Power vocabulary – choosing the right word

At times, choosing the right word can look like a daunting task. Especially if we consider the sheer amount of words that even a measly dictionary can provide us with. Yet there’s a way we can improve our ability to write in a more effective and engaging manner. And it’s not based on rules or long lists. Rather, it’s based on the natural curiosity for the basic principles of writing that any self-respecting writer generally possesses. Choosing the right word is a matter of economy First of all, we should look at novels like extended and coherent chunks of the…

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How the electric chair metaphor can help you tighten your creative writing

I’m a fervent advocate of scientific research. So much so indeed that I think we can’t have such a thing like too much science or too much knowledge. However, unfortunately, we can have something like too much technology. In fact, while science simply uncovers and explains the principles that make our universe tick, and is therefore neutral, technology isn’t necessarily always a good thing. This holds true even if, in principle, the dichotomy between basic and applied science is bogus. For example, while science explains what electricity is and how and why it works in such a way and not…

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Too many books to read and too little time to read them – a blessing in disguise?

Too many books to read and too little time to read them. This is one of my my constant problems. And even though I know perfectly well this is a typical first-world problem, I can’t help but to get frustrated about the way my list of to-read books keeps growing faster and faster. So fast indeed that even if I were a sort of octoculis lectorem (this is a word I just made up) and had eight independent pairs of eyes, I would be nonetheless unable to close the gap between my literary wants and my actual reading count. Luckily…

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Story development — the importance of a character’s name

Except for parents who are about to name their child, and therefore consider names incredibly important, in general we take first names for granted. You know what I mean. Joe is the mechanic. Edward the lawyer. Elise the soccer mum. Brenda the speech therapist. Names are just convenient labels to refer to people. Only occasionally names make us pause and think about what they might mean to their owners. And when this happens is usually because of some horrible name someone has been given. However, according to some psychologists names have a measurable effect on people. For example, names immediately…

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Stress relief products for writers—cheap and effective!

Writing can be incredibly rewarding. Especially when we have just finished, really finished a work, and congratulating ourselves for the feat. Alas, writing can also be a grueling experience. I mean, there are days, at times even weeks, we seem utterly unable to find even the most basic word to convey the ideas floating about in our mind. From this perspective it’s no wonder Kurt Vonnegut said when he wrote he felt like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth. It’s also no wonder that quotes like, There’s nothing to writing. You just open a vein and bleed…

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Where do you get your ideas from? It’s quite a common question… but what about the answer?

Where do you get your ideas from? is probably one of those questions that writers are asked most often. Unfortunately it’s also a loaded question. In fact, it uncritically assumes that ideas are sort of objects completely formed and ready to be used—maybe like objects sitting neatly on a shelf somewhere in a magic shop, all happily waiting for a writer to come by and choose one. In reality ideas are made of the fuzziest substance in the universe: jumbles of often erratic human thoughts. So much so that even if you ever managed to find a magic shop with a…

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Character tags – how to make your characters more memorable

I must admit it from the very start. Unless the physical description has some bearing on the story, I don’t particularly care about such things like the color of a character’s eyes, her complexion, her height or whatever else. I don’t care if the heroine has a shock of curly black hair or her head is instead as hairless as the ass of a two year infant. As a result, also when I write I tend to keep descriptions as short and functional as possible to the story I’m telling. I’m not alone in this. Les Edgerton, the author of Hooked,…

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Addicted to books – my personal list of the best novels to read

Over the last three weeks, after moving, I’ve been busy doing small jobs around the house. Now that most of the tasks I had appointed myself with are ticked off, I’m pretty satisfied. Yet I’m also quite stressed out. The number one reason for this situation is simple. During this period I read next to nothing. And now, given I’m addicted to books, like a junkie who desperately needs to score, I’m experiencing the usual withdrawal symptoms. For example, I dream of books. Continuously. At night they appear in my dreams. No more pinups and bombshells for me. No more…

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A truly indissoluble bound: writers and coffee–and what it means for literature

The link between writers and coffee has a long standing tradition. As detailed in Daily Rituals by Mason Currey, many among the most famous and accomplished writers in the world drink coffee, or used to, to fuel their creativity. Søren Kierkegaard, Voltaire, L. Frank Baum, Margaret Atwood, Honoré de Balzac. This is just a handful of names. The list could go on practically forever. Legend has it that Honoré De Balzac drank as much as 50 cups of coffee a day. Instead, Søren Kierkegaard used to pour into his coffee a staggering amount of sugar. This wasn’t exactly the most healthy of…

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