So, you’ve figured out how to write a story that works. You know you need a character, in a setting, with a problem. You know you need a series of try/fail cycles, followed by a climactic scene and the resolution. The structure is simple, but it’s not always easy.
In particular, it can be challenging to sustain and escalate the story’s momentum through those try/fail cycles. And it would be nice to have something that could give your story a delicious ribbon of flavor, instilling brilliance and meaning.
Here’s the good news—there is such a technique. It’s called situational irony, and in this article, we’re going to take a look at what it’s made of and how to construct it in your own work.
Atmosphere matters. People will pay a premium to eat at a restaurant with a certain ambience or buy a house in a setting that supports a particular feeling. In like manner, your reader won’t remember every word you wrote, but if you infuse the story with atmosphere, they will remember the way it made them feel. And readers read in order to feel something.
As writers, we want to capture our readers’ attention, rivet them to the page, and leave them clamoring for more. We want to create something that moves people, deepens their understanding, and keeps them thinking about our story long after they’ve devoured the last word.
You may have noticed how I used sets of three in my opening paragraph, and if you didn’t consciously register it, your subconscious mind certainly did. Using the Rule of Three in your writing is one way to meet reader expectations and engage reader interest.
Have you ever wondered which draft you are working on? Many people wonder if they are writing their first draft or editing their story. You may be halfway through your book and decide to start all over from the beginning. Or you may have written the entire manuscript, but now be starting all over again.
Does that mean it is a first draft or a second draft, or editing, or what? What does “first draft” mean—or “second draft,” for that matter?
As a writer, I’m sure you know the importance of a good grammar checker. Sure, the old Word spellcheck feature is great for a tenth-grade English paper, but for professional writers, you’ll want something with more power—especially if you’re publishing a book.
Two popular options are Grammarly and Ginger. Each of these grammar checking tools has some unique and useful features that can help you write with confidence and catch and correct errors along the way.
Is Grammarly or Ginger right for you? Read on to find out.
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).