4. What we were taught as children…
What to forget What to remember
Loading your Proper sentence
paragraphs with detail structure.
is the key to good The basics of
That you must always
All the books, from
do your very best. the classics to
That proper spelling is everything else you
Endless vocabulary Assessing
lists. literature, which
Click on the arrows to proceed to the slide on each
hopefully you did a lot
5. Click to return
A kitchen is a kitchen.
Starting probably around the sixth grade, you were (probably) told that description is
what makes writing good. To show, and not to tell.
While showing and not telling is, and always will be a primary trait to good writing –
heaping on endless amounts of detail actually is not.
Eventually, stretching out the description of something gets dull. Your goal as a writer
is to avoid lulls.
Which is better?
“John entered the kitchen, and instantly was bathed in an ocean of sounds and
smells, each new wave bringing a flurry of excitement. (or)
John entered the kitchen, it‟s walls were tiled in deep browns and speckled
white, in the center was an enormous with a deep stone basin for washing the
expensive patterned china housed in a hutch nearby.
Neither of these are bad in the least, however the second example forms a
paragraph worth of description, description that could have been better suited (and
would have turned out more exciting) if spread out over a page of exploration of the
kitchen. One makes a good opener to a new setting, one makes for a dull but very
explanatory description of it.
Description is a name-your-own-game business, certain times call for different types.
Be aware that long drawn out descriptions, while they may hit on every detail – they
give you less freedom to describe selectively and in spurts. Short and sweet is better
than long yet covering.
Use your own discretion!
6. Click to return
Doing your best
The consensus is that „doing your best‟ means pushing yourself to the
very limits of your abilities.
Doing your best needs clarification. Doing your best is pushing yourself to
the very edge of your limits, and anything beyond that is going above
Your expectation of yourself should be to do your best as a writer.
This isn‟t the same as being J.R.R Tolkien, this is being the best you can be.
Write on a level you already have a mastery over, and slowly increase
your knowledge of writing to go „up a level‟.
The worst writers are the ones who try to write on a level they cannot yet
do well on.
Push yourself to achieve new things, but don‟t try to be something you
Everything needs time, and you‟ll have less writing to be ashamed of if
you just try your best in what you know you can do well, and move up
It‟s just the base on which
Foundations are everything, don‟t ever forget that.
we Work our way
7. Don‟t slave over the useless to return
things. editing is
While spelling is important just in general, it‟s not a
necessity the second you write.
Really,spelling is my vassal to the real topic, and
Don‟t sweat the little things now, wait for later.
Let‟s face it, we all like to wile away our time on making
our papers looks pretty. Getting the margins
right, putting in fancy drop caps, finding perfect fonts, and
messing with margins.
put, these are all things that could be done later – and
right now your using them to avoid writing.
And since writing often will undoubtedly be the main goal
8. Click to return
Vocabulary is good.
Words that nobody has ever heard aren‟t.
Defining your audience is one of the first steps to preparing
to write. Ask yourself…
Would my audience be expected to know this word? If yes…
Am I positive I know what this word means? If yes…
Is this word really necessary? If yes…
Would any majority need to pull out a dictionary, even just to be sure? If no…
Did you craft the sentence specifically so you could showoff that you know the
word? (Be honest!) If no…
It‟s okay to use the word.
Let‟s face it, people love to use those big words. Simply
enough, sometimes sticking in the “one dollar” words is just
irritating for a reader.
Always write on a vocabulary both you and your reader should be
able to understand, while retaining your ability to be invigorating.
Never, ever craft sentences around words. Make them around lots
of things, but not specifically so you can use „ostentatiously‟.
As a note, „ostentatiously‟ means in a show off type manner, and really
isn‟t that hard of a word, but it‟s all I could think of.
9. Click to return
Fragments aren‟t sins.
But still, use them sparingly!
I need to find a new roommate. Because the one I have now isn't
working out too well.
If you can identify why the underline is a fragment, then you do not need
Learn to combine and you will be fine.
I need to find a new roommate because the one I have now isn't working
out too well.
This combines the two above sentences into one, much better sentence.
A fragment sentence isn‟t a bad thing. It‟s just a technique that you
need to use sparingly.
Understand the natural flow of a good sentence, the „read once‟ to
understand factor of good sentences.
Nhamo felt chilled by her wet dress cloth
This sentence only had to be read once to be understood, Nhamo was cold
because her clothes were wet. Were as “The wet dress cloth that chilled
Nhamo was unpleasant” is easily perceived as „backwards‟
As a general rule, giving the subject first and then the description of is usually
more effective than vice versa. Not always, but, often enough this is better.
10. A period, a comma, a question to return
mark. sure this is a
In the endless amounts of critique I have offered both
online and offline, the number one most caught issue I
find has always been grammar.
No educated person has the right to forget periods, or
The average joe can sometimes be confused about
commas, and thus this is forgiveable.
I do not teach lessons in grammar, as most simple rules
you should have learned in elementary English classes.
I can however, out of the kindness of my heart, provide you
with a lesson. http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifehack/guide-
Just as a note, I don’t agree with all of the thoughts presented on
that site – but it is a very complete guide to many facets of
11. By reading, you can write. Click to return
Because whether your getting it right or not, somebody
Published novelists, as the term „published‟
implies, clearly had something going for them.
Observe and remember books you have read, take note
of things you enjoyed about those books – and the
styles and themes presented.
Incorporate what you liked from other literature into your
own, and from now on take very careful note of how
authors construct chapters, paragraphs, and even
But that‟s like…like plagarism!
No, it‟s learning. Your not taking ideas, your not copy
and pasting anything – your noticing structures and
imitating them with words that are your own.
12. Click to return
Themes actually are important.
And just so unfortunately
In English, you probably didn‟t care.
But the themes and ideas of your writing are important. All
well written literature, from a short story to an 800 page novel
should have a theme, and you as the writer should keep that
in mind while you write.
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Suess had a theme, it was to be open
minded to new things.
Harry Potter all had a theme, it was the desperation to live
forever, and it‟s meaning.
These themes, no matter how subtle, are
subconsciously addressed by readers. Whether they
recognize them or not, any well written piece will convey
themes and meaning.
If you cannot draw a theme from something you have
13. Habits All Good Writers Develop
Some more grueling than others.
This lesson contains „extra‟ slides on each topic. Click the to move to the
14. Words are your soldiers.
Granted, you may or may not win any
Despite the fact that an endless vocabulary simply for
the sake of showing off is bad, commanding a wide army
of words to deploy in your writing is still very neccesary.
Keys to increasing your vocabulary:
Read, read, and read more. Glean words from context, and
make sure you mark them to look up later for exact
definitions. Commit to memory.
Define words you have „vague‟ understanding over so you
can use them more actively.
Actively use a thesaurus.
Don‟t let yourself go under the impression that the only
way to increase your vocabulary is to spend grueling
hours looking words up in thesauri and dictionary. You
can learn new words as you read them.
15. Writing Often
This is easily the hardest habit to obtain. Simply
enough, writing as a hobby usually falls pretty low on
our list of things to do.
Make time to write, whether it takes committing to a
longer piece or just doing a few prompts a week, pick a
time slot and a set of days.
Writing often doesn‟t mean you have to write every
single day with the drive of a bull. If you have time to
devote every day, then sure.
If you can only commit a couple hours a week, as long
as your making time to write, your are making progress
as a writer.
16. The Benefits of Writing Often
Just like an instrument, or anything else – your writing
will get better as you apply time, if the time applied is
Make the time you spend on writing worthwhile by
challenging yourself. Try writing about things you haven‟t
before, or working on something your not as good at till you
finally hit the flow.
Keep a novel you know to be well written to make references
as to how something well written should look. If your writing a
scene with lots of dialogue, because sometimes you falter
with scenes as such, look at a speech heavy page and make
mental notes as to how it sounds.
Some of my lessons sound vague when I say „just note how it‟s
written‟ – however if you actually do this, and pay close attention to
how something is well written, it is easier to imitate it.
You aren‟t referencing a page to copy what it says, your referencing
to see how something well written is.
17. Reading Often
All good writers double as avid readers.
As a student you will always be asked throughout regular
education to read at home, and to read at school. If your
schedule consists mostly of reading a particular book for a
class, be sure to also have „your‟ book. It‟s easier to be
entertained and take note of a book your interested in rather
than school assigned books.
As an adult, your on your own to make time to read as no
one is asking you to anymore. Find time before bed, while
your taking a bath, or for those who can stomach it, early
mornings before work.
If your not especially keen on picking books for yourself, find
a reading list for your age. Usually book lists just echo book
titles you‟ve been told to read a million times, but their a good
reminder of those books and genre-specific book lists are
18. The Benefits of Reading
As stated in the Vocabulary section of this unit, reading
naturally increases your vocabulary as you glean words
In case you skipped that page, although learning words from
context is convenient, if you think your definition may be
skewed or it‟s very vague in your mind, make a note to look
up certain words.
Observing good writing habits.
As I‟ve said before, published authors clearly had something
going right with their writing! Reading helps you recognize
good writing, and thus enables you to evaluate your own
Good writers can assess a novel for its strengths and
weaknesses, if you can master this skill, not only will your
19. The Harsh Art of Critique
Accepting critique and applying it to your writing Is by far
the most efficient way to make leaps and bounds in your
Do your best to find someone you know wouldn‟t sugar coat
their opinions on how well written something is.
Try to find one person who reads casually, and one person
you know specifically has the knowledge to properly critique.
Their opinions will differ between a critic, and what a regular
reader would perceive.
Don‟t make excuses for yourself.
“Well I wrote it in just five minutes, so this isn‟t my usual” is
not an acceptable excuse.
“Well it was really late!” is not an excuse for poor writing
Take critique in stride, remember it, and rewrite with
20. Everyone is a Critic
There are a few simple keys to taking critique well.
Remember that while your story may be very personal to
you, it is still just words and when someone says something
is poorly worded, it is not a personal attack on you, or your
writing. It‟s them trying to help you.
Ask yourself before you write something…
Am I prepared to have this critiqued?
Do I want this to be critiqued?
Am I putting enough effort into this piece for it to be worth a rewrite
Not everything you write needs to be read by everyone you
know, let some writing be personal, and some be public.
Always remember that when you post writing on the internet
for critique, anyone and everyone can and will critique. If you
21. Like a river
Good writers understand what it is like to read over a
sentence, and feel how it flows. Spot where sentences
become awkward or blocky, and rectify the problem.
“Maria and John played in the schoolyard then they went
back to school and then at the end of the day they came
„and then‟ will always, or almost always destroy the flow of a
sentence. It‟s like starting from the beginning of a new sentence
each time, but….well, you aren‟t!
“Maria and John played in the schoolyard, the landscape
melting into oranges for a long October. As the bell rang, they
raced to be the first back to class. After another long day of
school ended, a tired John and Maria walked home.
While these sentences aren‟t especially interesting or thought
provoking, they give the a good example of the vastly noticeable