Prompts

How to be a better writer

Many of us want to learn how to be better writers. The answer is very simple: WRITE. Write some more. Keep writing. It’s true!  The more you write, the better writer you will become. Here are some things you can do to improve your writing. READ. Read whatever you like to read. Read the genre you are writing in. Read other genres. BE SPECIFIC. ’57 Bel Air Chevy, not car. Sycamore, not tree.  Foxtrot, not dance. USE STRONG VERBS. Keep a list of strong verbs in your writer’s toolbox for easy reference. Resources for strong verbs Thesaurus in any format: Paper, on your computer, internet. Books: Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch: Let Verbs Power Your Writing by Constance Hale. Strong Verbs Strong Voice by Ann Everett Websites:  Tip Sheet Using Strong Verbs  and Writing Tips: Use Active, Precise Verbs WRITING MAGAZINES often have article to improve writing: Writer’s Digest, The Writer,…

Just Write

Sensory Details – Kinesthetic, motion in writing

How do we convey the sense of touch, or feel, or kinesthetic (motion) in writing? “The key to good imagery is engaging all five senses.” Five Types of Imagery: “The five senses: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory (smell), and gustatory (taste).” Previous posts about using sensory detail in writing:  visual, auditory and olfactory. Now, let’s explore using the sense of touch to embellish and enhance writing. Sometimes, the best way to learn is by example, learning from what others have written. “At school, the guilt and sadness were like wearing clothes still damp from the wash,” and “Whenever I moved, I felt as though I were touching something icy.” —Family Life by Akhil Sharma I know what that feels like, so when I read this, I can feel those damp clothes and know what the author wants to convey. Here’s an example of using movement in writing: “By the thirteenth loop,…

Just Write

One pearl is better than a whole necklace of potatoes.

Constance Hale launches Sin and Syntax, How To Write Wicked Good Prose with: “The French mime Étienne Decroux used to remind his students, ‘One pearl is better than a whole necklace of potatoes.’ What is true for that wordless art form applies equally to writing: well-crafted prose depends on the writer’s ability to distinguish between pearls and potatoes. Only some words are fit to be strung into a given sentence. Great writers are meticulous with their pearls, sifting through piles of them and stringing only perfect specimens upon the thread of syntax. The careful execution of beautiful, powerful prose through beautifully, powerful words is guided by my five principles.” Hale’s five principles: Relish Every Word Aim Deep, But Be Simple Take Risks Seek Beauty Find The Right Pitch Peruse Sin and Syntax to discover the pearls of wisdom of these principles and how to distinguish between words that are pearls…

Book Reviews

Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch by Constance Hale

Guest Book Reviewer Kathy Myers nails a review of Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch: Let Verbs Power Your Writing. If a mousy English teacher yanked the hairpins out of her tight bun, slammed down a couple of boiler makers, and shimmied around the dance floor at a biker bar, she could blame it on the copy of “Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch” tucked in her Borders Book bag. Constance Hale stimulates writers to accentuate and resuscitate their sentences with better verbs—the “little despots” that dictate what happens in the sentence. But it’s not just about verbs; it’s about better writing. It’s about smashing bad habits, and flirting with new ones. It’s about the rich history of our mutt of a mother tongue, and appreciation of its ongoing evolution. And because “the antidote to anxiety is mastery” each chapter includes prompts to “try, do, write, and play”, and thus makes this a worthy…

Guest Bloggers

Crafting scenes a reader can see—and sense by Constance Hale

Crafting scenes a reader can see—and sense by Constance Hale Place looms large in all the work I do—whether in travel writing (when I’m trying to capture the essence of another country or culture), or in narrative journalism (when I often begin with a scene to draw my reader into the story), or even in Facebook status updates (when I try to sketch a place with a few poetic images). When crafting scenes, many writers make the mistake of loading up adjectives. But, as always, nouns and verbs do the best detail work. Take for example this description by the Indian writer Arundhati Roy, in The God of Small Things: “May in Ayemenem is a hot, brooding month. The days are long and humid. The river shrinks and black crows gorge on bright mangoes in still, dustgreen trees. Red bananas ripen. Jackfruits burst. Dissolute bluebottles hum vacuously in the fruity…

Book Reviews

Sin and Syntax: How To Craft Wicked Good Prose by Constance Hale

Kathy Myers sits in the Book Reviewer seat today. Thank you, Kathy, for an excellent review of Sin and Syntax: How To Craft Wicked Good Prose by Constance Hale. A book with “sin” and “wicked” in the title is more apropos of a vampire romance, but Constance Hale excites the reader with her own personal passion for words— words in all their glory. She tackles topics that for centuries have induced narcolepsy among students such as: sentence structure, grammar, misplaced modifiers, or word choices, making them stimulating, arousing and well…downright sexy. She puts the sin in syntax indeed. Her chapters are organized like a Catholic autopsy: bones, flesh, cardinal sins, carnal pleasures, and a catechism. Her wealth of knowledge is shared with wit and brevity. Why have your character go into a “house,” when they can enter a bungalow, A Frame, adobe, Victorian, or a rancher? Why “walk” when they…