A comma signals a pause. To a beginning writer this pearl of wisdom is about as useful as a map is to a four years old with knowledge of neither orientation nor scale. To start with, there are different ways to signal a pause. A Subject and Its Verb The sentence Henry, he went to the cinema can certainly be uttered with a brief pause -- hence the use of the comma -- but in real life people can also break it up with other punctuation marks. For example: Henry... He went to the cinema. (to show ponderation, unwillingness to answer...)Henry! He went to the cinema. (to show surprise, … [Read more...] about How to Use Commas — A Subject and Its Verb | Restrictive and Non-Restrictive Clauses
We can think of genre as a way to classify works of literature according to the different characteristics they possess. From the proverbial 10.000 foot view, genres can be extremely generic. For example, we have Poetry and Prose. If we examine prose we'll notice it can be segmented into Drama, Fiction, and Non Fiction. And then in turn each can be differentiated into more and more detailed genres. For example, if in your work there are supernatural elements, your story could be classified like Gothic Horror, Fable, Fantasy, or even Magic realism. But then if you turned your heroine into … [Read more...] about What Is Genre in Literature? How to Use It?
When you open a book written by a terrific writer, you can be pretty sure that if you take the time to read and analyze it, you can learn a lot about the way a story should be structured, and how words should be strung together to form that elusive thing we call strong writing. Also when you come across a badly written novel you can learn a lot. At the very least, about the mistakes you should steer clear of. Things like over-reliance on cliches, lack of logical consecution, word choices that paint only vague pictures. A badly written novel, if it's been traditionally published, can also … [Read more...] about Can a Mediocre Writer Be a Good Teacher?
Bad ideas are bad, right? Of course they're bad. Still, they're an important part of the creative process. Think of light and darkness. I mean, we can tell one from the other because they're both part of our lives. As a matter of fact, when we are deprived of such alternation we experience problems. Driving in a thick fog is a case in point. After a while we're crawling by at a snail's pace, our eyes begin to play tricks on us. We have the impression of seeing shapes and objects in the fog, even if they're not really there. This happens because our mind, which doesn't like … [Read more...] about Bad Ideas and Good Writing
If fiction is a streamlined and well-organized version of reality, why on earth should we want one of our characters to make a stupid decision? That would smell of deus ex machina from a mile away, wouldn't it? Now, while this position is understandable, it's not true. Stupid decisions are part and parcel of ordinary existence and as a result they have an important part also in fiction. The only caveat is that they should be just as streamlined and well- organized as the rest of the story is. As for the deus ex machina issue, just imagine: your heroine is hiding in a closet, and enemy … [Read more...] about Stupid Decisions in Fiction
Most beginning writers when they start writing strive to come up with both a gripping story and excellent prose. In fact, even though it's certainly true that a great story written in a less than stellar style can still sell millions of copies -- and the opposite is never the case -- most beginning writers are animated by the desire to make their works as good as possible. But as soon as they start reading how-to books and blog posts about writing--surely hoping to glean from them useful nuggets of advice--they realize there are many contrasting ideas about how to write well. I'll … [Read more...] about Repetition in Writing – Some Guidelines