Articles about writing style

Why You Should Throw Your Main Character Under a Bus

by Kathy Edens Jul 05, 2017

Why You Should Throw Your Main Character Under a Bus

What is it about a great story that keeps you turning the pages? Think of the last book you devoured in one sitting. What kept you so engrossed you had to stay up until 4am to finish it?

For those of us who sit bleary-eyed in front of a computer because we couldn't put a good book down last night, we stumbled across an author who knows how to raise the stakes.

And the higher the stakes, the better—am I right?

Read More »

When Symbolism Goes Too Far

by Kathy Edens Jun 19, 2017

When Symbolism Goes Too Far

Are we hard-wired to seek symbolism in everything from our literature to our everyday life? Spirituality is rife with symbolism, advertisers use symbols to sell their products, and we interpret a smile from someone as a symbol of friendship.

Symbolism in literature uses an object or a word to represent something abstract in your work. A person, an action, a place, a single word, or an object can have symbolic meaning. Symbolism, done well, allows you to hint at a certain mood or emotion instead of showing it.

Read More »

Me Write Pretty One Day: Why Purple Prose Kills the Clarity of Your Content

by Kathy Edens Jun 19, 2017

Me Write Pretty One Day: Why Purple Prose Kills the Clarity of Your Content

Great content needs to be more than just "pretty". It needs depth and insight. It needs to avoid purple prose not like the plague, but because it is the plague.

Read More »

Using an Editing Tool Does Not Make You a Lazy Writer

by Kathy Edens Jun 12, 2017

Using an Editing Tool Does Not Make You a Lazy Writer

Do you always check your work for repeated or overused words or phrases? I know I don't. Sometimes I can be so close to my writing that I don't notice when I've used a certain word too many times in the space of 3 or so paragraphs. In my mind, it sounds natural.

Read More »

When the Words Won't Come: Word Explorer

by ProWritingAid Jun 06, 2017

When the Words Won't Come: Word Explorer

Use ProWritingAid's Word Explorer to look at any word 14 different ways. Yes, it's true. Here's the list of ways you can check out any given word:

  • Dictionary
  • Reverse Dictionary (this shows you words with your given word in their definition)
  • Thesaurus
  • Lists (lists of dated terms, ironic terms, often used terms)
  • Alliteration (adjectives, adverbs, nouns, and verbs with the same letter or sound at the beginning or adjacent to your given word)
  • Clichés (to help you avoid them)
  • Spelling (good to know if you write frequently in American, British, and Australian English)
  • Rhymes
  • Pronunciation
  • Collocations (adjectives, adverbs, nouns, and verbs that come before or after your given word)
  • Common Phrases (2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-word phrases using your given word)
  • Commonly Possessed By (words that can own your given word)
  • Anagrams (in case you need help)
  • Examples (From books and quotes using your given word)

Read More »

Are You Ignoring Your Best Ideas?

by Hannah Collins May 17, 2017

Are You Ignoring Your Best Ideas?

Bored by your own writing? You could be suffering from the toll of ignoring your best ideas. ‘But why on earth would I ignore an idea if it’s good?’, you’re wondering. The answer is that you probably don’t even know you’re doing it.

Read More »

Why a Fully Realized Villain is as Important as Your Protagonist

by Kathy Edens May 12, 2017

Your antagonist can make the difference between a ho-hum novel and a break-out one.

A fully realized villain is someone who shows us parts of ourselves in his or her makeup. If you can connect in some human way with the antagonist, it's going to bring up all kinds of tension for readers.

Read More »

Growing The Writing Cooperative

by Stella J. McKenna May 11, 2017

Growing The Writing Cooperative

“The Coop” is more than just a Medium publication — it’s a community. And it’s growing.

The motto of The Writing Cooperative is, “Helping each other write better”. This phrase ultimately guides all that we do.

Read More »

A Letter from Roald Dahl: "Eschew All Those Beastly Adjectives."

by ProWritingAid May 03, 2017

A Letter from Roald Dahl: "Eschew All Those Beastly Adjectives."

When a student wrote to Roald Dahl in 1980 asking for help on his thesis, he received this rather curt letter in reply. We think it's wonderful.

Read More »

How to Write the ‘Other’ (Without Being a Jerk)

by Samia Rahman Apr 04, 2017

How to Write the ‘Other’ (Without Being a Jerk) It was during a Guardian webchat last year that one of my favourite authors, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, offered no-nonsense words of advice to an aspiring writer that rather stopped me in my tracks. The commenter had asked how he, a middle-aged white man, should go about writing the story of a young Bengali girl, who belonged to a culture that he readily admitted was alien to his own. Chimamanda invited him to re-examine his motivation to write about something so unfamiliar and seemed to endorse the age-old adage that you should write what you know.

Read More »

How to Write Multiple Points of View

by Kathy Edens Apr 03, 2017

How to Write Multiple Points of View

When you’re starting a new story, determining POV is a very important choice. Writing from multiple POVs can be frustrating and confusing for readers if it’s not handled well, so you need to have a very good reason for using multiple POVs in your story.

That said, here are a few tips on how to craft a story using multiple POVs:

Read More »

Putting Your Writing Through Its Paces

by ProWritingAid Feb 27, 2017

Putting Your Writing Through Its Paces

Pacing is a lot like the throttle on a vehicle. There are times when driving that you need to move slowly, like through a city or in a school zone. Then there are times when you need to move a lot faster, like on the freeway. And there are times when you need to just coast along at a moderate speed.

The pacing in your novel is a writer’s tool to help you manage the speed and rhythm of your story. Sometimes you want fast action, just as other times, you need to slow things down and let the scene unfold.

It’s up to you to know when to use pacing. A lot of your pacing decisions will be based on your genre. If you’re writing an action story, it’s pretty fast-paced with exhilarating moments of danger mixed with adventure juxtaposed with quieter moments when your characters do some heavy thinking. If you’re writing an epic that spans over generations, it might move more slowly.

Read More »

7 Ways an Editing Tool Will Make Your Funding Applications Shine

by Lisa Lepki Feb 27, 2017

7 Ways an Editing Tool Will Make Your Funding Applications Shine

We all know that you can work for the greatest organization in the world, doing the most amazing things, but if your fundraising application is poorly written, you aren’t going to get the funds.

Here are 7 ways an editing tool can improve your writing and ultimately increase your bottom line.

Read More »

When It’s Time to Swim Against the Flow of Popular Fiction

by Kathy Edens Feb 13, 2017

When It’s Time to Swim Against the Flow of Popular Fiction Many writing experts advise that you consider the current market as you write. If a reader buys one kind of book and likes it, they will look for more of the same. This notion is why you’ll see clone books pop up whenever there’s a breakout novel that runs up the bestseller list. Those writers follow the market.

Read More »

Attention Writers: Why You Should NOT Copy the Masters

by Kathy Edens Jan 16, 2017

Attention Writers: Why You Should NOT Copy the Masters

Chefs around the world don’t merely copy the recipes of other great chefs. Instead, they dissect the completed dish, looking for ways to improve it and make it their own. In the same sense, writers shouldn’t copy the masters. We’re not saying don’t learn from the masters, but rather dissect their work and see what makes it great.

Read More »

Editors Answer: What Editing Issues Fast Track Writing Submissions To The Reject Pile?

by Susan Maccarelli Jan 16, 2017

Editors Answer: What Editing Issues Fast Track Writing Submissions To The Reject Pile?

No one likes to get a writing rejection from an editor. Whether you move on and forget the experience in five minutes or dwell on it for 5 weeks, it would be nice to know WHY an editor decided not to use your article.

When we asked editors what makes them send a writing submission straight to the reject pile without passing GO, they shared these key reasons.

Read More »

Is it Ever OK to Use Dreams in Your Novel?

by ProWritingAid Jan 16, 2017

Is it Ever OK to Use Dreams in Your Novel?

If you’ve taken writing courses at the university level, more often than not, your instructors have fervently cried: Never, ever, ever, ever start a story with a dream sequence. And if you Google “dreams in novels,” you will find a huge range of opinions on the matter. For every post scorning the use of dreams, there is one saying that when done well, dream sequences can move your plot forward.

But are there times when dreams are ok to use? Some authors have used them incredibly effectively in the past. .

Read More »

How to Construct a 3D Main Character

by Kathy Edens Jan 03, 2017

How to Construct a 3D Main Character Have you ever read something and about 50 pages into it, you’re just not feeling the main character? You’re either not invested in her conflict or she’s kind of … boring.

Read More »

How to Create Tension Like Andy Weir did in The Martian

by Kathy Edens Dec 12, 2016

How to Create Tension Like Andy Weir did in The Martian

If you haven’t read The Martian, it’s 369 pages of full-on tension. Mark Watney, the main character, faces one set-back after another as he’s fighting for his life on Mars. The stakes are pretty high; if he doesn’t get off Mars soon, he’ll die.

Weir is a master at creating tension. Just when things are finally going right for Watney, Weir pulls the rug out from under his feet. We watch as Watney perseveres through untenable disasters that would crush the rest of us. Weir keeps readers asking throughout the story, “How’s he going to get out of this one?”

Read More »

Summary Report: The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

by Kathy Edens Nov 21, 2016

Summary Report: The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

We have just released the new (and much improved) ProWritingAid editing tool and we wanted to tell you a bit more about one new feature that we are particularly excited about.

What is it? A Summary Report is an all-in-one look at the statistics in your writing. Not just the basics like word count, sentences, and paragraphs, but it also points out the key actions you need to take to strengthen your writing.

Read More »