The definition of tautology is saying the same thing twice in different words. Have you ever used the phrase “and also” in a sentence? Generally, this is a fault in style and frowned upon by writers. What about the conjunction “hadn’t?” Or even the use of introducer, “in terms of?” I’m sorry, students of law, but “irregardless, ” the paragon of legal jargon, is not a word.
There’s a list of commonly utilized words and phrases that violate stylistic conventions. Whether or not you agree with all the selections featured, staying cognizant of redundant phrasing will improve your writing.
I enjoy using music to inspire my writing. The lyrics of a song can trigger your imagination and influence the way you write in so many ways. So, the next time you sit down to write find a song listen to the rhythm and let it influence the words you place on to the paper.
In the words of Melissa Muhlenkamp, author of Writing Under The Influence (of Music), “I don’t hold back the jam. Instead, I let it guide me.”
Why don’t you also give it a try? Take the thewritepractice.com challenge, and take the next fifteen minutes to write a story based on the following song, “End Of An Era” by Zack Hemsey. When you’re finished, post your practice piece in the comments section.
Writing good content, like anything else, requires proper research, planning, and execution. A prepared writer can implement a system to prevent writer’s block. Katie’s article, “The Prepared Writer’s Process for Creating Excellent Content Every Day” published on Coppyblogger shares a few tips to help prevent writer’s block and produce new content everyday.
One useful tip I took from this article was the importance of scheduling writing time. Scheduling time to write has helped me to avoid the excuse, “I have no time to write.” Even if you don’t know what you want to write about, still schedule the extra time, because this will help you stay consistent as a writer and have extra material ready.
It is also important to have a framework, know what you want to write about everyday. But, before you start to write, take some time and outline your ideas and then begin to write. If you’re stuck and can’t write, go back and refine and edit what you have previously wrote.
Here is a bonus exercises: creativity triggers if you get stuck
If you’re having trouble getting into the writing zone, take two minutes to do one of these creativity triggers by Katie:
- Read an unrelated article that is inspiring or funny
- Stand on your head (really, it gets the blood flowing!)
- Review your cornerstone content to ensure your post aligns with your goals
As you kick back on the patio with a glass of pina colada, and finally dedicate time to that novel you’ve been dying to finish, remember that a character’s role in storytelling is essential and must have a sense of agency. What is agency? Terribleminds breaks it down. Agency demonstrates the ability to make decisions that affect the story. A character’s agency pushes, creates and changes the plot. The characters contribute to the existence of the story, and the audience then connects with characters based on empathy, sympathy, and pathos; therefore, one of the most basic and fundamental aspects of creating a character is making them feel and seem human.
“Studies suggest that literally everything causes cancer”
“Are bagels killing your kids?”
“Brain scans reveal that tiny demons are to blame for ADHD”
Everyone wants to write a good headline. A catchy headline drives clicks, ad views, and thus revenue and recognition for the writer. And nothing catches the eye like a well placed scare tactic or hyperbolic generalization. But when it comes to science journalism, misleading writing can be more than a faux-pas; it can be downright dangerous. Miscommunications can propagate quickly, and it can be hard to bring people back around once they get an idea stuck in their head.
Journalists face a tough situation. As a non-expert, it can be hard to accurately understand what is happening in a scientific study. On top of that, results that sound promising at first can turn out to be rather unsensational when studied with a fair, rational eye. But writers have a responsibility to convey this information with accuracy and as little bias as possible. For this, compoundchem.com has created an infographic outlining some of the pitfalls commonly seen in science writing. It’s a great resource for both science writers and science readers alike. Some of these pitfalls are already well-known even among laymen, like the correlation/causation trap, but even if everyone knows of the pirates/global warming fable, it is an easy trap to fall into. Others are more obscure, or harder to avoid when reading casually – how can you tell if results are misinterpreted? Where do you look to find information about sample size? Nonetheless, it’s a writers job to find this information and relay it to the best of their ability.
While you can’t change the way we write and read about science single handedly, just changing your own habits can be a great first step. As a reader, try and keep a healthy balance of skepticism and curiosity, and try to check original sources when possible. As a writer, make sure you follow through on research and value accuracy the same way you value every other part of your writing process. Conscientious readers and writers make the world a better, more informed place.
Terribleminds shares a writing exercise that can improve your writing, which is to take one thing and describe it ten different ways. Try it out. Pick a thing.
Here are the rules:
Focus on it and describe it multiple ways. Ten, as noted.
Each no more than a sentence of description.
(Feel free to choose a real world thing. Say, a lamp in your corner, or the flu you had last week.)
Differ your approaches in how you describe this thing.
Try pinballing from abstraction to factual — from metaphorical to forthright.
Here’s what I came up with:
After sitting in the car for ten hours, I was tired of traveling. My butt was worn-out from French kissing the seat. My neck was stiff like a pole. Like a baby with a wet diaper I was. Like an old and dusty bookshelf I felt. Frustrated and ready to stretch my legs. Connected like a group of organic compounds, waiting for H2O to break the bond.
Now you try!
The goal here is just to flex our descriptive muscles a bit.
I could start this by stating that Twitter is an incredible micro-blogging site that has revolutionized social networks and connected the world in a global conversation like never before – but I’d be stating the obvious. The truth is, Twitter is one weird place. Sure, it’s just one of the more popular corners of the Internet to hang out, but, not doubt, it inspires some odd behavior. Round up all the humans with internet access, give them 140 characters to state their opinions and the ability to read and respond to almost anybody else’s opinion, and we’ve got ourselves a straight up verbal rampage on our hands. Should be fun.
Let’s look back on the most popular Twitter trends of 2013. There are the more well known entities that you couldn’t escape if you tried such as Horse ebooks or Doge. (So done, much annoying.) And then there are the obscure such as Twitter canoes or subtweeting (The overuse of mentions and the blatant disregard of them so people don’t know they’re being talked about.). Some of these may not have reached you in your corner of the Twitter-verse because – let’s face it – Twitter is huge and some conversations don’t quite circulate far enough. One thing’s for sure: there’s no end to these trends. As long as Twitter lives, grows, and changes, so will its users and the rhetoric they use. Check out NYMag’s 2013 Twitter Glossary for more trends.