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The six-word story.

September 12, 2014

”For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.” That tragic piece of work is a complete six-word story written by Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway was challenged to write a story using only six words, and that’s the story he came up with. It’s tragic, poignant, and extremely impactful. A lot of writers get caught up in word-count, which is normal considering, you know, one of the things agents look at when we’re submitting a work to them is the length of the novel in question. Too short and it hardly counts as a novel. Too long and no one wants to take the chance (and spend the money) on printing it without knowing for-sure it’s going to sell. In other words, unless you’re Stephen King or George R.R. Martin, you probably shouldn’t submit a novel longer than one-hundred thousand words if you want to seriously be considered for representation. So with how obsessed we are over word count, flash fiction and similar short-order […]


Keep an eye on the “-ly.”

September 10, 2014

Modifiers are great. Adverbs and adjectives help us add more color and flavor to our work. They’re great additions to any piece of writing, when they’re used appropriately. That’s right. Like everything else, there are the right and the wrong ways to use modifiers. Today we’re going to specifically look at adverbs. Just a quick refresher, adverbs are words that modify verbs, other adverbs, and adjectives (adjectives are words that modify nouns, pronouns, and phrases acting as nouns). Even more than that, we’re going to look at adverbs that end with the letters “-ly.” Adverbs that end with “-ly” are pretty common, probably because slapping an “-ly” to the end of an adjective basically turns it into an adverb. It’s easy, effective, and simple. Unfortunately, it can be something else, too: lazy. Cleaning out the “-ly” adverbs in your writing can really help tighten and strengthen the language. Let’s look at it, shall we? She wearily walked into the room. […]


A short character sketch.

May 13, 2014

Hey guys! So the last few days have been rough. Not only am I super busy, but I also came down with some nasty cold that’s made me exhausted, tired, and a bit queasy. Not so much fun. Because of that, I’m behind in my writing, and I don’t really feel like forcing out a shit blog post. Instead, I tracked down a character development I was working on with a friend a while ago. Basically, this is a fun writing sample. Sorry again for the lazy post. Hopefully I’ll be feeling well enough to catch back up with myself soon! Cheers, –MC * * * The trolley jangled and bounced along it’s asphalt-embedded track. Lynden was slender–at least he seemed slender compared to the busy hoard of morning commuters. Part of that was natural. Part of it was only perception. He held on to the side of the old machine, his long fingers clasped comfortably around the cool metal […]


Writing Exercise: To be or not to be?

February 24, 2014

In rewriting Martyrs (five chapters away! Woot woot!), a lot of what I’m doing is simple. Sure, in the first half of the book I did a lot of major revamps of certain scenes and chapters, but for the second half, the half that was already more or less on par with what I wanted the plot to be, I mostly tweaked the writing to make it stronger. In the chapters I rewrote today, I focused a lot on tightening language. I noticed myself using a lot of verb phrases that include the words “was and were” (or any other form of “to be,” really). Think of it like this: “Dane was walking down the alley toward her,” or “They were speaking quietly amongst one another.” These are “to be” verb phrases, or verb phrases where the auxiliary verb is a form of “to be.” “To be” verbs include is, was, am, are, and were. This is commonly mistaken for […]


5 ways to outline your novel.

February 18, 2014

Anyone who has been reading my blog knows one thing about me for sure: I am an avid believer in outlining. I don’t believe most really great works of writing can be created without some kind of blueprint as to where the story begins, where it has to go, and what happens in between. There’s some debate about that, but I’d argue that everyone, every single writer, makes some kind of outline or another that ends up being written (or rewritten) into their final product. That being said, there are several different kinds of outlines people make. I’ve come up with five different kinds of outlines writers use–you should try some of them out! The Bullet Point List The most basic of basic outlines is the Bullet Point List. This outline is exactly what it sounds like–a breakdown of the major plot elements in a bulleted list. Pretty simple, eh? This outline is really easy to design, since all you […]


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