I had a conversation with a fellow writer recently about contractions, when they’re appropriate to use and when they should be avoided.
But first, what are contractions? Is there a contractions list?
I’m beginning a long season of travel. Yesterday, I got home from California, where I had a few meetings and spent time with family. In July, I’ll be in Portland for World Domination Summit (if you’ll be there, let me know!). In August, there’s Plywood Presents in Atlanta, and the Tribe Writers conference in Nashville, where I’ll be speaking (you should come!).
What this means for me is that I have to explain what I do for a living a lot. It’s not easy, at least for me. I am a writer, yes, but what does that really mean?
The profession of writing has been around for thousands of years. You would think we would have figured out how to become one by now, right? However, the more you read, the more you realize no one seems to agree on how to become a writer.
Depending on who you listen to, becoming a writer is either the easiest thing in the world (“Just write!”) or a proposition so impossibly difficult that only a combination of talent approaching genius, luck, and years of expensive training (i.e. “Get an MFA!”) can turn your writerly dream into reality.
So you want to become a writer.
Perhaps you write because it makes you feel alive. Perhaps you read a book that made you think, “It must feel amazing to write something like this. Maybe I could be a writer.” Perhaps you feel like you can’t not write.
So then, how do you do it? How do you become a writer?
If you’re reading this, then you want to be a better writer. However, becoming a better writer is elusive, isn’t it? It’s more art than science. There are hundreds of writing rules, thousands of words to know, and millions of possible ways you could write even a simple message.
How do you become a better writer when writing itself is so complicated?
I’m sure this never happens to you, but there are times when I don’t feel very creative. We just had a new baby, our second, bought a house, our first, and are now busy managing a thousand new details. All the busywork and bill paying leaves me feeling pretty dry.
But no matter how un-creative I’m feeling, there’s one creative writing exercise that never fails to fire up my writing.
I’ve been thinking today about what makes a setting like Hogwarts so great.
We’ve all spent a lot of time at school, many years of our lives. School is familiar, relatable, “homey.”
Thus it makes perfect sense to set a young adult novel series in a school. And many writers have done this, not just J.K. Rowling.
You’ve been told your story needs conflict. You’ve been told that each scene needs to have tension. You might have even been told you need to be writing villains, memorable antagonists that can supercharge your plot.
But unless you’re writing a fantasy novel, you might not be sure how to do this. You associate villains with Darth Vader and Jafar from Alladin.
What do bad guys look like in realistic literature?