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What Is Plot? The 5 Elements of Plot and How to Use Them

What Is Plot? The 5 Elements of Plot and How to Use Them

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.

Why You Need to be Using the Oxford Comma

Why You Need to be Using the Oxford Comma

Most of the fun of writing is using your words to tell a story. They course across the page, delighting in the joys of Maureen finally finding her Henry, shuddering as Ingrid uncovers her third dead body of the day, or mourning with Carlos for his lost mother. But I’m not here to talk about words. I’m here to sing the praises of punctuation; specifically, the Oxford comma.

Most people I’ve met have no idea what the Oxford comma is, but it’s probably something that you have used in the past. What is it?

The Ultimate Point of View Guide: Third Person Omniscient vs. Third Person Limited vs. First Person

The Ultimate Point of View Guide: Third Person Omniscient vs. Third Person Limited vs. First Person

As an editor, point of view problems are among the top mistakes I see inexperienced writers make, and they instantly erode credibility and reader trust.

However, point of view is simple to master if you use common sense.

This post will define point of view, go over each of the major POVs, explain a few of the POV rules, and then point out the major pitfalls writers make when dealing with that point of view.

Giveaway: Win ProWritingAid and Become a Grammar Master

Giveaway: Win ProWritingAid and Become a Grammar Master

Want to correct your grammar and improve your writing style? ProWritingAid has everything you need to take your writing to the next level, whether you’re looking for some grammar pointers or you’re a seasoned author and want to refine your style. We’re giving away two years of ProWritingAid to one lucky writer. Will you win?

The Complete Guide to Italicization

The Complete Guide to Italicization

Some time ago, we published a post on italicization in album and song titles. And then Joe sent me a screengrab of a Google search with general italicization questions, so we’re going whole-hog and attempting to write an all-inclusive complete guide to italicization: when you do and when you don’t. We’ve covered italicization in song titles and album titles already, so we’re moving on from there.

Is It Okay To End A Sentence With A Preposition?

Is It Okay To End A Sentence With A Preposition?

Occasionally, we grammar enthusiasts need to take a step back and lighten up a little bit. While there are some grammar rules that are hard and fast (I’m looking at you, comma splice), sometimes there is wiggle room (like the controversial claim that you can split infinitives). Today, we’re tackling another wiggly rule: is ending a sentence with a preposition okay?

Well, guess what? I’m here to liberate your pens and tell you that it’s okay for your protagonist to ask her cheating boyfriend who he was just with.

What Is an Epigraph?

What Is an Epigraph?

At this point, everyone’s seen the Buzzfeed list of books that are going to come out as movies this year, right? Because if you haven’t, you probably should. I went through the list and added anything that sounded interesting to my ever-growing library waitlist, and as luck would have it, I got four of them this week. One of them was Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, and oh my gosh, it is amazing. I devoured it in about three days.

Before Flynn takes you to the actual text of the novel, however, you’re greeted by a quote from Tony Kushner’s The Illusion, which references love and murder and how the two intertwine. That’s not exactly it, but from reading that one sentence, you instantly have an idea of what you’re getting yourself into. This technique of using a quote from another author to introduce a novel’s tone, content, or summary is called an epigraph.

Revolutionize Your Story’s Point of View With Free Indirect Style

Revolutionize Your Story’s Point of View With Free Indirect Style

Point of view is the vehicle that drives a story. Get it right, and your novel hums along smoothly and your reader never notices.

Get it wrong, however, and your book becomes an unbearable clunker rife with confusion.

Shawn Coyne, author of The Story Grid, has read a lot of critically acclaimed and successful books, and noticed something about their point of view. All of these books used a specific style of narration, and you can use it too.

This Writing Technique Will Make Your Readers Fall in Love With Your Sentences

This Writing Technique Will Make Your Readers Fall in Love With Your Sentences

Two of the most vital skills you should focus on as a writer are how to tell a story that works and how to develop compelling characters. But once you’ve got that figured out, aren’t there other writing techniques, more subtle perhaps, that draw readers in and make stories shine?

There are. And one of those writing techniques is called euphonics. Rayne Hall, author of the Writer’s Craft series, defines euphonics as “the use of sound devices for prose writing.”

Is it Toward or Towards? Upwards or Upward?

Is it Toward or Towards? Upwards or Upward?

English is full of words that seem the same, but have subtle differences in their spelling and usage. These tricky words seem designed specifically to trip you up. Recently, we tackled ensure vs. insure. Today, let’s take on another vocabulary conundrum: upwards or upward? Toward or towards?

Or does it even matter?

The Editor: The Invisible Hero You Need in the Publishing World

The Editor: The Invisible Hero You Need in the Publishing World

A few months ago, I posted an article about avoiding clichés here on The Write Practice. The (bland) title I proposed was “How to Avoid Clichés.” The published title read: “How to Avoid Clichés (Like the Plague).” I grinned when I read it and said another thank you to a quiet hero of the publishing world: our editor.

She amped up the title with a clever twist that sounded just like me with my penchant for parentheses. Editors are invisible heroes in the publishing world, and knowing what they do can help you through every stage of your journey.

How to Avoid Clichés (Like the Plague)

How to Avoid Clichés (Like the Plague)

We’re on the verge of summer, and that means I’m attending graduations (including my oldest son’s). Whether you are attending one for a friend or family member or yourself, commencement ceremonies are a great place for inspiration and one other thing: cliché-hunting.

Clichés are overused phrases or metaphors that weaken our writing. As writers, we want to hunt down, drag out, and kill clichés in our writing. (I know, the killing metaphor is also probably cliché. I’m still working on it.) Here are some ideas for how to avoid clichés in our writing.

Parallelism: Keep Your Verb Tenses Consistent

Parallelism: Keep Your Verb Tenses Consistent

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.

Don’t Leave Your Participles Dangling

Don’t Leave Your Participles Dangling

You know what’s really fun to edit? Dangling participles. What’s a participle? Glad you asked.

A participle is an adjective form of a verb, usually formed by adding the suffix –ing to the verb. For example, you might go for a light 15k in your running shoes. Or your sister might be screaming because she burned herself with her curling iron. Make sense?

Let’s take a closer look and find out where these participles go wrong.

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