• Books Teach Us To Survive

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    There’s only one thing we know for sure about the future: It’ll be weird, and you can’t really prepare for it. Just imagine trying to tell someone in 2000 how to prepare for life in 2011. But luckily, there’s one surefire way to brace yourself for another round of future shock: by reading a slew of great satires

  • The Thriller Fiction Genre

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    There’s no narrow definition. According to International Thriller Writers, a thriller is characterized by “the sudden rush of emotions, the excitement, sense of suspense, apprehension, and exhilaration that drive the narrative, sometimes subtly with peaks and lulls, sometimes at a constant, breakneck pace.”

  • Let’s Start As A Novelist

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    There is always a bit of romance to the idea of becoming a novelist. All those stories about “starving writers” who later become famous, and so on. While this might be the general image we have of what being a novelist is all about, the truth is that like any art, it is a lot of work. Journalism is a terrific training

  • Be A Better Business Writer

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    The growing ubiquity of e-mail means that everyone in business, from lords of finance to programmers who dream in code, needs to write intelligently. By using simple, clear, precise language–and following a few other basic writing rules–you can become a better communicator and improve the prospects for your career.

  • How To Write A Biography

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    A biography is simply the story of a life. Biographies can be just a few sentences long, or they can fill an entire book—or two. Very short biographies tell the basic facts of someone’s life and importance. Longer biographies include that basic information of course, with a lot more detail, but they also tell a good story.

Modulate Suspense In Ordinary Menacing

Building suspense takes time. The reader will lose interest if all you do is pile on descriptive paragraph after descriptive paragraph, no matter how much menace there is in your descriptions. Break the tension by having something happen that advances the plot or provides a moment of comic relief. There are many ways to insert a pause into suspense. The telephone […]

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A Writer Gets To Play With Time

One of the most challenging choices in writing a memoir is to decide which weeks or days or minutes in those years to give your attention. How many pages should you write about the afternoon you were six and shoplifted chicklets from the corner store? Should you spend more time describing what it was like to be stranded in a blizzard and less time on the trucker driver who eventually rescued you? Do you need to describe every person at your fortieth birthday party? There’s no clear cut rule about how much time you need to spend on any particular event, and many of those decisions will be influenced by the pacing of a given piece as much as the relationship of the event to your intended theme. The important thing to keep in mind is that as a writer you can stretch or shrink time. You may not be conscious of how much time you allow for things to take place when writing a first draft, but as the spine of your narrative becomes clear, you want to consider places to slow down and stretch, places to speed up and shrink. The Mezzanine, Nicholas Baker’s first novel, takes place...

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Concequence Of Connotation In Fiction

The denotation of a word is its literal definition; the one you find in a dictionary. The connotation, however, refers to the suggested meaning, including associations and emotional implications. Both “scrawny” and “slender” have similar denotations, but “scrawny” sounds inferior or sickly, while “slender” evokes a more graceful or positive image. Understanding the connotations of words can enhance description, meaning, and tone. Neglecting a word’s connotations can put your word choice in conflict with your intentions. Let’s say I’m writing a scene about a young woman who has just arrived in Paris, a trip she’s eagerly anticipated as her first solo adventure. At the airport, she finds a taxi: She heaved her luggage into the trunk. The word “luggage” implies she’s weighted down and “heaved” suggests effort. This moment seems more burdensome than what I intended for this young traveler. Here’s a revision: She swung her pack into the trunk. The moment feels lighter and more energetic, which is more appropriate for the start of this exciting trip. And the shift in meaning is accomplished with attention to connotation.

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Modulate Suspense In Ordinary Menacing

Building suspense takes time. The reader will lose interest if all you do is pile on descriptive paragraph after descriptive paragraph, no matter how much menace there is in your descriptions. Break the tension by having something happen that advances the plot or provides a moment of comic relief. There are many ways to insert a pause into suspense. The telephone rings. One of the characters cracks a joke (in real life, we all use humor to get through tense times). Or, reveal something that seemed menacing to be ordinary: A scary shape turns out to be the shadow of a moonlit tree; a hand placed on your protagonist’s shoulder turns out to be his best buddy, come to help; boot heels stomping across a deserted parking lot turn out to belong to a man carrying a child on his shoulders. For example, that excerpted scene from Amnesia continues for four pages as Peter and Annie circle to the back of the house and check out the yard. They find a boat and a sodden hooded sweatshirt, both of which advance the plot. The innocuous pussycat provides a momentary release, a false payoff. The reader thinks phew, and relaxes. Use this technique of...

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Features Of Effective Writing

Focus is the topic/subject established by the writer in response to the writing task. The writer must clearly establish a focus as he/she fulfills the assignment of the prompt. If the writer retreats from the subject matter presented in the prompt or addresses it too broadly, the focus is weakened. The writer may effectively use an inductive organizational plan which does not actually identify the subject matter at the beginning and may not literally identify the subject matter at all. The presence, therefore, of a focus must be determined in light of the method of development chosen by the writer. If the reader is confused about the subject matter, the writer has not effectively established a focus. If the reader is engaged and not confused, the writer probably has been effective in establishing a focus. Organization is the progression, relatedness, and completeness of ideas. The writer establishes for the reader a well-organized composition, which exhibits a constancy of purpose through the development of elements forming an effective beginning, middle, and end. The response demonstrates a clear progression of related ideas and/or events and is unified and complete. Support and Elaboration is the extension and development of the topic/subject. The writer provides sufficient...

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Prose In Its Ordinary Form

The Latin word root means “straightforward,” and teaching narrative prose is the natural follow-up to teaching how to write a paragraph. Once your home school child masters the basic paragraph, you can teach him how to string them all together into one cohesive fiction short story, novella, or novel, as well as the nonfiction essay, research paper, or news article. One of the major goals of classical education at home is to raise critical thinkers who can write compelling narratives using expository and persuasive techniques, regardless of whether the prose is fiction or nonfiction in nature. Expository writing exposes or explains something or an idea using how-to steps or descriptions and is meant to inform or teach. Persuasive narrative usually includes arguments, backed by hard and implied evidence to support the logical, emotional, and ethical appeals; the purpose of persuasive writing is to move the audience from the current understanding to a new reality. In order to write narrative prose, your home school child needs to learn how to come up with related ideas, a technique known in classical rhetoric as invention. Then he organizes or puts these ideas together in a line of rational thought. For creative writing like the short...

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