Wednesday, December 28, 2011

On Writing: Six Thoughts on Describing Setting

     I recently started a writing club at my high school, opening it to teacher and student alike. It’s sort of an extension of the Creative-Writing classes I teach, a place where writers can show up and have their work, whether post-cyberpunk murder mystery or "Little Mermaid" fan-fiction, taken seriously. Club members spend a lot of time in workshop, critiquing and responding to each other's writing, but they’ve also requested we spend some time studying craft. As a result, I’ve been spending some time writing about writing. Here is the most recent result:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

On Writing: Quote-Marks Dodgers on Trial

     Before I die there are several questions I'd like answered. Question one might be: Why did the musician born as Prince Rogers Nelson change his name to a symbol between 1993 and 2000? Question two: Why do some literary fiction writers opt not to use quotation marks?
    The answer I want for both questions is “genius,” but I expect the one I’ll get is “affectation.”
    James Joyce, in his (call it what it is) autobiographical novel A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, opts to use the long dash instead of the lowly quotation mark. It's something he apparently borrowed from the French. It seems a fairly typical move for a young Irish man who wants to come off as a sophisticate and make himself seem fancy. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On Writing: Best Gifts for Writers (No Gimmicks)

Wondering what to give the writer who has everything? Pondering a holiday purchase for yourself that enhances your writer’s life? Here are some ideas. (Note: None of them are self-filling fountain pens, journals made from virgin cows, smartphone aps, or bobble heads.)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

On Writing: Eight Thoughts about Dialog

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1. Dialog needs to sound like real people said it, but not exactly. It’s more like shorthand for speech; every word must count for something.

2. Dialog attributives are what you use to show the readers who’s talking. Direct attributives show readers, directly:
    “I love to eat kittens,” Bill said.

Indirect attributives lead the reader to the speaker:
    Bill shrugged. “I love to eat kittens.”