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16

Reading is probably the best way, but there are a few others that have worked for me. One way is to keep a dictionary handy. From time to time, pick a random word, learn how to pronounce it, and write it in a sentence or two. You can use a thesaurus in a similar manner. When you find words you like, add them to a journal (print or text). Refer to the ...


16

Short answer: Yes. Slightly longer answer: Yes, a lot! All reading is good, but not all reading is equal. All reading will help you absorb the effective use of written language, will increase your facility with words, will enhance your vocabulary, etc. But if you're really serious, you should spend at least some of your time in conscious, directed ...


13

A scriptwriting exercise that always helps make a nice shape out of dialogue. Follow the instructions without reading them all the way through the first time. Just do each step one at a time: 1) Take a sheet of paper and write in the margin down 20 lines the letters A and B. They don't have to just swap e.g. ABABABABABAB but you can have no more than two ...


11

Whenever you encounter a word you do not know, write it down (in that little notebook that you of course always keep on you, as all good writers should). When you get home, look it up. It could also be useful to write down who said/wrote it, and in what context. Then you will not only learn a new word, but you will also have a setting in which it is used, ...


10

Get a video recorder and a few friends. Explain to your friends what the scene is about, and what you want to have happen. (Eliot and Alec walk into a bar and order a drink. They start talking about inconsequential stuff. Their friend Nate walks in and asks Eliot for the $50 Eliot owes him. Eliot says he already paid Nate. Discussion/dispute/argument ...


8

Speaking from personal experience, probably the best way to improve your vocabulary is by studying a foreign language, as many languages borrow vocabulary from each other. One of the most difficult tasks when trying to find that "perfect word" is knowing where to start looking, and knowing (for example) Latin, French, or German synonyms can help when ...


5

I'm in agreement with John Smithers here: the issue seems to be that you don't know enough about the character, so K needs to supply as much detail as possible for you to start with. Perhaps write a questionnaire for K to answer as if you were interviewing Garlic. This is an old technique, but it could help you get answers to fundamental things you want/need ...


5

In addition to the reading or using a dictionary or thesaurus, you can also look at various Words of the Day. Depending on what you are reading, these may expose you words you may otherwise not encounter. A quick Google Search for 'word of the day' showed sites like Dictionary.com, Merriam-Webster, WordThink, NY Times, The Quotations Page, and ...


5

Jim Van Pelt has a great one: In a nutshell, two students talk to each other so that each speaks twice. One of them records what they said. That produces four lines of raw dialogue like this: “Are you practicing with the band tonight?” “Yeah, we qualified for state, so we’re doing extra time.” “Congrats! Where’s state this year?” ...


5

Pay attention to the origins of your words. English is a confirmed pack-rat language--an enthusiastic, perhaps obsessive, collector and creator of new words. Take, for example, the word "large." Unsatisfied with just the one comparative, English has a whole platoon of others in reserve: immense, vast, capacious, bulky, massive, whopping, humongous. Like ...


4

I've moved to mostly e-reading on the Kindle and Nook apps on my iPhone/iPad. My wife uses her Android, and even my son has an old iTouch he uses. All of us have learned to use the built in dictionary, so as soon as you're not sure of a word's meaning, you click it, get the definition, and learn something. The more I do this, the more I find that I can ...


4

First of all: There is an entire spectrum between telling a disembodied story and painting every little piece of unnecessary detail. Both writers and readers have their preferences with regards to this. This is why different authors' styles appeal to different types of readers. The more you describe, the more you restrict the reader's imagination; the less ...


4

Oh no, not another C# book ;) Joking aside and to your question: Think about what was "dawning" on you and think about your audience. If you want to write a book for idiots, save your time, idiots don't read books. So do you think your readers are idiots? You are reading this, so I guess your answer was "No!". Then don't treat them like they were. No ...


4

I'm not a poet by any stretch of the imagination, but for what it's worth ... Perhaps what you need to do is impose more limits on your poetry to force clearer thinking. For example, I find the limiting syllabic structures of haiku to be paradoxically freeing by forcing me to choose words very carefully to express what I have to say. As a starting point, ...


3

I try to describe something or someone the first time we meet them, so the reader has something to hold onto, and I do it from the POV of whatever character is in focus at the moment. So let's say we open with a squabble between a married couple over getting the kids to all their activities over the weekend. Mary says she's going to bed; Jane says she still ...


2

Here's an exercise that my writing group used: Think of a scene that is largely conversation. Draft the scene as usual. Rewrite the scene using only dialogue. Rewrite the scene using only narrative. Rewrite the scene using everything you've learned in this exercise. When I want to practice something, I like to identify some key variables and play with ...


2

This is an exceptionally difficult question to answer, because no-one actually knows the answer. It essentially boils down to the "nature vs. nurture" debate, and that's been raging for years, and is unlikely to be settled any time soon. However, current thinking has come up with some intriguing clues to the answer. There is evidence (such as with studies ...


2

Absolutely! A blog entry is a short essay: studying (thanks, @Kate Sherwood!) essays, reading them closely, is always a good bet. The best essay writer I know is EB White: I reread White's work often. One Man's Meat is a rich collection of good writing. Perhaps you're looking for a list of rules or suggestions. None surpasses Strunk and White, The Elements ...


2

Follow others Be aware of good dialogue when you find it. If you're working in a genre, find exemplars in that genre. Conversations are not dialogues Look at the whole dialogue between two people. Some great dialogues start on page 10 and run to page 300. The entire noir fiction genre lives on great dialogue. Watch how additional parties are included. ...


2

Having read a number of programing books, I think having the review section before any quizzes or exercises is very helpful. It gives me a chance to go back over what was covered in the section, and make sure I have a good grasp on the ideas of it. It's also helpful if the review section calls out any important points that the reader should be taking from ...


2

The review will have different purposes - and should be written differently - for each of these places. If it is just after you have read the chapter, then it should be summing up all of the major issues in the chapter, a way of setting in your mind the critical parts, as a starter to the quiz, which should then help them to use this. If it is after the ...


2

I think the key is in what you wrote: I grab the details necessary to understand the scene and forget the rest. I'll fill in the blanks anyway, so it doesn't matter if there are a few more. Focus on descriptions in whose absence the scene wouldn't work. The color of the princess's dress (to use your example) doesn't make any difference; but whether ...


2

How big is a Section? What's in it? I ask because if you can break it into sub-sections, you might have a review at the end of each sub-section, and then the quiz at the end of the whole section. If not, I would order it: Review of section Exercises with answers at the end of the section (to give the student a chance to practice) Quiz (with answers at ...


1

write random scenes with Garlic; have K tell me what I could have done better." I would say it's the other way around. K should write a character sheet. K should write scenes which describe how the werecat acts and behaves. Then you as a reader become acquainted with the character, maybe even identify with him. And you make suggestions, how to improve ...


1

First priority in fiction is to show, not to tell. I'm not really sure if I understand correctly what you mean with "description", but if it is Her blue eyes followed him. She flattened her red dress with her hands. She ran her fingers through her blonde hair ... then there are two options: It's an infodump. You want to tell your reader how your ...


1

After you have written a dialogue, you can try to improve it by switching from direct statements to indirect ones. It can make the dialog more interesting (e.g. ironic or sarcastic), less dull. But don't overdo. Instead of "How do you want to stop me?" "I take make pistol here and shoot you." write "What should stop me from walking through that ...


1

Are some people naturally gifted in writing, which means everyone else is doomed to mediocrity? I'm going to ignore the second part of this question, because it sets up a false dichotomy. If we truncate it to "Are some people naturally gifted in writing?", the answer is yes. We can also say yes to: "Or is writing something that can be learned and ...



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