Teaching Descriptions

Easing back into this blogging gig with a good old getting-high-and-mighty about writing.

One of the questions I got a lot when I was tutoring was ‘how do I write descriptions’. Description, I feel, falls victim to two problems. First, as always, incomplete and misleading common writing wisdom, and second, overemphasis on certain techniques of description. Continue reading

If it’s Not Fun

Writing is weird. All hobbies are, I think, once you start doing them with the intent to improve your skills. After all, trying to improve means trying new things, and of coruse a keen awareness of your imperfections. Since writing is a creative, solitary and very personal pursuit, there are very few universal yardsticks for progress (perhaps the only one is “I gave this to other people, and the flaws they pointed out weren’t the same ones they pointed out last time”). So writers often end up with a litany of ‘Is this hobby for me?’ ‘Do I have a chance to get good enough at this to meet personal goals (or, if you’re that way inclined, to get published)?’ ‘Am I allowed to consider myself a “real writer”?’ Continue reading

‘Just Because’ in Fiction

There’s a piece of writing advice that I particularly love, despite firmly believing that all writing rules are just guidelines made to be broken in interesting ways. It is this: Every scene or element in the story must do at least two things to further the story, or it gets cut. It’s sort of the inverse of Kill Your Darlings. Kill Your Darlings says to get rid of story things because you love them too much. The Double Duty Rule says to get rid of things if they’re only there because you love them too much. Continue reading