Archive | May 2011

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Writer Interrupted

When I started writing full time, my home office was the dining room of a house with a fairly open floor plan. A pair of school-aged kids, a toddler, and a husband constantly wandered past my desk on their way to other parts of the house. The room had no doors to close, so conversations […]

Weekend Assignment: Deconstructing the Toaster

As a child, did you ever sit hunched over some defunct appliance with a screwdriver in hand, taking it apart bit by bit to learn how it works? I often think my youngest got more enjoyment out of broken gadgets and toys than he ever did from working ones. I caught myself wondering on more […]

Writing Dangerously

As writers, getting the details right means we need to know things. Things that raise eyebrows. For example, I once needed firsthand experience on what it’s like to be trapped in a car’s trunk. Thanks to help from my gleeful teen and an afternoon of stares from the neighbors, I can tell you the answer: […]

Musing on Muses: A Poll

This Pearls Before Swine comic strip from Sunday reminds me a bit of my muse. I wanted to post the full comic here, but for some reason the html from comics.com cuts off the right side of the strip, rendering it unreadable, so I’m stuck using a link. Everyone’s muse is a little different. How […]

Grammar Video: Could you care less?

Did you read the title of this post and think: “I couldn’t care less?” If so, congratulations! You got it right. You may still enjoy this video clip from David Mitchell’s Soapbox. Here David Mitchell offers a humorously English take on the difference between  “could care less” and “couldn’t care less.” Stick around until the […]

Weekend Assignment: Variety is the Spice of Writing

Welcome to another weekend writing prompt. I’m glad to see you. This weekend’s challenge is to add variety to your sentences. The idea is simple — write a cohesive eight-sentence paragraph about the topic of your choice. Here’s the catch: each sentence must begin with a different part of speech. For those of you word […]

Tighten Your Writing

Sometimes, words get in the way of good writing. Pet phrases creep in. Descriptions become complicated and adjectives and adverbs run wild. Tame the words and simplify your revision process by tightening your writing on the fly. Use these ideas to find and eliminate unnecessary words and phrases. Two-for-ones: adjectives and adverbs On a shopping […]

Better Writing: To the Dump, to the Dump, to the Infodump

What is an infodump? An infodump is a chunk of exposition or dialog laden with facts. In its simplest definition, Infodump=Telling. Running across a poorly-written infodump is a lot like having a seven-year-old describe the plot of a movie to you: “And then the dinosaurs got loose and trapped the people in the car. The […]

Weekend Assignment: Good Guys Gone Bad

We have a ritual at my house any time we gather around to watch a DVD. It begins like this: “What movie do you want to watch?” “I dunno, what movie do you want to watch?” “Eh, I really don’t care. Just put something in. But please not–“ “Hellboy!” “–Hellboy.” The whole thing started as […]

A Twin-Pack of Writing Contests: Real Simple’s Life Lessons & Family Circle Fiction

Q: Why should you enter a writing contest? A:  Three reasons: practice, practice, practice. You’ll practice writing, practice formatting, and practice submitting your work. Oh, and you might win something. Always research a contest before entering. Look for ones run by reputable entities that don’t require you to buy something to be eligible to win. […]