Nobody wants their writing to be described as “conventional” or “formulaic,” and in an effort to avoid such damning judgements, many young writers throw themselves past creative writing guides, the rules of writing, and all the catalogues of conventional wisdom, instead opting to carve their own path.
But before you follow suit and bend all the rules to write experimental fiction, there are a few things you need to know.
I’m currently working on my fifth nonfiction book and starting is always the hardest part. There are just so many options.
Should I write a preface? A prologue? An introduction? Should I find someone to write a foreword? Should I just start at chapter one?
If you’ve ever found yourself asking these questions, you’re not alone! And you’re in luck! I’ve asked these questions too and found some answers.
Let’s talk about the difference between each these and figure out which is best for you.
You are going to write a story. Yes, today is the day you are going to write a fiction story about someone. Your character and their development through the story is the heart of fiction.
Make your characters real, and your readers will care what happens to them because they can identify and sympathize with the character in a situation.
The stories we tell ourselves are like glasses through which we understand the world. They define the field we play on and guide the decisions we make, whether about book publishing or any other area of our lives.
Unfortunately, in the world of writing and publishing, there are a lot of false narratives floating around that create a romantic idea about the life of an author that can end in self-doubt, frustration, and stagnation. To avoid falling into the trap of bad stories, it’s important we pause and consider the world we exist in.
Happy Poetry Month! My students often scowl when I announce we’ll be reading a poem or covering *heaven forbid* an entire unit on poetry. Poetry often bothers people—it certainly bothers me in the best possible way.
Sometimes poetry feels lofty and pretentious and seems to say, “I know something you don’t know,” which is obnoxious, like an older sister taunting us. Some poetry makes us scratch our heads and say, “What the heck was that all about?”
But if we keep reading, poetry often moves us in ways a paragraph can’t. It requires a compression of language and meaning, tucked inside precise words that create concrete images. Poets, with a wink and a wry smile, trust us to read well. (Writers of all genres: we can learn so much from the poets!)
People are complicated. I know, that’s like saying, “Hey, fire is hot!” but when it comes to characterization, this needs to be said. Our tendency as authors is to stick imaginary people into tiny two-dimensional categories, forgetting that no human being fits into tiny two-dimensional categories.
One of the things that makes humans so confounded complicated is we are not logical.
A few weeks ago, our group of friends was planning a potluck. One of the girls said she was planning on making vegetarian chili, cornbread, or baking cookies. I cringed internally because the flow of the sentence was wrong and hurt me on the inside. The issue: mismatched parallelism.
A while back I attended a novel-writing workshop. Each week we read thirty pages from two students and spoke about them in depth during class, offering helpful feedback and criticism of their writing. After the second or third week, it became customary to ask whoever had been up for a critique “are you OK?” after class. Sometimes I saw tears. I myself felt overwhelmed by the amount of work I still had to do and my classmates’ brutal honesty.
We all know workshops and editing are crucial to the writing process. Writing criticism is essential. But man, that feedback can be hard to hear. Here five survival tips.
Writers are a funny bunch. On one point, we are driven and self-aware, capable of exercising massive amounts of discipline when we need to focus on the task at hand. Yet at other times, we’re distracted, self-critical, and destructive.
Part of the doubt writers face comes up because the creative process isn’t an easy thing to experience. It’s incredibly difficult to create something out of nothing day in and day out.
But when you can identify these critical mistakes writers make, you’ll be ready to overcome your doubts and challenges and actually finish your writing projects.
Imagine the quintessential writer: introverted, glasses, coffee in hand, sitting alone at a small desk, while poking their fingers on a keyboard.
We all have preconceived notions as to what being a writer looks like, but whatever your idea of a writer, I can bet that one trait is uniform across the board. You probably imagine your writer alone, the Stephen King type, secluded, perhaps in a cabin in the middle of nowhere.
Interestingly enough, being a writer alone is nearly impossible, and after being part of a writers group for almost a year, I’ve learned I could never do it alone.