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Monthly Archives: January 2010

Reader Response Questions (Creative Writing Exercise)

Sit down and think about what it is you want your writing to do, and then make a list — ask your readers if you’ve succeeded. Make your questions open-ended, encouraging longer and thought-out answers, but make them specific, too. Some of my favorites are, “What was your favorite scene? What’s something from the story that you’ve found yourself thinking about even when you weren’t reading? Which character did you find the most engaging, and why?”

Keep it Yours

As a new writer ready to start on revision, it’s difficult to know what’s wrong with your story, and sometimes even more difficult to know why it’s wrong. A good mark-up will reveal both of those things, but then it’s still up to you to figure out what to do with them.

What I Learned about Writing this Week…from Brandon Sanderson

Tweet Once upon a time, I started reading the epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time (WoT) by Robert Jordan. Sadly, Mr. Jordan passed away before he could complete the series; however, author Brandon Sanderson is in the process of carrying on Jordan’s work. I have yet to read anything Sanderson has written for WoT, […]

Make it Better

I met my little sister for dinner recently and said, “It’s time for you to start taking your writing seriously. It’s time for you to start proofreading!”

She just frowned and said, “But I do! That’s the thing. I don’t know how to make it better!”

Document Critique (Technical Writing Exercise)

The assignment this week is to critique one of your own documents. Pick something you’ve written recently and write a short analysis of the document’s quality and craftsmanship.

Playing Cards (Creative Writing Exercise)

Sit down at the poker table with four of your characters — whether you make up new ones for this assignment or mix and match from your works in progress. In 300-600 words, tell us about one hand, maybe just one round of bidding, but make it intense.

Courtney’s Work-In-Progress Update

Moments ago, I finished mapping out what I have left to do before I have a complete first draft of SHADOWS AFTER MIDNIGHT. Or whatever the working title is.

Cards on the Table

Writing advice can often feel a lot like that cruel little game. You might have run into that yourself, from time to time. One person tells you to use strong and varied language, but someone else exhorts you to throw your thesaurus in the trash. One person tells you to develop your unique voice, make your prose conversational, but someone else tells you to fix your comma splices and get rid of those awful sentence fragments.

What I Learned about Writing this Week…from…well, Me

Right now, I’m approximately ninety pages from finishing Koontz’s ODD HOURS, the fourth novel in a series spun around a psychic young man appropriately named Odd Thomas. Describing Odd as a character would be yet another blog post in its own right; suffice it for now to say that I find him fascinating, amusing, heart-warming, endearing, and many other positive words suffixed with -ing. What I’m currently interested in, and WILAWritWe from Mr. Koontz’s novel is something to which I myself am not adhering as I write what you are reading now, and that something is this: Simplicity.

Finish Strong

How’s that for a happy ending? After fifteen weeks of teaching these kids — guiding them from total obliviousness through all the major topics, techniques, and types of technical writing — I got to their most important class (grade-wise), and my final, lasting impression, and let them fall flat on their faces.

How often have you made the same mistake, in your writing? You figured you’d explained the issue well enough in your introduction, you’d provided all of the relevant information in your body paragraphs. Your readers could figure it out, right? They’re all smart people. So what’s the point of laboring over a conclusion that’s probably not even necessary?