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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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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Sculpt your novel into existence the way you like it, but make sure you put a piece of your heart inside it

Some heart touching stories are so well written that, as readers, we can’t but to feel grateful for having the opportunity to read them. Indeed, there has been times when I’ve finished reading a book and remained there, staring into the distance at nothing in particular, just savoring that particular mix of joy, sadness, and wonder that for me is the natural hallmark of a great read. One day, when I was in my teens, I let a friend of mine read a story I had written, and by the end of it she was crying. For me that episode…

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Is your writer’s block telling you something?

Usually you tend to consider the writer’s block like an obstacle that prevents you from putting down on page your ideas. Or even an obstacle that prevents you from having any fruitful ideas in the first place. In the first case, you can usually overcome your writer’s block in several different ways. Go for a walk. Have some coffe or a cappuccino. Do some sport, like running or cycling. Reduce distractions. Read a book. Listen to music. Try to stick to a routine. Force yourself to write anyway, no matter how shitty your writing is going to be. Cook a…

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Seeds of creativity – what really are great ideas?

If you believe great ideas come in a sudden flash and offer themselves complete down to the last detail you might be in for a shock. We cannot prevent birds from flying over our heads, but we can keep them from making nests on top of our heads. Similarly, bad thoughts sometimes appear in our mind, but we can choose whether we allow them to live there, to create a nest for themselves, and to breed evil deeds. I read this quote some days ago. I found it in Tolstoy’s Path of Life, but the quote itself is attributed to Martin…

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Signs you are a writer – what is true and what is not

Surfing the web you can come across a zillion of posts listing the telltale signs you are a writer. These posts can be entertaining, no doubt about that. But they’re often based on myths, stereotypes, and little more. For example don’t worry if you didn’t start reading and writing before other children of your age. Or if your spelling abilities are still next to non existent. Many great writers have managed to succeed despite these problems, and some others way more difficult as well. Just think of W. B. Yeats and Jeanne Betancourt who had to work around their dyslexia. Think…

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One of the most important rules for writers

With great power also comes great responsibility. This is quite a common saying–also thanks to its popularization by the creators of Spider-Man, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. In any case, this saying is so widespread also because it’s deeply true. Not just rules for writers… To realize this we don’t need to look for superheroes fighting against super villains always only one step away from destroying the world. We can just keep our eyes open during our everyday activities. Take traffic officers, for example. In the overwhelming majority of the cases, they behave in a professional way, irrespective of the fact…

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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…

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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…

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