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Writing for Life

Mondays

7 Tips to Help Writers Gain Attention in the World of Fiction

woman's hands on window

Today’s guest blog post is by author and writing instructor Joan Curtis:

If you aspire to be a fiction writer and think all you have to do is sit down at your computer and create, you will be very disappointed. Most writers eventually want to publish their work. They want family, friends, and others to read what they’ve created.

Admittedly, when I wrote my first novel (which I now call my practice novel), my main goal was to see if I could actually write one. That in and of itself is a lofty goal. Once I realized I could write a novel, my next goal was to write a novel that could be published. That led me down a totally different path. I had to learn more about the craft of writing, and I had to learn more about the world of publishing. Continue Reading…

12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction

Wednesdays

How Writers Develop a Unique Style All Their Own

pants rolled up

Often, when learning to write a novel, a writer may spend countless hours focusing on getting all the basics in hand: plot, structure, characters, and all those tricky components that take time to master. Usually writing style is ignored at first, and a writer’s early attempts to just get words on the page are often clunky and/or derivative. And that’s just part of the growing process.

Just as a toddler begins to speak by listening to and imitating the adults who speak to him, a new writer will often try to copy the writing style of other authors. Which is a great thing to do—at first. It’s said “imitation is the best form of flattery,” but it’s also a smart way to learn. By studying and imitating the writing style of great writers in your genre (which we discussed in last week’s post), you can get a feel for how to write your stories. Continue Reading…

Say What?

Fridays

Everyday Words That Are Misused Every Day

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A lot of the words we use have changed meaning over time, differing from their common or intended use. Some words sound so much like other words, they are often used interchangeably, like bemused and amused.  

Here’s a list of some everyday words that are often misused. See if you are guilty of misunderstanding the true meaning and usage of these words. If you are, don’t feel bad. You’re not alone.

  • Ironic: It doesn’t mean something funny or bad that’s happened to you. It means the occurrence of something opposite to what you expect (although irony has a number of various meanings and applications). An example of an ironic situation: a domestic violence prosecutor being been charged with domestic violence.
  • Irregardless: It’s not a word, sorry. Use regardless. Regardless of what anyone tells you.
  • Peruse: It does not mean to skim or browse over a bit of writing. It means to read something attentively (the opposite). Peruse originally comes from “per use,” which traditionally indicates that you plan to “use up” the text with your passionate reading of it.
  • Consent: It does not mean to give one’s permission or agreement. It means to passively agree, even if you have a negative opinion of what you’re agreeing to. If you consent to something, you’re not cheering it on. You’re allowing it to happen, with your permission.
  • Compelled: It does not mean to voluntarily do something, usually out of a moral or internal impulse. It means to be forced, obligated, or pressured into doing something—the exact opposite of what you think, and there’s an easy way to see how. If you have to give “compulsory service” in the military, that means you don’t have a choice. Compelled comes from “compulsory,” so if you’re “compelled” to give a truthful eye-witness testimony during a court case, that means you gotta do it.
  • Instant: It does not mean very quickly, with lightning speed. Rather, it means a specific point in time. Although we live in an “instant” world and drink “instant” coffee, the popular use of instant commonly diverges from its intended meaning. Instant originally meant a very tiny fraction of time, a moment so minute it was practically infinitesimal. However, the idea of smallness here was carried over to its more common meaning: the small amount of time by which something is done or prepared. Most dictionaries now recognize both uses.

I suppose it’s a bit ironic for an editor to encourage the proper use of words when she might feel compelled instantly to consent to her readers to peruse her blog posts on grammar—irregardless of the fatuosity of the task. (No, fatuosity isn’t a real word either.) Hmm  . . . did I just say what I think I said?

 

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