Skip to content

Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Creative Copy Challenge (Creative Writing Exercise)

Today’s exercise barely deserves a blog post at all, since I already spilled the beans in yesterday’s article.

Still, in case you didn’t make it to the end, I’ll say it again: Go over to the Creative Copy Challenge blog, and write a short story. Use all the words, format them so we can find them, and then come back here and post a link to your comment (once it gets approved by the moderators).

Writing Prompts

When I was in fifth grade my teacher gave us an assignment to write a one-page story using at least half of our spelling words for the week. That’s what we call a “writing prompt.” Writer’s Digest offers regular writing prompts, and most creative writing courses are built at least partially around them. The goal is to get you out of your languishing manuscript and just get you writing. They usually do that by creating a scene you haven’t thought about before, forcing you to start fresh, make something happen, and then get on with your work.

What I Learned about Writing this Week…from Stephen King

To writers and/or Stephen King fans, his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (a title I do hope is self-explanatory) might seem the most obvious source of WILAWriTWe material. Yet nay, my dearest inklings, my King-related thoughts for today come not from his how-to, but rather from one of his how-dids. Or maybe I should call it a how-didn’t. By the time I finish writing this, I might have a clearer picture, and so might you–but I’m still not going to change my previous sentence, because I like it, and this is my article, and I don’t have to kill my darlings if I don’t wanna. Nyah.

The Point of Punctuation

I’ve talked about finding balance in descriptive detail before, just as an example, but there’s certainly many more ways it’s true: balancing exposition against narrative, technical accuracy against brevity, clear prose against a finished draft. Those are pretty big-picture concerns, but it gets down to the fine details, too. Word length, sentence composition, punctuation marks….

Everyone’s a Critic (Technical Writing Exercise)

Your assignment this week is to provide me detailed feedback and practice borrowing others’ inspiration, all at one go. I want you to pick an article on and critique it on your blog. Write 300-900 words analyzing the presentation, the content, the readability, the skimmability, the applicability, even the statistical distribution of non-E vowels. Go back to my advice in “What Should You Write About?” and figure out what you should write about, when you’re describing my blog.

Inquisition Exposition (Creative Writing Exercise)

For your exercise, I want you to write a scene that’s all dialogue. The gameshow featured two characters, but you can put as many as you want in the scene. They’re only allowed to ask questions. That’s the gimmick. You’ve got to convey information (and do your best to make it feel natural) with nothing but questions.

Reader Response Questions

Today’s post is more a story than a lecture, but it’s a story rich with writing advice. It harkens back to a creative writing exercise from January, and foreshadows a worthwhile topic for future discussion. It’s also a pretty sweet story, when it comes right down to it.

What I Learned about Writing this Week…from Sue Monk Kidd

Tweet This week, my dearest inklings, I find myself seventy-four pages into Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees and enjoying it beyond words. But since the point of this article is to share with you–in words, no less–what I am learning from what I am reading, I give you here my attempt to […]

Accurate Descriptions

My first job out of college, I was a Technical Writer for a small manufacturer in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that produced some of the world’s best fish finders. I spent several years writing user manuals for gadgets. Then I took a new job working for the Federal Aviation Administration, where I wrote maintenance instructions for the field technicians who service and maintain our nation’s long-range radars.

Describe Your Reader (Technical Writing Exercise)

Whoever it is you’re writing for, their needs and their expectations become vital ingredients of your document, so take some time to figure it out. I’m sure you already do that, probably subconsciously, every time you write anything, but let’s formalize it. Write a page describing your readers. Tell us how technical they want your material to be, how much they’re willing to read at a time, which topics matter to them, and just what it is you have to offer.