“I don’t need an alarm clock. My ideas wake me.” —Ray Bradbury
February Free Writing Topics:
- Write about the layers of love in your life.
- Write about your first love.
- Write about your current love.
- Write about your love for a child, a pet, or a project.
- Write about the love thoughts that won’t leave you alone.
BTW, if your writing captures a significant moment, you might want to consider entering it in our Current Contest, Flash Memoir. Click on Current/Latest Contest for submission details, writing details, tiered fees and prizes.
Alternately Try One of These Sentence Starts:
- This month I hope to . . .
- The sound behind me . . .
- It’s hard to believe . . . Why don’t you . . . OR Why don’t I . . .
- This winter has been . . .
These prompts might also give you a piece suitable for our Flash Memoir Contest.
3 Reasons Writers Should Do Their Research
By Guest Blogger J. Mannin
In today’s digital age, information travels fast. Today, people are warier of the information they receive and like to catch mistakes or inaccuracies in their content. While some readers won’t mind certain liberties taken in the art of writing, for others, questionable fact checking keeps them from finishing a book or an article. Data from a study by communications platform Cision indicates that some of the biggest challenges for today’s journalists include maintaining credibility and combating accusations of fake news. In other words truth is essential for most readers. As a writer, it’s your unspoken duty and responsibility to your readers to avoid factual errors and inaccuracies.
Many writers benefit from the guidance and tips we share on Writer Advice, whether you’re composing as a hobby or have turned it into a career endeavor. Writing, after all, isn’t an exact and scientific art form. However, one standard piece of writing advice for fiction and non-fiction writers is to do your research. Today, we’ll look into the three reasons why research is key:
It offers your readers knowledge expansion
People will tell you they read for different reasons including entertainment and enlightenment. However, some people also read to learn new things. A feature from WorldAuthors.org mentions the stimulation of mental activity and gaining wisdom as two of the benefits of reading. Whether it’s books about a niche or complicated topic or self-help books, people read to learn new insights and pursue self-development.
This is why many content providers try to diversify their offerings to cater to all knowledge-hungry readers. Case in point, the on-demand reading platform Scribd goes beyond novels in their subscription plan. Scribd features audiobooks, magazines, podcasts, documents, and even sheet music to serve audiences seeking a complete library in their pocket. In this digital age, people can “read” in various ways and aren’t restricted to fiction. Commitment to research as a writer allows you to offer your audience new knowledge and develops your familiarity with specific topics.
It keeps readers immersed
Even if fiction demands creativity and imagination, making up the contents of your writing doesn’t mean you won’t have to do some research. As mentioned in the introduction, readers are keener to spot inaccuracies and factual errors in the content they consume and are likely not to finish reading when they identify these. According to award-winning author and editor Lee Gutkind, fact-checking and doing your research shows your commitment to your craft and a dedication to detail. Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or drama, research is necessary because readers are more than capable of finding flaws in your work.
Many fictional settings are based on real-world locations. Similarly, even made-up occupations like Star Wars‘ Stormtroopers and Harry Potter‘s Aurors, for example, can be inspired by real-life careers. Doing your research doesn’t have to mean sticking to rigid scientific facts. However, it does ensure that what you write doesn’t include odd, factually incorrect, or illogical details that may take readers out of your story or writing.
It boosts your confidence as a writer
Finally, investing the time to do your research, regardless of what you are writing about, boosts your confidence in your craft. Often, one of the most challenging obstacles in writing is getting started. Treating your research process as the beginning of the work helps get you in the right mindset, exposing you to potential sources of inspiration and motivation. It can be difficult to start writing from scratch when you’re faced with an empty page. Researching before you even start writing will give you guidelines, to begin with.
When you learn something new about the world or yourself, it’s natural to want to share that piece of knowledge or trivia with someone else. For writers, old and new, the art of writing allows us to do just that. Another famous saying goes: Write what you know. We want to add that when you encounter something you don’t know, it’s always best to start with research.
J Manning has been freelancing as a writer for three years, focusing on topics related to creative writing and Anglo-American literature. Lately, she is interested in the possible implications of AI technology on writing and its potential impact in the future. When not nose-deep in her ever-growing ‘to read’ list, she spends time (clumsily) experimenting with watercolors.
How to Write a Convincing Fight Scene
Written by Natasa Lekic
Borrowed from New York Book Editors, https://nybookeditors.com/2018/08/how-to-write-a-convincing-fight-scene/, with their permission.
Editor’s note: There are great ideas and advice in this article along with an outstanding list of verbs.
You know what’s dangerous? Writing a fight scene. In theory, it sounds so right. What can go wrong when writing a high-stakes, intense confrontation between two or more characters?
It turns out that everything can go wrong.
In practice, writing a realistic fight scene for your novel is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. That’s because fight scenes can be boring to read. A movie allows the audience to take a passive stance and have the action wash over them. In contrast, reading a fight scene requires the audience to activate their imagination. The audience must participate in constructing the fight scene from your clues and seeing it play out in their mind’s eye. That’s a lot more difficult than getting it fed to you visually.
But never fear—if you’re aiming to write a fight scene that’s capable of captivating your reader’s attention, this guide will help. Below, we’ll discuss the best strategies for creating fight scenes with bite. Let’s get ready to rumble.
RULE #1: FIGHT SCENES SHOULD MOVE THE STORY FORWARD
The very first rule for fight writing (and writing any scene in general) is to ensure that it moves the story forward. Say “no” to gratuitous fight scenes that only show off fancy moves or writing skills.
Here’s the easiest way to find out if your fight scene moves the story: Delete it. Now, read the scene before and the scene after. Can you still make sense of what happened?
If the fight caused some type of transition in your story, keep it in.
And remember: Not all transitions are physical. Some are mental. You don’t always have to discuss the physical aftermath. You can also explore the mental fallout after a fight. This can be how the fight moves the story forward.
Here are five additional rules to keep in mind when planning out your novel’s fight scenes.
RULE #2: FIGHT SCENES SHOULD IMPROVE CHARACTERIZATION
Because reading a fight scene can get boring quickly, it’s important that you focus on more than the bare-knuckle action. Use fights as a way to explore your character(s) and provide more insight on the following:
- Why does the character make the choices that they make in the fight?
- How does each choice reinforce their characterization?
- How does each choice impact their internal and/ or external goals?
- Is this conflict getting the character closer or further away from their goals? How?
- What are the stakes for each character? What do they stand to win? What will they lose?
- What type of fighter is the character? What are their physical or mental abilities? (Remember that not every protagonist will be a trained assassin, so they’re prone to make sloppy mistakes during a fight.)
Use the fight scene to reveal necessary information about the characters. Be sure to give the reader a glimpse into the character’s soul and not just into their fighting skills.
Your fight should give the reader a glimpse into the character’s soul and not just their skills.
RULE #3: FIGHT SCENES SHOULDN’T SLOW THE PACE
In movies and especially in real life, fights go by quickly. But in literature, fight scenes can slow the pace. That’s because you have to write all of the details and the reader has to reconstruct the scene in their minds.
This is the reason why many people simply skip over fight scenes in novels. I’m guilty of it. How about you? There are only so many kicks and punches you can read before yawning.
However, if you employ certain literary devices into your narrative, you can actually create a taut fight scene. Here are some tips:
- Write in shorter sentences. Shorter sentences are easier to digest. It also speeds up the pace of a story.
- Mix action with dialogue.Don’t just write long descriptions of what’s happening. Also, share the verbal exchange between your characters.
- Don’t focus too much on what’s going on inside the character’s mind. Introspection happens before and after a fight, not during.
- Keep the fight short. Fights should never go on for pages (unless you’re discussing an epic battle between armies, and not individuals).
RULE #4: HIT ’EM WITH ALL THE SENSES
One of the best ways to get visceral when describing a fight is to activate every sense possible. This includes sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. Think of how you can use these five descriptors in your writing to immediately transport the reader to the scene.
Sight is perhaps the most obvious. You’ll describe exactly what the characters are seeing and what the reader should pay attention to in the scene.
Hearing is a little more delicate. I think a fight scene is a perfect time to introduce onomatopoeia into your narrative. Onomatopoeia is a word that sounds like what it is describing. By onomatopoeia, I don’t mean turning your writing into a comic book style, with words like kapow or bang! Instead, I suggest using more subtle examples, such as:
Taste is another sense to introduce into your fight scenes. But be careful with going abstract here. Instead of using phrases like, “he could taste fear in the air,” go for something more concrete like, “blood mixed with strawberry lip gloss was a strange taste indeed.” I hope you come up with something better than that, but you get the point.
Touch is perhaps one of the easiest senses to convey. Describe how the characters feel and interact with each other physically.
Smell is one of my favorite senses to add to a fight scene because it’s rarely called upon. You often see or hear a fight, but can you smell it? In person, what would the fight smell like? Probably sweat. Consider other scents, such as the ambient aroma in the scene. For example, if the fight takes place in a car garage, there may be the lingering scent of motor oil and tire rubber. Don’t be afraid to add that into the scene to introduce a different dimension.
RULE #5: WHEN WRITING A FIGHT SCENE, EDIT, EDIT, EDIT
A good story is an edited one. The same rule applies to fight scenes. A sloppy fight scene can slow the pace of your story and/or confuse the reader.
When editing your fight scene, keep the following in mind:
- Don’t include a blow by blow of what happens in the fight. After your initial draft, remove non-essential details that can slow down reading.
- Delete flowery language. Extra words drag the pace. Remove every single word that you can.
- Consolidate characters to reduce reader confusion and frustration.