How to find the theme in your stories–and turn them into T-rexes

That of theme is an essential concept in creative writing. In fact, it can give a work of fiction depth and resonance beyond belief. However, it is important to make sure we know what a theme really is. In particular we must pay attention not to confuse it with the subject of a story. For example, in the Lord of the Rings Frodo must travel to Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring, the only able to rule the other Rings of Power. We can therefore say that the battle for power is the subject of the story. Instead, the main theme of The Lord of the Rings (or rather one of its main themes) has to do with the inherent ability power has to corrupt who wields it. To make things clearer, just think of a book about the war. In such a case the war would be the subject …

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Good ideas, bad ideas – How to recognize good and bad ideas

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between good and bad ideas. But the alternative is to have no ideas at all. Because, especially at the beginning, good and bad ideas are often indistinguishable. Given at least a grain of talent, creativity can be boosted. This is good news. In fact, it’s reassuring to be told we can take a stroll, read a book, or enroll for a creativity course to double the amount of our creative ideas, or to make them more original. But, as it is often the case in real life, things aren’t so straightforward. Otherwise, considering the number of books and courses devoted to creativity, lateral thinking, or whatever else we may call it, we would have droves of people coming up with spectacular new ideas all the time. Besides, we should also recognize that creative ideas can be both good and bad ideas. After …

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Why to say no is important, and political correctness is bullshit

Why to say no? Well bred people never say so, right? And values like appropriateness, politeness and inclusiveness…shouldn’t they guide our stylistic choices? After all, we don’t want to make anyone angry, right? Well, not so fast. These days political correctness seems to be a hot issue for everyone. So much so that as someone wrote, we can say with confidence that political correctness has gone mainstream. Now, while I believe it is important to respect everyone, I also believe all this political correctness is in most cases a heap of nonsense. In fact, there’s a fine line between granting people basic and inalienable rights, and instead enforcing such rights with a series of laws and policies. Laws and policies that in most cases force people to act in certain ways, but don’t teach them anything about the underlying principles. Basic and inalienable rights have to do with education, role …

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The importance of challenging the status quo

When I was a toddler I was taught to fit in and do as I was told. Nobody ever told me about challenging the status quo. Rather, on the rare occasions someone mentioned it, the implicit message about the status quo was that it was something desirable. Of course, from a practical point of view this makes sense, at least in part. In fact, if a child begins to question everything she is told she can turn her parent’s life, and her own, into a misery of never ending crises. In fact, a small child, despite her apparent harmlessness, can refuse to do a lot of things and so disrupt the lives of her parents, her parent’s friends, and all the people the above mentioned parents may come in contact with. Challenging the status quo is normal for a child Shoes? Who needs shoes? Even if we’re in the middle …

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How to tell if your writing is improving – 4 easy tips

When it comes to judging our writing talent we can be incredibly biased. We can delude ourselves and believe we are the next big name; we can also be so critical with ourselves we end up believing we only write rubbish. Indeed, even the most balanced aspiring writers can feel discouraged and have the impression that despite their best efforts they’re getting nowhere. In particular, they feel their writing isn’t improving in any significant way. Now, even if it can be difficult to be objective about our own work, this doesn’t mean it’s an impossible task. And indeed, the following suggestions can help us to assess our own writing with at least a certain amount of equanimity.