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Writing

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How to turn your notebook into a camera

Good writers use their notebooks as they would a camera. They change their distance from their characters and change the angles they use to describe a scene. They shift their focus back and forth to capture both landscape and character. They write cinematically. Here are some standard camera angles to help you create a variety of effects: Aerial view: Look … Read More
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4 strategies for writing story endings

A writer can face many problems in ending a story. Time may run out, or space on the page, so that the ending really says: “I stopped writing here.” The story may lack focus or a problem may not be clearly defined so that an ending strategy appears forced or contrived. Some endings are stale and conventional, the equivalent of … Read More
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7 questions to guide your voice as a writer

Memorable writing has a strong voice. But how do you develop the genuine tone that distinguishes your writing? Consider these components: What is the level of language? Is it concrete or abstract or somewhere in between? Do you use street slang or the logical argument of a professor of philosophy? What "person" do you work in? Should you use "I" … Read More
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8 steps for building your writing process

Writing is a process – a set of predictable, repeatable steps in the journey to the finished work. While there are probably as many processes are there are writers, here are some of the identifiable steps. Explore: All good writers express a form of curiosity, a sense that something is going on out there. See your world as a storehouse … Read More
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How to write stronger sentences with fewer adverbs

Use adverbs sparingly. At their best, they spice up a verb or adjective. At their worst, they express a meaning already contained in the sentence: The blast completely destroyed the church office. The cheerleader gyrated wildly before the screaming fans. The accident totally severed the boy's arm. The spy peered furtively through the bushes. Consider the effect of deleting the … Read More
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How to provide context when writing about numbers

Numbers crop up in media stories in the most unexpected places. Your goal is to provide context and the story behind the numbers. Here's how you can write about two terms — risk and rate — accurately and ethically. A rate compares quantities that are measured in different units: for example, an amount or frequency over time or other unit. Read More
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8 ways to write shorter stories

Do you feel (or your readers) feel as though your stories drag on too long? Do you struggle getting to the point of the story? Story length is a function of focus. When you (or your editor or teacher) has a keen understanding of the what the story is about, it will be easier to revise your work. Here are … Read More
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9 ways to conquer writer's block

In the writing process, there will be a time when you get stuck and can't write. It may be anxiety, a boring topic, self-criticism or something else that keep you from getting words on paper (or screen). To become a more fluent writer, try these strategies: Trust your hands. Forget your brain for a while, and let your fingers do … Read More
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How to choose between 'that' and 'which' in your writing

The rules of grammar can seem complicated and rigid, but they will help you keep your writing clear and tell a story effectively. When the language is muddled, readers may get confused and quit reading. Here are guidelines for choosing between that and which in a sentence. The rule: Use which for clauses that offer incidental information; use that for … Read More
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Which is best? Who or whom?

The rules of grammar can seem complicated and rigid, but they will help you keep your writing clear and tell a story effectively. When the language is muddled, readers may get confused and have trouble understanding your story. Even worse, they may quit reading. Here's some help when you are unsure whether to use who or whom in a sentence. Read More
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How the basics of storytelling can help you cover a big event

Great writers get ready for the big story, even if they don't quite know what the story will be.  They report and report and research and then report some more. They expect the unexpected. And then they write powerful stories. Here are some tactics to guide you on the big story. Stick with the basics of telling a story: beginning, … Read More
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10 ways to generate story ideas

The best writers see a world full of story ideas. They typically have more ideas than they can put into practice. That’s a good problem to have. Here are some ways you can generate your own story ideas rather than rely on the ideas of editors, producers or teachers. Break your routine. Drive to work or school a different way. Read More
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How to power your writing with active and passive verbs

The "voice" of verbs (active or passive) is different than the "tense" of verbs.  Tense defines action within time, when the verb happens. Voice defines the relationship between subject and verb, who does what. Active, passive and "to be" verbs have different effects for the reader or listener. The best writers choose between active and passive to powerful effect. Here's … Read More
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6 scribes from The New York Times who 'write good'

Donald Trump had this to say as part of his critique of The New York Times: "They don’t write good. They have people over there…they don’t write good. They don’t know how to write good." As a reader of the Times for more than a half-century, I would say that there are days on which Mr. Trump’s review would … Read More
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