Posts Tagged ‘writing tips’

True or False

10/04/2011 Comments off

This is a true story | A guide to reading narrative nonfiction.

It was good to come across this blog for readers of Creative Nonfiction.  While aimed at readers, it’s packed with useful resources, tips and links for the nonfiction writer.

I’m wrestling at the moment with my manuscript that is based on true events and deals with a West of Ireland  historical crime in the nineteenth century. The research is done and the task now is to dramatise the story using fiction techniques.

This blog is helping me through the maze. Read more here.

Interested in hearing from any writers out there who are working through a creative nonfiction story.

Fret Over The Sentence

25/01/2011 Comments off / Life & Arts – The art of good writing.

I fret about writing a sentence: whether to make it concise, minimalist and pared-down or, exuberant and rhythmic to match the tone. Are the rules that dictate brevity and concreteness enduring? My new year resolution was to craft the best sentences I could.

‘How to Write a Sentence’ by Stanley Fish and ‘The Elements of Style’ by Strunk & WhiteAdam Haslett’s feature ‘The Art of  Good Writing’ is one of the best pieces I’ve read about the sentence dilemma in the ungovernable activity of writing.  He looks at the forthcoming book from Stanley Fish, How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One.

He quotes from William Trevor’s story ‘A Day’ to illustrate how the aural effect and rhythm of a sentence matches the pathology of his character.

Haslett counts himself among those readers who fell in love with literature not by becoming enthralled to books but ‘by discovering individual sentences whose rhythm and rhetoric was so compelling they couldn’t help but repeat them’.

Right Sentence: A New Year Resolution

30/12/2010 3 comments

Only a day to go  and I will start over. Another year. Another set of writing resolutions: nonfiction manuscript to finish; dig through more research; get back to writing morning pages.

But an image has dogged me. A child in ringlets scraping a nib across a school copybook in a first attempt at joined up writing. Every letter, every word, every sentence laboriously built.

And I know that this should be my writing resolution: to craft and shape each sentence and make it as crisp and pure and strong as I possibly can.

Hemingway favoured short minimalist sentences with vigorous verbs. You can read about his 5 tips for writing well here.

Janet Fitch says Write the Sentence, not just the story: ‘try to heighten in every way your sensitivity to the sound and rhythm and shape of sentences’.

So this is my simple writing resolution. To go and craft the best sentences I can.  Easier said than done, you might say. Maybe you have advice on how to make great sentences?

Photo credit.

How to Get Yourself Off Your Lazy Butt and Start Writing Already

18/11/2010 Comments off


Get off your lazy butt and write!

 How to Get Yourself Off Your Lazy Butt and Start Writing Already.

Thoughtful and provocative suggestions in this Blog on starting and keeping a writing routine.

Summed up in make it your goal that you will START to write.

Maybe you have suggestions to add.

So you want to write do you?

01/11/2010 Comments off

I’ve nothing to say.

What would I write about anyhow?

My grammar would be all wrong.

They’d laugh at me.

All this at a recent writing class. And then there was a tea-break and the chat and the story-telling started and could have gone on all night.

So you want to write but just can’t work up the courage? 

Here’s a list of a half-dozen tips I’ve picked up along the way. Maybe they’ll help you to get started on the writing or to keep going.

  1. You are a camera: You can try this anywhere –  in a place you know really well, in a doctor’s waiting room, in your back garden. Write a detailed description of the scene. Another approach is to take an actual photo of the scene or place, go away  and write about it from the photo. This approach can work well with old photos that conjure up vivid memories.
  2. Tune in to what people around you are saying. I visited a chiropodist once who talked non-stop and very vividly about her young children. I tuned in to rhythm of her sentences and as soon as I left wrote down as much as I could remember. Soon after I made a poem of my notes, keeping lots of the turns of phrase she had used.
  3. Write your stories like you talk.  To begin with write down your stories like you tell them. This will get you started. A good idea is to keep your stories filed by the actual year in which they happened. This gets you started on building up a memoir file.
  4. Imagine your daily life is in a foreign country. Carry a notebook around with you. Imagine you are traveling in a foreign place (Deena Metzger suggestion) and want to capture everything you see and experience.  Record it all.  Add in dialogue, your own thoughts, feelings, memories evoked …
  5. Write a letter. This is great writing practice and can draw out memories and storytelling well as re-connecting with friends and family.
  6. Fix a writing time and place. I write first thing in the morning, in an upstairs room that looks straight out at a chestnut tree where the yellow leaves are swirling down in the rain right now as I write. Fix a time and keep the appointment.

As Stephen King once said, you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start (writing), you will.

Try out a great writing resource site at Writing4all and their excellent section on getting started on writing here.

Have you any tips to share with would-be writers?


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