Can reading transform us?

image-Can reading transform usIt’s probably a given that story has the power to bring about change in the reader.

I’ve already discussed learning and empathy in a previous post, but it has long been recognised that reading good literature encourages self-reflection and change.

In an article from the New York TimesContinue reading

The Happy Benefits of Writing

Image - Happy Benefits of writingIt’s not just readers who benefit from a good story.

We writers can too apparently.

There is a fascinating article on the New York Times Blog about research carried out on people through expressive writing (or life-story writing).

It may sound like self-help nonsense, but research suggests the effects are real.

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Write what you know – debunking the myth

If you keep up with any writing advice on social media, or even in books about writing, you’re bound to have seen the advice, ‘Write what you know.’

It implies you should only write about stuff that you know about or have experienced.

Let’s get one thing straight – you already know a great deal. Not necessarily what it’s like to be an astronaut or a potholer but there are things you can tap into that will enable you to write about such things. Continue reading

Write small for a big effect

If I told you that six-thousand people died in an earthquake, how would you feel? Pretty shocked I’m sure.

Have you ever felt numbed to tragedies in the world because you can’t comprehend what is happening on the global scale? That’s the point where you turn the TV off because you feel overloaded with information. When it’s six-thousand people you have no idea what each person suffered.

Make it personal

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Possessive Apostrophe

An apostrophe used to show possession of something to someone can be a complicated thing. Do not confuse a possessive apostrophe with one used for a contraction of two words.

For clarity you should always consult a good style guide, such as New Hart’s Rules: The Oxford Style Guide or The Elements of Style by Strunk and White.

If you are submitting work to a publisher it is advisable to ask for their own house style as some of the examples in this article may differ from one publisher to another.

Show possession to one person or thing (singular noun)

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Homophones: Sound-Alike Words – Whose and Who’s

Who’s versus Whose?

Homophones are sound-alike words. They are spelt differently but sound the same.

Each word has a distinct meaning. If in doubt consult your dictionary or style book. A good proofreader will pick up mistakes such as these but it’s best to get it right in the first place.

So, when do you use who’s and when do you use whose and how do you remember which is which? Continue reading

Surprise yourself with simple language

Making yourself understood

Language is what we rely on to understand something we are being told. We expect to know what it means.

The only way we can do that is if the giver of the information delivers it clearly.

Your choice of words, the sequence you put them in and the structure of your sentences will set the feel and flavour of your writing as well as making it legible and intelligible.

Write in your own words

One of the tricks about writing is not to be grand. If you try for that memorable phrase or sentence, it won’t come and your writing will appear false and pretentious.

Write as you speak. Write in your own words. Forget the amazingly profound and just write. You will surprise yourself now and again. Sometimes it is the most simply put phrase that has the most effect.


That place we call imagination is a meditative process where we lose ourselves in the world we are creating. It is from that place that words and phrases arise. When you are writing ‘in the zone’ your mind will start making connections between concepts and thoughts almost subconsciously.

It is those subconscious processes that will widen your range of description and put the words on the page that please you. They can almost seem to come from nowhere.

Feed your creativity

Reading helps to feed your imagination and writing helps to exercise and express it. Without either you will not have the language or the words to make something beautiful and memorable.

What Would You Of Done?

What would you of done?

In England, particularly, the word have is often pronounced to sound like of, as in, “What would you of done?” or “I could of done something about it”. This is also how people will write it!

Actually, in that very English of ways, what people are really saying is, “I could ‘av done something about it”. They’ve dropped the h in have and it sounds like of.

It doesn’t take much investigating to reveal that of is the wrong word to be using given the context demonstrated above.

The dictionary definition of the word of is as follows:  Continue reading