Murdering Mary SueMurdering Mary SueMurdering Mary Sue in Academic Essays More Like This
Every aspiring writer has met her at least once, whether in his own works or in those of others. The alluring temptation of a perfect character taunts the author from one side while his muse urges him to keep writing from the other. Who wouldn't love her? She's the most beautiful, talented, fantastic woman in the universe, with not a flaw in sight. Every woman wants to be her; every man wants to marry her, so why would anyone want to kill her? Who would want to murder Mary Sue?
I would. I and many greater authors have been working hard to keep this succubus in her proper place: the trash can. Mary Sue is one of the worst enemies of good fiction, second only to poor spelling and grammar. And the seductress tempts even the most cautious writer. Her many disguises can make her difficult to spot, allowing her to weave her way into every plot twist and turn, slowly destroying the author's work. By the time shes found, she may have done so much damage that the
An Essay on Naming CharactersWhat's In a Name?An Essay on Naming Characters in Academic Essays More Like This
An Essay on Naming Characters
By Kate Logan
When it comes to character creation, be it for a story or an illustration, choosing the proper name for a character is vital. All too often do I see characters with poorly thought-out names: the chivalrous knight Darren Starhawk; the sweet, innocent Lady Elvira; or the rough-and-tumble brawler Poindexter. On their own, these names are fine (even Starhawk, if you're going for a sci-fi flare), but they simply don't work with the characters they are describing. No one is going to take poor old Poindexter seriously, no matter how big his muscles are. To remedy this catastrophe, here are a few tips and guidelines when naming characters.
First, a little game. Below is a list of several of my characters and a brief description of each, all mixed up and out of order. Try to correctly match the name to the character description. The answers are at the end of this essay (no peeking!).
1. Senshi Meijin
Edge of Thorns - Pt 3Part 3Edge of Thorns - Pt 3 in Introductions & Chapters More Like This
You know, I haven't had Chinese in ages, and as tempting as that pretzel sounds, I'm really craving me some sesame chicken...
"I think I'm going to need something more filling than a coffee and pretzels," Nathan said, smiling at Alton. "Which way to Chinese?"
The other man laughed and lazily pointed out the window. "You'll want to turn right out of my shop, go straight through the next intersection, and turn right again at the corner of Midas Street and Banner Avenue. You should be able to spot the Golden Frog with no problem."
Nathan nodded, committing the directions to memory as he started towards the door. "Thanks, for letting me use the phone and the info. Uh, I guess see you later."
"Yes, see you later."
Nathan hesitated for a moment before leaving. The way he'd said that... he shook it off. Alton was a nice guy. He'd offered a complete stranger the use of his business phone, and even given him directions. Nathan knew he really needed to get past his discomfor
Edge of Thorns - Pt 7Part 7Edge of Thorns - Pt 7 in Introductions & Chapters More Like This
There's no way I'm going to make another idiot mistake like running off without paying my bill. Alton is creepy enough as is. I don't need to give him a reason to be angry with me. What he doesn't know won't hurt me...
Nathan shook his head, not releasing Avery's hand until the teen lowered his head in defeat, making it clear that -- as much as he may have wanted to -- he wasn't going to open the door. With a sigh, he pressed his ear back against the door. Nathan rubbed the back of his head, moving next to Avery to join him. He could at least make that compromise.
"So what are you calling yourself these days, Lu?" The question came from the other voice, which Nathan just knew he'd heard before. "Something clever, no doubt."
The shopkeeper chuckled. "I don't think so. The name is Alton. Alton Sterling, and you have my adoptive father to praise for that. I prefer not to choose my own name, unlike you." His voice suddenly dropped, becoming serious and dark. "Th
Edge of Thorns - Pt 2Part 2Edge of Thorns - Pt 2 in Introductions & Chapters More Like This
As much as I hate to admit it, the more time I waste getting to the police station, the less of a chance I have to get my car back. I should have just called from the newspaper's office, but it's too late for that now. I guess I'll just have to suck it up and go with him.
Gives me more time to figure out why he makes me uneasy, at least.
"Well... I guess that makes sense," Nathan said, rubbing the back of his head. "Just around the corner, you say?"
Alton nodded, smiling eagerly. He shifted the books he was carrying to his other arm and motioned for Nathan to follow him, starting down the sidewalk. "Actually, it's one store down from the shop at the intersection up ahead, but that's close enough. Mind if I ask your name?"
"No, not at all!" he lied, jogging to catch up with him, cringing that he now had to tell him. "It's Nathan."
"Nathan..." Alton hummed and chuckled a bit, looking over his shoulder towards him. "I'm sorry for your unfortunate, uh, welcome to Virtu
The Writing ProcessWhat is the Writing Process?The Writing Process 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
Paraphrasing Done RightParaphrasing: What is it?Paraphrasing Done Right in Reviews & Guides More Like This
When we paraphrase something, we simply restate the main point (or points) in a text using different diction (words) and syntax (grammar) in order to shorten the passage and/or make it more understandable to a reader.
However, paraphrasing is not limited to articles and research papers. In fact, we paraphrase every day! Any time you take something someone else told you and retell it in your own words (yes, even outside of writing), you are paraphrasing. This includes all those times your teacher asks you to restate what's happening in a text.
In other words, you've been paraphrasing all semester and you didn't even know it!
That means paraphrasing should be easy, right? Right! Although, for some students, it's difficult to do in a research setting. Why? Because we've developed some bad habits over the years, and bad habits prevent us from paraphrasing correctly.
For example, there are some things that para
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 One 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
Active and Passive VoiceActive and Passive Voice 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
Showing, Part OneShowing, Part One 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
Editorial - ClicheEditorial - Cliche in Editorial More Like This
Cli·ché (klee-shay) also cliche (kl-sh) n.
1.) A trite or overused expression or idea: ?Even while the phrase was degenerating to cliché in ordinary public use... scholars were giving it increasing attention? (Anthony Brandt).
2.) A person or character whose behavior is predictable or superficial: ?There is a young explorer... who turns out not to be quite the cliche expected? (John Crowley).
(source: http://www.dictionary.com/ )
It's not something pleasant to hear, or pleasant to say.
But what's to be done, when you find it one day
in a pile of mismatched lines like a stack of hay?
They aren't hard to spot, like white backgrounds
and black dots. You'll know what I mean, in
a minute or two, but cliché phrases and ideas
will be the death of you.
What does a word or phrase need to do in order to become cliché?
There is no patented test that words must go through nor a physical examinat
RhythmRhythm in Academic Essays More Like This
If your poem's rhythm is bad, your poem will be bad.
That's right, I said it. Poetry without rhythm (or poor examples of it) is like a brain-bound rusty screwdriver: stimulating but never a good idea. After you've digested all of that "show don't tell" imagery bullshit, you need to pay attention to your rhythms.
Don't just read your poem, say it out loud. A poem that sounds great spoken will look great written. If you aren't confident in your abilities, work on it. Limiting yourself to syllabic structure is an excellent way to learn. Jot a few lines down, figure out some sort of syllabic structure (seven syllables / five syllables / seven syllables / five syllables / etc. etc.) and stay within that structure. This helps you learn how different words flow, and how to make the words work for you. Free-verse is an exciting concept but sitting down and proceeding to pour your thoughts out onto paper willy-nilly will make your poem suck. Poetry is no excuse to ramble. Punctuation, and to a
Voices... For and About KidsVoices in Writing For and About KidsVoices... For and About Kids 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
Writing Paranormal CharactersAs a writer of prose, you may at some point to want to write about a character or characters which are paranormal. We could perhaps debate over the exact definition of the word paranormal, and some may prefer supernatural - a word more closely associated with magic, whereas paranormal tends to be taken to mean something outside the realms of science (though of course, it is not as clear-cut as that, and you may like to think that I am wrong in saying this).Writing Paranormal Characters in Editorial More Like This
For the purposes of this guide, both paranormal and supernatural refer to conscious beings, not found in the animal kingdom, that differ in some way to what I controversially call normal humans (some paranormal beings may be human, in part or in whole). To give some well-known examples: ghosts, vampires, witches, werewolves and mermaids all fall into this category. The details, of course, are up to the writer. If you t
Common Errors: Lose and LooseLoose is an adjective meaning slack; not firmly fixed; the opposite of tight. It has a hard S sound, and almost everyone knows how to spell it.Common Errors: Lose and Loose in General Non-Fiction More Like This
However, many are confused by the very similar word, lose. This is a verb meaning to misplace something: an object, a function such as eyesight or memory, or one may lose ones way whilst trekking through the Australian outback or the local supermarket.
The confusion arises because the pronunciation of lose and loose is almost identical; the only different is that lose has a soft S sound at the end. It, too, has the double-O sound that makes many people want to spell it the same way as loose (which, I should mention, can also be used as a verb; get yourself an exciting kidnap novel, and you may well read of somebody loosing his or her bonds).
Lose is one of many annoying words that defy the rules of English spelling, and it does so in the same was as move and pro
How To WriteAbstract: an analytical approach to plotting and writing fiction upwards of 1,000 wordsHow To Write 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
The Expected Part 1 of 4—Preface—The Expected Part 1 of 4 in General Fiction More Like This
This is a walnut.
The walnut has no name. Its Latin appellation, however, is juglans, short for jovis glans. Jovis is what Zeus was called when the Romans saw him and decided they wanted one of those too; glans means nuts. Jupiter's nuts. It is highly probable that, back when this name was chosen, people meant to say walnuts were nuts fit for the gods. Funny, what the evolution of language can do to nuts.
This walnut is lying on the wooden floor of a monastery, a monastery beautifully situated in the middle of a seemingly endless forest.
This is Friar Mattheus. In a moment, Friar Mattheus will step on the walnut, slip, fall down the stairs, and break two ribs. Friar Mattheus really likes walnuts. A little earlier, he was going to crack this one open and enjoy it. At that exact moment, he had a doubtlessly divine inspiration for a chorale praising his saint of choice. The ingenuity of this chorale's words was that they would only make
The Resurrected Part 4 of 4—The Resurrected—The Resurrected Part 4 of 4 in General Fiction More Like This
In a place without time, close to 2005 AD
He makes a telephone in another place ring. He waits. Someone picks up.
"Hello Jacob, it's good to hear your voice."
Someone moves by, someone at a stage where it is hard to tell whether they are someone or something. It, whatever it is, wails and complains. He covers the mouthpiece of the receiver. Then continues.
"You sound tired, exhausted. I am sorry that I had to disturb you in your sleep."
"What with my funeral, yes."
The other end asks a question after a long silence.
"Not so good, Jacob. You have to help me. This place where I am has no sun."
* * *
Jacob, awake in bed, panting heavily. He thought of Miriam's hand. Of the sweet taste in his mouth. He wiped the sweat from his face and went back to sleep.
* * *
In a place without time, close to 2005 AD
He rises through the layers, separates from the slipstream below that pulls those inside it along and returns to them, for a frightful quasi-m
Your Voice.Your Voice in Free Verse More Like This
Your voice is a clouded day
Hues of white, specks of blue
It speaks to me with its normalcy
And I know that all is good.
Your voice is not:
A rainy sky
With rumbling of thunder
And drumming of rain
Your voice is not:
The glaring sun
The splashing of water
On beaches and pools
Your voice is the story of how I may live
It's normal and pleasing and good
The potential of greatness lies deep in your voice
It will always be there; it will always be mine.
Your voice is the earth, is dirty and strong
Is moist with the promise of good lives to come
My heart, my lungs, both feed on your voice
My ears see an image of you.
The future we build
Stands firm on the soil
Come painstorm, come heartquake, come all that will come
It's simple and yet
Our own work of art
In doubt-forge, with e-pain, with hope it was made.
And every diamond
That wasn't once dirt
Character Creation TipsCharacter Creation Tips 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
Elements of StoryElements of Story in Writing More Like This
Updated Mar. 18th 2009
The following is a self-discovered list of elements contained in an excellent story:
An interesting and intriguing main character, an individual with a unique past that has made him who he is at the time of the story. Be sure to explain the important aspects of this backstory where appropriate.
This main character must have a story goal: a mission to accomplish, a mystery to solve, his past to reconcile, a villain to overthrow, a treasure to find, a person to save, etc.
Along with this goal, the character must have an all-consuming desire that drives him to accomplish what he sets out to achieve. Love, revenge, money, justice, purpose, an identity crisis, etc.
Fear. This is the person or thing that has the power to stop him from accomplishing his goal. A threat.
An enemy. If another person, this enemy must be smart, strong, and resourceful with a goal directly opposing that of your main character, and he must have an equally strong desire to ful
Punctuation BasicsPunctuation Basics 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 Originality IllusionIt's come to my attention that, in the online amateur writing scene, no one seems to understand the proper role of characters in conjunction with plot.The Originality Illusion in Writing More Like This
From what I have been able to observe, literally everyone tries to create characters outside of plot by outlining what they look like, what they eat for dinner, and what bands they absolutely abhor. That's the law on how it's done. The amount of "character survey sheets" containing a never-ending list of questions for prospective characters is ridiculous--and sad, because determining these things will in no way help you create a good character or, more importantly, a good story (which I define as an account of a character's actions within a given plot).
In reality, your character is not going to comb his hair, sit down to the dinner table, or workout in the gym with his iPod during the erupting mayhem of your story. If he does, it's because you've invested way too much time in randomly select
A Guide to Writing StyleA Guide to Writing Style 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,
Why Writers Should Watch TVWhy Writers Should Watch TV in Academic Essays More Like This
Ive heard the argument that writers shouldnt watch TV and movies because that will inundate them with all the cliché plots and characters out there and somehow brainwash them into not being able to create an original story.
Me: *blank stare*
First of all, there is absolutely nothing new under the sun. Therefore, it is impossible to create something totally unique and original no matter how many bad movies you see. Furthermore, the more story lines that enter your brain, the more you realize just how unique or not your own story is.
Most importantly, an original story is not a new story. It is simply taking a common idea and combining it with other common ideas to create a new and fresh sequence of otherwise common ideas.
Think of stories like cookies. All the different types of cookies represent different types of genres and plots. Ingredients like chocolate chips and nuts represent c
Mary SueThere was once a girl named Mary Sue. She lived in the wonderful world of Fanfiction. Everywhere she went, no matter what the series, she was different, yet always the same. Sometimes she revisited these series, making every boy fall for her once again. The thing each of Mary Sue's forms had in common; they were all extremely cliche, they all were irresistible, they all were perfect in every way possible. But in the world of Fanfiction, Mary Sue often only visited people if she was told by the Mighty Authors, who would create another form for her.Mary Sue in Humor More Like This
One day, Mary Sue was in her pretty pink mansion, sipping the finest tea in the most expensive possible cup. She was in her usual form. A girl in a blinding pink dress, with extremely sparkling, perfect, blonde hair, and beautiful blue eyes. She looked extremely beautiful, as all of her forms were meant to be. And from the Mighty Authors themselves came a letter from Above. She ripped it open excitedly, not getting a new job for quite awhile.
Punctuating Dialogue: A GuideStandard Punctuation: DialoguePunctuating Dialogue: A Guide in Editorial More Like This
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
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 Nazi 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
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 Appeal 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 More 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)
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? 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