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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6 easy tips on how to use the exclamation point in creative writing

It’s extremely easy to use the exclamation point. In fact, you should never use such a banal device to draw the attention of your readers to what you’re writing! Never!! Not even in non fiction!!! Or rather, especially not in non fiction!!!! Well, if the exclamation point has to be used so sparingly as to appear no more than a few times every 100.000 words, then, you might think, it would be better to discard it altogether. But there’s always a but. Especially in the realm of rules about grammar and language. In fact, writers love giving advice about writing–after…

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Stylistic devices – how to end a story

We humans are a bit strange, to say nothing of the dog… Sorry, sometimes I mix what I’m reading — Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) — with what I’m writing, or should be writing. Anyway, I was saying we’re strange. For example, we tend to give a lot of importance to the way things end. I mean, if we go on a vacation for a fortnight and then the last day it rains, we’re bound to feel a bit cheated and depressed. Instead, if it rains the first day of our vacation it rarely…

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Describing characters in fiction – literary techniques

In a previous post about memorable characters in fiction I wrote that writers must offer their readers many occasions to get to know the characters populating their stories. In fact, just as in real life the more we know about someone the more intense our feelings can grow for that person, the same happens in a novel. However, given that any work of literature, even the lengthiest one, is always an heavily edited and condensed version of reality, we must choose with care which scenes to include in our stories and which are instead better left out. For example, if…

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The role of art in society, the ultimate mind map?

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. As the quote from Hamlet makes it apparent, Shakespeare knew quite well that the world around us, just like the one residing in our head, is simply too vast and rich for an artist, any artist, to ever hope to describe it in its entirety. This might seem like a terrible limitation on our ability to create art. It also seems to undermine the role of art in society. Instead, I believe this apparent inability, this sort of limitation, is one of the strong…

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Writers: how to put evolution and culture to good use

Evolution, plain and simple Think of a gazelle. It relies on its speed to flee predators. Just as a lion relies on secrecy to get as close as possible to its prey and hunt it down. In fact, although several predators can run faster than a gazelle, they can do so only over extremely short distances. If, for some glitch in the clockwork of evolution, a gazelle sat perfectly still in plain sight hoping to be overlooked by a predator… Well, that gazelle would most likely be the first and the last of its line. In fact, stillness is only one…

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The ladder – a free short story

I wrote this free short story, among many others, for a course in creative writing I took years ago. This isn’t a horror story, unless we want to call horror also the challenges we all have to face while growing up. However, I really enjoyed writing it. And now I hope you can find it just as enjoyable. Let me know. The Ladder The wooden ladder stretches above the first floor of the barn. From where he is, Mikey can make out the piles of hay. Beyond these, hung up to the farther wall, a scythe rests in the shadows –…

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How to jump-start your creativity

Creativity can be a capricious companion. At times I don’t feel like writing anything at all. I mean, although my head has been buzzing with ideas all day long, as the time of my writing session gets nearer, it seems to me that my ideas dry up and vanish into thin air. Once upon a time, this used to piss me off.  But thanks to my stubbornness this is no longer the case. Freewriting, boredom, and creativity In fact, on such occasions I sit down at my desk and start pounding on my keyboard all the same. Only, as freewriting…

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