Category Archives: Teaching writing skills

Techniques to improve skills of novices and struggling writers

Writing Sarcasm

The difference between satire and sarcasm makes the first one easier to express in writing. I can take a well-known trope and push it to an unreasonable extreme to create a satirical story. However, delivery of sarcastic lines often requires … Continue reading

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Nothing New under the Sun

There have been authors for many millennia and the tools that they use have changed—from painting on stones, to drawing on animal skin, to writing with ink on paper, to using block prints and printing presses and we have electronic … Continue reading

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The First Steps of an Endless Journey

At times I become frustrated with aspiring young authors. They may ask questions such as ”I have this cool idea about a boy that can fly; how do I write the story?” Or they beg for even more help. “I … Continue reading

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When Writing is a Race

I’ve always envied authors who write quickly. Many of them pull ideas from their own life. Sometimes, when I finish reading a good novel I feel like I’ve met some of the characters, because the author has actually met the … Continue reading

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What limits should side characters have?

Most people are at least vaguely familiar with Anna Karenina if they know anything about Russian literature. Perhaps they have seen one of the movies made from this famous novel. I even discussed this book with a student who had … Continue reading

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Breathing life into your words

Where does the spark of a story originate? Walking down the street trimmed with frosted pine swags, hearing the distant hum of a children’s choir and a mother berating her teenage son for wanting to spend Christmas day at the … Continue reading

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Reduction of language

Sometimes, I am fearful for the future of writing. We are not exactly converting to “newspeak,” But, there’s a trend of eliminating some words or even parts of speech from usage. I’ve read questions on a writing forum in which … Continue reading

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Making criticism constructive

Using bad writing advice as gatekeeping to keep some people outside of writing circles seemed like a strange accusation to me. It was not something that I considered before, but as I continued to read the article, I recognized behavior … Continue reading

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Did I Miss Something?

Decades ago, in a high school English classroom, one of my better students sat reading Bear Island, a thriller by Alistair MacLean. He asked out loud, “Why can’t we read books like this rather than the stuff we read in … Continue reading

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Kick starting a story

Many writers believe that most readers will only read a novel that grabs their attention from the first page. A dramatic episode must unfold in the first paragraph. I witnessed a workshop in which writers were coached to do just … Continue reading

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