Happy back-from-Labor-Day Day! I had the good fortune to spend the long weekend in Houston with my best friend from college. We ate, we drank, we had a slight Netflix binge, and we were very merry. She’s finishing up her PhD in neuroscience at UT-Houston, and she accepted a postdoc at Vanderbilt, so she’ll be moving to Nashville in a couple of months. She may be one of the smartest people I know.
I know this because she knows the difference between may be and maybe.
If the semicolon was just a little less top-heavy, then it would be a comma, and rightfully used and appreciated. Sadly, many writers have a confused relationship with the semicolon, not really sure how or when to use semicolons in their lovely sentences.
Don’t worry, little semicolon. Your virtues will not be lost on this audience as long as I have a say in it.
Consider this: as writers, we employ words. We harness their power and send them out to do a job. So, just like any productive employer, we must choose our operatives effectively and manage them well. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the ways words can fail and how to avoid that.
You know you’ve seen it at the end of a book, but what does it mean? What is an epilogue actually? Why not just call it, “Last Chapter?” Who thought up this word, “Epilogue,” anyway? And if you’re a writer, should you end you’re book with an epilogue?
You’ve heard the classic writing rule, “Show. Don’t Tell.” Every writing blog ever has talked about it, and for good reason. Showing, for some reason, is really difficult.
Telling is one of the hardest habits to eradicate from your style. I still struggle with it regularly. However, writing that shows is so much more interesting than writing that tells that it’s worth doing the work.
And the good news is that it’s pretty easy to show if you just learn this one trick.
Plot has a specific structure. It follows a format that sucks readers in; introduces characters and character development at a pace guaranteed to create fans; and compels readers to keep reading in order to satisfy conflict and answer questions.
Do you want readers to love your story? (Who doesn’t, am I right?) Then you need to understand plot.
Stuck on the distinction between “in to” and “into”? You’re not alone! Don’t worry, though, I’ve got you covered. Here’s the quick version:
Use “into” to describe where something is: going inside something else. Use “in to” based on the verb that comes before it. It can have many meanings, but here’s a quick tip that covers some of them: if you can replace it with “in order to,” use “in to.”
Read on for the longer explanation, plus examples of into vs. in to.
People ask me all the time (and by all the time, I mean never), “Liz, what is your favorite grammatical/punctuational structure?” It’s hard to narrow it down to just one (although you’re probably already aware of my love for the Oxford comma), but if I happened to be in a life-or-death of language situation, it would probably be the parenthetical statement.
My mother seems to appreciate having a grammar lover in the family. For Christmas one year, she bought me the book I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar. (By the way, it is equally correct to say “bad grammar.”) Last week, my mother emailed to ask if she was using the word “nor” correctly, which brings me to today’s post: the use of either, neither, and the connecting words that go with them.
Surprise! In real life, some folks love surprises and others hate them. But one thing is certain—in fiction, you need them. If you want your reader to be captivated by your story, unable to put it down, you need to learn how to write a hook that will draw him through. Grab your reader with something totally unexpected, and you harness his attention to the story you’re telling. At least for that moment.
If you want your readers to not just pick up your book, but keep turning the pages, you need to learn how to write a hook that will draw them through the story so they never want to put it down. Try baiting your hooks with the thrill of danger to keep your readers on the line.
Here’s a problem I’ve encountered a lot: the confusion of ensure vs. insure. But wait, those two words are the same, right? Well . . . kind of, but not exactly.
Let’s un-muddle them, shall we?
Every time I hear the word “ensure,” I think of the high-protein flavored beverage that I will never drink. But we’re going to use this ingestible product to help you remember how to use ensure. Win-win (kind of).
I love music. I’ve been teaching myself to play guitar, and I can stumble my way through four or five songs without wanting to poke holes in my eardrums, but my main appreciation for music is when other people play it. I’m an avid Spotify user, and I take a lot of pride in my ability to make kickass playlists. One of my girlfriends has even given me the green light to create her hypothetical wedding reception playlist.
So obviously, when I write about a song or album, I know when to use quotation marks and when to use italics. Let’s discuss.
Italics, quotation marks, underlines, plain old capital letters—when it comes to writing titles, the rules can feel like a confusing mess. Do you italicize book titles? What about movie titles? And for goodness’ sake, what should you do with pesky things like TV shows, short stories, or Youtube videos?
With so many different kinds of media, it’s easy to get lost in all the rules. Let’s demystify them, shall we?
Words in English are tricky things. They merge and morph, even little changes adding layers of new meaning. Don’t believe me? Here’s an area I see lots of people getting tripped up: setup vs. set up. Is it one word or two? And does it even matter?
Actually, it’s both, and yes, it does matter. Let’s take a look at why, shall we?
When you’re a part of a writing community filled with great critique partners, you’ll be the happy recipient of lots of feedback on your writing. Sometimes it’s obvious how and when you should address the issues the feedback brings up.
But not all feedback is created equal, and often it can be overwhelming to know what feedback items you should address first or last, or whether you should address certain ones at all. Should you address every nitpick and complaint? Could your readers possibly be incorrect?
Having to revise your story doesn’t mean you’re an awful writer. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed in any way. Every successful author out there revises their work. They revise before they send it to their publisher and then they go through more revisions after their publisher sends it to an editor.
The bottom line is, as painful as it is, writers need to learn to love the revision process. Or at least tolerate it relatively well.
In today’s interview, we’re talking with Christina Weaver about how to revise a story. Christina may not be in love with revision, but she knows how vital it is to your story.