Creative Writing

We found 32 articles

Good writers start as good readers
Writing is a conversation. Whether you anticipate your audience to be a friend, a panel of scientists, a room full of legislators, the owner of a pizza shop, the divine universe, or oneself, to write is to put forth one’s wish to be heard. By extension, to read is to be in the position of the listener. Just as we learn to speak and to express ...
Where ideas come from
A lot of people who sit down to write a story are worried they don’t have any ideas. They think people who do have ideas are very special, or different in some way to people who don’t. It’s for this reason that authors are so often asked where they get their ideas from. The people asking think that the author will reveal the magical secret of ...
What makes a good descriptor?
Cliche is natural; originality, not so much. Pre-packaged phrases like “bring to the table,” “at the end of the day,” or “read between the lines” are overused and now lack their meaning, becoming a kind of automatic thinking, according to George Orwell. But why? Because triggering automatic thinking in a listener is helpful to a speaker if he or ...
Sentence structure tips from William Shakespeare
Good writers always plant important words in strong positions. 
Middle School Writers’ Workshop: Understanding Characterization
Have you ever read a book where you feel like you really know the characters? You understand their dreams and relate to their failures, you can see yourself making similar decisions, and maybe they even remind you of someone you know. Rich, fully-developed characters are what separate good books from great books. It is the characters who feel like ...
How to revise your work
Before anything else, congratulate yourself. You wrote something! That’s huge! Writing is hard. Having something is so much better than having nothing. Something can be revised. And revising can be a lot of fun, as long as you have the right support. Here are some tools to help you navigate the revision process:
How to write more clearly in six steps
Whether you’re writing a medical school admissions essay, a high school book report, a college research paper, or a personal statement for graduate school, clarity is key. But writing clearly is trickier than it looks. In my ten years of experience as a writing teacher and tutor, I’ve found that there are a few steps that students can take to more ...
Revising - Demystified
“There is no such thing as good writing. There is only good rewriting”
Editing for parallelism: one writing lesson from the shortest literary form
When I teach my students to become their own editors, I often tell them to be on the lookout for opportunities to use parallelism. Parallelism is the repetition of the same grammatical structure in successive parts of a sentence. (Grammatical structure is just a fancy way of saying some combination of nouns, verbs, and other parts of speech.)
Tone and mood
When attempting an analysis of a text for the IBDP English course, some of the advanced features that students have to understand concern tone and mood. It is customary to associate tone with dialogue and speech, and mood with the setting of novels. However, tone and mood are not just features of fiction and can also be found in non-fictional ...
How to Craft a Successful Curriculum Vitae
Like a firm handshake or a greeting, a CV can oftentimes serve as a first impression – a way for prospective employer to get a sense of you at a glance. CVs oftentimes are gatekeepers for an interview, and as such, are extremely important. It is worth it to take some time to think critically about your CV’s structure and content. Read the ...
Two common grammatical mistakes to avoid in polished writing
There are no hard and fast rules in writing. But even if an experimental poet or an avant-garde novelist has dispensed with capitalization or written an entire novel without the letter E (yes, a novel like this really exists!), this does not mean that you should follow suit. Your personal statement is not the place to defy the conventions of ...
Writing: Knowing Your Audience
“Where do I even begin?” is probably the most common question students ask me about writing—and understandably so! Many writing projects can seem almost impossible to visualize, much less to get started on. So what to do when facing that blank screen?
Crafting a Strong Thesis Statement
There are few concepts in essay-writing more important—and confusing, to the uninitiated—than the thesis statement. Let's start out with what it's not:
Confronting commas on the SAT writing and language section.
You see commas everywhere when you're reading, and you may put them everywhere when you're writing, but do you really know when to properly use this tricky punctuation mark? The SAT requires you to know exactly when a comma is either necessary or obstructive, so it is important to take the time to learn comma rules as you prepare for the writing ...
Two Common Stylistic Flaws of Undergrad Prose Writing
Over the course of nearly fifteen years as a full-time academic, I have edited and graded thousands of pieces of writing from undergrads and grad students alike. Over these years I have identified a range of common mistakes that I would say are typical of undergrad writing. As an instructor and editor, I have a range of stylistic rules and best ...
4 ways to beat writing anxiety
Writing is a daunting task. To transform your nebulous thoughts into a linear string of words requires a special kind of concentration. And when it comes to writing personal essays, like those required for most undergraduate and graduate applications, you are asked to not only concentrate but also be introspective. It’s no wonder that many of us ...
Five strategies to improve your writing
Writing is at the center of our daily lives. From coursework to communicating with colleagues or loved ones, writing is how we share our voice. Here are five simple strategies to improve the quality of your writing:
Four ways to become a (better) writer
The title of this post might seem presumptuous to you. Surely you don’t become a writer: you’re born one. That’s a common assumption about artists. We believe that people who write or sculpt or sing are born with an innate ability for their craft, that perhaps their education had less influence on their artistic success than the capabilities ...
5 tips to improve your writing
I was recently helping someone with a comparative essay they had to write for school. This person did not like writing—a common enough state of affairs. They felt that they had no talent for it. The process frustrated them. I could see that they were struggling in part because they were trying to do everything at once (come up with ideas, write ...
How to Begin Writing: The Art of Imitation
The blank page can be scary, terrifying even.  It represents the unknown.  And who isn’t afraid of what they don’t know? I, for one, feel intense insecurity and fear when confronted with an empty word document, the clicker blinking insistently at me as if impatient with my lack of progress.  And I’m a writer! I’ve been writing and teaching writing ...
The importance of keeping it simple: clear and concise writing
When I was a high school AP Biology student, my teacher used to walk by my desk during multiple choice exams and whisper, “You didn’t really mean to circle B there, did you? Keep it simple.” He knew I was an overthinker. Instead of circling the simplest and most obvious answer—which I often knew to be the right one—I would overthink the question, ...
3 Ways to Better Analyze Poetry
“Cikgu Tess!” “Pagi.” “Miss. Look lah.” “Alyaa—why?” “Girl’s bathroom,” she says. “Cikgu, you touch?” Our state has the highest concentration of venomous snakes in the region. “Is it poisonous?” I mime the action of being bitten (by my hand) and then dying. “Mm, don’t know.” In 2017, I taught ESL, literature, and political science at a rural ...
5 Habits for Improving (and Maintaining) Reading and Writing Skills
The first few months after my college graduation, I began my 9-5 job and was disappointed by how much less time I had to read.  After majoring in English and becoming accustomed to finishing multiple novels a week during the semester, I wished that I could dedicate more time to that hobby.  Furthermore, after a few months of working 40-hour weeks, ...
How Can I Stand Out As a Business Major? Creative Writing!
  It's fun to stand out! You’re not just any old business major: you’re an innovator. But how do you learn how to disrupt while you’re taking classes that are teaching you all the rules you need to know? Business majors can often get a bad rep for taking cookie-cutter classes that don’t prepare students for the actual business world. That’s why ...
From Writing MFA Skeptic to the Belly of the Beast
Confused about MFAs? You’re not alone. I graduated from college in 2009, and immediately set about the business of becoming a writer. I wrote a novel. I rewrote it. I landed an agent. I rewrote the novel two more times. I found consistent work, first as a bartender (every writer needs a trade), then as a college admissions coach and writing tutor ...
Creative Writing Tutor: Four Reasons to Get a Creative Writing MFA
Wanna make friends like this? Get thee to an MFA program!
How to love a poem
Hands, do what you’re bid; Bring the balloon of the mind That bellies and drags in the wind Into its narrow shed.
Evocative vs explicative language
We’ve all been subjected to that lecture in middle school Language Arts class about the differences between “showing” and “telling” with our writing—about the stylistic separation between providing sensory details around a piece of information and just stating that piece of information outright. In the context of seventh-grade compositions, this ...
Writing Tips: Happy Thanksgiving from the Writing Wizard!
Today is Black Friday, that infamous day in consumer culture marked by deep discounts, long lines, and equal demonstrations among Americans of civility and barbarity.  Although I am not in a position to offer you flat screen TVs, flannel sheet sets, or iPhones at incredibly low prices, I do want to partake in the spirit of the season and give you ...
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