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Written by JustJason40

If My Writing Were A Band?

It is not some random question in my eyes. I have really thought this one out. Because music has been such a dominant influence on my writing. Maybe even more so than Jack Kerouac, which if you knew me better would seem sacriligious.  At any rate lets get on with the answer.

Now I know that my writing is still fresh ink here but hopefully you can see what I see in them band wise. Again enough fucking stalling Jason lets get on with it. 

Even though Jim Morrison and Eddie Vedder are my favorite song writers my writing does not resemble either The Doors or Pearljam. Nope not my two favorite bands cause that would make sense.

Tool. That bad ass Maynard James Keenan and company. That is my final answer. They are a force of fucking nature so powerful they do not make an album that often. But always blows your fucking mind. My style took a long time to come together, bit like a tool album.

My writings go into the deeper waters emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. Not for the sake of being deep but because its the only way I can even express those things. Some of which is wrapped up in my life pains.

Like a Tool song my works are multi-layered. There is a surface meaning and a below surface meaning to every line.

I think that covers the basics. Like Tool I want to leave some mystery for the fans imagination.

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Written by JustJason40
If My Writing Were A Band?
It is not some random question in my eyes. I have really thought this one out. Because music has been such a dominant influence on my writing. Maybe even more so than Jack Kerouac, which if you knew me better would seem sacriligious.  At any rate lets get on with the answer.

Now I know that my writing is still fresh ink here but hopefully you can see what I see in them band wise. Again enough fucking stalling Jason lets get on with it. 

Even though Jim Morrison and Eddie Vedder are my favorite song writers my writing does not resemble either The Doors or Pearljam. Nope not my two favorite bands cause that would make sense.

Tool. That bad ass Maynard James Keenan and company. That is my final answer. They are a force of fucking nature so powerful they do not make an album that often. But always blows your fucking mind. My style took a long time to come together, bit like a tool album.

My writings go into the deeper waters emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. Not for the sake of being deep but because its the only way I can even express those things. Some of which is wrapped up in my life pains.

Like a Tool song my works are multi-layered. There is a surface meaning and a below surface meaning to every line.

I think that covers the basics. Like Tool I want to leave some mystery for the fans imagination.
#nonfiction  #music  #writing  #culture  #opinion 
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Written by Meadow337 in portal A Writer's Path

The Art of the Knife

I've heard it said

the best expression

is raw and visceral

eviscerated hearts

lying on the page

bleeding, fresh blood

from your wounds

dripping, dripping

from your pen

however

a finely honed knife

cuts into reader's heart

slices cleanly through

skin and bone,

laying bare all 

that lies within.

This is the writer's art,

to craft a blade

to jugulate them!  

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Written by Meadow337 in portal A Writer's Path
The Art of the Knife
I've heard it said
the best expression
is raw and visceral
eviscerated hearts
lying on the page
bleeding, fresh blood
from your wounds
dripping, dripping
from your pen
however
a finely honed knife
cuts into reader's heart
slices cleanly through
skin and bone,
laying bare all 
that lies within.
This is the writer's art,
to craft a blade
to jugulate them!  
#poetry  #philosophy  #writing  #opinion  #art 
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Written by DaveBricker in portal Nonfiction

English Pet Peeves

Discussions of English Language pet peeves provide an entertaining forum for the expression of ire. In fact, if a “pet” is something we cherish, and a “peeve” is something that annoys us, “pet peeves” are what we love to hate. Here’s a collection of common English solecisms—guaranteed not to literally blow your mind:

English Pet Peeves: Logic Problems

“I could care less.” – If you’re expressing disinterest, you couldnt care less.

Every time I hear Paul McCartney sing, “But if this ever-changing world in which we live in…” I cringe. Correct usage is “… in which we live.”

“The reason why this happened is because…” – use either “why” or “because,” but not both.

    The reason this happened is because …

    The reason why this happened is …

To be picky, we can do away with “The reason” if we precede the cause with “because.”

    This happened because …

“Where’s it at?” – It’s at over there.

“Comprising of” – should be “comprising” or “comprised of.”

English Pet Peeves: Acronyms and Repetition

Why repeat the word that the last letter stands for (ISBN, VIN, ATM)?

Shouldn’t we get ISB numbers for our books?

Why don’t our cars have VI Numbers?

Why don’t we get cash from an AT Machine?

Redundancies

Plan ahead, plan for the future – Can you plan behind?

Hot water heater – Why would you heat it if it’s already hot?

Past history – As opposed to future history?

It was a very unique experience – Are there degrees of uniqueness?

Final conclusion – conclusions are assumed to be final unless you specify they’re preliminary

Pre-recorded – You can only record it once.

Pre-planned – Is this the time before the planning?

Reply back or respond back – “Back” is assumed.

First-ever – if it’s first, “ever” is implied.

Contradictions

Same difference – Please choose one.

Free Gift – Really? I usually pay for gifts.

Imaginary Words

The seminar orientated me to my new job responsibilities. (oriented)

We’ll conversate after the meeting. (converse)

Confusion and Abuse

“You’ve got two choices.” – usually means someone has one choice between two options.

“…on either side” – usually means on both sides

“It literally blew my mind” – usually means figuratively. Your head did not explode.

further vs. farther – farther refers to physical distance; further refers to figurative distance: “Is it more than a mile farther down the road?” “Yes, would you like further directions?”

lie vs. lay – To “lay down” means to spread baby duck feathers across a surface.

lose vs. loose – If your button is loose, you’ll lose it when it falls off.

everyday vs. every day – Summer rains are an everyday occurrence; they happen every day.

good vs. well – “good” describes character or desirability. “Well” describes status.

fewer vs. less – Use “fewer” with countable objects. Use “less” to refer to matters of degree or status: After the delivery, one less package left him with fewer to deliver.

advise vs. inform – to “advise” is to suggest. To “inform” is to present with factual information.

goes vs. says – “goes” is outright slang—not an acceptable substitute for “says.”

loath vs. loathe – “Loath” is an adjective meaning hesitant or unwilling. “Loathe” is a verb meaning to dislike.

discrete vs. discreet – “Discrete” means different or unique. “Discreet” means hidden or respectful of privacy.

moot vs. mute – The point was moot and not worth pursuing so Bill stayed mute on the matter.

incidences instead of incidents

ensure vs. insure – To “insure” means to purchase insurance. To “ensure” means to make sure: He insured his valuables to ensure their safety.

Irregardless – “regardless” with a skin tab

nuclear vs. nucular – “Nucular” is a mispronunciation of “nuclear.”

alot vs. a lot – “Alot” is incorrect; use two words to suggest “a lot full of items.”

.50 cents = half a penny

peaked vs. piqued – “Piqued” means to catch attention. “The coin piqued his interest but in a few moments, his curiosity peaked and then he moved on.

data vs. datum – data is a plural noun, often used incorrectly as a singular noun.

Weak Substitutions

doable vs. feasible – “doable” is an improvised “verb + able” word

use vs. utilize – “utilize” is pedantic and pseudosophisticated

momentarily – means for a very short time. When the pilot says, “We’ll be in the air momentarily, he’s implying that you’ll only be off the ground for a moment.”

Grammar

waiting on vs. waiting for – The attendant waited on the customers while they waited for their luggage to arrive.

should of vs. should have

different from vs. different than – “different from” is technically correct: The red ball is different from the blue ones. Use “different than” when making a comparison: Today, things are different than they were in 1980.

“One in ten people are …” – the subject (One) is singular, so use “is.”

Hollow Clichés and Crutches

“To be honest with you…” – can’t we assume you’re being honest?

“The fact of the matter is…” – an empty crutch phrase

“untimely death” – who schedules their death? These words cling together to form a tired cliché.

“back in the day” – does this mean breakfast?

Evolving Language

impact vs. affect – “impact” is not a verb, though its use as one is so widespread that it will probably become one.

who vs. whom – “whom” is fading from language to a point where many grammarians are discarding it like “thee” and “thou.” You’ll find a list of them in Who’s Whom? For Editors.

functionality vs. function – lots of common crossover here. Theoretically, a program with more functions has greater functionality.

What are your favorite English pet peeves? Or is it contradictory to have a “favorite” pet peeve?

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Written by DaveBricker in portal Nonfiction
English Pet Peeves
Discussions of English Language pet peeves provide an entertaining forum for the expression of ire. In fact, if a “pet” is something we cherish, and a “peeve” is something that annoys us, “pet peeves” are what we love to hate. Here’s a collection of common English solecisms—guaranteed not to literally blow your mind:


English Pet Peeves: Logic Problems

“I could care less.” – If you’re expressing disinterest, you couldnt care less.

Every time I hear Paul McCartney sing, “But if this ever-changing world in which we live in…” I cringe. Correct usage is “… in which we live.”

“The reason why this happened is because…” – use either “why” or “because,” but not both.

    The reason this happened is because …

    The reason why this happened is …

To be picky, we can do away with “The reason” if we precede the cause with “because.”

    This happened because …

“Where’s it at?” – It’s at over there.

“Comprising of” – should be “comprising” or “comprised of.”

English Pet Peeves: Acronyms and Repetition

Why repeat the word that the last letter stands for (ISBN, VIN, ATM)?
Shouldn’t we get ISB numbers for our books?
Why don’t our cars have VI Numbers?
Why don’t we get cash from an AT Machine?

Redundancies

Plan ahead, plan for the future – Can you plan behind?

Hot water heater – Why would you heat it if it’s already hot?

Past history – As opposed to future history?

It was a very unique experience – Are there degrees of uniqueness?

Final conclusion – conclusions are assumed to be final unless you specify they’re preliminary

Pre-recorded – You can only record it once.

Pre-planned – Is this the time before the planning?

Reply back or respond back – “Back” is assumed.

First-ever – if it’s first, “ever” is implied.

Contradictions

Same difference – Please choose one.

Free Gift – Really? I usually pay for gifts.

Imaginary Words

The seminar orientated me to my new job responsibilities. (oriented)

We’ll conversate after the meeting. (converse)

Confusion and Abuse

“You’ve got two choices.” – usually means someone has one choice between two options.
“…on either side” – usually means on both sides

“It literally blew my mind” – usually means figuratively. Your head did not explode.

further vs. farther – farther refers to physical distance; further refers to figurative distance: “Is it more than a mile farther down the road?” “Yes, would you like further directions?”

lie vs. lay – To “lay down” means to spread baby duck feathers across a surface.

lose vs. loose – If your button is loose, you’ll lose it when it falls off.

everyday vs. every day – Summer rains are an everyday occurrence; they happen every day.

good vs. well – “good” describes character or desirability. “Well” describes status.

fewer vs. less – Use “fewer” with countable objects. Use “less” to refer to matters of degree or status: After the delivery, one less package left him with fewer to deliver.

advise vs. inform – to “advise” is to suggest. To “inform” is to present with factual information.

goes vs. says – “goes” is outright slang—not an acceptable substitute for “says.”

loath vs. loathe – “Loath” is an adjective meaning hesitant or unwilling. “Loathe” is a verb meaning to dislike.

discrete vs. discreet – “Discrete” means different or unique. “Discreet” means hidden or respectful of privacy.

moot vs. mute – The point was moot and not worth pursuing so Bill stayed mute on the matter.

incidences instead of incidents

ensure vs. insure – To “insure” means to purchase insurance. To “ensure” means to make sure: He insured his valuables to ensure their safety.

Irregardless – “regardless” with a skin tab

nuclear vs. nucular – “Nucular” is a mispronunciation of “nuclear.”

alot vs. a lot – “Alot” is incorrect; use two words to suggest “a lot full of items.”

.50 cents = half a penny

peaked vs. piqued – “Piqued” means to catch attention. “The coin piqued his interest but in a few moments, his curiosity peaked and then he moved on.

data vs. datum – data is a plural noun, often used incorrectly as a singular noun.


Weak Substitutions

doable vs. feasible – “doable” is an improvised “verb + able” word

use vs. utilize – “utilize” is pedantic and pseudosophisticated

momentarily – means for a very short time. When the pilot says, “We’ll be in the air momentarily, he’s implying that you’ll only be off the ground for a moment.”

Grammar

waiting on vs. waiting for – The attendant waited on the customers while they waited for their luggage to arrive.

should of vs. should have

different from vs. different than – “different from” is technically correct: The red ball is different from the blue ones. Use “different than” when making a comparison: Today, things are different than they were in 1980.

“One in ten people are …” – the subject (One) is singular, so use “is.”

Hollow Clichés and Crutches

“To be honest with you…” – can’t we assume you’re being honest?

“The fact of the matter is…” – an empty crutch phrase

“untimely death” – who schedules their death? These words cling together to form a tired cliché.

“back in the day” – does this mean breakfast?

Evolving Language

impact vs. affect – “impact” is not a verb, though its use as one is so widespread that it will probably become one.

who vs. whom – “whom” is fading from language to a point where many grammarians are discarding it like “thee” and “thou.” You’ll find a list of them in Who’s Whom? For Editors.

functionality vs. function – lots of common crossover here. Theoretically, a program with more functions has greater functionality.



What are your favorite English pet peeves? Or is it contradictory to have a “favorite” pet peeve?
#writing 
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Written by Meadow337 in portal A Writer's Path

Why Do I Write?

The very short and simple answer is 'because I can'. Which is perhaps not particularly modest, but it is nonetheless the truth. I am more aware than most of my failings and shortcomings, having spent a lifetime trying to come to terms with myself, and part of that process has been acknowledging what I can do (as well as what I can't). And one of those things is the ability to string words together into sentences and sentences into a story that people like often enough for me to say, with some small modesty, "I can write". So I do. 

I have never had this burning 'HAVE TO' write, so many refer to. I won't die if I don't write. I won't burst from the internal pressure of an untold story. Many of my stories never make it to paper anyway; often it is enough to articulate them inside my head, or to whoever is willing to listen to my nonsense about a flower, a phrase, a moment, a car ... but there are those that make it to paper. 

I love the process of writing, of finding the right word, the right flow, the right cadence, the right tone. I think of myself as a storyteller. I like telling stories, and I always write with an eye to the ear - yes I know, but - I write to be read. I write with the idea that someone somewhere is telling the story beside a fire, at bedtime, to a group of enrapt  listeners hanging off every word. So every word is tested for how it sounds, I read my work aloud to myself while writing and edit if it sounds 'wrong'. 

While I love English, the flexibility of it, the fun you can have with words, with construction, the nuances, the inflections, and I am madly, passionately in love with words, I also just simply love the sound of language. I am fairly useless at learning languages, but the sound, oh the sound, of a well-written piece in its original language ... You don't need to understand the meaning, it is the sound that transports you, the rise and fall, the patterns, the intonations, the prosody, the cadence, the tone - it's all there in the sound, all the emotion, in every vibration of the spoken words, lying beyond mere meaning, like music, it is pure emotion. And it is that I unconsciously attempt to capture in the way I write. I write to the rhythms of how I speak, or how a character speaks, I hear a voice, my voice, their voice, as I write, and I mimic that sound in the words that flow from my fingers. 

So yes, I write because I can, but I also write because it is beautiful. 

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Written by Meadow337 in portal A Writer's Path
Why Do I Write?
The very short and simple answer is 'because I can'. Which is perhaps not particularly modest, but it is nonetheless the truth. I am more aware than most of my failings and shortcomings, having spent a lifetime trying to come to terms with myself, and part of that process has been acknowledging what I can do (as well as what I can't). And one of those things is the ability to string words together into sentences and sentences into a story that people like often enough for me to say, with some small modesty, "I can write". So I do. 

I have never had this burning 'HAVE TO' write, so many refer to. I won't die if I don't write. I won't burst from the internal pressure of an untold story. Many of my stories never make it to paper anyway; often it is enough to articulate them inside my head, or to whoever is willing to listen to my nonsense about a flower, a phrase, a moment, a car ... but there are those that make it to paper. 

I love the process of writing, of finding the right word, the right flow, the right cadence, the right tone. I think of myself as a storyteller. I like telling stories, and I always write with an eye to the ear - yes I know, but - I write to be read. I write with the idea that someone somewhere is telling the story beside a fire, at bedtime, to a group of enrapt  listeners hanging off every word. So every word is tested for how it sounds, I read my work aloud to myself while writing and edit if it sounds 'wrong'. 

While I love English, the flexibility of it, the fun you can have with words, with construction, the nuances, the inflections, and I am madly, passionately in love with words, I also just simply love the sound of language. I am fairly useless at learning languages, but the sound, oh the sound, of a well-written piece in its original language ... You don't need to understand the meaning, it is the sound that transports you, the rise and fall, the patterns, the intonations, the prosody, the cadence, the tone - it's all there in the sound, all the emotion, in every vibration of the spoken words, lying beyond mere meaning, like music, it is pure emotion. And it is that I unconsciously attempt to capture in the way I write. I write to the rhythms of how I speak, or how a character speaks, I hear a voice, my voice, their voice, as I write, and I mimic that sound in the words that flow from my fingers. 

So yes, I write because I can, but I also write because it is beautiful. 
#philosophy  #writing  #opinion 
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"The pages are empty, and yet they still taunt me with invisible words... " Use this as the beginning to your new poem that will answer a question of your own choosing.
Written by fallingundone in portal Poetry & Free Verse

the pages are empty

and yet

they still taunt me

with invisible words

they beckon me 

to write

they whisper

enticingly 

of the possibilities

yet refuse

to show me

the way

to record these emotions

how can i convey

the feeling

of

being

both empty

and overflowing

at once

i need to know

so that

i do not

cancel myself out

so i 

    allow 

           it 

             all

                to

                  fall

                     upon

                          the

                             page

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"The pages are empty, and yet they still taunt me with invisible words... " Use this as the beginning to your new poem that will answer a question of your own choosing.
Written by fallingundone in portal Poetry & Free Verse
the pages are empty
and yet
they still taunt me
with invisible words

they beckon me 
to write

they whisper
enticingly 
of the possibilities

yet refuse
to show me
the way
to record these emotions

how can i convey
the feeling
of
being
both empty
and overflowing
at once

i need to know
so that
i do not
cancel myself out

so i 
    allow 
           it 
             all
                to
                  fall
                     upon
                          the
                             page
#poetry  #writing  #opinion 
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I got this idea from a poetry workshop I went to yesterday: Write a poem about what your words do. "My words change" or "My words never lie" for example. Make it as creative as you want! And tag me @LiberalPoet.
Written by poeticasymptote in portal Poetry & Free Verse

My Words

My words are many

My words are few

Won't tell you what I want to do

My words are easy

My words are tough

Won't tell you what is good enough

My words are blatant

My words are shy

Won't tell you how, when or why

My words are silly

My words are wise

Won't tell you when something will suffice

My words are meaty

My words are bland

Won't tell you reasons to understand

My words are hurtful

My words are warm

Won't tell you ways to remain calm

My words are music

My words are noise

Won't tell you I made a wrong choice

My words are bitter

My words are sweet

Won't tell you whichever's ready to eat

My words are lasting

My words are lost

Won't tell you how much each one would cost

My words are hidden

My words are out

Won't tell you what this is all about

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I got this idea from a poetry workshop I went to yesterday: Write a poem about what your words do. "My words change" or "My words never lie" for example. Make it as creative as you want! And tag me @LiberalPoet.
Written by poeticasymptote in portal Poetry & Free Verse
My Words
My words are many
My words are few
Won't tell you what I want to do

My words are easy
My words are tough
Won't tell you what is good enough

My words are blatant
My words are shy
Won't tell you how, when or why

My words are silly
My words are wise
Won't tell you when something will suffice

My words are meaty
My words are bland
Won't tell you reasons to understand

My words are hurtful
My words are warm
Won't tell you ways to remain calm

My words are music
My words are noise
Won't tell you I made a wrong choice

My words are bitter
My words are sweet
Won't tell you whichever's ready to eat

My words are lasting
My words are lost
Won't tell you how much each one would cost

My words are hidden
My words are out
Won't tell you what this is all about
#philosophy  #challenge  #writing  #opinion  #perspective 
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Written by DaveBricker in portal Nonfiction

Two-word Clichés

Two-word clichés are perhaps the least obvious kind. Unless we’re vigilant, they sneak into our prose, steal color, mask our individual writer’s voice, and make us sound like millions of other writers who mindlessly employ the same worn out word combinations. I find countless examples even while editing the work of accomplished authors.

I explored traditional clichés in an earlier post, suggesting that writers who employ phrases like “loose cannon,” “fly off the handle,” and “bitter end” should do so with an understanding of their origins. A loose cannon could do tremendous damage on a rolling ship. An axe head that flies off its handle could easily kill someone. Hanging on to the bitter end of a rope is prerequisite to fastening it (to the bitts or cleats) on the dock. Every cliché has a story, and writers who understand the origins of clichés use them in more meaningful ways.

The two-word cliché is a different animal. Though it may have historical roots (or be a useful-but-tired metaphor like “low-hanging fruit” or “level playing field”), it’s usually comprised of two words that have stuck together and fallen into popular use—often an adjective and a noun. These pairs become inseparable to a point where writers rarely use one word without the other.

Redundant Writing Clichés

Some two-word clichés are redundant. Sticky glue, colorful paint, sandy beaches, and towering heights can survive just fine without their useless adjective parasites. When a character shares her inner thoughts, is it necessary to differentiate them from her outer ones? Are dark caves an anomaly? I haven’t seen any well-lit ones. When you hire a qualified professional and he botches the job, does that person become an unqualified professional or does it make more sense to drop the professional designation altogether? Terrible wars? Are there pleasant ones? Has anyone ever intentionally built a penetrable fortress? For that matter, has anyone successfully built an impenetrable one? And to stay on-topic, how about those tired clichés? Have you heard any fresh, new ones lately?

Popular Partners Writing Clichés

Other two-word clichés are random word couplings that have become popular. Thriving economies worship the mighty dollar. Hardened criminals in cramped quarters face dire circumstances with grim determination. Brutal dictators greet throngs of ardent supporters with wild enthusiasm. Inveterate do-it-yourselfers publish their own books, seeking golden opportunities. Are seas really rough, or is that a better way to describe sandpaper?

Writing Clichés: Fixing the Problem

If the horizon is worth mentioning, it can probably be assumed to be an expansive horizon. Can you find a different adjective that isn’t used by every autopilot author? Why not abandon the overused adjective and let the horizon “embrace the sea” or “challenge one’s significance?” Don’t try to build art from prefabricated parts. Try a different twist on “deadly” and aim with molecular accuracy.

A silvery moon rose over the expansive horizon. Lying low on the sandy beach in the driving rain with the rolling hills of France behind him, Vincent inhaled the pungent aroma of Europe’s terrible war. Acrid smoke rose from the battle site. Holding his fallen comrade’s dogtags in a deadly grip, he swore a solemn oath that by morning, he would find a way into the enemy’s impenetrable fortress.

The example above is technically correct. It sets a scene with descriptions of sights and smells. It concisely describes a character’s circumstances, explains his mission, and sets up the challenge he’ll overcome in the narrative that follows. Developmentally, it’s good storytelling, but the prose is burdened with two-word clichés. How many millions of writers use these same descriptions?

In the example, the two-word clichés, stripped of their adjectives, reveal the passage to be little more than a simple list of elements—moon, horizon, beach, rain, hills, aroma, war, smoke, gripping, oath, fortress—padded with fluff. Why not rebuild from this foundation by finding better adjectives or expanding on some of their roles?

A yellow moon rose over the lip of the sea. Entrenched in the sand before the dark contours of the French countryside, the stench of war clawed at Vincent's throat. Smoke rose from the battle site. Madding rain drummed on his helmet, roaring in his ears, slipping cold tendrils down his neck. Clutching Rick’s bloody dogtags between his rifle stock and palm, he swore that by morning, he would find a way into the enemy’s fortress.

So often we reach for predictable pairings. Like logo designs that offer globes and swooshes, the comfort that comes with familiarity blinds us to the fact that these elements do nothing to differentiate us from other writers (or businesses). Here are some more overused word pairs:

noble challenge

honored guest

sweet revenge

burning question

cold cash

deadly accuracy

fluffy clouds

deep blue sea

cozy fire

comfortable cottage

undisputed master

pretty picture

stone dead

warm welcome

simmering stew

winding path

passionate kiss

sparkling diamonds

triumphant return

slippery slope

brutal honesty

burning desire

In a medium where overlap is a given—we all use the same English words—finding your individual voice is a challenge. And if we stray too far from the pool of popular language, we alienate readers. The goal is not to remove every “popular pairing” from our writing (I’m sure my work is full of two-word clichés and someone will inevitably point to one I’ve unconsciously dropped into this article). Any rule that purports to govern the “right way to write” will fail. Key is to develop awareness—an ability to spot patterns and cliché forms so that we can apply conscious decision-making. Most writing style problems occur because the author is unaware that s/he’s using the same tired patterns that millions of other writers toss mindlessly onto the page. As you read, consider whether your word pairings are merely comfortable or if they’re colorful representations of your expressive writing ability.

For more tips on writing style, read my web-based eBook, The Writer’s Guide to Powerful Prose.

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Written by DaveBricker in portal Nonfiction
Two-word Clichés
Two-word clichés are perhaps the least obvious kind. Unless we’re vigilant, they sneak into our prose, steal color, mask our individual writer’s voice, and make us sound like millions of other writers who mindlessly employ the same worn out word combinations. I find countless examples even while editing the work of accomplished authors.

I explored traditional clichés in an earlier post, suggesting that writers who employ phrases like “loose cannon,” “fly off the handle,” and “bitter end” should do so with an understanding of their origins. A loose cannon could do tremendous damage on a rolling ship. An axe head that flies off its handle could easily kill someone. Hanging on to the bitter end of a rope is prerequisite to fastening it (to the bitts or cleats) on the dock. Every cliché has a story, and writers who understand the origins of clichés use them in more meaningful ways.

The two-word cliché is a different animal. Though it may have historical roots (or be a useful-but-tired metaphor like “low-hanging fruit” or “level playing field”), it’s usually comprised of two words that have stuck together and fallen into popular use—often an adjective and a noun. These pairs become inseparable to a point where writers rarely use one word without the other.

Redundant Writing Clichés

Some two-word clichés are redundant. Sticky glue, colorful paint, sandy beaches, and towering heights can survive just fine without their useless adjective parasites. When a character shares her inner thoughts, is it necessary to differentiate them from her outer ones? Are dark caves an anomaly? I haven’t seen any well-lit ones. When you hire a qualified professional and he botches the job, does that person become an unqualified professional or does it make more sense to drop the professional designation altogether? Terrible wars? Are there pleasant ones? Has anyone ever intentionally built a penetrable fortress? For that matter, has anyone successfully built an impenetrable one? And to stay on-topic, how about those tired clichés? Have you heard any fresh, new ones lately?

Popular Partners Writing Clichés

Other two-word clichés are random word couplings that have become popular. Thriving economies worship the mighty dollar. Hardened criminals in cramped quarters face dire circumstances with grim determination. Brutal dictators greet throngs of ardent supporters with wild enthusiasm. Inveterate do-it-yourselfers publish their own books, seeking golden opportunities. Are seas really rough, or is that a better way to describe sandpaper?

Writing Clichés: Fixing the Problem

If the horizon is worth mentioning, it can probably be assumed to be an expansive horizon. Can you find a different adjective that isn’t used by every autopilot author? Why not abandon the overused adjective and let the horizon “embrace the sea” or “challenge one’s significance?” Don’t try to build art from prefabricated parts. Try a different twist on “deadly” and aim with molecular accuracy.

A silvery moon rose over the expansive horizon. Lying low on the sandy beach in the driving rain with the rolling hills of France behind him, Vincent inhaled the pungent aroma of Europe’s terrible war. Acrid smoke rose from the battle site. Holding his fallen comrade’s dogtags in a deadly grip, he swore a solemn oath that by morning, he would find a way into the enemy’s impenetrable fortress.

The example above is technically correct. It sets a scene with descriptions of sights and smells. It concisely describes a character’s circumstances, explains his mission, and sets up the challenge he’ll overcome in the narrative that follows. Developmentally, it’s good storytelling, but the prose is burdened with two-word clichés. How many millions of writers use these same descriptions?

In the example, the two-word clichés, stripped of their adjectives, reveal the passage to be little more than a simple list of elements—moon, horizon, beach, rain, hills, aroma, war, smoke, gripping, oath, fortress—padded with fluff. Why not rebuild from this foundation by finding better adjectives or expanding on some of their roles?

A yellow moon rose over the lip of the sea. Entrenched in the sand before the dark contours of the French countryside, the stench of war clawed at Vincent's throat. Smoke rose from the battle site. Madding rain drummed on his helmet, roaring in his ears, slipping cold tendrils down his neck. Clutching Rick’s bloody dogtags between his rifle stock and palm, he swore that by morning, he would find a way into the enemy’s fortress.

So often we reach for predictable pairings. Like logo designs that offer globes and swooshes, the comfort that comes with familiarity blinds us to the fact that these elements do nothing to differentiate us from other writers (or businesses). Here are some more overused word pairs:

noble challenge
honored guest
sweet revenge
burning question
cold cash
deadly accuracy
fluffy clouds
deep blue sea
cozy fire
comfortable cottage
undisputed master
pretty picture
stone dead
warm welcome
simmering stew
winding path
passionate kiss
sparkling diamonds
triumphant return
slippery slope
brutal honesty
burning desire

In a medium where overlap is a given—we all use the same English words—finding your individual voice is a challenge. And if we stray too far from the pool of popular language, we alienate readers. The goal is not to remove every “popular pairing” from our writing (I’m sure my work is full of two-word clichés and someone will inevitably point to one I’ve unconsciously dropped into this article). Any rule that purports to govern the “right way to write” will fail. Key is to develop awareness—an ability to spot patterns and cliché forms so that we can apply conscious decision-making. Most writing style problems occur because the author is unaware that s/he’s using the same tired patterns that millions of other writers toss mindlessly onto the page. As you read, consider whether your word pairings are merely comfortable or if they’re colorful representations of your expressive writing ability.

For more tips on writing style, read my web-based eBook, The Writer’s Guide to Powerful Prose.

#nonfiction  #writing  #cliches  #writingstyle 
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Are You Living the Writer's Life?

Writers and publishers generally talk about selling books, choosing a path for printing and distribution, the importance of professional editing and design, and technical matters pertaining to grammar and style. But what about the path one takes to become a writer? Certainly, we must all learn about semicolons and apostrophes, but that journey is often inspired by an earlier and more profound one. From whence comes the call to translate vivid life experiences and ideas—the sublime, the horrific, the transcendent, the transformational, the imagined—into a form that can be shared? What does it mean to live the writer’s life—as opposed to the publisher’s?

A friend suggested I take a look at KatieAndJessieOnABoat.com, a blog created by Katie Smith and Jessie Zevalkink—two young women who made a long journey on a small boat. After turning a fixer-upper sailboat into a humble home, they made their way from the Great Lakes down the Mississippi and its tributaries to the Gulf of Mexico. Destination: across the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas. Their site is a chronicle of their thoughts, adventures, friends and photographs gathered along the way.

Back in the 1980s and 90s, I took off in a small sailboat with an even smaller amount of money to go find my own stories. I had remarkable experiences cruising solo in the Bahamas and crossing the Atlantic to Gibraltar. I had some of the best and worst times of my life on those voyages and today, I look back on my past without an ounce of regret over things I “should have” done.

Those were days before GPS and the Internet, before digital cameras, before Facebook and Flickr. I took photos (remember 35mm film?) and even created my own tongue-in-cheek edition of “Captain Dave’s Nautical News,” but recording and sharing my adventures was much more difficult then than it is today. Nevertheless, I had some inkling, even as a young man, that I would one day wish to write about my journeys. With that in mind, I took a few more chances and explored a few more blind alleys. “What can I do today that will be worth writing about?”

Before those voyages, back in the late 70s, my high school friend Gene Flipse introduced me to boating and Miami’s Biscayne Bay. Today, Gene runs Conscious Breath Adventures—one-week excursions to the Dominican Republic’s Silver Bank to swim with migrating humpback whales. His weekly cruise reports offer astounding views and descriptions of whales in the wild.

Katie and Jessie and Gene offer an important reminder for those of us who spend countless hours marketing our prose. The writer’s life—or at least a critical part of it—is not about publishing. The writer’s life is about stepping off the sidewalk into the woods, paying attention to details, and placing a certain amount of faith in the premise that because you survived all the days preceding this one, you’ll likely survive whatever you encounter today. Why not go for it? The writer’s life is about living a life worth writing about—even if you never set pen to paper.

Two decades after my sailing voyages, I’m still tapping away at the keyboard polishing up my old stories. But a few years ago, I decided I’d been away from the water too long and I bought myself a fifteen-foot open sailboat. It feels good to be out there having aquatic adventures again—even if they don’t span months and thousands of miles.

Your adventures may be different—not smaller, but different: parenting, adopting a stray animal, losing your job, starting a career, getting lost in an unfamiliar town, having a vivid dream, getting married, getting divorced, going blind, inventing something important that nobody will pay attention to—but these experiences are the stuff from which great literature is made. Publishing is a great adventure in itself and a noble endeavor, but of all its dangers and pitfalls, perhaps the greatest is the possibility that the demands of turning our books into products might distract us from the far more important process of having experiences and turning them into stories.

What can you do today that will be worth writing about? As the old saying goes, “you’re either talking about it or you’re doing it.” As your story transitions from experience to manuscript to book, don’t forget to live the writer’s life. There is none better.

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Written by DaveBricker in portal Nonfiction
Are You Living the Writer's Life?
Writers and publishers generally talk about selling books, choosing a path for printing and distribution, the importance of professional editing and design, and technical matters pertaining to grammar and style. But what about the path one takes to become a writer? Certainly, we must all learn about semicolons and apostrophes, but that journey is often inspired by an earlier and more profound one. From whence comes the call to translate vivid life experiences and ideas—the sublime, the horrific, the transcendent, the transformational, the imagined—into a form that can be shared? What does it mean to live the writer’s life—as opposed to the publisher’s?

A friend suggested I take a look at KatieAndJessieOnABoat.com, a blog created by Katie Smith and Jessie Zevalkink—two young women who made a long journey on a small boat. After turning a fixer-upper sailboat into a humble home, they made their way from the Great Lakes down the Mississippi and its tributaries to the Gulf of Mexico. Destination: across the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas. Their site is a chronicle of their thoughts, adventures, friends and photographs gathered along the way.

Back in the 1980s and 90s, I took off in a small sailboat with an even smaller amount of money to go find my own stories. I had remarkable experiences cruising solo in the Bahamas and crossing the Atlantic to Gibraltar. I had some of the best and worst times of my life on those voyages and today, I look back on my past without an ounce of regret over things I “should have” done.

Those were days before GPS and the Internet, before digital cameras, before Facebook and Flickr. I took photos (remember 35mm film?) and even created my own tongue-in-cheek edition of “Captain Dave’s Nautical News,” but recording and sharing my adventures was much more difficult then than it is today. Nevertheless, I had some inkling, even as a young man, that I would one day wish to write about my journeys. With that in mind, I took a few more chances and explored a few more blind alleys. “What can I do today that will be worth writing about?”

Before those voyages, back in the late 70s, my high school friend Gene Flipse introduced me to boating and Miami’s Biscayne Bay. Today, Gene runs Conscious Breath Adventures—one-week excursions to the Dominican Republic’s Silver Bank to swim with migrating humpback whales. His weekly cruise reports offer astounding views and descriptions of whales in the wild.

Katie and Jessie and Gene offer an important reminder for those of us who spend countless hours marketing our prose. The writer’s life—or at least a critical part of it—is not about publishing. The writer’s life is about stepping off the sidewalk into the woods, paying attention to details, and placing a certain amount of faith in the premise that because you survived all the days preceding this one, you’ll likely survive whatever you encounter today. Why not go for it? The writer’s life is about living a life worth writing about—even if you never set pen to paper.

Two decades after my sailing voyages, I’m still tapping away at the keyboard polishing up my old stories. But a few years ago, I decided I’d been away from the water too long and I bought myself a fifteen-foot open sailboat. It feels good to be out there having aquatic adventures again—even if they don’t span months and thousands of miles.

Your adventures may be different—not smaller, but different: parenting, adopting a stray animal, losing your job, starting a career, getting lost in an unfamiliar town, having a vivid dream, getting married, getting divorced, going blind, inventing something important that nobody will pay attention to—but these experiences are the stuff from which great literature is made. Publishing is a great adventure in itself and a noble endeavor, but of all its dangers and pitfalls, perhaps the greatest is the possibility that the demands of turning our books into products might distract us from the far more important process of having experiences and turning them into stories.

What can you do today that will be worth writing about? As the old saying goes, “you’re either talking about it or you’re doing it.” As your story transitions from experience to manuscript to book, don’t forget to live the writer’s life. There is none better.
#writing 
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Written by DaveBricker in portal Nonfiction

Thoughts on Clichés

Since time immemorial, clichés have sneaked in the door when we least expect them to. They’re low-hanging fruit for writers who abscond with them quickly instead of striving for excellence. But to the trained eye, writing clichés stick out like a sore thumb. Authors of this day and age who struggle under the yoke of undetected style errors are too numerous to mention. The good writer puts his nose to the grindstone and embarks on a quest to find hidden treasure. With the patience of Job, he leaves no stone unturned in his search for words and phrases that give his writing a personal, authentic voice.

Writers from all walks of life are determined to publish by hook or by crook. Champing at the bit to publish his book, the writer gets behind the eight ball and pours himself lock, stock, and barrel into the task of writing. Cool as a cucumber and lost in contemplation, the ambitious author taps away at the keyboard day in and day out until the crack of dawn, happy as a kid in a candy store. As his manuscript grows by leaps and bounds, he envisions a whirlwind bookstore tour and expects his book to sell like hotcakes. Sure of success, he pulls out all the stops and pours everything but the kitchen sink into his writing. And he’s proud to have sufficient skill as a writer to avoid paying through the nose for an expensive editor. Publishing, he is certain, will open the floodgates to a world of opportunity where there’s never a dull moment. He envisions untold wealth, living larger than life in the lap of luxury, and laughing all the way to the bank.

But this flurry of activity is actually the calm before the storm. The pie-in-the-sky dream is too good to be true. Such writers are accidents waiting to happen. In this dog-eat-dog world, such books are usually dead in the water, and at best they’re a flash in the pan. Give the devil his due; the writing is on the wall for this author. His own worst enemy, he fails to realize that his chances are one in a million. Little the wiser, he jumps the gun and publishes before you can say “Jack Robinson.” At the end of the day, how many of his words fall on deaf ears? He falls hook, line, and sinker for the fantasy of becoming a bestselling author. Then, to add insult to injury, he hangs on to the bitter end, enjoying at best only a checkered career before his book is buried beneath the sands of time and forgotten by the long march of history. For all intents and purposes, in the twinkling of an eye, he’s dead as a doornail.

It goes without saying that the winds of change have brought higher standards to the fast-maturing world of self-publishing. Self-publishers are all in the same boat. To tame the wild horse of the publishing world, we must all pay the piper and nip bad writing habits in the bud.

Clichés are only one problem among many that writers should avoid like the plague. Each and every one of us must take the tiger by his tail and think outside the box. New words and phrases are easy to find or create for those willing to take the journey. The challenge to find clever words is hardly a search for a needle in a haystack. Why use clichés over and over when there are plenty of fish in the sea? Why live the writer’s life on borrowed time? After all, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Make no bones about it; writers who count their chickens before they’re hatched will soon find them coming home to roost. The ball’s in your court. Take the bull by the horns, bite the bullet, go back to the drawing board, and add some clever new phrases to your bag of writing tricks. Open up that can of worms in your writing before you publish and share them. The acid test for good writing is authenticity. Well-constructed prose is a breath of fresh air, not a rehash of the same old same old. Learn the ropes. Dot your Is and cross your Ts. Knuckle down and honor the craft of writing.

All things considered, it’s probably a fool’s errand to try to rid your writing of clichés entirely, but in a nutshell, it stands to reason that in the cold light of day, weak writing habits will all come out in the wash. Publishing without paying your dues is like banging your head against a brick wall. Instead of shooting yourself in the foot, take the high road. The path to excellence is as plain as the nose on your face. Play your cards right, face the music, strike while the iron’s hot, and turn over a new leaf.

You’ll find no hard and fast rules about what’s cliché and what’s not, but by the same token, writers who exercise discerning judgment about their wordcraft are head and shoulders above the rest. Practice makes perfect. Put your best foot forward and work slowly but surely until your writing becomes as steady as a rock. For all intents and purposes, your prose need not meet the lofty standards of the average ivory tower stick in the mud, but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, polished writing is a rare beast indeed and not anything to be sneezed at.

Without a shadow of a doubt, too many authors make the same mistakes ad infinitum. Gluttons for punishment, they dismiss previous, failed efforts as water under the bridge and part of the learning curve, then forge ahead. Come hell or high water, they’re determined to earn the glowing tributes, thunderous applause, and choruses of approval that only a chosen few are blessed to receive once in a blue moon.

But there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Publishing is a game of survival of the fittest. Ignorance is bliss. Mark my words, the time has come to stop muddying the waters of short, sweet, and to the point writing with the cast-off jetsam and flotsam of language. The unvarnished truth: writers who fail to heed this warning will get their just desserts. Proof of the pudding is that left high and dry, and subject to twenty-twenty hindsight, they cry “sour grapes” at the moment of truth, and tuck their tails between their legs. With ruffled feathers, they throw in the towel and meet the untimely end of their literary lives.

As luck would have it, capable writers are not expected to be able to quote the thesaurus chapter and verse. Becoming a competent writer does not involve reinventing the wheel. As a matter of fact, there’s no need to make a mountain out of a mole hill; becoming cliché-aware requires no painstaking investigation. There’s no need to search your writing high and low—and ultimately, whether a phrase is “officially” cliché or not is anybody’s guess. Cultivating an ability to recognize clichés is nothing to write home about. Not to put too fine a point on it, writers who seek out and expose themselves to one of the many online lists of clichés will, after due consideration, naturally incorporate their new-found awareness into their writing.

First and foremost, those writers who ultimately hit the nail on the head are the ones who recognize that battling style errors is part of the long haul every one of us must make. The completion of a rough draft is a mixed blessing. The savvy author must put his money where his mouth is, stick to the straight and narrow, pay his dues, and turn his diamond in the rough into a polished gem. Writers worth their salt know that the first draft is only the tip of the iceberg.

Great writing requires tender loving care and when the work is done, the polished writer may yet wind up an unsung hero. Excellent writing won’t necessarily make or break a book and regrettably, some authors grow sick and tired enough to give up, get some well-earned rest, and publish, warts and all. But make no mistake, you get what you pay for. Your excellent book may not make you rich but you can bet your bottom dollar it will be a sight for sore eyes in a world where quality and attention to detail are sorely needed. If you don’t care, who will?

Last but not least, just for the record, this essay is hardly short and sweet but there’s a tongue-in-cheek method to my madness. As strange as it may seem, I sincerely hope that readers who take my words with a grain of salt will see them as a blessing in disguise.

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Written by DaveBricker in portal Nonfiction
Thoughts on Clichés
Since time immemorial, clichés have sneaked in the door when we least expect them to. They’re low-hanging fruit for writers who abscond with them quickly instead of striving for excellence. But to the trained eye, writing clichés stick out like a sore thumb. Authors of this day and age who struggle under the yoke of undetected style errors are too numerous to mention. The good writer puts his nose to the grindstone and embarks on a quest to find hidden treasure. With the patience of Job, he leaves no stone unturned in his search for words and phrases that give his writing a personal, authentic voice.

Writers from all walks of life are determined to publish by hook or by crook. Champing at the bit to publish his book, the writer gets behind the eight ball and pours himself lock, stock, and barrel into the task of writing. Cool as a cucumber and lost in contemplation, the ambitious author taps away at the keyboard day in and day out until the crack of dawn, happy as a kid in a candy store. As his manuscript grows by leaps and bounds, he envisions a whirlwind bookstore tour and expects his book to sell like hotcakes. Sure of success, he pulls out all the stops and pours everything but the kitchen sink into his writing. And he’s proud to have sufficient skill as a writer to avoid paying through the nose for an expensive editor. Publishing, he is certain, will open the floodgates to a world of opportunity where there’s never a dull moment. He envisions untold wealth, living larger than life in the lap of luxury, and laughing all the way to the bank.

But this flurry of activity is actually the calm before the storm. The pie-in-the-sky dream is too good to be true. Such writers are accidents waiting to happen. In this dog-eat-dog world, such books are usually dead in the water, and at best they’re a flash in the pan. Give the devil his due; the writing is on the wall for this author. His own worst enemy, he fails to realize that his chances are one in a million. Little the wiser, he jumps the gun and publishes before you can say “Jack Robinson.” At the end of the day, how many of his words fall on deaf ears? He falls hook, line, and sinker for the fantasy of becoming a bestselling author. Then, to add insult to injury, he hangs on to the bitter end, enjoying at best only a checkered career before his book is buried beneath the sands of time and forgotten by the long march of history. For all intents and purposes, in the twinkling of an eye, he’s dead as a doornail.

It goes without saying that the winds of change have brought higher standards to the fast-maturing world of self-publishing. Self-publishers are all in the same boat. To tame the wild horse of the publishing world, we must all pay the piper and nip bad writing habits in the bud.

Clichés are only one problem among many that writers should avoid like the plague. Each and every one of us must take the tiger by his tail and think outside the box. New words and phrases are easy to find or create for those willing to take the journey. The challenge to find clever words is hardly a search for a needle in a haystack. Why use clichés over and over when there are plenty of fish in the sea? Why live the writer’s life on borrowed time? After all, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Make no bones about it; writers who count their chickens before they’re hatched will soon find them coming home to roost. The ball’s in your court. Take the bull by the horns, bite the bullet, go back to the drawing board, and add some clever new phrases to your bag of writing tricks. Open up that can of worms in your writing before you publish and share them. The acid test for good writing is authenticity. Well-constructed prose is a breath of fresh air, not a rehash of the same old same old. Learn the ropes. Dot your Is and cross your Ts. Knuckle down and honor the craft of writing.

All things considered, it’s probably a fool’s errand to try to rid your writing of clichés entirely, but in a nutshell, it stands to reason that in the cold light of day, weak writing habits will all come out in the wash. Publishing without paying your dues is like banging your head against a brick wall. Instead of shooting yourself in the foot, take the high road. The path to excellence is as plain as the nose on your face. Play your cards right, face the music, strike while the iron’s hot, and turn over a new leaf.

You’ll find no hard and fast rules about what’s cliché and what’s not, but by the same token, writers who exercise discerning judgment about their wordcraft are head and shoulders above the rest. Practice makes perfect. Put your best foot forward and work slowly but surely until your writing becomes as steady as a rock. For all intents and purposes, your prose need not meet the lofty standards of the average ivory tower stick in the mud, but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, polished writing is a rare beast indeed and not anything to be sneezed at.

Without a shadow of a doubt, too many authors make the same mistakes ad infinitum. Gluttons for punishment, they dismiss previous, failed efforts as water under the bridge and part of the learning curve, then forge ahead. Come hell or high water, they’re determined to earn the glowing tributes, thunderous applause, and choruses of approval that only a chosen few are blessed to receive once in a blue moon.

But there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Publishing is a game of survival of the fittest. Ignorance is bliss. Mark my words, the time has come to stop muddying the waters of short, sweet, and to the point writing with the cast-off jetsam and flotsam of language. The unvarnished truth: writers who fail to heed this warning will get their just desserts. Proof of the pudding is that left high and dry, and subject to twenty-twenty hindsight, they cry “sour grapes” at the moment of truth, and tuck their tails between their legs. With ruffled feathers, they throw in the towel and meet the untimely end of their literary lives.

As luck would have it, capable writers are not expected to be able to quote the thesaurus chapter and verse. Becoming a competent writer does not involve reinventing the wheel. As a matter of fact, there’s no need to make a mountain out of a mole hill; becoming cliché-aware requires no painstaking investigation. There’s no need to search your writing high and low—and ultimately, whether a phrase is “officially” cliché or not is anybody’s guess. Cultivating an ability to recognize clichés is nothing to write home about. Not to put too fine a point on it, writers who seek out and expose themselves to one of the many online lists of clichés will, after due consideration, naturally incorporate their new-found awareness into their writing.

First and foremost, those writers who ultimately hit the nail on the head are the ones who recognize that battling style errors is part of the long haul every one of us must make. The completion of a rough draft is a mixed blessing. The savvy author must put his money where his mouth is, stick to the straight and narrow, pay his dues, and turn his diamond in the rough into a polished gem. Writers worth their salt know that the first draft is only the tip of the iceberg.

Great writing requires tender loving care and when the work is done, the polished writer may yet wind up an unsung hero. Excellent writing won’t necessarily make or break a book and regrettably, some authors grow sick and tired enough to give up, get some well-earned rest, and publish, warts and all. But make no mistake, you get what you pay for. Your excellent book may not make you rich but you can bet your bottom dollar it will be a sight for sore eyes in a world where quality and attention to detail are sorely needed. If you don’t care, who will?

Last but not least, just for the record, this essay is hardly short and sweet but there’s a tongue-in-cheek method to my madness. As strange as it may seem, I sincerely hope that readers who take my words with a grain of salt will see them as a blessing in disguise.
#writing 
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Written by DaveBricker in portal Nonfiction

The Power of One-Sentence Paragraphs

Search for “one-sentence paragraph” on the Internet and you’ll mostly find questions about whether writing them is even an acceptable practice. The one-sentence paragraph is not only legal, it’s a useful and powerful literary device.

One-sentence paragraphs are common when short pieces of dialog are being exchanged, but consider the effect of serial one-sentence paragraphs in other contexts. The following excerpt from my memoir, The Blue Monk describes an ocean crossing in a small wooden boat:

The sun marches over our heads through a field of blue, burns the horizon beyond our wake, yields to the stars, purples the east, and rises before us again.

We are aground in a river of time.

We eat.

We sleep.

With the wheel, we turn the ocean round our boat.

Days pass like silken threads on hidden currents of wind.

Hours hover like dust revealed by a sunbeam.

Forever collapses into a moment.

There can be no other side, no destination.

There is only here, only now.

The wind falls light again.

We motor over calm, shimmering seas.

The narrative reflects on the passage of time at sea. Though it could have been written as a single paragraph, consider how isolating each thought affects the pacing. This is a marriage of prose and poetry, designed to be “read aloud” in your head. Pause at each comma. Stop at the end of each sentence. Let the words ring.

And consistent single-sentence paragraphs are not a strict requirement. This is writing, not math.

The sun falls below the pines of Great Abaco.

The wind picks up.

The temperature drops.

We drag my dinghy to the top of the beach and prop it on its oars behind us to serve as a windbreak. John had the foresight to gather dry firewood back at Man-O-War Cay. We add to his collection a few pieces of driftwood we find on the beach. Behind our dinghy shelter, a small flame begins to consume our branches and wood scraps.

Yellow sparks crackle and fly high into the fast-darkening night.

Stars gather overhead.

John points into the brilliant sky. “See the three planets grouped in a small triangle there? They’re what we’ve come here for. They won’t appear this close together again for over a thousand years.”

Have you ever taken a photograph of a sunset? The resulting image inevitably fails to capture the glory of the scene; a sunset cannot be put in a frame. Sometimes, effective writing requires the author to create a detailed portrait, but “paint by numbers” also works. Your reader has seen sunsets before, experienced cold, and sat near a fire. Why not offer clues to help your reader construct his own picture from his own memories?

Short, single-line paragraphs mimic the experiencing mind. Experience, in its pure form, transcends words. More words might convey the author’s picture of an experience at the expense of the reader’s. Why place your reader in your head when you can pull her into your scene?

As they say, “the devil is in the details.”

So get rid of the details.

Write succinctly and seriously.

One-sentence paragraphs cue your reader to stop and reflect.

Of course, Victorian verbosity is as valid a writing style as postmodernist minimalism. Good writing comes from choosing the right style for a particular passage, and not from any formulaic approach. The one-sentence paragraph is one technique among many—another color in the capable writer’s palette.

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Written by DaveBricker in portal Nonfiction
The Power of One-Sentence Paragraphs
Search for “one-sentence paragraph” on the Internet and you’ll mostly find questions about whether writing them is even an acceptable practice. The one-sentence paragraph is not only legal, it’s a useful and powerful literary device.

One-sentence paragraphs are common when short pieces of dialog are being exchanged, but consider the effect of serial one-sentence paragraphs in other contexts. The following excerpt from my memoir, The Blue Monk describes an ocean crossing in a small wooden boat:

The sun marches over our heads through a field of blue, burns the horizon beyond our wake, yields to the stars, purples the east, and rises before us again.
We are aground in a river of time.
We eat.
We sleep.
With the wheel, we turn the ocean round our boat.
Days pass like silken threads on hidden currents of wind.
Hours hover like dust revealed by a sunbeam.
Forever collapses into a moment.
There can be no other side, no destination.
There is only here, only now.
The wind falls light again.
We motor over calm, shimmering seas.

The narrative reflects on the passage of time at sea. Though it could have been written as a single paragraph, consider how isolating each thought affects the pacing. This is a marriage of prose and poetry, designed to be “read aloud” in your head. Pause at each comma. Stop at the end of each sentence. Let the words ring.

And consistent single-sentence paragraphs are not a strict requirement. This is writing, not math.

The sun falls below the pines of Great Abaco.
The wind picks up.
The temperature drops.
We drag my dinghy to the top of the beach and prop it on its oars behind us to serve as a windbreak. John had the foresight to gather dry firewood back at Man-O-War Cay. We add to his collection a few pieces of driftwood we find on the beach. Behind our dinghy shelter, a small flame begins to consume our branches and wood scraps.
Yellow sparks crackle and fly high into the fast-darkening night.
Stars gather overhead.
John points into the brilliant sky. “See the three planets grouped in a small triangle there? They’re what we’ve come here for. They won’t appear this close together again for over a thousand years.”

Have you ever taken a photograph of a sunset? The resulting image inevitably fails to capture the glory of the scene; a sunset cannot be put in a frame. Sometimes, effective writing requires the author to create a detailed portrait, but “paint by numbers” also works. Your reader has seen sunsets before, experienced cold, and sat near a fire. Why not offer clues to help your reader construct his own picture from his own memories?

Short, single-line paragraphs mimic the experiencing mind. Experience, in its pure form, transcends words. More words might convey the author’s picture of an experience at the expense of the reader’s. Why place your reader in your head when you can pull her into your scene?

As they say, “the devil is in the details.”

So get rid of the details.

Write succinctly and seriously.

One-sentence paragraphs cue your reader to stop and reflect.

Of course, Victorian verbosity is as valid a writing style as postmodernist minimalism. Good writing comes from choosing the right style for a particular passage, and not from any formulaic approach. The one-sentence paragraph is one technique among many—another color in the capable writer’s palette.
#writing 
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Juice
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