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Writing in Isolation during a global pandemic

Amidst a global pandemic, most of us are working from home, and in that context, mental health has become a persistent topic. For writers, daily access to the outside world is an integral part in motivating our creative processes. Under current circumstances where quarantine and isolation is advised, I propose an article that may consider the positive and negative effects that isolation may have in writing as a creative process.

  • A timely topic indeed. I'd suggest adding a section on combating the isolation if and when possible. The obvious answer is, "leave the house," but there are more creative and necessary options during the pandemic, such as taking a virtual museum tour or watching a musical or operatic performance online. In fact, you might profile some platforms where people can do these activities as part of this or another article. – Stephanie M. 1 month ago
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  • Awesome suggestions, it makes sense that the article not only considers the problem but also offer possible solutions to the problem. – Locke 1 month ago
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  • I actually think this topic is so relevant and important to explore during this time. – RheaRG 4 weeks ago
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Flashblacks and flashforwards in fiction - how useful/necessary are they? When does too much become

The use of flashbacks and flashforwards is a controversial subject among writers and writing advice pages. Some encourage flashbacks/flashforwards, while others encourage to avoid (especially if they bogg the narrative down or doesn’t contribute anything to the overall plot). How does this criticism and in depth understanding of this literary device assist writers in improving their craft? How does this affect the way writers read/analyse flashbacks and flashforwards in fiction?

*Two novel’s that could be discussed in detail is "A Visit from the Goon Squad" by Jennifer Egan and "Time’s Arrow" by Martin Amis.

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    What's in a Non-de-plume?

    A cursory glance at the names of contributors to The Artifice shows that many of us choose nom de plumes (pen names). My own pen name is a variant spelling of a character’s name from an Agatha Christie novel, whilst other contributors have chosen pen names that either reflect their interests, their sense of humour or they serve as a personal statement. There are many reasons to use pen names. Some may be for political or cultural reasons. George Eliot (1819-1880), for example, was writing at a time when it was difficult for a female writer to be accepted simply as a writer and not be judged by her sex. Conversely, I recently met a male writer who writes romantic fiction under a female nom de plume; and very successfully too. Discuss how the invention of a ‘literary double’ might empower the writer and, just as importantly, have our nom de plumes become characters in their own right?

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      How To Succeed at Essay Writing

      All students experience what is described as "student’s block", so they should not be unduly alarmed if they find that they have an essay to write and they can’t even bring themselves to sit down and begin it. The time will come, nonetheless, when the deadline has to be met and if you have left your preparation to the night before you are hardly going to do either yourselves or the essay justice.

      • I like this topic---it branches away from what we normally see on The Artifice and displays an academic and practical side to the magazine. Be sure to include, possibly, some research relating to procrastination, common causes for "student's block," and speak with a constructive air. – Dominic Sceski 2 years ago
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      • Definitely a pertinent topic; also, one that tends to strike students, educators...everyone! There's numerous insightful tips on how to combat writer's block. As a literature professor, I first advise students to not fall trap to the blinking cursor of self doubt and to get up from their laptop and take a mental break. Suggestions also include formulating the essay to match the thesis, not the other way around; encouraging the shifting of paragraphs; if one paragraph is not coming along, but the next point is bustling, just put the troublesome paragraph in a different color font to return to later; also suggesting switching the closing paragraph as the introductory paragraph tends to helps some students. But, all of these suggestions detail the writing process, not the pre-game strategy. So, one of the best suggestions--I think--is to free write all ideas as they come to mind while disregarding sentence structures, spelling, but just jotting ideas as presented through a stream of consciousness. Hope this helps! – danielle577 2 years ago
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      • The topic seems to be good as these types of tips are given by the services providers which are banned in all over the world. – mohsinrafiq80 2 years ago
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      • A good topic. How do you give advice on writing? For forty years of teaching I've been addressing this question and always feel frustrated with the advice I give. Basically, I try to get students to realize you need to write daily. Writing daily can consist of nothing more than a few sentences about what they are looking at while sitting there thinking about writing. The point is you need to see something on the page. You need to get students to realize they can play around with words and create different images. Writing is something that is not done infrequently. – Joseph Cernik 2 years ago
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      • I really like this essay topic because it’s a struggle I see often times in students I work with as a writing tutor. I advise students to think about the essay sooner rather than later. The deadline may give a student the pressure they need to get an essay done, but the stress isn’t worth it, especially when the student has multiple assignments for other classes, too. It’s important for students to remember that they don’t have to sit down and finish an essay in one sitting. It’s good to space out the writing process – maybe brainstorm today, pull out quotes tomorrow, and begin working on an outline or first draft over the weekend. For myself, I try to brainstorm ideas for an essay as soon as I get the assignment – if not the day I get the assignment, then over the next couple of days. I also write everything that comes to mind. Sometimes I’ll think an idea is stupid, but if I decide not to write down one idea, who’s to say I’ll stop writing down all ideas altogether? Often times it can also help to look at materials from the class. I know that sounds obvious, but a lot of students I work with don’t think about looking at the book they’re trying to write about or they don’t think about class discussions that may spark inspiration. – Heidi 2 years ago
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      The plain English writing movement

      A look into the plain English writing movement and how this has impacted newspapers, and social media as well as academic, professional and contemporary writing.

      Has the plain English writing movement improved writing standards and expectations?

      Or has is simplified and ‘dumbed’ down writing skills such as comprehension and interpretation?

      • I did update this but it didn't work. Plain English (or layman's terms) is a style of communication that uses easy to understand, plain language with an emphasis on clarity, brevity, and avoidance of overly complex vocabulary.The movement began in the 1970's to improve legal documents. The purpose was to remove the confusion to the layperson because of the obscurities of the style of writing. Fast forward to today and we are seeing organisation who's sole purpose is to teach anyone involved in writing documents or online content how to write in layman's terms. The movement has penetrated universities, government and others. – mattcarlin 3 years ago
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      • I think that depends on what/why you are writing. Plain language is less precise, and is often less poetic and eloquent (although not always- I'm thinking writers like Hemingway). That said, it makes the writing accessible to a larger population. Personally, I find it frustrating that many people would rather have easy content than improve their comprehension abilities, but it's undeniable that in certain circumstances plain English is for the best. There is probably an argument to be made that overuse could lead to an increasing lack of intellectual acuity in the content and in the readers, as well. – Ben Woollard 3 years ago
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      • Oooh, there are so many different angles to approach this from. I'd recommend a sociolinguistic one for the reason that form VS function, linguistic shift etc are easier to frame and explore if you look at it from the perspective of how language is commonly used. The prescriptive VS descriptive debate is a longstanding one and there will be a lot of literature on the topic to wade through, but otherwise, should be fascinating to read and write about. – Cat 3 years ago
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      Merits of writing longhand versus typing

      Many of the old "classic" writers chose to write all their work by hand first and then type, if typing was available at all. Has the use of the computer and typing improved writers ability to perform their craft? Do writers today who choose to write long hand have an advantage?

      • Typing definitely reduces the amount of time spent for writing. However, some writers who choose to write longhand do so because it's their work habit. I think writing longhand helps them spot errors more because looking at a screen might be more difficult for some writers. – seouljustice 4 years ago
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      • The act of writing with an instrument in hand infuses one's heart and soul into the work. It is like a tear sliding down the cheek: you feel it. Typing is more like work - just getting it on the page. Forming letters, words, and phrases in ink from a perfectly proportioned pen with the color that fits the mood allows the writer to bleed out on the page. No keyboard can replicate the bond that ink from the hand creates. – ajforrester75 4 years ago
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      • The writer might also look into the way the brain works when handwriting versus typing. Handwriting is more engaging than typing. You can cross out words and write small notes to yourself as you go along. There are ways to do that in a word document; however, it really isn't the same. – krae29 4 years ago
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      • It may be individual. For example, when I write with a pen, it makes me feel kind of secure. Not just because, unlike with computers, I’m sure my writing will not be accidentally erased or deleted but also because it gives this unexplainable feeling of close friendship with pen & paper) It’s the kind of feeling you have if you prefer printed books over e-books. It also makes my piece feel more real, for some reason. Writing longhand is time-consuming, it’s true. But for someone like me, it reduces anxiety, which is more important to me (if only I don’t feel the deadline’s breath against my back – then the anxiety is inevitable, anyway :)). So, I usually write my stuff down and then put my headphones on with some Aretha playing and start typing it on my computer almost automatically – weirdly enough, I enjoy typing as a separate activity which I cannot properly combine with the writing process that requires concentration deeper than one I have when just typing comments or messages. Plus, papers with handwriting gain even sentimental value through the years. I suppose, I’m a bit old-fashioned and embarrassingly not ‘technology-fluent’ as for a millennial (first time calling myself this way)). I guess, the perfect option for me would be a typing machine – a vague compromise between velocity and cosiness. Unfortunately, I would still have to either type it once more on my computer or use some damn good scanner and a bunch of software tools to convert images into text so I could put my work on the net and have it mobile. So, objectively, it’s most beneficial to do it all A to Z on the computer, but, from an individual point of view, writing with one’s hand has some personal advantages. The evolution of technology has played a crucial role here, but the evolution of people in the context of their readiness or refusal to accept those changes is what really should be examined. – funkyfay 4 years ago
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      What Writing Can Do For You, Career-Wise

      REVISION: How can writing benefit a student in all jobs/careers?

      • ProtoCanon, I thought your response/note was a little harsh. In no way am I judging or millennial-bashing anyone. In fact, I am one of those thousands of millennial undergraduate students studying English, so I would not submit a topic to bash myself. But thank you for the destructive criticism. – Marina 4 years ago
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      • Marina, this is too simplistic. I know you've revises the edits but the topic requires more detail before someone can write it. Honestly if you just add some background (why is this relevant? important?) than it will be perfect. – Mela 4 years ago
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      • I think one of the many benefits of writing is that they can improve their communication skills.But I do agree with Mela. The topic is interesting, but it wouldn't hurt to add more details. – seouljustice 4 years ago
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      • You could almost instantly narrow this topic down if you talked about its polar opposite. What can't writing do for you career-wise? Which aspects of professional life remain unexplored by written expression? This next suggestion is a slight deviation but someone could consider talking about the aspects of life (both professional and otherwise) that are beyond written expression. Does recognising these limitations provide any worthwhile information about how to better use writing to one's advantage in all domains? – IsidoreIsou 4 years ago
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      All Writing is Rewriting

      As writers, we ground ourselves in the do’s and don’t’s of writing and study those who come before us. But, if you strip every fiction story ever told to the bare, bare bones, you’ll find that stories all move in a similar way. One of two things happens: Someone leaves town to go on an adventure, or a stranger comes to town. What does this mean to us as writers? Do we write the same stories or do we refine the same stories as time passes?

      • This topic looks like it may also want to reference The Hero's Journey (a nice summary available here: http://www.movieoutline.com/articles/the-hero-journey-mythic-structure-of-joseph-campbell-monomyth.html)What additional insight could this topic contribute to the discussion started by Joseph Campbell regarding storytelling? Maybe a look at other incarnations or types of journeys? – Kevin 4 years ago
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      • Research into Post-Modernism would be useful for this topic as well. – Matt Sautman 4 years ago
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      • Is there a contradiction between coming to town and leaving town? After all, when someone arrives someplace it's only because they've left somewhere else. – albee 4 years ago
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      • To strengthen this article, I believe you could compare and contrast two stories, analyze their plots, and conclude that most plots are formulaic based on the two stories you compared and contrasted. – Sjohnida 4 years ago
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      • For this topic I recommend looking at old myths and legends, I believe that it would be beneficial since myths were some of the first stories ever told and recorded – RSison93 4 years ago
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      Can anything new really be said?

      Even a brief examination of the history of literature, poetry and playwriting reveals that much of humankind’s essence has already been explored in a myriad forms. We, as modern writers, are trying to find new things to say about emotions, beliefs, states of mind, and ideas that have been with us for millennia. Can anything new be said, or is everything just a reformulation of old things? Has writing exhausted its potential for innovation?

      All said, does novelty even matter? It could be that there is "nothing new under the sun" in terms of literary explorations of emotions, thoughts and human experiences. However, is it more important that something new actually be said or that an artist tries to do so? Why? What makes either attempt successful or unsuccessful?

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        What the author meant doesn't matter: what the reader thought they meant does.

        To what extent should a reader consider the author’s intention in producing the work? Is the reader’s individual relationship to the written work more important than the author’s intended effect? Does the author have any right to dictate what the work should mean to the reader? Or, can the author only provide an interpretation of their own work and leave the rest to the reader? Consequently, are all interpretations of a written work, however absurd, valid and worthwhile? Whose opinion matters more?

        • I really like this topic. An author's intent is important. – Tigey 4 years ago
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        • One thing: your title seems leading. – Tigey 4 years ago
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        • Authorial intent is a massive can of worms - one that I hope someone has the guts to open. I would love to see this article written, but I do caution anyone that tries will risk earning the ire of literature PhD's everywhere. – Tarben 4 years ago
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        • It's important that people read and interpret things on their own but also with knowledge of the culture the writer was producing in and that's what should be focused on. – Slaidey 4 years ago
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        • To do this topic justice, it'll be necessary for whoever writes this topic to discuss the importance of New Criticism, namely the theoretical contributions of John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, Cleanth Brooks, Robert Penn Warren, I.A. Richards, T.S. Eliot, Stanley Fish, and particularly William Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley (for their essay "Intentional Fallacy," which is about precisely this). – ProtoCanon 4 years ago
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        • Tarben, is the "can of worms" you mention the tension between old historicism and New Criticism, or something else/more? – Tigey 4 years ago
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        • It would be interesting to look at Wolfgang Iser's reader response theory in relation to this too. – Lauren Mead 4 years ago
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        • The author's intention is really important, for instance if you want to do Thomas Hardy or Sylvia Plath, you need to understand how they feel...otherwise you'd end nowhere. – Anya 4 years ago
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        • As mentioned above, it's definitely worth reading up on Literary Criticism before attempting this (and even then, there has never really been one definitive answer to this question). It's definitely worth checking out Roland Barthes' "Death of the Author" as that has been the, possibly now slightly outdated, backbone of the authorial intent debate for a while! – LucyViolets 4 years ago
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