A Brief History of Writing

scribe at his desk

A Scribe at his desk

OK, so you write.

Have you ever wondered how those little squiggles we call letters came about in the first place?

Reading and writing are not naturally learned skills – they have to be taught specifically – and yet we take it for granted that we can communicate with each other by means of the written word. It’s how we put our stories out there.

Without writing there would be no books.

And then where would we be? No coffee, no comfy chair, no hours to while away. You can’t bear the thought, can you?

Early humans realised we could make marks that others would recognise as representations of things in our world. We writers have a great deal to thank them for.

But how did those marks evolve into the complicated sets of symbols we use for writing today?

That’s where this lovely website comes into its own. It gives a very brief race through the history of writing from its beginnings in the caves of Lascaux, through to the Sumerians, the Egyptians, the Greeks and Romans, and eventually to our modern writing system today.

Visit the website here: A Brief History of Writing.

Active Voice or Passive Voice? What’s the Difference?

What is meant by Active or Passive voice?

Active voice is clear and direct. It stamps out what is happening in a dynamic way. It tells you who or what is doing the action (subject) and who or what they are doing it to (object).

Passive voice can be clear as to what is happening to the subject but usually sounds weaker as a statement. It loses the strength you want to give to your words (and strength in your words is important when you are writing for others).

Let’s take a few examples to show you what I mean.  Continue reading

The Meanings of Words – Synecdoche

SynecdocheSynecdoche. What a wonderful word!

Someone mentioned the film, ‘Synecdoche, New York’ to me the other day. I’d never heard of it. I’d never heard the word synecdoche either so (as it was such a tantalising word) I decided to look it up – of course.

That’s what we writers and readers do because we want to extend our repertoire of words and understanding.

The best definition I found was on Wikipedia.

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Writing Prompt: A Samurai Warrior

A Samurai Warrior works as a waiter in a Mexican restaurant in a small town in Essex. Why is he there in such an unlikely place and in such an unlikely job?

From whose point of view are you going to write the story?

Fancy you can do it in 500 words? Go on, give it a go.

Feel a poem coming on? Or a song?

Want to try writing it in dialogue only?

No rules. How you write and what you write is entirely up to you.

The important thing … is to WRITE.

Secrets And Story

I was listening to a radio programme on my way home from work one evening. They were discussing code-breaking and the extraordinary achievements of the team working at Bletchley Park during WWII.

There were about 10,000 people working there and all were sworn to secrecy, with something like only 6 people in the world who knew the extent of the work at Bletchley Park in the war effort. This secrecy continued for decades after the war.

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Punctuation: The Comma and Its Uses

commaFrom the Oxford comma to an omission comma, the little curly punctuation mark is a small, simple thing that can cause so much confusion amongst writers. We probably all think we have an idea when it should be used and yet still puzzle over it at times.

Ask anyone when they use a comma and many people will tell you it is used as a natural pause in a sentence, particularly when a breath would be taken when reading out loud. If you use it, to indicate a pause, your lung capacity, might be, shorter than, mine.

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Who’s eating Grandma? The importance of correct punctuation

Commas give meaning to sentences

Commas are important to inject the correct meaning into a sentence, particularly long sentences.

They also have an important role to play in short sentences, and if you don’t get it right there could be awful consequences.

Let’s do a quick exercise to show how dangerous it can be if you get it wrong.  Continue reading

Writing Inspiration: Some Favourite Websites

DSCF0783We writers are surrounded by inspiration in all areas of our lives.

Everyday scenarios and moments provide us with a spark that could turn into a story; a few notes that lay buried in a notebook until rediscovered and worked into a current piece of writing, or expanded upon and turned into a story in their own right.

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