I know a novelist who is a real seat-of-the-pants writer. When she starts creating a new book, she doesn’t know were it will go. She just keeps writing until the story emerges. And when she feels like she’s reached the end, she stops. She often has to go back and prune the early sections where … More That’s all he wrote
As the author of 469 books (more or less*), Isaac Asimov didn’t seem to have a problem with writer’s block. Why not? Here’s what he had to say in a 1989 interview: “I could easily have writer’s block by working on only one thing. You get tired of working on something, something sticks you, and … More Blocked? Go around
On this, the shortest day of the year, let’s look at a device that has gained popularity in recent years. It’s a punctuation trick that mimics the way we put extra force behind a phrase by emphasizing every single word. Or, should I say: Every. Single. Word. The first time you see it, you think, … More Every. Single. Word.
If you are writing fiction and having trouble making up character names, take a cue from people who have had to name themselves in real life. It’s hard for a cowboy to swagger into a saloon when his name is named Marion Morrison. But once he changed it to John Wayne, he sounded like he … More Naming names
Today’s advice comes from Kurt Vonnegut, but you should also say thanks to International Paper. As part of its 1980 advertising, the big corporation convinced the author of “Slaughterhouse Five” to jot down 1,300 words or so under the heading “How To Write With Style.” I don’t entirely agree with Vonnegut, which I realize is … More Showing some style
You never know where you’ll stumble over some good writing advice. This week I stumbled into a technical paper on analytical instrumentation systems. Stick with me. This will make sense in a minute. When laboratory technicians want to analyze a sample of something, they want the results to be accurate. They also want the results … More Precision vs. accuracy
Some words get under my skin. One of them is “signage.” At some point it seemed like businesses and government buildings couldn’t have plain old signs anymore. In almost every discussion I’ve read or heard where signs are mentioned in recent years, it’s called signage. When something like that really bugs you, it’s usually worth … More It’s a sign
If you want some inspirational quotes about writing, the website Goodreads has more than a thousand for you to browse through. You’ll find that some of the quotes contradict other quotes. Some quotes may not have originated (or may never even have been said) by the people whose names are attached to them. But that’s not important. … More And you can quote me
Today we have an intersection of punctuation and baseball. Read on. Some people have a compulsion to put an apostrophe next to an S even when there’s no reason for it. You see this mistake often on handmade signs telling you “Apple’s 3 for a dollar” or “Sale today on cucumber’s.” This particular variation is … More The mysteries of apostrophes
We’re told to write the way people talk, which is fine if you hang around people who talk in clear, complete sentences free of stuffiness and jargon. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who don’t talk like that. It’s especially true when they are speaking in a professional capacity and want to sound authoritative. That’s … More Who talks like that?