to read the story right there and then.
Now Im not saying you are incapable of writing one, no, everyone can. But, there are certain ways you can write it to ensure that people are going to read it. Obviously you need a nice story title, if there isnt a good title people might not
Punctuating Poetry Part OneSome people believe poetry shouldn't be punctuated and others are still taught to put a comma after every new line. So where is the balance? What does one - especially one new or growing in poetry - do? Well, that's simple: a poet must punctuate with purpose!Punctuating Poetry Part One7 years ago in General Non-Fiction More Like This
In order to punctuate with purpose, however, a poet must understand two things: what she wants to achieve with the poem and what a piece of punctuation can achieve in a poem. This means a poet must understand more than the common rules of punctuation; she must know the effect that certain punctuation points can have on a reader or in a text.
This overview tackles punctuation in poetry from a practical standpoint, but it's important to note that while there are "rules" for punctuation, and while there are even some "rules" for poetry, there are no set-in-stone conventional rules for punctuation in poetry. There are schools of thought, and linguistic philosophy runs amuck, but there is nothing definit
Metre Learning GuideSo. Metre.Metre Learning Guide9 years ago in Academic Essays More Like This
It has become a dirty word in some poetry circles.
It conjures images of withered, grey-haired men laboriously counting out beats and stresses whilst coughing up phlegm because of all the dust in their cramped and quasi-arcane libraries.
It really isn't all THAT bad, trust me.
So, without getting too 'old-man' technical - What is metre? what is it good for?
And, importantly, how does one use it?
Well, let's see if we can come up with some workable and easily understood answers by the end of this.
#1: What is metre?
Technical Language: The most well known metre, 'Accentual Syllabic Metre' is the rhythmic arrangement of syllables and patterns of stresses in a poetic line.
Translation: Metre is a poetic device that allows you to consciously orchestrate the flow of rhythm in a poem by paying attention to the natural rise and fall of the spoken word, and how to align those patterns of word-emphasis in an effective way.
#2: What is metre good for?
Basically, metre is
Handout 1 - More on ScansionMore on ScansionHandout 1 - More on Scansion9 years ago in General Non-Fiction More Like This
If scanning a line of verse is difficult for you, do not fret. As the cliché goes, practice makes perfect. In this lesson, I'll go over some of the tricks of scansion and offer some ways to more easily identify a line's meter.
Take this opening line of one of Shakespeare's most famous sonnets, titled either "Sonnet 18" or by the first line:
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Your first task should be to identify polysyllabic words that can only be pronounced in one way. "Compare" and "summer's" are two such words, an iamb and a trochee, respectively:
˘ / / ˘
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Saying "COMpare" or "sumMER'S" would sound awkward, as this is not how they are pronounced in normal speech. We have another hint in "a," which is part o
How to Write Villanelles Villanelles can be quite discouraging; they look simple but are actually quite difficult. However, when mastered, it becomes technically easy according to Conrad Geller. Just like riding a bike, right? The name Villanelle is derived from the Italian villa, or country house, which is where aristocrats went to refresh themselves. Strangely enough, the form is originally French and only appeared in the English language in the lat 1800s (19th century). Out of the 19 lines in a Villanelle, only two rhymes are used. Furthermore, two lines repeat throughout the poem; usually the first and last lines of the first stanza are repeated interchangeably throughout the second, third, fourth, and fifth stanzas (starting with the first line of the first stanza) until the last stanza where both are repeated in the same stanza.How to Write Villanelles7 years ago in Other More Like This
Tips For Editing PoetryTips For Editing Poetry10 years ago in Academic Essays More Like This
***Tips For the Novice (and otherwise) - Editing***
The blanket statement, "Editing/revision harms poetry," is simply wrong. It's akin to a photographer claiming that focusing the lens ruins the emotion of the photograph. It is the details, and the appropriate attention paid to them, that separate a photograph from a snapshot. Imagine a film maker slapping every frame he shot up on the screen without editing for continuity, for pacing, for effect. What a disaster. That is not to say that editing can't be destructive - there is such a thing as poor editing, just as there is poor writing. But done correctly, done well, it is one of the most important tools in the poet's shed.
Never shy away from editing/revision. Some young writers feel that to revise is to kill the spirit of the poem. This notion serves to sacrifice the potential of a poem for an ideal that
Lesson 2 - More MeterQUOTE OF THE DAYLesson 2 - More Meter9 years ago in General Non-Fiction More Like This
"A poet who makes use of a worse word instead of a better, because the former fits the rhyme or the measure, though it weakens the sense, is like a jeweler, who cuts a diamond into a brilliant, and diminishes the weight to make it shine more."
- Horace Walpole
While every metrical poem will have a base meter to serve as its backbone, many poets often find that writing in ten-syllable iambic sentences, for example, is too limiting for their purposes, either because pure meter doesn't provide enough variation for proper emphasis or because it quickly gets dull and tedious, or a combination of the two.
You might have noticed this limitation when you wrote your blank verse in the last lesson. Often it occurs that there is something you want to say that simply will not work in your base meter, that you have to sound like Yoda to get your words into the proper meter, or that you feel that a different foot "feels right" in a certain place. &
Tips For the NoviceTips For the Novice11 years ago in Academic Essays More Like This
Tips For The Novice
It's an all-too common occurrence on my periodic forays into the world of internet poetry - writing weakened by a lack of fundamental knowledge concerning the essence of poetry writing. There are no rules set in stone about creative writing. The writer that strikes new trails can make a lasting impact on the world of poetry, but the chances of a writer stumbling upon golden words without a solid knowledge base are slim to none. The following tips for novice writers are intended to help shore up those fundamentals, to help the young writer breathe the essence of life into their poems, and to better share that essence with the reader.
The most important element you can inject into your poetry is imagery. Imagery is made up of sense data: color, sound, smell, temperature, the feeling of physical contact. When we remember anything with any vividness, we remember in images. When we fantasize or hallucinate, it is i
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,
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
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
How To WriteAbstract: an analytical approach to plotting and writing fiction upwards of 1,000 wordsHow To Write10 years ago in Academic Essays More Like This
Acknowledgements: the potentially amazing Rachel (IfrozenspiritI) served as guinea pig to this; go and tell her to finish the product of that experiment, because you'll love it. Chris Widdison (tearstone) approached me indecently with the idea of writing a longer essay (which will still happen, and be a lot more purdy than this here thing), which would incorporate this essay in another form, amongst others. He doesn't need to read any of this, because he already knows it all.
Target audience: young, inexperienced writers, especially those that find themselves pulling off vignettes and other super-short forms with an ease, while chronically unable to produce anything with more than a handful of scenes and more than 1,000 words.
Part 1: The Premise takes a look at the basic idea behind a piece
Part 2: The Story fills in some of those blanks and gives u