Writing Tips

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In the last few years I've become very interested in art of writing. Below are a collection of random sources I've been learning from. It's rather humorous to read a lot of these authors as they often point out a novice mistake and I instantly realize, "Yep, that's me she's talking about."

Constance Hale

Constance Hale gets her own section because I love her book, Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wicked Good Prose. The book is very practical and well organized enough to serve as a reference. Each section includes snippets from some classic authors that provide excellent contextual examples of a given idea she's explaining. It's a book plan to reread several times just to keep all its contents fresh in my head.

I also read her other book, Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch: Let Verbs Power Your Writing. While I also enjoyed it, it was much drier and didn't provide as much practical information for a novice writer like myself. It has a large section dedicated to specific misused verbs, which was a little too specific for my level but probably appropriate for beginning editors. I did find myself giggling at some of the bizarre and powerful prose she's included throughout the book.

In general I found myself agreeing to most of her suggestions. She emphasizes short, to-the-point sentences with strong verbs. Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch in particular demonstrates the intricacies of verbs in the English language. She has a blog and twitter account where she regularly posts interesting tidbits on writing.

7 Tips to Improve Your Writing

This is an eight-minute clip I found late one night that I found extremely practical. While its worth watching, I'm including her seven tips below.

1. Show, Don't Tell

Avoid narrating things like emotions that could better be described visually. She recommends as a tool to write as if the words were expressing a movie scene with no narrator. Don't say something like, "He stood up angrily" when you could describe how one might perceive that he's angry (ex. he pushed himself up, his hands clenched into fists).