The Art of Storytelling and Captivating Readers through Effective Writing Techniques

Storytelling is an art form as old as language itself. Every culture, every civilization, has its unique approaches to narrating stories and engaging the reader. Storytelling is directly linked to the way we perceive reality, and by learning how to captivate our readers through powerful narrative techniques, we take them on an unforgettable journey.  Storytelling … Read more

Writing for Your Audience

I’m an editor and moderator at Toasted Cheese, a literary magazine and writing community. Recently, one of our members posted a question that I thought was worth addressing here. He’d turned in a college paper, and his professor told him he needed to “create more distance from the reader.” It all comes down, I think, … Read more

Learning From Poetry

No matter what kind of writing you do, reading poetry can be a great way to improve your writing skills. The principles of poetry can be applied to nearly every kind of writing you do. Let’s take a look at what we can learn from poetry. 1. Poetry teaches word economy. In a poem, not … Read more

Passive vs. Active Voice

English teachers like myself love to warn new writers against the evils of passive voice. Here at Daily Writing Tips, Michael has written about passive writing, and I recently wrote about dummy subjects, but it looks like there’s still some confusion about passive voice and its use. For more on passive vs. active sentence construction, … Read more

The Dummy Subject

Writers, especially beginning writers, are often cautioned against using passive voice in their writing because its use slows down the pace. Another construction that can make your writing plod is the dummy subject. When we use the words it and there to begin a sentence without a referent (a noun the pronoun is referring to), … Read more

Punctuation Errors: Quotation Marks for Emphasis

Last month, Daniel covered some of the basic rules for using quotation marks. I’d like to point out one of the most common misuses of this piece of punctuation: the quotation mark for emphasis. As Daniel’s post pointed out, quotation marks can be used to express irony, as in the sentence: Uncle Joe was really … Read more

Point of View: Following the Rules

I just finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final installment in J.K. Rowling’s series. I adored it, but as with any popular media, some people were less than pleased with the way the story played out. One of the complaints that I take issue with is this: a fair number of readers … Read more

Then or Than?

Many people confuse the words then and than. They’re separated by just one little letter, and lots of people even pronounce them nearly the same way. Then (rhymes with Jen) is a word that’s used to mark time, or show a sequence of events. For example: First, preheat the oven to 325. Then, grease a … Read more

Ready, Set, Write!

One of the biggest problems people have with writing is getting started. A blank page (or computer screen) can be intimidating, but prewriting is a great way to overcome that intimidation. Here are some prewriting activities to help get the words flowing out of your brain and onto the page: Listing: Listing is one of … Read more

Dialogue Dos and Don’ts

In the post Show, Don’t Tell, I mentioned dialogue as one of the ways you can “show” your reader what’s happening in a scene. Effective dialogue is an essential part of both fiction and creative nonfiction writing.

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Introducing the Comma

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Commas are a tricky little piece of punctuation, and they give many people headaches. In my students’ essays, I frequently see commas where they don’t belong, and I see necessary commas left out. I make it one of my goals to help demystify the comma for my students.

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Beware the shifting tense

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Many writers, students and professionals alike, struggle with the problem of tense shifting. Your writing will be easier to follow if you’re sure to keep your tense consistent.

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