Using Lyric Techniques in Your Writing, Part Three

This week we’ll examine more techniques of making meaningful sound on the page to carry emotion and momentum. OnomatopoeiaThe term onomatopoeia comes from the Greek for “word-making.” It means the employment of one or more words to imitate, echo, or suggest the sound of the thing or action described. Such words include “bang”, “click”, “fizz”, … Continue reading

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Using Lyric Techniques in Your Writing, Part Two

Remember Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven“? Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. `’Tis some visitor,’ I muttered, `tapping at … Continue reading

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Using Lyric Techniques in Your Writing, Part One

An essential element for good writing is a good ear: one must listen to the sound of one’s prose. — Barbara Tuchman Sound itself… is surely a signifier of mood, and thus of message… –Mary Oliver Paying attention to the music in our poetry and prose helps us build the emotional content and meaning of … Continue reading

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The Craft of Fiction, Part Nine

What is tone? It can seem a hard element to isolate, but we definitely know it when we read it. Compare these two descriptions of the same event: The protest erupted into violence today as police attempted to keep the entrance to the building secure. When they reached the building, the police unleashed their forces … Continue reading

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The Craft of Fiction, Part Eight

What is a subplot? It is a smaller story inside a larger story and it illuminates the life, times, personalities, themes and issues of the main characters, often by introducing peripheral characters and events. In novels (and in films) subplots are typically the place that readers make their identification with the main character. Writing in … Continue reading

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The Craft of Fiction, Part Seven

Francois Camoin writes in “The Textures of Fiction,” a contribution to Words Overflown by Stars, edited by David Jauss, that fiction is: little bits of action to keep us turning the page, to keep us moving through the landscape that is the point of the enterprise. The events and characters exist for the sake of … Continue reading

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The Craft of Fiction, Part Six

In real life, spoken language together with body language carries mountains of information and, like many if not most writers, you may find it difficult to convey the richness of this in prose. But you have already started writing dialog by doing writers Adrienne Harun and Midge Raymond’s exercises on character development in last week’s … Continue reading

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The Craft of Fiction, Part Five

As humans, we are wired for empathy and vicarious living, so we easily put ourselves into stories if we can identify with what the characters are going through in the emotional and physical situations they encounter. Whether we are reading about war heroes who perform godlike acts and save hundreds of people or the girl … Continue reading

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The Craft of Fiction, Part Four

Who is telling the story you are writing? It’s an important choice because it dictates what kind of information the narrator knows, and it reveals the window through which you must tell your story to your readers. Will your story be told in the first person? For instance: I had a little lamb, who followed … Continue reading

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The Craft of Fiction Writing, Part Three

Last week we worked on getting to know your protagonist and understanding the necessity of creating a fictional dream for readers. The week before we worked on narrative line and time frame. Now, we’ll turn to developing plot and arc of story. If you are writing a story, you may certainly keep pumping out the … Continue reading

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The Craft of Fiction, Part Two

Last week we explored story ideas and ways to develop them by establishing a narrative line and a time frame. This week we are going to think about the story’s protagonist, his or her nature, dilemmas and settings. In following weeks, we’ll focus on plot, story arc, dialog, tone, and further character development. Whether you … Continue reading

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The Craft of Fiction, Part One

Whether you are talking about short stories by Raymond Carver, novels by Barbara Kingsolver, or sudden fiction by Bruce Holland Rogers, you are reading stories that sprang from the imagination of the authors. Although the stories may in some way reflect events, characters and settings in the lives of the writers, the story elements are … Continue reading

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What is Creative Writing?

These last few months, I’ve been researching for a book I’m writing for McGraw-Hill’s education department. It’s called Creative Writing Demystified and is meant for use in high school and college classrooms. Creative writing is a broad term that covers a lot of ground, and when I share this title with writers I know, they … Continue reading

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Five Principles to Write By

Author Joel M. Vance offers a tightly written essay on tips for writers — ones we shouldn’t forget when we are polishing our work and ones we should remember as we are focusing and developing it. Following the essay is writing by Joel that originally appeared in Wisconsin Trails. He says, “I cut the original … Continue reading

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Journaling to Wake Up Your Dream Machine

“We are all already poets in the depths of ourselves — as our image-filled and wildly imaginative dreams show us!” David Richo in Being True to Life When I collected journal entries from contemporary writers for The Writer’s Journal: 40 Contemporary Writers and their Journals, I learned how significant dreams can be for writers. Several … Continue reading

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The Annual Christmas Dress Shopping Trip

This week, I am sharing my developmental editing responses to another Honorable Mention essay in our Summer 2009 No-Contest Contest. You’ll see Karen B. Call’s original contest entry, my written responses to her work and then her revised essay. You’ll see the benefit of reader response that encourages writers to invite more detail into their … Continue reading

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Tenderness and Meat Loaf

Continuing in our revision diary category posts, this week we are sharing an essay by Jack Shea, one of two essays that our guest judge Brenda Miller chose as honorable mention in our recent contest. My developmental editing comments inserted into Jack’s entry and Jack’s re-entered revision for our Writing It Real Fall 2009 No-Contest … Continue reading

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The Berry Patch

Reading the draft Joyce sent to us for the Fall 2009 Writing It Real No-Contest Contest and the tweaked version, you’ll see an example of the importance of polish editing. Although an essay might be “all there” on the page, rearranging some paragraphs and tweaking the ending can make a huge difference in the effect … Continue reading

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Porch Swings

In this article, we present Lisa Kee’s winning essay from our Fall 2009 No-Contest Contest. Each entrant submitted an essay, which I read and responded to. All entrants had the opportunity to revise their essays after reading my comments and re-submit. Our guest judge, Brenda Miller, author of Season of the Body and Blessing of … Continue reading

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Julie Barker’s First Place Essay Overturned

In this article, we present Julie Barker’s winning essay from our Fall 2009 No-Contest Contest. Each entrant submitted an essay, which I read and responded to. All entrants had the opportunity to revise their essays after reading my comments and re-submit. Our guest judge, Brenda Miller, author of Season of the Body and Blessing of … Continue reading

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