From the blog

Before You Start Writing: 5-Step Prep to Make Essay Writing As Painless as Possible

by Kristin Fracchia Mar 14, 2016

Before You Start Writing: 5-Step Prep to Make Essay Writing As Painless as Possible

Many of you are probably familiar with the panic or dread that can accompany the act of having an essay topic dropped in front of you on your desk. Nothing’s been written, nothing’s even been thought of; all you have in front of you is a topic, a blank page, and the instructions to “write.” As a former high school English teacher, I’m convinced the anxiety of not knowing what to write is the reason why so many of my students wait until the last possible minute to write an essay. Under pressure, you have no choice but to get started. But by then, it’s too late to write the best essay you could.

The solution is to start as soon as possible. Check out this 5 step prep process that you can apply to any essay you write.

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FREE EBOOK: 20 Editing Tips from Professional Writers

by Lisa Lepki Mar 10, 2016

FREE EBOOK: 20 Editing Tips from Professional Writers

This practical guide contains 20 important writing tips and techniques from a wide range of professional writers. Some focus on the minutia of specific word selection; others focus on the more complex ideas like finding the right metaphor, policing your work for Purple Prose, or figuring out when it’s time to send it off to potential publishers.

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5 Ways to Develop an “Ear” for English Grammar

by Saga Briggs Mar 08, 2016

5 Ways to Develop an “Ear” for English Grammar

Most forms of English instruction emphasise rules and memorisation; however, I recommend a more instinctual method of mastery. Rather than mapping out sentences or memorising confusing and often inconsistent rules, you can improve your communication skills by simply tapping into the logic of rhythm and structure.

Let’s take a look at five ways you can start tuning your ear:

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Are You a Couture Writer? Or a Word Spewer?

by Wynsum Wise Mar 07, 2016

Are You a Couture Writer?  Or a Word Spewer?

Words are the raw fabric: weave, knit, or bonded leather. We cut and combine words into phrases, and the phrases are the pieces that you stitch to reach your goal of the narrative package.

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What’s Wrong with an “ly” Adverb After a Dialogue Tag?

by ProWritingAid Mar 04, 2016

What’s Wrong with an “ly” Adverb After a Dialogue Tag?

When you paint a picture with your character’s actions instead of using an “ly” adverb to try to set the mood, you give your reader a much deeper understanding and pull him or her closer into the drama.

It all comes down to “He said, She said” eventually. Professional editors and authors agree that you want your dialogue tags to be invisible to the reader so that it doesn’t slow him or her down or bring notice to the writing itself.

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Past…Present…What are Participles?

by ProWritingAid Mar 02, 2016

Past…Present…What are Participles?

Sometimes verbs get confusing, so here’s a little trick to help you figure out participles:

Participles, both past and present, are verb forms that can be used as an adjective or a noun.

Take a common verb like jump. It can be used as a noun as in:

  • Jumping over the hedgerows is exhausting.

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What Are Infinitives? And Can We Split Them or Not?

by ProWritingAid Feb 24, 2016

What Are Infinitives? And Can We Split Them or Not?

Infinitives are verbs preceded by the word “to” that function as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs in a sentence. An infinitive does not function as a verb. This means you can never add s, es, ed, or ing to the end.

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Attention Writers: We Need Your Help!

by ProWritingAid Feb 15, 2016

We want our blog to be your first stop for any questions you have about writing. Our goal is to take complicated technical elements of writing and make them clear and easy to understand. We need your help coming up with topics. What have you always wondered? What do you find that people are always misunderstanding or getting wrong?

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Are You Ready to Draft Your Story Arc?

by Kathy Edens Feb 15, 2016

Are You Ready to Draft Your Story Arc?

Last month, we focused our articles on how to begin writing your novel in 2016, and we mentioned story arc in the article Start With Your Idea. In this month’s article, we’re going to delve a little deeper into creating your story arc.

The story arc (or sometimes called the narrative arc) is a more poetic way of saying that each story must have a beginning, a middle, and an end—or Act One, Act Two, and Act Three. This has been the guiding template of stories since the ancient Greeks started writing them, and holds true whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction.

Where authors fall apart in their story arc is that nothing much happens to the main character by the end of the book. He hasn’t been tested in some profound way.

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How to Create Your Story’s World

by Kathy Edens Feb 15, 2016

How to Create Your Story’s World

Your characters need a place for the story to unfold. It can’t happen in limbo. A movie or a play without a set and background would be hard to follow. It gives you the context in which the characters are placed in time and space and helps to connect your characters to your story.

Even if the world looks like your own, it’s still essential to build it for your reader. In many ways, the world functions similar to a character, especially for science fiction and fantasy. Think about a novel you’re currently reading. Can you picture his neighborhood or what his home looks like—majestic and imposing or squashed and run-down? Metropolitan, suburban or countryside? Do you have an image in your mind of her office, her car or her local bar? If you can visualise these things, the author has done a good job of setting up their world.

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What are the Different Verb Tenses?

by ProWritingAid Feb 12, 2016

What are the Different Verb Tenses?

Much like the three Christmas spirits from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, verbs come in three tenses: past, present, and future. These are called the simple tenses, and they’re fairly straight forward.

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What is a Clause Anyway?

by ProWritingAid Feb 08, 2016

What is a Clause Anyway?

A clause is a group of words containing both a subject and a verb. Examples of clauses are:

  • The bells are ringing

  • She ran away

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What are Phonemes, Graphemes, and Digraphs?

by ProWritingAid Feb 08, 2016

What are Phonemes, Graphemes, and Digraphs?

Each sound that you hear in a word is a Phoneme. It’s the smallest unit of sound that makes up a complete word. This is not to be confused with the letter itself; Phonemes are only the sounds made.

There are 44 Phonemes in the English language, consisting of 24 consonant sounds and 20 vowel sounds. Think of the different combinations of consonants and vowels (like “ch” or “ea”) that make unique sounds.

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7 Powerful Tools to Break Through Writer's Block

by Antonio Tooley Jan 29, 2016

7 Powerful Tools to Break Through Writer's Block

There are two common causes of writer’s block: no ideas, and too many ideas.

When you have no idea of what to write about, your mind is literally a blank page. It is like a car with no gas; it can’t get started. On the other hand, when you have too many ideas, your mind locks like a flooded carburetor, and you have to clear it to get going.

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What Are the Different Types of Verbs?

by ProWritingAid Jan 25, 2016

What Are the Different Types of Verbs? Your sentences would lie dead in the water without a verb. Verbs are the most important part of your sentence. But how do you select the right verb to get across your meaning? By understanding the different types of verbs and how they’re used.What is a verb?

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Ten Top Tools for Bloggers – Save Time, Stay Organized, and Create Content that Rocks

by Julie Ellis Jan 25, 2016

Ten Top Tools for Bloggers – Save Time, Stay Organized, and Create Content that Rocks Bloggers have deadlines. And within those deadlines, they have to come up with great topic ideas, click-worthy titles, engaging content, and eye-catching media. And they often have to conduct research before they ever sit down to write a post. Add to that the absolute expectation for perfect grammar and composition, and you understand that a blogger’s life is hard. To ease that life as much as possible, here are 10 tools for greater productivity at a faster rate.Topic Idea Generators

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Starting With Your Plot Idea

by Kathy Edens Jan 19, 2016

Starting With Your Plot Idea If writing a novel is one of your 2016 New Year’s resolutions, you’ll need to tune into ProWritingAid for the next several months. We’ll be discussing how to get started and what to focus on to keep you moving forward.

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6 Ways Ed Tech Tools Can Facilitate the Education Process

by Kenneth Waldman Jan 19, 2016

6 Ways Ed Tech Tools Can Facilitate the Education Process Technology is changing the way educators organize and teach in their classrooms. Whether they like it or not, to fully engage their students, teachers must now integrate technology into their lessons.

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What are Overused Words Anyway?

by ProWritingAid Jan 13, 2016

What are Overused Words Anyway? Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very'; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. - Mark Twain

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What is the Repeats Check? And How Did I Not Notice the Repetitions?

by ProWritingAid Jan 13, 2016

Repeating a word or phrase happens to the best of us at times, especially if you’re writing an article and using a specific vocabulary for your topic. You won’t even notice you’ve used the same word several times in the span of one paragraph because it’s foremost in your mind. But those repeats can set off an echo in the reader’s mind - that subconscious feeling of “Didn’t he just say that?” It can be irritating to read and, worse, it can detract from what you are trying to say. The more uncommon a word or phrase, the more likely it is to echo, even pages apart.

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