Category Archives: Teaching writing skills

Techniques to improve skills of novices and struggling writers

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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Stories for the new stars

Walking beneath the of faces of stars glowing from two story tall billboards, I glanced down at the stars embedded into the side walk—at least when they were not covered by the feet of the crowds on Sunset Strip. Above … Continue reading

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What is the bad guy really thinking?

Do you recall the campy original Batman series in which the villain de jour always explained his detailed plan for the crime as Batman was slowly moving towards a not so sure death? Is there a problem with adding the villain’s … Continue reading

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What makes poetry, poetry?

As a young child I assumed poetry must rhyme.  Meter was beyond my comprehension. It was only that constant repetition of ending sounds that mattered. In fifth grade, the teacher encouraged us all to enter a poetry recitation contest.  The … Continue reading

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Pointed view

Almost everyone knows about first person and third person narratives in writing. Basically as humans we all see from the familiar, limited first person point of view that allows us only to know what goes on in our presence.  Much … Continue reading

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Simply unreliable

Characters who have psychological profiles, also have their own viewpoint – opinions, judgments and prejudices – concerning the world around them. The first person narrator that is a viewpoint character – such as Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby – … Continue reading

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