Tag Archives: Writing strategies

Grammar Rules: Split Infinitives | Writing Forward

Here’s my take on this article:

I agree with this post: what to do with infinitives is a judgment call. Some observations:
In the 18th century, pundits thought English needed to be more like Latin, a “more mature” language. You can’t split an infinitive in Latin (nor in Romance languages like French or Spanish–such languages have one-word infinitives). But since English needed to emulate Latin, its two-word infinitive needed to be treated like a Latin one-word infinitive. So there. Obviously English is a very different language from Latin–it’s not a Romance language at all, it’s Germanic–so following a rule meant for a Romance language doesn’t make sense.
Second, one reason “to boldly go” sounds so good is that placing “boldly” within the infinitive creates an iambic phrase: ././ Iambic is the “natural” meter for English; it’s Shakespeare’s meter, for example. It just plain has a ring.
So place your adverbs wherever you think they create that ring. (And don’t eschew adverbs universally, either. They have important roles in prose.)

Colleen M. Chesebro

FINALLY! Split infinitives explained and how to NOT use them! ❤

What are split infinitives and do grammar rules tell us whether or not we can use them or when it’s appropriate to use them?

Source: Grammar Rules: Split Infinitives | Writing Forward

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Fantasy vs. Magical Realism

Here’s a useful article on a meaningful distinction. I’ve started pitching my work in progress, The Drowned Man, as magical realism. It certainly isn’t fantasy. Yet I’m not so sure it meets this definition either. What’s your definition of magical realism? Share your favorite examples!

Colleen M. Chesebro

In the quest to define the genre of my novel, The Heart Stone Chronicles – The Swamp Fairy, I stumbled across a definition of a genre I had not previously explored. It is called magical realism.

Although I have categorized my novel into the fantasy realm, after further reflection, I do believe it falls more into the magical realism category.

“Fantasy is defined as a work of fiction where magic is the main plot element, theme, or setting. Many fantasy novels take place in imaginary worlds where magic and magical creatures are common.” Wikipedia.

EMWelsh.com in her post, “Magical Realism, What is it?” defines magical realism with the following traits:

“Real World Setting:
Magical realism is almost always rooted in a real place, though like in Wizard of the Crow or One Hundred Years of Solitude, it can often be a made-up city or town within the real world that is…

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The Adverb Problem and Why Authors Should Care

Here’s an article about an old controversy: to adverb or not to adverb. My thoughts on this issue:

I agree with one of the comments in the original post that a blanket ban on adverbs is unworkable. In the sentence “After I had breakfast, I went to the store” (okay, it’s not literature), the first dependent clause, “After I had breakfast,” is an adverbial clause. Anything that fleshes out where, when, why, or how may well be adverbial. To ban adverbs completely would be to impoverish a piece of writing beyond recognition. Does “completely” in that sentence add anything? It does add emphasis. Whether it should be cut is a judgment call.
I do agree that it’s better to find the precise verb that does the work rather than to tack an adverb onto a weak verb. Sometimes that can be tricky, though. “He closed the door firmly” conveys an intentionality that ‘He closed the door” does not. “He slammed the door” won’t work. “He jerked the door shut” might work to replace “firmly.” It can take a long time for the word that works best to float up (and “best” is an adverb in that sentence). Finding the word that Mark Twain compared to lightning rather than the lightning bug should always be the goal, IMHO.

What’s your take on adverbs—the “ly” kind and its sometimes (adverb) invisible brethren?

A Writer's Path

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by Gary Smailes

 

In this article I will set out to explain why so many famous authors (Stephen King being perhaps the most vocal) warn other authors against the use of adverbs. In fact, King’s hatred of adverbs is so intense that he’s been quoted as saying, “Adverbs are evil.” You will discover the role of adverbs in fiction writing, and I’ll demonstrate why removing adverbs from your writing will make your book more enjoyable to read. In short, I’ll explain just why adverbs are evil.

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#amwriting: point of view

Connie does a terrific job of explaining POV here. True, very, very skilled writers can “head-hop”—Larry McMurtry does it all through the Lonesome Dove books—but for most of us, suddenly slipping from one POV to another without the kind of warning Connie suggests is jarring. I’ll add that one of the easiest mistakes to make is for a POV character, whether third- or first-person, to “see” him- or herself. For example, if we want to stay true to the character’s point of view, we can’t say about a POV character, “I gave an enticing smile.” The character can give a smile that “I hoped was enticing,” or “I meant to be enticing,” but only a viewer (another character) can tell if the smile actually was “enticing.” These slips can be subtle but disorienting.
Read Connie’s piece for a good review of this important issue!

Life in the Realm of Fantasy

Xpogo_RioA young author recently asked me, “What is head-hopping and why has my writing group accused me of doing it?” Headhopping occurs when an author switches point-of-view characters within a single scene, and happens most frequently when using a Third-Person Omniscient narrative, in which the thoughts of every character are open to the reader.

It’s difficult to know whose opinions are most important when all your characters are speaking in your head as you are writing. They clamor and speak over the top of each other, making a din like my family at any holiday dinner. But you must force them to take turns speaking, and make a real break between the scenes where the speaker changes, or each rapid shift of perspective will throw the reader out of the story. But what is Point of View other than the thoughts of one or two characters?

Point of view is a common…

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10 Cliches in Mystery Novels

As a mystery writer, I love the analysis in this list! My favorites:

No. 2) Isn’t it great when the police are conveniently so stupid that the detective can look smart with very little effort? That dates at least to Arthur Conan Doyle (remember Lestrade?), but it’s a long way from the truth. Rachel is absolutely right that police work can be a difficult and thankless task.

No. 3) Follows from No. 2, as Rachel points out. The detective is the only one with the basic common sense to detect foul play.

What am I guilty of? Well, My Failed Novel had a depressed detective hero. Never again. I plead guilty to inserting some attractive female characters in my first two books, now online. I hope these women are just a little bit nuanced so that they’re not total clichés.

What would I add?

  • The info dump at the end where the hero lines all the characters up and exhibits his or her brilliance by explaining the whole case, which he or she was the only one smart enough to unravel.
  • That, and books where people just tell the detective what he or she needs to know rather than allowing the detective to work for his or her discoveries.
  • And finally, detectives who don’t share things they’ve learned. Of course they’re smarter than everybody else if they’re keeping secrets!

    What would you add?

Rachel Poli

Have you ever had that feeling of deja vu? You know, when you feel as though something has already happened, but it’s happening again?

Sometimes that happens in books, but when that happens it’s called a cliche.

A cliche is something that is overused and has no original thought put into it.

Cliches are everywhere. In books, TV shows, blog posts (like this one), and in real life conversations and actions. Some cliches we can put up with, some we can’t. The bottom line is, they’re never going to go away.

Then again, there are so many ideas out there that there are bound to be some repeats.

I mean, have you ever had that feeling of deja vu? You know, when you feel as though something has already happened, but it’s happening again?

…Wait….

10 Cliches in Mystery Novels Rachel Poli

Some cliches are easy to avoid, but as stated earlier, some aren’t. There are only…

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THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO GOOGLE DOCS FOR WRITERS (+ WORKFLOW VIDEO & PDF CHECKLIST)

Everything you want to know about Google Docs. I plan to learn more about this platform, and this post will be a go-to source!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Extract from an article by E.A. Deverell (Eva) founder of the Lady Writers League:

I’ve been learning so many new Google Docs features as I work on THE STORY CHALLENGE, that I felt I had to document them and share them with my fellow writers!

I’ve created a detailed workflow which you can download at the end of this post and use as the basis of your own experimentation.

I think you’ll still be surprised by some of GD’s secret features.

You can now watch the workshop below!

Hopefully it’ll help to see the features rather than just read about them.

To read the full (long and detailed with lots of related useful links), click on the link or image below:

Google Documents for Writers

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What is “Literary” Fiction? Donald Maass has a definition!

This post at Writer Unboxed is among the best discussions of the distinction between “literary” and “commercial” that I’ve seen. Donald Maass’s comparison between excerpts from two books, one “commercial,” one “literary,” makes the difference visible. This discussion ties in well with my own attempts to define “voice” and effective “world building.” Let me know what you think! Building a World in Fiction

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