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Much like the specters Scrooge faced in A Christmas Carol, writers face 3 different verb tenses when constructing sentences: Past, Present, and Future.
Just like the Ghost of Christmas Past, a past tense verb refers to something that has already happened. The most commonly used verb tense is present, which talks about what’s going on right at this very moment. And the final, future tense tells us what might or will happen in the future. But that's not where it ends. There are three additional ways to talk about past, present, and future tense verbs: Continuous, Perfect, and Perfect Continuous. Sometimes referred to as aspects rather than tenses, these tell us about an action that happens once or repeatedly and if it’s completed or still continuingRead More »
Sometimes, narrative and exposition are used synonymously to explain parts of a novel that “narrate” information for the reader. They are, in fact, different devices used to give the reader information. Used appropriately, narrative and exposition affect the pacing of your story.Read More »
Word classes are parts of speech. They’re the building blocks that form every sentence ever uttered. They are categorized by the role they play in your sentences.
Everyone agrees on the following four main word classes: 1. Noun 2. Verb 3. Adjective 4. Adverb
There are varying opinions as to whether the following five categories are word classes or word forms. So we went straight to the experts: the Oxford and Cambridge Dictionaries. Per these two highly learned sources, the following are considered word classes also:
- Pronoun (e.g. I, you, me, we, mine, someone, he, she)
- Preposition (e.g. at, in, on, across, behind, for)
Inner dialogue. Internal thought. Interior monologue. Internal speech. Whatever you call it, this internal thought process is as important as regular dialogue, character arc, and narrative arc in helping your reader understand your main character at an intimate level. It also serves to move your story forward and keep your readers deeply connected.
Unlike the one- or two-dimensional characters you see in movies and on television, when using inner dialogue in your narrative, it helps you present a much more nuanced and three-dimensional character. And since most stories are character driven, you really need to add that inner dialogue in.Read More »
An adjective is a word that names an attribute of a noun. Some are strong and paint clear, specific pictures of the thing they are describing. Some are weak and vague and don’t tell us much. Let’s start with an example...Read More »
Check out this great infographic to understand the difference between a homophone, a homograph and a homonym.Read More »
Depending on who you subscribe to, you may hear some very different ideas concerning when and how to hyphenate. We’re here to set the record straight:
When in doubt, look it up.
Yep. This is the one form of punctuation that you’re best off looking up if you’re unsure. And another complication is that various style manuals conform to different rules. Add to that the state of fluctuation around certain words that can either be hyphenated, two separate words, or written together as one. Click through for some practical examples.Read More »
The Chicago Manual of Style, putting dialogue in the middle of paragraphs depends on the context. As in the above example, if the dialogue is a natural continuation of the sentences that come before, it can be included in your paragraph. The major caveat is if someone new speaks after that, you start a new paragraph and indent it.
On the other hand, if the dialogue you’re writing departs from the sentences that come before it, you should start a new paragraph and indent the dialogue.Read More »
If you haven’t used a Word add-in before, it’s very simple. You just need to download a small bit of software, which will then be automatically added to your menu in Word.
Click here and then click the “Download ProWritingAid add-in” button. A small file called ProWritingAidSetup.exe will begin to download. When it’s finished downloading, click it and a window will open asking you to agree to the license terms and conditions. Once you click the “agree” box, you will be able to begin installing.Read More »
Similes can be found in all types of writing, from journalism to fiction to advertising. They’re creative ways to bring more attention and clarity to your meaning than straight narrative.
If you want to give your reader a thoughtful mental image while they’re reading, a simile is a great place to start. When you compare your main character to an animal or even an inanimate object like a giant sequoia, you’re exposing your reader to another way of looking at something that’s fresh and new.Read More »
Firstly, a clause is a group of words that contain both a subject and a verb like: She ran to answer the phone.
A subordinate clause depends on a main clause to form a complete sentence or thought like: ...because she could hear ringing in the other roomRead More »
ProWritingAid analyzes your writing and presents its findings in 25 different reports. Each user will have their own writing strengths and weaknesses and so different reports will appeal to different people.
Remember, all the software can do is highlight potential pitfalls in your writing. It's up to you, the writer, to decide which suggestions work within your specific context, and which ones should be ignored.Read More »
Dialogue is a fantastic way to bring your readers into the midst of the action. They can picture the main character talking to someone in their mind’s eye, and it gives them a glimpse into how your character interacts with others.
That said, dialogue is hard to punctuate, especially since there are different rules for different punctuation marks—because nothing in English grammar is ever easy, right? We’re going to try to make this as easy as possible.Read More »
Duplicating or repeating a word or phrase too quickly is an easy mistake to make. If you've just used a word then it will be active in your mind and so you can easily use it again without even realising. This is a key sign of an inexperienced writer, or not enough time spent on the editing phase! Although it can be an easy mistake to make it can be really difficult to spot.Read More »
Ever get sick of a character who does the same thing over and over again, like frowning, smiling, grimacing, etc? You can solve the problem by making sure you don't have too many repeated phrases in your manuscript.Read More »
Grammar is an essential part of writing, as it helps to convey the message or idea you are trying to get across. That being said, most writers might agree that their grammar skills could use a little freshening up from time to time. Luckily there are various websites that exist strictly for the purpose of improving one’s grammar. The ProWritingAid blog is a great place to start, but we also recommend the following sites.Read More »
An adverb is redundant if you use it to modify a verb with the same meaning in its definition. Read more about how redundant adverbs clutter up your writing and how to get rid of them.Read More »
Aristotle said a metaphor was “the act of giving a thing a name that belongs to something else.” It allows you to pack a powerful punch in a few words. Your reader can take their full understanding of one thing, and apply it to another thing. By writing, “my cubicle is a prison,” your reader understands how you feel about your job. With just that one word that they know you feel trapped, unhappy, desolate.Read More »
The Diction Report helps you avoid unnecessarily complicated writing by analyzing your word selection and sentence construction.
When it comes to writing, less is more. Make every word count. If it's not essential, cut it. Too often when writers are trying to sound authoritative, they choose the wordy ways of saying something simple. Why write “has the ability to” when you can write “can”? You’re just using more words to say the same thing, which actually makes your writing much less clear.Read More »
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