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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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 use adjectives in creative writing

In writing in general, but particularly in creative writing, no part of grammar can be overlooked. But it’s also true that no part of grammar should be worshipped either. Endless choices Fact is, how we write depends on the content of our story, on the style we choose to tell it, on what the aim of our telling is, and a million of other things. For example, in a novel, to describe the route someone must follow, we may resort to descriptions relating to the colors and the smells of the landscape. We may also describe the feelings of the character. Instead, in a street guide we would most likely heavily rely on words related to the concepts of distance and direction. I mean, if we tried to explain to someone how to reach a certain place, but we did so using exclusively words related to colors and feelings instead …

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The difference between character and plot driven books – and why creative writing prompts are useless

Character and plot are necessary parts of any novel. But, depending on how each is approached, they can change deeply the way a novel grows under an author’s fingertips. Novels based on plot focus primarily on the sequence of events they recount, and tend to treat characters quite superficially–often resorting to stereotypes, and steering clear of any meaningful introspection. Instead, novels based essentially on characters put a much more emphasis on the psychology, on the reasons behind a character’s actions. They tend to explore more deeply things like causality, feelings, memory. Character and plot -plot-driven books To make this distinction clear, just imagine of looking at two pictures. The first shows Jack while he is kissing Alice and promising her he will never again let her down. The second instead shows Jack, drunk and angry, driving away from Alice’s place. A plot-driven novel would just force the protagonist to kiss Alice …

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