How to Write Your First Screenplay

How to Write Your First Screenplay

Have you ever daydreamed about writing for the big screen? I know I have! Writing a screenplay that gets picked up by Hollywood could see your story reach millions of people – whereas even bestselling novels often only sell in the tens of thousands. Writing a screenplay is very different from writing a short story or a novel, though. There are some specific conventions that you need to know about, in terms of the structure of your story itself, and…

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7 Flawed Sentences Redeemed by Commas

7 Flawed Sentences Redeemed by Commas

The simple insertion, deletion, or relocation of a comma (or two) can alter a sentence’s meaning, so when writing or editing a sentence, carefully analyze it to determine whether the punctuation (or lack thereof) serves its intended meaning or whether it creates grammatical confusion. The following examples illustrate the significant difference punctuation can make; discussion after each sentence explains the problem and provides a solution. 1. Relaxed capital and leverage requirements are favorable to depository institutions as they allow institutions…

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7 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block

7 Ways to Beat Writer’s Block

Every writer, at times, has trouble thinking of what to say next. Or what to say at all. The cause may be fear, pressure, perfectionism, but often lack of inspiration. No doubt even Mesopotamian scribes of five thousand years ago hesitated before putting stylus to tablet. We’ve written about writer’s block several times over the years, and here are seven practical suggestions to ease the symptoms of writer’s block. 1. Give yourself something to edit Seeing all my mistakes motivates…

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Counting and Accounting

Counting and Accounting

This post lists and describes words deriving from the Latin verb computare, meaning “sum up,” that, unlike computer and the like, do not closely follow the original spelling. Count derives its diversion from the spelling of computare from its journey to English through Old French, which spelled the verb conter. To count is to add up (“Count the money”), consider (“Count yourself lucky you didn’t get hurt”), or record (“Count me in”). It also means “depend on,” “deserve to be…

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Micro-editing: Writing a Very Short Summary, Abstract or Synopsis

Micro-editing: Writing a Very Short Summary, Abstract or Synopsis

As a writer, I have probably learned the most from having tight word counts. In several assignments, each piece had to be 150 words or less, or 250 words or less, or three lines or less. Sometimes the whole publication had to fit on one page, or in one column. This kind of micro-editing is common with summaries of news articles, query letters to publishers, and abstracts of academic papers. Techniques for micro-editing Cut ideas before words Deliberately limiting the…

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Top 10 Online Tools for Writers

Top 10 Online Tools for Writers

All writers need a helping hand now and again – and having the best tools at your fingertips can make a huge difference. I’ve picked my favourite tools that will work for almost all writers – whether you’re a blogger, a novelist, a freelancer, or (like me) a bit of everything. We’ll take a look at: Four tools to help you focus when you’re writing – for many writers, this is the biggest challenge! Four tools to help you store…

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How the Three Types of Conjunctions Connect Ideas

How the Three Types of Conjunctions Connect Ideas

This post defines and discusses the three types of conjunctions (words or phrases that serve as a bridge linking two words, phrases, clauses, or sentences): coordinating, correlative, and subordinating conjunctions. Coordinating Conjunctions Coordinating conjunctions, also called coordinators, join words, clauses, or sentences of equal importance. The most common coordinating conjunctions, frequently listed in the following order to reflect the use of the mnemonic FANBOYS, include for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so. Others are neither, only, and “no more,”…

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How to Write a Short Story: Six Crucial Steps

How to Write a Short Story: Six Crucial Steps

Short stories are tricky to write well. Every word counts – and you don’t have long at all to establish characters and get the plot going. While most of my fiction-writing time goes into novels, I’ve written a bunch of short stories over the years (and even won an occasional prize). There’s plenty to like about the short story form: You get the satisfaction of completing something! I’ve often taken breaks from ongoing novels to write short stories, simply to…

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Say No to Your Darlings

Say No to Your Darlings

Veteran writers often advise aspiring writers to “kill your darlings.” Grisly, isn’t it, but they all say it. William Faulkner wrote, “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” Stephen King wrote, “…kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” Notice that King said “kill” three times, but then, we are talking about Stephen King. According to Slate’s culture editor Forrest Wickman, this advice was originally given by more than…

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Quotation Marks, Apostrophes, and Other Raised Symbols

Quotation Marks, Apostrophes, and Other Raised Symbols

This post details the function of various symbols that appear the top of a line of type to communicate additional information about the text. Apostrophe The apostrophe signals that, depending on usage, one or more letters are missing or are being added to perform a grammatical function. An apostrophe • marks omission of one or more letters (as in the contraction of cannot to can’t or, in an extreme case, of the substitution of fo’c’stle for forecastle) • marks possessive…

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