Writing a Pitch

Those of you planning to enter the Amazon/Penguin Fiction Contest have probably written your pitch by now. Every novelist, sooner or later, must give some thought to “the pitch.” Like a synopsis a pitch must present–in a short space if written, in a few minutes if spoken–an overall description of the novel: main character/s, main … Read more

“Before” and “Ago”

I came across the following sentence in a writer’s movie synopsis: [a man] passes away and bequeaths his shack on the island to a woman, a young girl that he met many years ago when he was in a prisoner of war hospital. The word that jars is ago where before is called for. before … Read more

How Long Should a Synopsis Be?

Say that your query letter has piqued the interest of an agent. She wants to see a synopsis, but doesn’t specify how long it should be. How do you decide? (For some reason you can’t just phone her and ask.) You can search the web for a nice simple answer. You’ll get answers, but none … Read more

Interview with Rushang Shah, Founder of Gramlee

If you have not noticed yet, Gramlee is one of the newest sponsors of Daily Writing Tips. When they contacted me a while ago I was glad to accept them aboard, mainly because I think that they provide a useful service for both individuals and companies that want to make sure their text pieces are … Read more

What’s the Difference Between a Speech and an Address?

Nabil Bayouk asks: What is the difference between speech and address (noun) Used as a noun, address is not the first word one would choose in ordinary circumstances. The more common choice is speech: The candidate gave a speech. The principal’s speech went on too long. I’ve been asked to give a speech to the … Read more

Short Story Competition 2: Third Round is Open for Voting

A couple of people were already sending us emails asking where the third round was. Well, here it is! As an administrative note, expect the rounds to go live at around this time on Mondays. Early in the day we already the normal post from Maeve, so I figured that spacing it a bit couldn’t … Read more

What’s Your Style?

A writer’s style is the sum of sentence structure, sentence length, vocabulary, literary or cultural allusions, and world view. We all strive to create a style that will result in a distinctive “voice” that will distinguish our writing from that of others. Some writers have succeeded so well in creating that distinctive voice that adjectives … Read more

The Chief Justice’s Prepositional Slip

Most of the comments about the Chief Justice’s verbal stumble while administering the Presidential oath focus on the adverb “faithfully.” Not many pundits talk about the changing of “of” to “to” in the phrase President of the United States. Here’s the Presidential oath as prescribed by law: I, (So and So), do solemnly swear (or … Read more

Making Sense of “Since”

Sometimes a word that is clear in one context, may create ambiguity in another. Consider the following excerpt from a professional newspaper review of Hotel for Dogs. The story follows 16-year-old Andi (Emma Roberts) and her 11-year-old brother Bruce (Jake T. Austin) who, since the death of their parents, have lived in five foster homes … Read more

Body Parts as Tools of Measurement

An online writer relating the history of luggage tells how in the old days, holiday makers didn’t try to manage with a mere suitcase when they went to the seaside for a week or so. They took the same kind of large trunks they would use if they were going on a long voyage: …after … Read more

Reflections on “Versus”

The following sentence from an editorial about a money-saving measure taken by our local county government caught my eye: It’s about cost-effective verses cheap. The misspelling of versus was the eye magnet, but then I started thinking about the use of the word itself. I don’t hear the word versus or see it written out … Read more

Dealing With A Character’s Internal Thoughts

Suzanne Ouimet writes: I have written several books which are ‘dialogue driven’. What I am wondering is how to express my characters’ thoughts. It gets a bit tiresome to keep saying something like ‘he thought to himself’. (who else would he be talking to anyway?) I have also tried putting the character’s thoughts in italics … Read more