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
We 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.
An old cloak
You find an old cloak in your grandma’s wardrobe (or closet) that appears to be made out of shadows.
It is moving in a gentle unseen breeze.
It’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.
There are various ways of having your work critiqued. Most of the really useful ones you will have to pay for.
The important thing to remember is that a critique will be constructive and given positively. Writers want other writers to do well and negative criticism is a great way of putting people off. If you take the advice negatively you probably need to examine your reasons for writing in the first place.
Taking constructive criticism is not easy, but if you take note of the suggestions made you will see clear improvements to your writing.
What is a critique?
There’s only one way to find out whether anyone thinks your work is publishable. Send it to a publisher! That story hidden away on your computer or buried under a pile of papers won’t get anywhere if it stays there unseen.
While different publishers might have different standards you can guarantee they will want the best. If your work isn’t quite up to scratch (and sometimes you have to accept it might not be) they will tell you. You are unlikely to get feedback for your submission but you can never tell. That will be up to the individual publisher.
For a publisher it’s about sales; they want good work that is likely to sell. And selling is what you will want your work to do as well. You do want people to read your story, don’t you?
Of course you can always self-publish but how do you know it’s good enough to put out there in the public domain?
I read about an iPhone/iPad/Macbook app a while back called Day One. It had rave reviews, a nice look to it, and the philosophy behind it keyed into my desire to keep a regular journal while on the move. It even has daily prompts (if you switch them on) to get you in the mood and to remind you to get writing.
So I downloaded it. It really is everything I hoped it would be.
Click the image to go to TVTropes website to find out more
Here’s something to play with to get your creative juices flowing. Hopefully, it will also help to unblock writer’s block if you feel you are suffering from it.
The Periodic Table of story elements is split into Structure, Settings, Plot, Heroes, Character Modifiers (Protagonist/Antagonist), Archetypes, Villains, and more.
Clicking on each ‘element’ in the table will jump you to a page that explains that element in more depth.
There are ways of combining the elements into the basic formula for a story by using the ‘Story Molecules‘ below the table.
TVTropes (the website this Periodic Table is from) is a catalog of the tricks of the trade for writing fiction.