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Does Writing Fiction Ruin the Experience of Reading It?

I am a fiction writer and voracious fiction reader, so I like this topic. Yet I feel like I shouldn’t write it since it would be in first person, so it’s up for grabs.

Do any fiction writers out there find their craft ruins the reading experience? For example, do you catch yourself zeroing in on when an author tells instead of shows, or when characters are undeveloped? Do books you once liked become tedious? If yes, how do you–and we as writers–cope with that? Is there a way to keep one’s craft from ruining reading? Conversely, does writing make reading a great book even better, and does it enhance one’s taste in literature?

  • I love the topic! I also write myself and I do often have this issue of honing in one possible mistakes or weaknesses in stories (writing- or even story-wise) that my friends miss. But I also think it's given me a higher appreciation for works I do love and that are written very well. Of course, this would be a subjective topic for anyone to write, but I do think you're onto something. – Karen 1 month ago
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  • I love this topic. I think some solutions should be addressed to help writers read without criticizing. – DB752B 1 month ago
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  • This is a great questions. Fiction has long been a part of literature and who knows if it has its own downsides. – BMartin43 1 month ago
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  • I like this topic, and I think it could be written with an open-ended conclusion. I.e. writing might "ruin" reading in some ways, but it vastly improves it in others. I do find that as a writer, I notice weak plot devices or predictable character development far more than I used to or than other readers. As Karen noted, however, I also appreciate some things more, like artfully dropped foreshadowing, beautiful symbolism, or unique scenes. For me, these positive results outweigh the negative, but this could be argued either way. I also think it can relate to tv (I can't stand some shows just because the script is poorly written, while my friends are able to excuse that for high quality acting and cinematography) but it's up to the writers discretion to note this or not. – EmmaBeitzel 1 month ago
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  • I definitely agree writing fiction gives you a better eye for good books, although what is "good" remains subjective. I've also noticed it gives me a better idea of what I want my writing voice to sound like, so whoever writes the topic could discuss that if they wanted. – Stephanie M. 1 month ago
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Taken by NBlumenthal (PM) 1 month ago.
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The Art of Trolling

Internet trolling has become an even hotter topic in the wake of the 2016 election and the rise of the "other" Alt-Right. Explore the roots and history of trolling. Is it the legacy of Socratic rhetorical styles meant to expose societal hypocrisy or just plain bullying.

  • I wonder, however, if there is much history to this phenomenon yet. – mmastro 1 month ago
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  • There is. As you will note from the topic it arguably goes back to Socrates. – Christen Mandracchia 1 month ago
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  • Whenever someone has an idea, there will almost certainly be people waiting to tear it down...The internet made it worse because it allowed anyone with internet to become a critic. – MikeySheff 1 month ago
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  • MikeySheff,true. Opening access causes problems, limiting access causes others. The dilemma recalls Madison's yin-yang-like result of securing specific Constitutional rights: allow gun ownership, reap gun violence; ban gun ownership, risk totalitarianism. True too of free speech allowing far-right and -left perspectives, freedom of religion allowing Branch Davidians, Jonestown, etc. Even the double-jeopardy protection for the monsters who murdered Emmitt Till is understandable vis-a-vis the certain damage that would occur were that protection removed. – Tigey 1 month ago
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  • I would love to read an article on this topic. Perhaps another avenue to explore might be the historical appeal of trolling. If we view it as a satirical approach to modern debate then what makes it so appealing? Is it human nature to troll? Does exposing certain societal hypocrisies result in the rise of newer hypocrisies?Another point of interest that I am curious to explore is the advocacy of alt-righters. Often people associate this movement with a new sort of radical dissidence. They call the alt-right a "punk movement." Is it punk though? Or is this indoctrination of supposed punk ideologies merely used as a ploy to appeal to a youthful audience yearning for any form of subversion? – DrownSoda 1 month ago
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Taken by Matt Sautman (PM) 1 month ago.
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The Importance and Practicality of 'Reading like a Writer'

The phrase has been used and essays have been written about HOW to read like a writer, but many of the people I’ve encountered think this theory about breaking down the word choices of an author is ‘looking for something that isn’t there’. An article explaining the use of rhetoric and manipulation of the reader through writing would be an interesting read and shows the practical application to people who would otherwise dismiss the theory.

  • This is an extremely interesting topic....I tell my students to attempt to 'model' their writing after a particular article/essay/short story, etc., that left an impression on them. This is really referred to as reader response theory, and it is a great topic. Sometimes, we as readers and writers, spend too much time analyzing every minute aspect of a writer's intentionality of diction, syntax, theme, symbolism, etc., that we miss the simple pleasure of leisurely reading! – danielle577 1 month ago
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  • As an English writing major, this is a concept I deal with various times every week. I think reading like a writer is a genuinely important practice, but I also understand that value in reading for pleasure. Therefore, I think it is imperative to initially read for the sake of reading, and then to reread through the lens of a writer. Especially if you aspire to one day write your own pieces, the importance of understanding your predecessors is astronomical. In order to create your own style of writing, you must first study those who have already branded themselves. Through doing this, you can work with various writing styles, adopt a few as your own, and then adapt them to how you want to tell a story. – Sarah Swanigan 1 month ago
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  • I recommend Book Love for your topic by Penny Kittle. Kittle elaborates on the importance of reading. A good reader creates a great writer. Outside of the STEM majors, writing is an essential skill needed to complete college. – authoressalicia 1 month ago
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Hard and Soft Science Fiction

Define ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ sci-fi. [See for distinction: (link) Why are they distinct? Where are each found (types of books, age/gender-demographics, or region)? Where does ‘soft sci-fi’ end and fantasy begin? Are they distinguished by authorial background? What trends have been seen in both over time (what are the trends right now?). Most importantly, what are their different narrative functions/potentials (are hard meant for commentary on humanity while soft are just set dressing? Vice versa?)? And why does the distinction matter?

Some examples of ‘hard sci-fi’: works of Isaac Asimov/H.G. Wells, The Martian, The Diamond Age, Interstellar (arguably)
Some Examples of ‘soft sci-fi’: Dune, Star Trek, Ender’s Game, Slaughterhouse-Five, most dystopians

  • Adding to the list above, I think Ted Chiang is an author who writes wonderfully in both soft and hard science fiction. Even his hard science fiction works still reveal a theme about humanity.I think these two distinctions are based on the social sciences vs. stem (chemistry, engineering, physics, etc.) but I think both groups are important. Soft is just as important as hard; the one biggest thing that truly differentiates them is the subject matter, but both types of fiction still tell a story. – seouljustice 1 month ago
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Can You Teach Someone How To Become a Writer?

I have recently been faced with this question and I find that my response is not as black and white as I had originally supposed. Yes, you can teach someone the fundamental aspects of writing: thesis, introductory paragraph, syntax, diction, body paragraphs, topic sentences per paragraph, and a conclusion. But what about teaching someone to think like a writer? The love/hate relationship with writing that leaves one elated or deflated? Do you believe being a good writer is an innate gift, or something that can solely be taught? I do understand that some people need to be pushed to realize they do have the gift for writing, but what if it is not there, can it be induced?

  • As with any subject you can't teach someone who doesn't want to learn. You can teach someone how to achieve the goals of their writing. I think this idea of a good writer is an idea that has to be revisited in light of medium. Certain platforms are more conducive to various types of writing. I favor helping someone to develop their unique voice. Just like speaking and any form of communication, it is important to reach the audience that you want to reach. When rap first came on the scene, critics did not consider it to be music. Now it is accepted worldwide. Going back even further Beethoven's work was considered to be a cacophony, Picasso underappreciated etc. Digital communication has changed the status quo on traditional rules of writing.I think there are three basic guidelines for effective writing:Who is your audience and does your piece reach them in an authentic and meaningful way? Are your ideas strong and expressed effectively? Have you remained true to your voice?I recognize that sometimes people feel frustrated with editing errors but writing should be done with heart and while writing conventions can be taught, I think that transmission of ideas are the most important part of communication. Generating ideas can happen when people research their topic thoroughly and gain knowledge by examining all sides of an issue or genre. It is like movie making. When you look at a movie like While You Were Sleeping, it is a pretty conventional rom-com. But it was a hit because all the conventions were well played. It is bringing the writing conventions together with great ideas that make for effective written communication. – Munjeera 7 months ago
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  • Good to whom? I love Vonnegut and shake my head when I see Catch 22, which I despise, recommended for Vonnegut lovers. I love Bob Dylan's writing and roll my eyes when someone brings up Jim Morrison as a poet. I'm intrigued by John Calvin's views on predestination, but laugh when Oliver Stone "implies" - well, what word do I use for that heavy-handed hack? - the fatalism of Nixon's paranoid megalomania through flashing microscopic cells on screen. One man's meat is another man's organically-fed vegan pet. – Tigey 7 months ago
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  • In all honesty, I did NOT want to use the word "good," but if I didn't, I felt as though people would just focus on the fundamentals of writing, and then think if course this could be taught. – danielle577 7 months ago
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  • Sounds good. – Tigey 7 months ago
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  • There are whole books dedicated to this notion. Academics like Peter Elbow and Stephanie Vanderslice have committed large chunks of their career to exploring this thought. I don't know that a single web article can give this subject the attention it needs. See Elbow's "Anyone Can Write" or Vanderslice's "Rethinking Creative Writing." – Tarben 7 months ago
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  • Danielle,You pose a timely question. If you put it in the context of what challenges writer face today and what advantages are present due to online writing I think you may have a topic someone will pick up on as a compare/contrast piece. I find writing today much more enjoyable as I can reach a large audience, in real time and it is not impossible to get published. I also try to have a fun voice, academic voice and a persuasive voice depending on who I want to reach. Let me know what you think. – Munjeera 7 months ago
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  • While I don't know how the writing experience can be taught, I think a good source for showing aspiring writers what works and what doesn't would be the book "How NOT To Write A Novel," which humorously gives examples of bad writing - from poor grammar to inappropriate use of certain tropes in fiction - and explains why they're bad. Awareness of what doesn't work could be an excellent tool for bettering a writer's work, even if they feel they have no talent. Even if the writing is nonfiction, writers could still benefit from some of the advice the book has to offer (such as "don't use words you don't know the definition of," "Don't be repetitive," etc.). Sometimes common sense isn't all that common. – PressXToNotDie 5 months ago
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  • I do think with effective work and communication teaching writing styles can get better and more efficient for new writers. – sadafqur 5 months ago
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  • Teaching someone the framework to write with is the easy part. Teaching someone to express themselves effectively? I think not. Perhaps they teach themselves as they go along, practicing the act and acquiring the skill. – nwh52 5 months ago
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  • I think everyone can write. But, it really comes down to whether people want to stick with it. Like all things in life, some people are just don't match with certain things. However, I do think that writing is one of those things that people convince themselves that they can't do. It takes dedication and time to learn writing as a craft. Outside of the just grammar, I think we can encourage people to be open to writing and foster an environment that allows them to find their own desires to write, but I think that's about it. – eugeneleec 5 months ago
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  • Not to be over the top, but I think you'd have to question what it means to be a writer. You can teach someone how to write, sure. You can teach them how to write stories, articles, screenplays, etc. However, I feel like that just makes them someone who writes, not a writer. Writers want to express themselves and you cant teach someone to want to express themselves through writing. – elisetheastronaut 4 months ago
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  • There are so many ways in which one can be a writer. Anyone can learn to write well. For some, writing is not difficult to grasp. Others have a harder time with it. Then there are those with a special gift or an innate need to write. For me, writing is survival. – ajforrester75 4 months ago
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  • Thinking like a writer can totally be taught. I learned. Before I was taught I just looked at the story to determine if a book was good. Since I learned how to think like a writer, I've started to look at the craft of the writing even more than the story. The elements of writing can be taught, but I do not think the artistry can. – good1bl 1 month ago
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Taken by TheSwampThing (PM) 2 months ago.
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Can journal writing be therapeutic?

In psychology, it is said that trapping emotions can cause an emotional blow-up in the long-run. To what extent can journal writing help someone make important discussions, express him/herself, and can it be incorporated into therapy?

  • I find introspective writing to be very useful. I keep a public blog where I share my thoughts on my own anxiety, depression, and other issues. I think part of the catharsis of this type of journaling for me is connecting with other people who feel the same things as me but haven't expressed them, and letting people know how I'm doing. Private journals have also held a helpful expressive place for me over the years, but nothing has been nearly as helpful or rewarding for me as the public blog space.I also find myself procrastinating the introspective writing process sometimes, and when that happens I know I need to write about something really badly. Also, the putting things out into the public space helps to make things real and to validate an experience, and pressing the "publish" button is usually accompanied with a feeling of letting go.I find it really really useful. – Amanda 9 months ago
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  • In similar vein to what Amanda is saying, i've kept several private journals as a way of coping with stresses and the like but when it was only me reading they were filled with my "shorthand" so to speak. Opening up my writing (to a chosen few) demanded that i change the way I write; trying to be clearer about what i was saying for my audience helped me to be clearer with myself and gain a better understanding of the things i was feeling or thinking.I think in a therapeutic setting journal writing could be really effective, the person would have an outlet as well as an audience with whom to share and unpack their writing. – tlbdb 9 months ago
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  • Absolutely I think that writing in journals can be therapeutic. It has the potential for self-discovery as well as revisiting events that might have been traumatic. On a lighter note, gratitude journals are a great way to start or end the day on a positive note! When she was suffering from stage four breast cancer, my Nana kept a gratitude journal and it helped her immensely. – LAMead 9 months ago
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  • The use of the word "can" in your heading makes the question, and any subsequent positions a little ambiguous. Realistically, anything "can" be therapeutic, but certainly not for everyone, and different people are calmed by different things. Try to avoid generalizations; they lead to weak arguments. – ProtoCanon 9 months ago
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  • If you read the story of Deland Klebold's mother regarding the Columbine shooting, she reveals that she kept a journal, Dylan kept a journal and so did Eric Harris. One point she highlights is that on the same day she wrote her son was "having a great time" Dylan wrote that he "felt so alone, without a friend in the world." Journal writing has its limitations for some who may need more help and in some cases can provide a false sense of viable therapy. It is great for some, not for others who need more. – Munjeera 9 months ago
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  • Yes! Thank you! I love this idea. I recently started writing in journals again and I would agree that it can be very therapeutic. I rarely ever leave the house without my "little black book". Automatic writing has a way of clearing the mind. For the article, I would suggest interviewing a number of people that write in journals and record their impressions. This topic has a wide scope so I think it could be narrowed down to focus on a few examples of therapeutic journal writing. – AlexanderLee 2 months ago
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  • I totally think journal writing is therapeutic!! When you write out something, it requires you to processes it and organize it. One of my favorite quotes is "I write to know what I'm thinking." Sometimes we get caught up in the drama of our lives, or we feel something and we don't totally understand why we feel that way. Writing out what's going on and textually trying to explain your feelings can help a ton in figuring out how to handle them. I've had a lot of moments where something was confusing me and then once I started to write about it, different details lined up and the problem clicked in my head. – CalissaJB 2 months ago
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What Can We Do?

Writing can be essential to anyone who is passionate about it. There are people who believe that they can write and others who simply can’t. The thing with writing is, that you can produce good writing. We all pick up from somewhere and we certainly have the potential to build up upon our skills. But the real question is how can you come a better writer?

  • My advice I try to explore different existing stories and ask yourself "Is there something I can add to it?". It usually helps to start with something that already exists and expand on it, until it becomes something new. – RadosianStar 5 months ago
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  • For everyone, writing is different, whether someone is writing because it's therapeutic, or because it's the best medium to express their thoughts on. Expanding on existing ideas is one way to improve your writing, but also reading work from people you admire. You can then experiment, infuse your own style, and create your own improved writing style. – simplyangiec 5 months ago
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  • I think ultimately the trick to becoming a better writer is to be passionate about what you're writing about. The ideas in the writing are most important, not the grammar. As long as the ideas are there, grammar can always be fixed. Also, I think it's important to read different styles of writing, try to see what you like about the different styles and adopt it into your own writing. – sandrasung 5 months ago
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  • Writing everyday, even if it is something you deem insignificant, can be a great help. Keeping a journal in which you write anything from short stories, to controversial arguments, to just a sensory description, or even poetry- it can all help improve your writing. Keeping a variety of topics and experiments with writing can also open you up to what you like and what you are good at, and can also reveal what you may want to work on. – aishtea 5 months ago
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  • I think this topic is extremely important. I've always been intimidated by the writing process. It wasn't until I started taking classes and starting with the basics of writing that I began to feel confident about putting myself out there in the world of writing. This could be a very interesting article for those who are scared of the writing process. – Sydnee Larson 2 months ago
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  • You can become a better writer by reading Prose Style! It is a great tool to help you read and understand what everything about writing is. It also has exercises in it that allows you to practice on the important points they made in the reading before it. – Nads43 2 months ago
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  • I would say you just follow your passion because that I feel is what makes a great writer. – BMartin43 2 months ago
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  • As cliche as it sounds, the most foundational basics to becoming a better writer are writing a lot, reading a lot, and sharing your work with others. This isn't to say that those are the only three things that must be done in order to hone your craft, merely places to start. You may start out reading as many genre books as you can, really growing your skills in that area, and eventually branching out into reading more literary works or articles, which will improve your range of understanding. You may start out writing journals or poems, getting a sense for your own style, which may lead you to trying journalism, extended prose, or screenwriting. You may share your ideas with your best friend and start gaining enough confidence to read something at an open mic or share it online. I'd also say, know what "good" means to you. Are you going for general popularity, commercial success, personal fulfillment, etc? In his book "Write Tight", William Brohaugh stipulates that the only thing that defines the quality of your work is whether or not your target audience enjoys it. Therefore, if you write something that you want to use to please your parents, your siblings, your friends, or even yourself, and it achieves that end, then you are a good writer. And while it can be said that any work can be good despite its critics, I full heartedly agree with the spirit of what Brohaugh says. At the end of the day, the one who decides if your writing is good is you. – nikkimacahon 2 months ago
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  • Write about things you know. Whether that be your own life or topics you have knowledge in. It makes it easier for the words to flow and it sounds more authentic. If you are interested in writing about things foreign to you, then take time to learn more about them before jumping into a project. It helps to motivate ideas. Also, practice makes perfect. – Jessica Guillory 1 month ago
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What makes authors like Gayle Forman and John Green so successful in the YA Novel field of writing?

Look at the backgrounds and career history of some YA Fiction writers and find similarities in what they’ve done that worked, or even didn’t work. Don’t forget to find the things that make these individual authors stand out among the others.

  • I think it would be interesting to look at this from a more economical perspective instead of looking at their careers. Since all successful YA authors are not unanimously loved it would be interesting to see what particular tropes/plots/characters/ect. seem to draw the most readership. This removes the notion of what is "good" or "bad" and instead looks at what writing style seems to draw more readers in this genre. – LondonFog 7 months ago
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  • Also, people will anxiously await the author's upcoming book and purchase it, regardless of negative reviews. When an author has a true following it is difficult for readers to be dissuaded. Even when they are disappointed, they still tend to return, and try to read the next book. This is especially true with teen readers. It would be interesting to compare the actual statistical readership numbers between adult readers and teen readers pertaining to famous authors, with numerous books, and see how the numbers fluctuate during successful books, and less successful books. – danielle577 7 months ago
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  • What are the lines that define the different genres? Like how do you define where the things you are writing fall into? I am personally writing a story and one part of me thinks that it might fall into YA and another part of me believes that it could just be considered adult fiction. – lundquisth0004 5 months ago
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