I just walk past like:
Anonymous asked: Can you please explain to people the need for word variation. I can’t stand it when the same word (such as the word numerous) is used ten times in a chapter. Change it up, don’t use the same words all the time unless it is used for emphasis or a way to embody a trait in your character somehow
It’s personal writing style to use some words more than others, but the Anon has a point. There’s good repetition, and there’s bad repetition. Changing up your word choice doesn’t mean you have to resort to some highly eloquent speech or anything. In fact, you should NEVER raid the thesaurus just for the sake of mixing it up.
There’s no rule for word variation. There’s no “you can only use the same word once every 500 words” or something. It’s something you want to be aware of, but if your character is more likely to say “like” instead of “such as,” it’s not bad writing to have them say “like” 90% of the time. That allows your narrator to have their own voice and their own preferred word bank. As such, I’d be more concerned about a lack of word variation in a small excerpt of text (like a paragraph or a page) as opposed to larger chunks like chapters or the book as a whole.
It’s an art, because while you don’t want to lean into bad repetition, you also don’t want to make things so complicated that you’ve lost your reader. You don’t want to jump through hoops to avoid repeating yourself. An example of this would be a word like “door,” where there really aren’t any synonyms for it. I mean, technically there are, like “portal” or “entry” or “ingress” or something, but I mean, if you’re just talking about the door to a bedroom, any of those words are highly inappropriate. A door can just be a door. It’s a matter of fancy footwork to keep things from dragging.
With a deep draw of breath, I stepped towards the door. This time I’d do it. I’d knock and I wouldn’t leave until she opened the door. Each step was firm with confidence, and far too soon, I stood in front of her door. I set my shoulders and raised my hand to knock. The proximity to her door almost made me turn away, but I was already decided. I knocked.
After a pause, the door opened on silent hinges.
With a deep draw of breath, I stepped towards her room. This time I’d do it. I’d knock and I wouldn’t leave until she let me in. Each step was firm with confidence, and far too soon, I stood in front of her door. I set my shoulders and raised my hand to knock. The proximity to the painted wood that hid my sister from the world almost made me turn away, but I was already decided. I knocked.
After a pause, the door opened on silent hinges.
If you’re worried about word variation, here are some things you can do to catch yourself:
- Try rewording your sentence. Even if you use the same word, if it’s used in a different spot in the sentence it’s not as annoying. If you start every sentence with “The door” then your lack of word variation is all the more glaringly obvious, since it’s also paired with a lack of sentence variation.
- Think of another way to say it, even if it’s not necessarily a synonym. In my example, I substituted “door” with “painted wood.” Not all painted wood is a door, but since the door was already mentioned, I can trust my reader to know what I’m talking about.
- Read it out loud. I know like, every writing advice thing says this and no one actually does it, but seriously. You will catch so much. Awkward sentences, missed words, inorganic dialogue. Plus if you’re alone and you don’t have to worry about listening in, you can get into it and give your characters all a different voice and call yourself a dork.
- Don’t raid the thesaurus. Please don’t. Please, please. For fun, I’m going to replace every usage of “door” with the order they’re listed for Word’s thesaurus. Granted, the differences between these synonyms for “door” should be more obvious than other words with more meanings, but any improper thesaurus raiding basically reads like the equivalent of this:
With a deep draw of breath, I stepped towards the entrance. This time I’d do it. I’d knock and I wouldn’t leave until she opened the gate. Each step was firm with confidence, and far too soon, I stood in front of her entry. I set my shoulders and raised my hand to knock. The proximity to her exit almost made me turn away, but I was already decided. I knocked.
After a pause, the access opened on silent hinges.
As you can see, it doesn’t make sense in some places, and maybe gives a weirdly sexual connotation in another. Definitely not the mood we’re aiming for.
If you’re not aware of which words you might be over using, here’s a handy dandy word counter thing for you! Simply paste in a chapter or however much, and it’ll tell you how many times you use certain words. Please be smart when using this. Obv you’re going to have a billion uses of “the” and “a” and stuff, so don’t go through trying to varying up your transitional and prepositional words. If you are using the same word (not including every “and” and “but”, like I said) maybe 10+ times in the same chapter, go through each instance and see if there’s a better way to say it, at least for a few of them. You can use the thesaurus. In fact, thesauruses are awesome. But be deliberate with which word you choose as your replacement. Make sure the connotation and the meaning fit up with what you’re going for.
And yes, the example was kind of sort of inspired by Frozen.—EAdding on:myriai said: Another thought, could you just replace the word “door” with it in some of the paragraph? “With a deep draw of breath, I stepped towards the door. This time I’d do it. I’d knock and I wouldn’t until she opened it…” Just a thought ^^;Ah, yes, I should have mentioned that! “It” is an easy replacement for any noun, and even though you don’t want to solely rely on it to avoid repetition, it can be used more often in a short time than the noun itself. Of course, “it” only works when replacing nouns. The same goes for using “he” or “she” instead of a character’s name. As far as mixing up adjectives, verbs, adverbs, etc, it’s not as easy of a fix.
Now that I’m floating high enough to see airplanes in my ego balloon, I think I can offer some advice. When it comes to the job market these days, it takes a lot hard work, some skill and a pinch of luck (or a lot of luck, depending on your perspective) in order to find something you can both support yourself with and be happy doing.
With that in mind, I’ve managed to compile a helpful list of:
(and jobs for people wondering what the hell they’re going to do with an English degree)
Author – I’m starting here since this seems to be the dream job of almost everyone who wants to write. Authors spend their lives crafting stories with the goal of being published in book form and hopefully making enough money to live on. Some authors become best sellers, but don’t count on this. As an author, you’re probably going to also have to get a day job to support yourself. Don’t believe me? Here’s an HP article on 11 authors you know who also had day jobs.
Publishing – You can get a job at a publishing house doing many different things. There are several editorial positions you can get, you can work in book promotions, electronic publishing or even as a researcher. These jobs are available at large and independent publishing houses.
Critic – Do you have a good critical eye? Are you able to pick apart a work and convey your ideas in an interesting manner? Do you have a unique voice? Well then, this job may be for you! Critics review published works like books, movies and plays for Internet based news companies or traditionally published papers or magazines.
Ghostwriter – If you don’t mind writing another person’s ideas and handing over authorship credit to that person, then this might be a suitable position for you. Ghostwriters are used most commonly by authors to mass produce material in order to turn a profit. James Patterson uses ghostwriters frequently in his novels.
Marketing – Since writers possess great communication skills, they are often utilized in marketing and advertising fields. Some are in charge of marketing campaigns for various products and may have to work in a collaborative setting. You may get a jobs as a copywriter in this field, preparing product descriptions for print in magazines, brochures and online publications.
Columnist/Journalist – Anyone who likes to write articles and is interested in journalism would like this job. You can write articles for various news publications. Generally, people in this field will set up and engage in interviews with people for their articles. There is also a lot of research involved depending on what you’re writing about.
Grant Writer – With this job, you are in charge of researching and responding to grant opportunities for an organization. There is a strict set of guidelines to follow when constructing a grant.
English Teacher – If you have the schooling (most teachers need a Masters Degree these days) and like interacting with kids or young adults, then this might be for you. With this job, you’re interacting with students on a daily basis to provide them a strong foundation in writing and literature. This job usually carries over beyond the normal 9-5 schedule as you have to grade assignments and craft lesson plans.
Screen Writer – You can work on your own independent films or write for the entertainment industry, usually movies or TV shows. This is a difficult industry to break into and involves working from the ground up. The process may be expedited with the right connections.
Comics Writer – If you enjoy writing and collaborating with an artist (or team of artists) then you may enjoy this job. You can write comics for the major companies, like Marvel, DC or Dark Horse, but this is generally difficult to do. You can also write your own project, publishing in an online format and peddling your work at conventions. Some comics published in this manner have become very popular (Penny Arcade for instance) and generally make their money off of advertising and merchandise.
Editor – There are tons of different types of editing. The major ones are copy editing and developmental editing. A copy editor generally works on a grammar and structure level, preparing texts for publication. A developmental editor makes substantive changes to a work, often reorganizing, rewriting or removing entire sections of a work.
Literary Agent – You slog through piles of manuscripts, hoping to find one worth your time. Once you do, it’s your job to represent the author and try to sell their manuscript to publishing houses. You’re often involved in editing the manuscript and are the author’s window into the publishing world.
Agent’s Assistant – There are some agents who are fortunate enough to have people that read manuscripts for them and present them with ones that might be worth using. With this job, your goal is to find the next diamond in the rough.
Public Relations Writer – Your job is to write materials in order to promote the goals and image of a company or an individual.
Writing Tutor – There are some companies who hire tutors to help their employees learn how to write and communicate better. There are tutoring agencies and even websites (wyzant.com) where you can set yourself up and advertise your services to people in your area.
Translator – If you happen to be fluent in a foreign language, you can get a job translating documents into that language or into English. Translators are often used by publishing houses for international editions of books.
Speech Writer – Are you a fan of politics? If you are, you can get a job writing speeches for various political figures at the local, state and federal levels.
Freelance Writer – You can do a lot of the jobs listed above on your own time. You set your own schedule and your own workload, but the issue is that you won’t always have constant work, which means a sometimes spotty paycheck. You hunt down publications or individuals looking for writers and are often paid for an article or a project. You can both write and edit as a freelance employee.
There are other jobs out there than the ones listed here. Once you find one that interests you, look up what it takes to get into that field and start working towards it. :)
Letter to an Unknown Soldier is creating a digital memorial for WWI by asking people to submit letters to the unknown soldier at Paddington Station.
Deadline is August 4.
In a year jammed-full of WW1 commemoration our project invites everyone to step back from the public ceremonies and take a few private moments to think.
If you were able to send a personal message to this soldier, a man who served and was killed during World War One, what would you write?
The response to this project has been extraordinary. Over 10,000 people have sent letters so far – and all sorts of people: schoolchildren, authors (including Stephen Fry, Malorie Blackman, and Andrew Motion), nurses, serving members of the forces and even the Prime Minister. If you write to the soldier, your letter will be published alongside theirs.
The website will remain open until 11 p.m. on the night of 4 August 2014.
Between now and then every letter that the soldier receives will be published and made available for everyone to read. Eventually all of the letters will be archived in the British Library where they will remain permanently accessible online.
Your letter will help us create a new kind of war memorial – one made entirely of words, and by everyone.
I’m often asked how to come up with ideas, so I thought I’d give you a few ways to hopefully jump-start ideas on your end. Putting yourself in certain situations can get you in a more creative mindset, so be aware of your surroundings and what’s happening around you whenever possible.
Here are a few ways to come up with creative ideas on daily basis:
Listen to the people around you
There’s no better way to generate ideas than to listen to the people around you. People say some interesting things if you stay open to it. Ideas are guaranteed to formulate if you listen to what’s happening around you.
Tune into talk radio
Talk radio will help give you some ideas regarding how people communicate with each other and how people argue about things. Think about how people would talk about things in your world and what forums would be available for discussions.
Watch your favorite movie
Try to focus on why your favorite movie is your favorite. What gets you excited about it? Once you figure out those things, you should be able to realize what you want your book to be like. Harness what motivates you.
Write a scene between two characters
Consider writing a scene between two characters you like. Use your own characters or your favorite fictional characters. Put them in a situation they wouldn’t normally be in.
Take a walk
Allowing yourself some fresh air sometimes helps you get creative. If you’re stuck in one place all day, try to get out for a little while. Changing your environment can help generate ideas.
Use Google Maps
If locations tend to inspire you, use Google Maps to zoom in on places you’re interested in. Being able to see a place you intend to write about can make a huge difference. It will also help you see things in a different way.
Search for new music
Music often helps inspire writers, so take some time to download something new. Turn on Pandora or Spotify and keep your ears open for something that inspires you.
List your favorite characters
Pinpointing exactly what makes a character interesting to you can help you build your own characters. Take some time to list a few of your favorite characters and see what they have in common. Use these ideas to structure a character of your own.
A step away from the more common “limited” viewpoint, omniscience places the narrator in a position of all-knowing and all-seeing power. The narration can easily jump from MC Martha to Love Interest Lucy to George the Cashier, within the same chapter and often without page breaks. As readers, we can effectively see things from the point of best perspective or the point of best action, even if the best perspective is a bird flying overhead or Generic Soldier #1. Not every character will get a complete arc, but each head you get inside should still have a distinctive personality. It’s a hard line to balance, since you’ve got the narrative voice on top of a unique character voice. It’s not difficult to give a unique voice to your main characters, but not every generic onlooker should sound the same, either.
The perspective allows you to follow the action. If Martha gets knocked out, instead of time jumping to when she wakes up, you can shift into Lucy’s head for a bit. You’re not even limited to the main characters—you can easily get into the villain’s head and let us know what they have planned. This can, however, make it hard to give a good plot twist. This will usually shift your story’s focus to not be on the twist itself, but how they deal with the results.
The narrator might foreshadow upcoming events, either of importance or not. It adds a level of dramatic irony (where you know more than the characters). And really, be careful just to hint. The narrator might already know how things end, but you don’t want to give things away if it’s important.
Often the narrator has its own voice. Many times when I see 3rd person omniscient narrators, they use their all-seeing powers to pop into the heads of random characters as an opportunity for comic relief. They might make fun of characters, or offer their own opinions on the events. The characters have no idea that this all-seeing narrator is following their thoughts and actions, so again, dramatic irony.
The perspective allows characters to inspect each other, which makes relationships and possible relationships less suspenseful. Instead of being stuck in Martha’s head the entire time, wondering if Lucy likes her or not, the narrator can very easily switch to Lucy and give an insight about her feelings towards Martha. 3rd person omniscient is very common in romance novels for this reason. It ups the tension knowing they both like each other, but neither will admit it. The tension comes in their personal struggle to act or not act on their desires.
Examples of sentences you might read in third person omniscient:
A woman across the street saw the teenager disappear into the wormhole, but paused only a minute. She blinked. A trick of the eyes, she decided. Besides, she was already late for work.
Grug the goblin scurried away to do his master’s command, pleased that his expertise would finally be recognized. He’d get a promotion for this—all he had to do was kill some overrated girl with a sword. But Grug had a lot to learn about girls with swords.
Genres typically told in this tense:
- High Fantasy, especially when there is an emphasis on fight scenes. Each fighter can react and size up the other’s movements, and appreciate each other’s skills. (The Legend of Drizzt series by RA Salvatore)
- Romance. Like stated before, there’s tension in knowing what each side wants, and then knowing why they won’t act on it. Plus, romances generally cater towards a female audience. This POV allows readers into the more familiar woman’s perspective as well as the man’s romantic thoughts towards her. You can read all the romantic things your man never says out loud, but still thinks about!
- Anything can be told in this POV, but make sure there’s a reason for it. Since the default storytelling mode is 3rd person limited, there should be purpose in straying from that.
If you want to write in this perspective, read plenty of books written in it. Here are a handful of book recommendations in 3rd person omniscient to get your started: Downsiders by Neal Shusterman, Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, The Legend of Drizzt series by RA Salvatore. The first two link to book reviews with a creative writing analysis, both of which talk more about the narrative voice and ways to successfully implement a 3rd person omniscient narrative.
It was a submission, not from us. We do do edits every so often over our email account, but recently I am not too sure how active we are on that.
For those who want a fresh of pair eyes, the submitter’s blog (apoetsjargon) is HERE.
It’s about 5% marketing, 60% hard work and dedication to your craft, and 35% luck.*
*percentages not guaranteed accurate
Like any arts-oriented craft, so much of success as a writer, especially a high-profile one, comes from having the right project at the right time in the hands of the right people — and then trusting the marketing and the public to like the finished product well enough to buy it, promote it to their friends, and ask for more.
And thank you for the kind words :)
I feel like I’m self-advertising, but I also feel strongly that this could benefit some of the writers here. I am interested in reading works that need a second opinion or just a fresh pair of eyes. I’m willing to make editing suggestions if you so desire as well. You can send or share anything with me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org, note the two “r”s). Also, for anyone concerned about copyright issues, I wouldn’t dream of stealing someone else’s work, since I’m a writer myself, but if you are really concerned, you can email yourself a copy and the time-stamp would hold in a court of law.
I know there are a lot of times I could really use a second opinion and I’m interested in helping you guys out and reading something new. I’d really appreciate the opportunity! :)
Use what makes sense in the context of your story and/or coming from your characters. When it comes to body parts with multiple possible terms, try to focus on what word best serves the story, narration, and/or your characters, not what you personally think of the terminology.
Hope this helps!
OK, first things first: if you’re writing, you’re not a wannabe writer. You are a writer. Own it. Embrace it. And don’t get down on yourself for needing motivation as someone who’s a new writer. As time goes on you will need to commit yourself to a more disciplined structure if you want to continue writing seriously, but when you’re starting out you shouldn’t feel bad for needing some encouraging motivation.
As for encouraging motivations, here’s a link with several resources to be motivated positively. Also, if you’re looking for productive motivation, try out written kitten. You set a word count, and whenever you reach that count, you get a picture of an adorable kitten as a reward.
Hope this helps!
Are some things that you followers would like to see?