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2

I agree with what: Actual writing and making your own mistakes is essential when attempting to become a novelist. However, if you are interested in textbooks: Here's the first textbooks I've read when I was about 15 years old. Frey's "How to write a damn good novel" ... and part 2 of the same Frey's Introduction to the concept of the Hero's Journey ...


9

I would suggest a different approach than the other answers. If you are completely new to writing, just write. Think about other areas of learning. If you just had your first physics class, the next step won't be building a car. The first thing will probably be something like a battery, two wires, and a lightbulb. Writing is the same. Like anything it ...


1

For advice on the more creative aspect of writing, see Tommy's answer. As for how to start from a structural standpoint: The plot diagram of most stories is well defined, and a version of it can be viewed here: Plot Diagram. As you can see, it begins with the Exposition. During the exposition, three things are introduced: Setting, Characters, and ...


0

The best way to begin a book will differ from person to person. Some people, once they have a vague idea of what happens, jump right in and start writing. Some have to spend months developing character, stakes, and plot. Some (like me) are somewhere in between. Because of this, the only way to answer your question is through practice. Practice writing ...


2

I endorse Chris Sunami's answer, as far as it goes, and gave it a +1 on the strength of that. However, I'd like to take it further. To address the original question, I have a very different perspective on this: @jlam55555, you are applying for a position. This trumps any abstract question about the nature of essays. It trumps it because when you are ...


2

As with any piece of writing, the register you write in depends on the audience and the goal. Essays certainly don't have to be formal, but in some situations, formal is the right way to go. Part of the confusion, of course, is defining "formality": In general, formal writing is associated with objectivity, well-defined structure, and the avoidance of ...


1

First of all you might want to familiarize yourself with book publishing marketing categories. As I explained in my comment above, the book publishing marketing category Young Adult (YA) is not written about young adult protagonists or targeted at a young adult readership, but at teenagers. It is better if you avoid the phrase "young adult" if you talk about ...


1

I've found that writing to the age group for anyone that isn't a child (under 6) is extremely limiting. I just don't do it. Instead, i separate the content types for different demographics. For example, I won't use graphic violence, sexuality, or language for a story that is geared towards young (10-17) boys. The only changes I make to anything for younger ...


0

Practice. Consistency comes with practice and keeping conditions relatively the same daily. In my writing experience, I started out extremely inconsistent. So I made a pattern to follow, where I wrote on paper daily whenever I could and one day a week rewrote everything for as long as it took, often past sunrise the next day. Those were some of my best ...


0

Essays do not need to be formal, ever. Since it looks like you're working on a school assignment, the best way to get a good grade is to follow the style of the person grading, typically the teacher. However, having gone through college and writing professionally for almost 9 years, the purpose of an essay is to express a point, often one with emotional ...


1

I think Lauren Ipsum's final sentence constitutes the most apt answer for this. Poetry is very subjective but, like mathematics, is up for the reader to scan and interpret on their own. There is economy or precision of language (down to letters and symbols) in both poetry and mathematics. This poem is conceptual. The poem's value lies in the scantion ...


1

I like what's list of ingredients. I would add two more to consider: Struggle. What keeps the character from achieving the goal? This might be antagonist or some other obstacle. What must the character do to achieve the goal? Stakes. If the character fails, so what? What are the consequences to the character, the community, the world? The key to a blurb ...


1

It's important to note this isn't actually a well-formed mathematical statement, it's a typographical poem that uses mathematical symbols for effect. It exploits the dual meaning of a symbol like "!" as punctuation indicating excitement, intensity or surprise with the fact that it also has mathematical usages. An actual well-formed mathematical statement ...


1

The prompt specifies "an essay" so it would probably be a mistake to turn in a story instead. However, it does also demand some creative writing skills. If it were my essay, I'd style it after a non-fiction profile (such as this one), but with invented details. Joseph is a High School student from Ghana. He was born in a small village outside Accra and ...


2

Possibly not being writer enough to answer this question, I consider myself mathematician enough to try to give an answer from the mathematical viewpoint. (If this is not a great answer by itself, I hope it is a useful addition to the others given.) What you say about mathematics, of rigor, validity, precision and rigid rules, holds true, to a certain ...


2

A number of philosophers and mathematicians do see a deep connection between poetry and mathematics. Betrand Russell put it thus: Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty — a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, ...


3

Poetry doesn't have to be as free-flowing and messy as you're implying. Some poetry throws out rules of form and function, but some adheres to them strictly. Think of the meter and rhyme demands of a sonnet, or the syllable rules of a haiku. If you don't follow those very rigid, precise requirements, you haven't written the poem correctly. Honestly, I ...


0

Taking a break is a good idea, looking out for signs of depression is another, but if you want to write, try writing in a genre for which you normally have no interest, or for which you even have disdain. The purpose of this would be to remove the pressure of your own expectations. You can practice and noodle around knee-deep in tropes and adverbs and nobody ...


2

It seems to me that whatever problem you have with writing is not about writing but about how you feel about yourself and your life. You might want to take a break from writing and try to come to terms with the death of your cousin first. Or you can try to take the pressure out of your writing and write without any concerns for quality and just to relax and ...


0

Yes, too many words obscuring the action, rather than driving it on. In your first section, only one phrase connected with me: He was nervous. The rest was filler without any emotional or story impact at all. It doesn't matter what the morning looked like if some character was not looking at it and having a personal, emotional reaction to it. How does a ...


2

In my view, this piece of writing exhibits two things you should avoid. First, consider the opening paragraph. It is a good example of "purple prose"; as you suspect, it appears to be far too descriptive and flowery. Let's break it down: "The sun peeked out", "he watched the first rays of sunlight grace the Earth", "the clouds become lit with a fabulous, ...


0

Having your character calling the man raising her father isn't a problem. She knows he's not her biological dad but as far as she is concerned, he is her father and will call him as such. Where you seem to be having trouble is the reveal that he is in fact not who you have said he is. There are various ways this can be done depending on the type of story ...


0

I would note one thing: The "dull" first passage has eight lines. The medium middle passage has four lines. And the interesting last passage has two. If anything, it should be the other way. Cut down the dull first passage to no more than four lines, and "beef up" the interesting passage to four (or more) lines.


1

If it's 3rd person limited perspective then your narrator knows the truth but is deliberately withholding it from the reader. You will have to tread very carefully with that. The reveal would have justify the deception. Your alternative is to hide it in plain sight. Have the girl call her father by name (it does happen in real life), but have a scene where ...


0

Actually, there's a social rule of thumb here, that may apply in fiction. That is, to treat serious matters lightly, and light matters gravely. As another answerer pointed out, you're mother's comments seemed "too light," until you drop the bomb" about animal self destruction. Here, the mother ought to get concerned, but she doesn't, a perfect foil to your ...


0

If do you want to liven up the dialogue you perhaps need to add some conflict into the mother's state of mind. Her input to the scene is sadness and worry, which is a little predictable and one dimensional, and that makes it difficult to conjure interesting expression. The mother could carry other traits or motivations. She may be hiding guilt, regret, a ...


1

Don't cut it if you can make it better. You are wasting some conflicts here and your inputs to the scenes are a bit simplistic. In the first example you have him tired and her sympathetic. Both of those are quite weak. We've all been there and said the same things so you're telling us nothing about the characters. Tiny tweaks to those inputs could inspire ...


4

There are stronger and weaker words, but using weaker words isn't always bad. Using strong words all the time would be as bad as using weaker words all the time, as it wouldn't distinguish when something is less severe. In addition, contrasting strong/weak words shows what the reader should focus on more. Consider the two sentences: John stared at the ...


-3

All the answers are very detailed and helpful. With that said, I think you're also asking about the general difference between active and passive writing. If that's the case, here's a blog post that you might find useful. http://sirragirl.blogspot.com/2011/12/passive-voice-in-creative-writing.html?m=0


2

In general, the "stronger" words in your examples are more specific. Twisting is a kind of turning. Treading is a kind of walking. What makes them "stronger" is that they give you more control of what the reader experiences. If you say, "turn," the reader can conjure many, many images of someone turning. If you say "twist," that eliminates all kinds of ...


2

Of course. As Tave says, some words have stronger emotional connotations, or convey the idea of more extreme action. George was exhausted after toiling for untold hours. George was tired after working for a long time. John was overcome with passion for Sarah, whose beauty filled his dreams. John liked Sarah and thought she was pretty. ...


3

Words have connotations. Using these overtones and implied meanings to create the effect you want makes them strong words. For example, compare these two versions of essentially the same thing: The man killed the boy. The monster slaughtered the innocent child. The second version is more emotive, and some words do stir the emotions more, but there may be ...


0

Particularly in action scenes, it can be tough to weed out which sentences need to start with the MC's name or pronoun. If the sentence has a modifying phrase, it may be worthwhile to place the phrase in the front of the sentence. I also avoid starting sentences with verbs. This is a technique that can introduce a dynamic feel, but when used too often or ...


6

Yes, there are stronger words and while when writing (especially fiction) it is perfectly acceptable to use less strong words but it's better to avoid them if you can. As you say, you're trying to invoke your readers senses. Example: I landed on the floor with a bump I thumped onto the floor Using stronger words can also allow you say the same but ...


1

There's no inherent reason why an author can't write from a perspective that does not exactly match every characteristic of him- or herself. Yes, trying to write from the point of view of a member of the opposite sex creates challenges. But so does writing from the POV of someone of a different nationality, or religion, or political persuasion, or ...


0

There is no problem. Random Acts of Senseless Violence by Jack Womack, Friday by Robert Heinlein and many of his short stories, Contact by Carl Sagan, Big U by Neal Stephenson, Cybernetic Samurai by Victor Milan. It's quite common in speculative fiction and fantasy anyway. The observant writer shall have no problem. The unobservant one will pointlessly ...


1

To the best of my knowledge, there is no widely-accepted rule of when asterisks are appropriate versus when extra white space is appropriate versus other possible conventions. To my mind, and for what it's worth, a row of asterisks indicates a bigger break than a blank line. One catch to white space: It can get lost when a document is reformatted. Like, I ...


1

Dinkus ( * * * ) Signifies a temporary break. Time has passed between the preceding and following paragraphs, and the narrative picks up at the same place and with the same protagonist. During the break the protaginist may have been asleep, gone to work, or done any other thing that the reader needs to know is being done but whose details are irrelevant or ...


3

Author's preference is, of course, the deciding factor, but one has to take into account readability as well. Using extra space to determine a scene change is not very common and it is possible that the reader could misinterpret it as a formatting error, or perhaps just be confused by it, whereas the three dots send a clear message that this is an ...


3

There's no universal standard for this, or at least not in fiction. Books generally pick one style and stick with it. Larger narrative breaks than a section break can be indicated by starting a new chapter. The exception is in printed books that use extra space between paragraphs to designate the end of a section, and when this happens at the end of a ...


2

Michael Swan's Practical English Usage (2nd ed., p. 285): 296 -ing forms used like nouns (5):        -ing form or infinitive? ... 10 begin and start Begin and start can be followed by infinitives or -ing forms. Usually there is no important difference.      She began playing / to play the guitar ...


1

Note: I am not a native speaker and know English mainly through reading the language. My feel for language is therefore more influenced by written than by spoken English, a confoundation that might confuse some of the native speakers here, or a lack which might lead to Germanisms influencing me. You be the judge :-) To me the proper use is reflected in the ...


2

I would agree with Lauren that both constructs are equally valid from a grammatical point of view, but there are a number of other factors to bias the decision. Character voice. People who studied latin prefer infinitives, people who work with their hands prefer gerunds. Tense. infinitives work very well with future tense, gerunds work well with present ...


1

Adding to Lauren's excellent clarification, you could look at it from another perspective by referring to, let's say, money... and seeing where the latter could beg the question "why?" or "how?" Three months had passed since she started to save money. That sounds like a statement. OK, so she saved money. Three months had passed since she started ...


4

I think it's subjective. To my ear, to avoid is a series of individual events, while avoiding implies something continuous and ongoing. "She started to avoid me" sounds like "I called her and she didn't return my call. The next day I texted her but she didn't text back. Two days later I sent her an email which she never opened." "She started avoiding me" ...


1

It depends how different they are. "Wings" versus "powerful legs"? Having an adjective in one but not the other doesn't break the pattern for me. Consider this example: "I knew animals would do everything to survive; birds would use their wings to fly away from snakes, buffaloes their powerful legs to escape from lions; and the ability to change their skin ...


0

Some authors do their best to worm some semicolons and colons into a character's dialogue; however, since you can't see how someone talks in reality, it is more common to use the predictable punctuation like periods, commas, question marks and exclamation marks. See what I did there?


1

The paragon example, I'd say, when writing from a child's perspective in first person, in a book that is NOT for a child audience, is found in Jack Womack's Random Acts of Senseless Violence. I'd call these stylistic points Condillacian statues effects. 1) Slang and language use that is not quite formal English is necessary if the perspective character is ...


4

Symmetry is not important, but rhythm is. Considering rhythm I would change your example to: My understanding of zoology was poor, but I knew animals would do anything to survive: birds would use their wings to fly from snakes, buffaloes their legs to run from lions. I alwasy read my texts aloud. They must have rhythm like a poem. Try it with your ...


0

Live "Presidents" should be "minor characters" (in your fiction), performing a "public" act. For instance, in one screenplay, I featured a film clip of President George H.W. Bush (father) declaring war on Iraq in order to set a "backdrop" for early 1991. On the other hand, you should not feature a real President e.g. seducing the heroine (and thus playing a ...



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