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Showing posts from May, 2016

Better Writing – How to Start and End Chapters

We use chapters as a way of neatly sectioning the writing into manageable portions for both the reader and the writer. Chapters have many functions, but understanding them and knowing how to use them effectively is an important aspect to getting the most out of your chapters. Chapters are useful in different ways. They can help build tension, create mood and atmosphere, and they can allow the narrative to breathe by slowing down the pace of the story or causing a short pause. This is effective if the writer wants to move from lots of action and shift to a slower pace to give the reader time to digest everything that is happening. Readers need the chance to take in everything that is happening without rushing along at breakneck speed. Chapters are also effective for shifting perspectives and for changing POVs. They also allow the transition of time and are great for introducing flashbacks. And of course, they allow the writer to move scenes and settings without interrupting the narrativ…

Better Writing - Started To/Begin To/Decided To – Why You Should Avoid These

Better writing comes with knowledge and experience; it helps writers make the right adjustments to their writing. Knowing what to adjust and what to look out for comes through the apprenticeship of writing, by making mistakes and learning from them. One of the things to look out for is the habit of using ‘started to/begin to/decided to’ in descriptions with characters. It’s one of those constructions that look perfectly normal within your narrative, yet it doesn’t make for good writing.Of course, we’ve all done it as beginners, so no one is immune or perfect. It’s not that it’s inherently wrong, but rather that it’s good practice not to do it – it helps writers improve and strengthen their writing. Why should you avoid these constructions? Started to/Began to The thing to remember is that writing should always be active, so when a character decides to do something or starts to do something, the writing quickly turns clumsy and instantly stops being ‘active’, for example: She started to get…

Getting Your Story to Flow

Getting any story to flow is a common problem that all writers face from time to time and there are numerous reasons behind why it sometimes proves difficult to get the narrative to work and make sure it stays that way. When a story does flow, that’s when a writer is really focused and ‘in the zone’. It means that the words just keep flowing and the writer has to write until the scene or chapter is completed. Some people keep going until tiredness sets in. Creativity is at a peak; thoughts and ideas come naturally and seem so effortless. But then there are other times when nothing much happens and the flow of the story stutters and seems more of a chore than an enjoyable experience. When we think of ‘flow’, it’s the seamless quality of the story that matters.When a story doesn’t flow, then there are problems either with the narrative/story or the approach used by the writer. Stories should flow smoothly; the writing should come easily, however sometimes this is far from the case.The proce…

Run-on Sentences – Good or bad?

Many writers may not be familiar with ‘run on sentences’, or what they mean, but plenty of writers inadvertently end up using them from time to time, while other writers actively discourage their use. So what, exactly, are they? A run-on is a sentence is made up of two or more independent clauses ( a complete sentence) that are joined together without punctuation (i.e. semicolons, colons, dashes or full stops) or a conjunction (i.e. for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so etc). Run-on sentences happen very easily and all writers have unintentionally used them when in the furious throes of writing, particularly if focused on the first draft, which is always full of countless errors and flaws. It’s at the editing stage where the errors are put right, including run-on sentences. Fortunately, the run on sentence is easy to spot and just as easy to correct. They are very noticeable when read back through your work, because they make the narrative flow of sentences look odd, for example: He realised h…

Which or That – Does it Matter?

As a continuation of the theme from last week on common word confusions, this one would probably top the chart. ‘That’ or ‘which’ has driven many writers crazy because of the similarity in meaning of these words. Not only that, but most of the confusion arises because it’s become widely accepted that they are interchangeable rather than grammatically incorrect, so the question is: does it really matter? In the grand scheme of things, no, since their use has for many years become skewed by writers, and as already stated, either one is now accepted in literary circles and in British English, but for clarity and simplicity, there are differences between them and they do have different functions. So what are these differences? First of all, both ‘Which’ and ‘that’ are pronouns.We use pronouns to present a relative clause. A relative clause starts with the relative pronouns which, who, that, whose, when or where, and are often used to join two sentences. They are also used to identify the no…