Vertical and Vertiginous

A steep climb up a mountain is sometimes described as “vertiginous”, as in the following quotation from a description of a hike up the Inca Trail: You have time to make the vertiginous climb to its summit for dramatic views of the city spread out below. You might be excused for thinking that “vertiginous” is … Read more

One Sheep, Two Sheep, One Fish, Two Fish . . .

What do a sheep, a cannon and an aircraft have in common? The answer is that they all – usually – use the same word whether they are in the singular or the plural. If you have one sheep and then you acquire a second sheep, you now have two sheep, not two “sheeps”.  Other … Read more

One Fell Swoop

It’s quite common for people to use the phrase “one fowl swoop” (or even “one foul swoop”) when they want to convey the idea of an event taking place all at once and very suddenly. But why do we say this? Is the phrase something to do with birds swooping to the ground in a … Read more


A couple of previous Daily Writing Tips posts looked at when to use rhyme in poetry and also at the various types of rhyme available to the poet. Rhyme, however, is only one of the techniques employed in poetry to make its language special. Another basic one is alliteration. Alliteration is defined by the Compact … Read more

Four “Censor” Words to Keep Straight

Don’t mix up censor, censure, sensor and censer.  These four words sound very similar when spoken, making them easy to mix up. Censor and censure, particularly, are often muddled as they are related words coming from the same Latin root. However, they do have distinct meanings and you should be aware of what the differences … Read more

100% Will Suffice

It’s quite common to read of people – particularly sportsmen and performers – promising to “give 110%” effort. England cricketer Andrew Flintoff, for example, once promised to give “110% in every game” he played. Of course, to do so would be impossible. When something is finite, 100% means all of it. You can’t give more … Read more

40 Twitter Hashtags for Writers

If you use Twitter, you’re probably already familiar with the idea of hashtags. These are simply a way of categorizing particular tweets by including within them a keyword prefixed with the hash or “pound” (#) symbol. So, for example, tweets containing writing advice will often contain the “#writetip” tag. The point of this is to … Read more

Twitter Fiction. Really!

The Twitter microblogging/social networking site is an invaluable resource for writers. It can, for example, provide a stream of links to useful web pages or it can enable writers to keep in touch with editors, publishers or other writers.  You may not know, however, that Twitter can also be used to publish fiction directly. This … Read more

Types of Rhyme

The poet who wishes to write a rhyming poem has several different sorts of rhyme from which to choose. Some are strong, some more subtle, and all can be employed as the poet sees fit. The following are some of the main types : 
  End Rhymes Rhyming of the final words of lines in a … Read more

When Should Poetry Rhyme?

Not all poetry rhymes. It’s common to hear readers criticize poems that don’t rhyme, suggesting, perhaps, that the poets concerned were insufficiently skilled. But a great deal of poetry in the English language doesn’t employ rhyme. Blank verse, for example – by definition unrhymed – was a form of poetry often favoured by Milton, Shakespeare, … Read more

Don’t Begin at the Beginning

If you’re a fiction writer, you’ll be aware of the need to grab a reader’s attention as early as possible; to hook them, preferably, on your very first page. One key technique for doing this is to start your story in medias res.  The Latin expression in medias res means “into the midst of things”. … Read more

PIN Number

To keep your writing as clear and concise as possible, you should generally try to remove unnecessary words. Sometimes duplication is fine – for artistic effect, for example – but as a general rule, it’s best to say things in as few words as possible.  Unnecessary words often creep in when using acronyms. Acronyms are … Read more