I see this in comments on The Write Practice all the time. “I want to be a writer, but I know nothing about grammar.” I don’t have a degree in English or Journalism, either.
I am, though, a writer. For those of you who have decided you are a writer too, you don’t need a degree in English or be an expert in grammar. There are a few grammar hacks I’ve learned that have helped me.
If you’re a writer, you’ve probably received feedback. While some writing feedback is easily processed (like quick compliments), the best feedback takes time and energy to deal with. Receiving a flood of critiques can feel good at first. But after reading a deluge of opinions and observations and judgments, it can get really overwhelming.
Here’s how to organize the feedback you receive so you can approach the next draft with confidence!
We’re venturing into a realm where writers bend the rules of grammar in the name of creativity, but to the great frustration of editors. A comma splice is one of the most easily avoidable grammatical travesties.
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?
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ProWritingAid is a grammar checker and style editor meant to help you improve your writing and become a better writer. How does it work? And would it be a useful tool for you? I tested it to find out, and I’ll break it all down for you in this ProWritingAid review.
We’ve all been in this situation: you write a first draft, or the beginning of one, and it seems like nothing is going well. All you want to do is give up and throw everything away. It can be extremely tempting, and while it’s okay to give up on projects sometimes, you should never throw anything away.
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.
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.
Liz here. By popular demand (i.e. one of you asked, and I thank you for that), here’s a post about the counterpart to the em dash and the hyphen. Let’s get to know the en dash. Fun fact: the reason the en and em dashes have those names are because of their...
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.
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.
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.”
Surprise! Okay, that probably wasn’t very surprising. How do you surprise your readers? And how do you create the slow burn of suspense, keeping them on the edge of their seats as they tear through your story? Let’s talk about how to make a story suspenseful.
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?
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.