Category Archives: Teaching writing skills

Techniques to improve skills of novices and struggling writers

The Monstrous Part of Writing

The introduction of writing into the state educational achievement tests resulted in a plethora of writing models. One teacher supported the “Six Plus One Trait” writing model with a kind of fanaticism. Others plugged a device called the “freeze frame” … Continue reading

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In My Head

As a child I made up stories in my head, mostly about people’s pets. The majority of them were entirely descriptions such as fur color, number of spots, eye color and size. When I bemoaned the fact that these just … Continue reading

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Asking for Ideas

Writing a well-crafted novel is hard labor, like going through a struggle harder than childbirth. Some authors want to seek out a short-cut, a sure thing, or a fully fleshed-out plot that has been used successfully in the past. However … Continue reading

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Star Words

Creating a good plot is one of the most difficult parts of writing. A perfectly plotted story is going to be snatched up by readers, but so far we seem to have only produced one of these plots that most … Continue reading

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The Fable of the Hook

Readers seeking excitement prefer a story starting with the main character fleeing down a dark alley, reeling from an initial enemy strike, or near the edge of Niagara Falls. This immediate danger creates an adrenaline rush. Even if the reader … Continue reading

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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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