Comma usage in creative writing

Commas are like petals. If you arrange them consistently you can come up with a lovely flower When I went to elementary school, and dinosaurs still roamed the world, my Neanderthalian teacher told me that commas had to be used to signal pauses. This suggestion was short and simple, but it presented a notable drawback: it worked only in some situations. In many others, all those commas I sometimes sprinkled my texts with looked like dead soldiers after a particularly bloody battle. In reality, I would soon discover, and certainly not thanks to that teacher, commas can signal pauses, but…

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Even if it’s better than creative accountancy, creative writing still needs rules | Creative Writing 101

Creative accounting can be defined as a process whereby accountants use their knowledge of accounting rules to manipulate the figures reported in the accounts of a businessSubtle but important differences With an extreme simplification, creative writing can be considered any writing in which authors make things up. It’s sort of like creative accountancy, but with three important differences. Firstly, your chances of becoming rich with creative writing are slim at best. Secondly, also your chances of ending up in a jail if you pursue a career in creative writing are pretty slim. Lastly, creative writing is aimed at a public…

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Concise writing in fiction

Concise writing in fiction can be an important asset, but when it comes to creative writing, what really means when we say a text is concise? If we look it up, the definition of the online Oxford dictionary for concise reads like this: giving a lot of information clearly and in a few words; brief but comprehensive. At first blush it seems this definition presents a problematic aspect. In fact how can a piece of writing be brief and yet comprehensive? How can it give a lot of information in just a few words? The simple answer to these questions…

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Literary devices: repetition in books

Have you ever noticed? The best novels imitate reality. They don’t try to photocopy it. In fact, reality is too thick and complex a tapestry, so made up of billions and billions of different threads, to be captured in its entirety. It’s a tapestry where each thread represents a different story–each going on at the same time all the others are also going on. Besides, as soon as we lean closer to a thread we discover it’s just as complex and vast as the whole tapestry. In a way, reality is a sort of fractal. To navigate reality and understand at…

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Flashbacks in literature – how to make them effective

There are many examples of flashback in literature. Some are skillfully pulled off. Some others totter on the brink of disaster, but manage to lead the reader back to the story before all is lost. Finally, some other flashbacks are like a knife in the hands of a butcher: they slaughter the story and leave it agonizing, bleeding to death. This doesn’t necessarily mean that writing a strong and effective flashback is a herculean feat. In fact, this could merely mean that flashbacks tend to be overlooked by authors. Because they are considered “easy stuff”. From a purely technical point…

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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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11 Myths about creative writing and writers

Myths have accompanied us as a species since the dawn of time. Even if it might seem strange, given that evolution hasn’t wiped them off our DNA pool, they must provide us with some kind of benefit. However, this doesn’t mean all myths are always and necessarily useful or constructive. For example, sometimes myths about writing grow out of stereotypes and biases. And tend to radicate with uncanny ease in the minds of people, even if at a closer look many of such myths are in stark contradiction the one with the other. Here I present a list of some…

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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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Photography and writing — how you can use the universal language of creativity to improve your art

Wow, this time around I managed to write a title that’s almost as long as a post. I know they say to keep it short and sweet, but I wanted to make my title as descriptive as possible. So to hell with SEO and crawlers. A post should be written for readers, not for digital spiders of the web. Some days ago I was on Twitter doing some research for a story I’m writing. Well… to be honest, in reality I was loafing about, I was wasting time, postponing, putting things off. You get the idea. This even if some time…

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