Original horror story prompts

In a previous post–Seeds of creativity–I said ideas are never a big problem for writers and creative people in general. But given that each one of us is unique in her way of thinking and looking at the world, in her way of understanding how things work, and in pretty much everything else, from time to time this uniqueness can also feel a bit suffocating. In fact, we tend to come up with ideas that feel like Xeroxed copies of previous ones we already wrote about. For example, if you are someone who feels strongly about hierarchies and power in corporate America…

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How to write badly – when fiction turns into friction

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. You don’t need to be a true faithful to have heard this proverb. Of course, it’s a generalization, and like all generalizations it has its limits. But I think it’s particularly appropriate when applied to the world of creative writing, where ideas and good intentions seem to be everywhere, but then actual writing ferries into existence only a small sliver of them all. So, here is this list of one-liners about how to write badly. At the very least they’re all wrong, and in many cases they’re also incredibly counterproductive.

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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…

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How to improve vocabulary and why it is important

It’s only when a perfectly devised story is told with all the right words that it enters the realm of true greatness. This is why it is so important to improve vocabulary. Hemingway had to be acutely aware of this if he wrote as many as 47 drafts for the ending of his Farewell to Arms. Indeed, when he was asked what had been the reason for so many endings, he replied: Getting the words right. Of course, tastes can vary wildly. But in general, within any culture, I believe we can find literary masterpieces when function and form merge together…

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Book cover design – an overview

A great book cover design can make or break the future of a book. Quite simply, it is one of the most important marketing tools we authors have at our disposal. In fact, even if we work hard to send a lot of people to our sales pages, we’re going to end up empty-handed in terms of sales if the cover isn’t top-notch. Of course, a great cover isn’t necessarily a safe-conduct to success, but an ordinary one can really drive potential readers away. Fact is, these days the number of books on sale is so large and people so busy…

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6 easy tips to stop procrastinating and start writing

Tracks with no train and a barren landscape

I don’t know what stop procrastinating means when it comes to reading. I mean, I find reading not only fun but also deeply rewarding. I’m one of those people who, when enter a lift, can’t help reading for the umpteenth time the notices about maximum load capacity and safety regulations. Stop procrastinating – easier said than done. Writing instead is another kettle of fish. As rewarding as it can be, sometimes can also be terribly frustrating and difficult. It is therefore understandable that writers often procrastinate their writing sessions. For sure, for me taking the plunge has always been quite hard. So much so…

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When is it the time to stop editing?

Peter Rey - Editing

When is it the time to stop editing and honing your work and instead just publish it? This is an interesting question. And just as with all interesting questions, the possible answers are innumerable. In my case, when I write a first draft I repeatedly change name to my characters. I use invented words, or Italian or Spanish words. If I happen to read a particularly gripping book, usually I absorb from it at least a couple of scenes, and my writing style too changes slightly to mimic in part the one of the book I’ve been reading. If I…

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Creative writing tips–write what you don’t know

We should always keep in mind that creative writing tips are just like signposts. They don’t make a story. But when there is a story, then they can help us to make it shine at its brightest. In my last post  (write what you know–what does it really mean?) we have seen how such a piece of advice can be misleading if interpreted too narrowly. Indeed, if we wrote exclusively what we have direct experience of most likely we would end up finding our writing sessions to lack of any sense of wonder and discovery. Besides, chances are that our…

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5 Novels to boost your creative writing skills

One very common piece of advice we can hear about how to improve our creative writing skills has to to with reading. In fact, extensive reading in the most disparate genres lay the foundations for any writer who is serious about his or her work. Indeed, reading helps a lot to develop a spontaneous feeling for the way good stories should be put together. But given that time is a precious resource, to maximize this illustrative effect we should try to focus our attention on the best books we can find around. This means those books that can be thought of…

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