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How to write fiction: Jill Dawson on getting started

Is your writing specific, descriptive, and direct? To get precise with your writing, you may need to use more words to be descriptive , or fewer words to simplify. Avoiding redundancy is also key to precision in writing. Phrases that say the same thing twice are called tautologies. You can learn more about tautologies and tidying up your writing here. The key is to use whichever voice will do the best job at communicating the meaning of your sentence.

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The active voice can help your writing feel more direct and energetic. The active voice clearly showcases her accomplishments. For that same piece of information, it could be more direct to use the passive voice because your primary focus is on the award—rather than the actress who won it. In general, using the active voice will infuse your writing with greater energy and clarity, but sometimes the passive voice will be your best choice, depending on which part of the sentence you want to emphasize.

How to Write Well When You're Just Getting Started

Each week, block your writing time on a blank calendar. Bringing an element of play into your writing practice is a great way to get into the writing mood. Try making fun exercises out of writing scenes. One way to do this is by creating constraints. For example, you could write a scene and set yourself the requirement that it takes place entirely in an elevator.

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Creating rules for a scene can be paradoxically liberating. This was the principle behind the experimental French writing collective OuLiPo. The group devised constraints as a way to unlock creativity.

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Placing constraints on setting, word use and other elements forces the writer to find interesting alternatives. Another strategy to ensure that you are always in the mood to write is to leave off and resume your draft mid-sentence.

Resist the urge to complete a section and leave off at a point of intrigue or suspense. It will make you eager to return and continue forging onwards.

Read More Nancy Tuten. Quite a few articles on this site address confusing word pairs, including effect and affect, sit and set, lay and lie, and bad and badly This site addresses a number of punctuation issues, including punctuating with quotation marks, using the semicolon and colon, and deciding when to use the Oxford Most of this website is devoted to writing and editing matters, but the following post is not. Instead, it grew out of a collective desire The answer is yes.


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This article helps us distinguish between The hyphen, the em dash, and the en dash are all horizontal marks of varying lengths. Each functions quite differently from the others. Below are One of the many advantages personal computers have over typewriters is that we can type a whole host of useful characters that are not visible When two words come together to create a single new idea that expresses meaning different from that of either of the individual words, the result Nancy founded Get It Write in Since then, she has taught hundreds of seminars on writing-related issues to professionals in the workforce, including employees of state and local governments, judges and staff members of state and federal court systems, bankers, and attorneys see her client list.

From to , she taught writing and literature at Columbia College.

A tenured full-professor holding an endowed chair, she served as dean of the Division of Communication, Languages, and Literatures for eight years and directed the writing-across-the-curriculum program for fifteen years. After almost two decades, the wait is over: the second edition of The First Fifty Tips is ready!