Articles about writing style
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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:
- Reverse Dictionary (this shows you words with your given word in their definition)
- 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)
- 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)
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
The newest version of ProWritingAid comes with some shiny new features to check out including a Word Explorer, summary reports, easier navigation, contextual thesaurus, detailed explanations and more. Take it for a spin now.Read More »
Search in Blog
- List of Clichés
- 10 Free Writing Apps and Tools
- 10 Websites to Help Improve Your Grammar
- 3 Awful Oxford Comma Bloopers
- Turn Your First Draft Into a Story Readers Love
- The Best Ever Mystery Novels
- Is Your Novel Idea Worth a Book?
- The Best Romance Novels Ever Written
- Changing Passive Voice to Active Voice
- 10 Podcasts Writers Should Be Listening To
- 11 Types of Queries that Win Writing Assignments
- Writing Can Be Therapy [Infographic]
- 3 Commonly Misused Words (And How to Use Them Correctly)
- Title Your Novel for Maximum Visibility
- How to Use the Dialogue Check
- Character Transformation: Change is in the Air
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