How Much Do you Really Need to Say?

Write a paragraph about something you did today. Make it at least 4 sentences.

Now take out the first sentence and the last sentence. How necessary is the middle? Do those sentences say enough to stand on their own?

Think about the construction of the paragraph. Why you chose to put one sentence first, then the next and the next.… Read the rest

Would You Like Coffee With That?

Do you want a hot mug of coffee or do you want a mug of hot coffee? Do you watch your word placement as you write and edit? Make sure you are describing a hot coffee and not a hot mug.

Something like “I’m an antique lover.” Works in conversation, spoken words have tone to show their meaning and feedback to help any confusion.… Read the rest

Focus and Angles

Being a writer is about using focus and angles. You keep your focus but you use up all the angles you can find.

For instance, take a topic like Christmas. How over done is that? Could you find something new to say about Christmas (a new angle) without forgetting who you are writing for and what you are writing about (your focus).… Read the rest

You Too Can Write Earth Shaking Headlines

I’ve always found headlines fun, a kind of challenge but a freedom to be a bit daring, wild and just plain contrary. You can pick something a bit misleading, something humourous, something argumentative or whatever appeals to you at the time.

The point is to catch the reader’s attention and draw them into the article. By hook or by crook, you want to make them look.… Read the rest

The Stashing of Ideas

Do you wake up in the morning with the plot for the world’s greatest novel formulating in your brain? Not every morning, but about once a week I do. Often when I’m in the middle of something else: driving, showering, putting away groceries, watching TV, talking on the phone, making dinner, plotting my greatest ever Canadian World Domination… I get the best ideas but have no paper handy to jot them down.… Read the rest

Publishable and Practical

You’ve got the greatest idea! It’s sure to be a billion dollar blockbuster, rivaling Stephen King and that other writer whose name you can’t quite remember though it’s on the tip of your tongue.

But, is your idea a good one, really? Some of our ideas seem really super charged at the time, when we have that first burst of passion as the idea evolves.… Read the rest

Query Letters

We’re writers, we know the words, so why is it so tough to write a query letter? Why do we second guess every word on that page? Why do we agonize over the punctuation, the grammar and the spelling? Why do we “just die” when we realize a typo was missed in our proofreading of that all important query letter?… Read the rest

Short for Impact

The best quotes are those that dazzle and enlighten with one sentence. That quick one two punch that leaves you thinking. Quotes wandering along into two, three or more sentences loose their power. You have to read them and think as you’re reading. It spoils the effect.

Condensing your sentences, your whole essay, story, whatever you’re working on, will also give it more power.… Read the rest

Spelling Style

Spelling is tricky all on it’s own. When you throw in different languages and cultures it gets down right complicated.

First, consider English and American spelling. Then throw in Canadian spelling, which is some combination of the two. Same for other countries in the commonwealth.

Have you seen words spelt with an s instead of a z?… Read the rest