- Creating a Race (2)
- Creating Animals (2)
- Disease (2)
- Ecosystems (2)
- Evolution (and Space)
- Flora and Fauna
- Inventing Species
- List of Legendary Creatures
- Night Vision/Color Vision
Constructed Language (Conlang)
- Basics/Phonology (2) (3)
- Conlang Guide
- Conlang vs. English
- Creating a Language (Revised)
- Culture + Language
- Curse Words
- How to Create Your Own Language
- How to Create a Language
- IPA Pronunciation
- Making Up Words
- 7 Deadly Sins
- Alien Cultures (2)
- Alternative Medieval
- Avoiding Cultural Appropriation
- Avoiding Medieval Fantasy (2)
- Avoiding One-Note Worlds
- Avoiding Utopia
- Change (2)
- Class/Caste System (2)
- Designing Intellectual Movements
- Everything (2) (3)
- Gender-Equal Societies
- Historical Background for Ideas (2)
- Matriarchy (2)
- Static World
- Wandering Peoples
- Basic Economics
- Currency (2) (3)
- Current Global Economies
- Economic Systems
- Economics (1500-1800 AD)
- Economics and Government
- Economics for Dummies
- International Trade (2)
- Marxist Communism
- Medieval Economics
- Schools of Economic Thought
- Socialism (2)
- Types of Economic Systems
- World Economy (2)
- Clothing Terminology (2) (3) (4)
- Clothing Reference
- Education (2)
- Fame and Infamy
- Food (2)
- Food Timeline
- Collective/Traditionalist Societies
- Creating a Government
- Empire (2)
- Fancy Latin Names for Government
- History and Politics
- International Relations (2)
- Justice System
- Non-monarchical (2) (3)
- Oppressive Government
- Political Ideologies
- Rise and Fall of Civilizations
- Secret Societies
- Shapeshifter Society
- Totalitarianism, Atmosphere Necessary For
- Tribal Society
- Types of Government
- Writing Politics
remember, most things are social constructs. Invent your own for a totally original world!
And if the earth features, think about how that impacts things
Ahhh! This is so cool!
An author was writing historical fiction, and decided (in hopes of escaping anachronistic language) to only use the vocabulary that Jane Austen used. They made a custom dictionary of all the words Jane Austen used in all of her books, and used that to spell check, so it flagged modern words and phrases that she would have totally overlooked otherwise.
I’m thinking it would be incredibly easy to do the same thing for fanfiction, especially book-based - compile a dictionary of, say, all the words GRRM used in ASOIAF, and use that as a spell check dictionary so it would flag any words GRRM did not use…
Or a particular TV show character’s dialogue, though that would involve much more manual effort…
edit: apparently, some historical fiction authors use old dictionaries (circa: 1700-1800s) as their custom dictionaries, even when writing about much earlier time periods. This helps them escape writing with modern-sounding anachronisms that throw modern readers out of the story, but also allows them to use language that a modern reader can understand when writing about time periods where characters should be speaking, say, Old English.
- Where Do Writers Find Their Ideas?
- On Inspiration
- How To Write A Novel
- Getting Started With A Book
- Hints About Writing A Story
- Novel Outlining 101
- From Notes To Novel
- Plotting A Novel
- Why Don’t I Have A Plot, And Where Do I Get One?
- How To Create A Character
- Creating Characters
- Character Creation
- Name That Character! (2)
- You And Your Characters
- How To Write Backstory Without Putting Your Reader To Sleep
- How To Use Foreshadowing
- How To Write Dialogue (2)
- How To Make Your Writing More Interesting
- Writing Block
- How To Get Unstuck
- Advice For Young Writers (2)
- On Word Counts And Novel Length
- Top 4 Ways to Know Your Idea is Novel-Worthy
- How A Book Gets Published
- How Do You Go About Getting Published
And remember: Google is your best friend.
While I do have a few essays and resources that would allow me to write something up on the theories of metaphors, I don’t find them that useful for application. So, instead, I am just going to describe a few processes that I do when I wish to add in some metaphors into my writing.
- Sort By Character - The very beginning of my ‘metaphor construction’ process starts when I have created my character, or sometimes even during the midst of. For the purposes of explaining this, I am going to use one of my characters, who is called Saramil, as an example. Saramil is a young, wealthy member of high aristocracy, who works as a pastoral poet and social commentator to escape facing the prospect of inheriting his family’s (fairly boring, or at least he’d say so) land investment business. This kind of character naturally lends itself to images of gold and jewels, as obvious symbols of wealth, but what else can be taken out of these images?
- Read Books With Similar Characters - While it seems to be every author’s goal to create a completely unique character, tropes and reoccurring patterns in literature are inescapable, but are necessary in the implementation of metaphors: established images make it more possible for readers to understand new creative metaphors, and are vital in forming conventional ones (an example of a conventional metaphor being “time is running out”). So, if you find a character in a book that is similar to yours in either goals or lifestyle, pay close attention to how the author describes them. Going back to the example of my character, a character that stuck with me was Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby, and found the line “her hand was wet with glistening drops as I took it to help her from the car”. The idea of nature replicating a jewel had me come up with lines such as “dripping in cold gemstones” for my own descriptions.
- Research The Object - What I mean by this is actually look into what you want to make a comparison with. So, say I want to use jewels as a reoccurring symbol for Saramil, my next step is to research jewels. Questions should naturally arise from this process: What kind of jewel? What colours? Does it have any historical or cultural context behind its symbol? If you are able to with the particular image in mind, try and get a hold of the actual item and look at it for yourself. After rummaging through my mother’s jewellery box and scanning through the catalogues of auction houses, I decided to align Saramil with the symbol of an opal, since these are jewels that aren’t one colour, and change with the light and perspective, just as I want his character to reflect. This also aligns quite nicely with Shakespeare’s usage of the symbol: in Twelfth Night, Feste tells Count Orsino that “thy mind is a very opal”, to refer to his easily-changeable mind.
- Branch Out - Something I try to do with as many of my metaphors as possible is interconnect them. What I mean by this is, after I have my list of symbols for each character, I try to see what connects them together, with hopes that I can find something new. One example I have already included in this explanation: both raindrops and jewels are glistening, therefore the symbols can be simultaneously recognised by a reader. One of the most established focuses of symbolism in literature is that of light and dark. Light, as one of the first creations of God, is commonly linked to as goodness and purity, but it makes for a more intriguing read if one is to subvert established images like this. To do this, I linked the glittering light of reflections of gems with a gemstone’s physical coldness and lack of value to substance: gems are only worth their appearance, since they can be used for little else directly. With the wider imagery of “light” and “reflection” now attached to the character, lots of doors are opened for metaphorical possibility.
- Don’t Delete Any Metaphors You Make - This is really a comment on all writing or artwork produced, but if you come up with a metaphor, but decide that you don’t think it fits your character, don’t delete it! Make a document for them, or keep them in a scrapbook if you hand-write.
- If All Else Fails, Google - If you type in “[Insert Object Here] Symbolism” or “Symbols of [Insert Personality Trait Here]” into Google, you are bound to come up with results. Just be mindful of what you take as truthful in application of your character.
I hope that helps! I can’t say my writing ‘method’ is… Well, much of a method, but I tried to make the tips coherent. Happy writing!
These are what I would consider to be the most basic, bare-bones questions of character creation.
- What would completely break your character?
- What was the best thing in your character’s life?
- What was the worst thing in your character’s life?
- What seemingly insignificant memories stuck with your character?
- Does your character work so that they can support their hobbies or use their hobbies as a way of filling up the time they aren’t working?
- What is your character reluctant to tell people?
- How does your character feel about sex?
- How many friends does your character have?
- How many friends does your character want?
- What would your character make a scene in public about?
- What would your character give their life for?
- What are your character’s major flaws?
- What does your character pretend or try to care about?
- How does the image your character tries to project differ from the image they actually project?
- What is your character afraid of?
- What is something most people in your setting do that your character things is dumb?
- Where would your character fall on a politeness/rudeness scale?
Write Rhymes finds rhymes for your words while you write and takes the weirdness out of poetry and scheming.
I DON’T THINK YOU UNDERSTAND JUST HOW AMAZING THIS IS FOR WRITERS
WE SPEND YEARS FILLING NOTEBOOKS WITH RHYMES FOR WORDS AND PHRASES AND END-RHYMES AND SLANT RHYMES AND THEN ONE DAY SOME
"YOU KNOW WHAT’D BE COOL? MAKING EVERY POET WET THEMSELVES WITH FUCKING JOY”
I” M SO FUXKC I NG
And here, the biggest lesson of them all, and a summation of all the problems.
You are in the way of your story.
Hard truth: writing is actually not that important.
Writing is a mechanism.
It’s an inelegant middleman to what we do. It’s a shame, in some ways, that we even call ourselves writers, because it describes only the mechanical act of what we do. It’s a vital mechanism, sure, but by describing it as the prominent thing, it tends to suggest, well, prominence.
But our writing must serve story.
Story does not serve writing.
This is cart-before-horse stuff, but important to realize.
Listen, in what we do there exist three essential participants.
The tale, the teller of the tale, and the listener of the tale.
Story. Author. And audience.
You are two-thirds of that equation. You are the story (or, by proxy, its architect) and the teller of the story. The telling of the story is most often done through writing — through that mechanical act, and because it’s the act you can sit and watch, it’s the one that is used to describe our role. I AM WRITER, you say, and so you focus so much on the actual writing you forget that there’s this other invisible — but altogether more critical — part, which is what you’re writing.
So, what happens is, early on, you put so much on the page. You write and write and write and use too many words and too much exposition and big meaty paragraphs and at the end all it serves to do is create distance between the tale and the listener of the tale.
It keeps the audience at arm’s length.
Quit that shit.
Bring the audience into the story. This is at the heart of show, don’t tell — which is a rule that can and should be broken at times, but at its core remains a reasonable notion: don’t talk at, don’t preach, don’t lecture, don’t fill their time with unnecessary wordsmithy.
Get. To. The. Point.”
- Amazing- incredible, unbelievable, improbable, fabulous, wonderful, fantastic, astonishing, astounding, extraordinary
- Anger- enrage, infuriate, arouse, nettle, exasperate, inflame, madden
- Angry- mad, furious, enraged, excited, wrathful, indignant, exasperated, aroused, inflamed
- Answer- reply, respond, retort, acknowledge
- Ask- question, inquire of, seek information from, put a question to, demand, request, expect, inquire, query, interrogate, examine, quiz
- Awful- dreadful, terrible, abominable, bad, poor, unpleasant
- Bad- evil, immoral, wicked, corrupt, sinful, depraved, rotten, contaminated, spoiled, tainted, harmful, injurious, unfavorable, defective, inferior, imperfect, substandard, faulty, improper, inappropriate, unsuitable, disagreeable, unpleasant, cross, nasty, unfriendly, irascible, horrible, atrocious, outrageous, scandalous, infamous, wrong, noxious, sinister, putrid, snide, deplorable, dismal, gross, heinous, nefarious, base, obnoxious, detestable, despicable, contemptible, foul, rank, ghastly, execrable
- Beautiful - pretty, lovely, handsome, attractive, gorgeous, dazzling, splendid, magnificent, comely, fair, ravishing, graceful, elegant, fine, exquisite, aesthetic, pleasing, shapely, delicate, stunning, glorious, heavenly, resplendent, radiant, glowing, blooming, sparkling
- Begin - start, open, launch, initiate, commence, inaugurate, originate
- Big - enormous, huge, immense, gigantic, vast, colossal, gargantuan, large, sizable, grand, great, tall, substantial, mammoth, astronomical, ample, broad, expansive, spacious, stout, tremendous, titanic, mountainous
- Brave - courageous, fearless, dauntless, intrepid, plucky, daring, heroic, valorous, audacious, bold, gallant, valiant, doughty, mettlesome
- Break - fracture, rupture, shatter, smash, wreck, crash, demolish, atomize
- Bright - shining, shiny, gleaming, brilliant, sparkling, shimmering, radiant, vivid, colorful, lustrous, luminous, incandescent, intelligent, knowing, quick-witted, smart, intellectual
- Calm - quiet, peaceful, still, tranquil, mild, serene, smooth, composed, collected, unruffled, level-headed, unexcited, detached, aloof
- Come - approach, advance, near, arrive, reach
- Cool - chilly, cold, frosty, wintry, icy, frigid
- Crooked - bent, twisted, curved, hooked, zigzag
- Cry - shout, yell, yowl, scream, roar, bellow, weep, wail, sob, bawl
- Cut - gash, slash, prick, nick, sever, slice, carve, cleave, slit, chop, crop, lop, reduce
- Dangerous - perilous, hazardous, risky, uncertain, unsafe
- Dark - shadowy, unlit, murky, gloomy, dim, dusky, shaded, sunless, black, dismal, sad
- Decide - determine, settle, choose, resolve
- Definite - certain, sure, positive, determined, clear, distinct, obvious
- Delicious - savory, delectable, appetizing, luscious, scrumptious, palatable, delightful, enjoyable, toothsome, exquisite
- Describe - portray, characterize, picture, narrate, relate, recount, represent, report, record
- Destroy - ruin, demolish, raze, waste, kill, slay, end, extinguish
- Difference - disagreement, inequity, contrast, dissimilarity, incompatibility
- Do - execute, enact, carry out, finish, conclude, effect, accomplish, achieve, attain
- Dull - boring, tiring„ tiresome, uninteresting, slow, dumb, stupid, unimaginative, lifeless, dead, insensible, tedious, wearisome, listless, expressionless, plain, monotonous, humdrum, dreary
- Eager - keen, fervent, enthusiastic, involved, interested, alive to
- End - stop, finish, terminate, conclude, close, halt, cessation, discontinuance
- Enjoy - appreciate, delight in, be pleased, indulge in, luxuriate in, bask in, relish, devour, savor, like
- Explain - elaborate, clarify, define, interpret, justify, account for
- Fair - just, impartial, unbiased, objective, unprejudiced, honest
- Fall - drop, descend, plunge, topple, tumble
- False - fake, fraudulent, counterfeit, spurious, untrue, unfounded, erroneous, deceptive, groundless, fallacious
- Famous - well-known, renowned, celebrated, famed, eminent, illustrious, distinguished, noted, notorious
- Fast - quick, rapid, speedy, fleet, hasty, snappy, mercurial, swiftly, rapidly, quickly, snappily, speedily, lickety-split, posthaste, hastily, expeditiously, like a flash
- Fat - stout, corpulent, fleshy, beefy, paunchy, plump, full, rotund, tubby, pudgy, chubby, chunky, burly, bulky, elephantine
- Fear - fright, dread, terror, alarm, dismay, anxiety, scare, awe, horror, panic, apprehension
- Fly - soar, hover, flit, wing, flee, waft, glide, coast, skim, sail, cruise
- Funny - humorous, amusing, droll, comic, comical, laughable, silly
- Get - acquire, obtain, secure, procure, gain, fetch, find, score, accumulate, win, earn, rep, catch, net, bag, derive, collect, gather, glean, pick up, accept, come by, regain, salvage
- Go - recede, depart, fade, disappear, move, travel, proceed
- Good - excellent, fine, superior, wonderful, marvelous, qualified, suited, suitable, apt, proper, capable, generous, kindly, friendly, gracious, obliging, pleasant, agreeable, pleasurable, satisfactory, well-behaved, obedient, honorable, reliable, trustworthy, safe, favorable, profitable, advantageous, righteous, expedient, helpful, valid, genuine, ample, salubrious, estimable, beneficial, splendid, great, noble, worthy, first-rate, top-notch, grand, sterling, superb, respectable, edifying
- Great - noteworthy, worthy, distinguished, remarkable, grand, considerable, powerful, much, mighty
- Gross - improper, rude, coarse, indecent, crude, vulgar, outrageous, extreme, grievous, shameful, uncouth, obscene, low
- Happy - pleased, contented, satisfied, delighted, elated, joyful, cheerful, ecstatic, jubilant, gay, tickled, gratified, glad, blissful, overjoyed
- Hate - despise, loathe, detest, abhor, disfavor, dislike, disapprove, abominate
- Have - hold, possess, own, contain, acquire, gain, maintain, believe, bear, beget, occupy, absorb, fill, enjoy
- Help - aid, assist, support, encourage, back, wait on, attend, serve, relieve, succor, benefit, befriend, abet
- Hide - conceal, cover, mask, cloak, camouflage, screen, shroud, veil
- Hurry - rush, run, speed, race, hasten, urge, accelerate, bustle
- Hurt - damage, harm, injure, wound, distress, afflict, pain
- Idea - thought, concept, conception, notion, understanding, opinion, plan, view, belief
- Important - necessary, vital, critical, indispensable, valuable, essential, significant, primary, principal, considerable, famous, distinguished, notable, well-known
- Interesting - fascinating, engaging, sharp, keen, bright, intelligent, animated, spirited, attractive, inviting, intriguing, provocative, though-provoking, challenging, inspiring, involving, moving, titillating, tantalizing, exciting, entertaining, piquant, lively, racy, spicy, engrossing, absorbing, consuming, gripping, arresting, enthralling, spellbinding, curious, captivating, enchanting, bewitching, appealing
- Keep - hold, retain, withhold, preserve, maintain, sustain, support
- Kill - slay, execute, assassinate, murder, destroy, cancel, abolish
- Lazy - indolent, slothful, idle, inactive, sluggish
- Little - tiny, small, diminutive, shrimp, runt, miniature, puny, exiguous, dinky, cramped, limited, itsy-bitsy, microscopic, slight, petite, minute
- Look - gaze, see, glance, watch, survey, study, seek, search for, peek, peep, glimpse, stare, contemplate, examine, gape, ogle, scrutinize, inspect, leer, behold, observe, view, witness, perceive, spy, sight, discover, notice, recognize, peer, eye, gawk, peruse, explore
- Love - like, admire, esteem, fancy, care for, cherish, adore, treasure, worship, appreciate, savor
- Make - create, originate, invent, beget, form, construct, design, fabricate, manufacture, produce, build, develop, do, effect, execute, compose, perform, accomplish, earn, gain, obtain, acquire, get
- Mark - label, tag, price, ticket, impress, effect, trace, imprint, stamp, brand, sign, note, heed, notice, designate
- Mischievous - prankish, playful, naughty, roguish, waggish, impish, sportive
- Move - plod, go, creep, crawl, inch, poke, drag, toddle, shuffle, trot, dawdle, walk, traipse, mosey, jog, plug, trudge, slump, lumber, trail, lag, run, sprint, trip, bound, hotfoot, high-tail, streak, stride, tear, breeze, whisk, rush, dash, dart, bolt, fling, scamper, scurry, skedaddle, scoot, scuttle, scramble, race, chase, hasten, hurry, hump, gallop, lope, accelerate, stir, budge, travel, wander, roam, journey, trek, ride, spin, slip, glide, slide, slither, coast, flow, sail, saunter, hobble, amble, stagger, paddle, slouch, prance, straggle, meander, perambulate, waddle, wobble, pace, swagger, promenade, lunge
- Moody - temperamental, changeable, short-tempered, glum, morose, sullen, mopish, irritable, testy, peevish, fretful, spiteful, sulky, touchy
- Neat - clean, orderly, tidy, trim, dapper, natty, smart, elegant, well-organized, super, desirable, spruce, shipshape, well-kept, shapely
- New - fresh, unique, original, unusual, novel, modern, current, recent
- Old - feeble, frail, ancient, weak, aged, used, worn, dilapidated, ragged, faded, broken-down, former, old-fashioned, outmoded, passe, veteran, mature, venerable, primitive, traditional, archaic, conventional, customary, stale, musty, obsolete, extinct
- Part - portion, share, piece, allotment, section, fraction, fragment
- Place - space, area, spot, plot, region, location, situation, position, residence, dwelling, set, site, station, status, state
- Plan - plot, scheme, design, draw, map, diagram, procedure, arrangement, intention, device, contrivance, method, way, blueprint
- Popular - well-liked, approved, accepted, favorite, celebrated, common, current
- Predicament - quandary, dilemma, pickle, problem, plight, spot, scrape, jam
- Put - place, set, attach, establish, assign, keep, save, set aside, effect, achieve, do, build
- Quiet - silent, still, soundless, mute, tranquil, peaceful, calm, restful
- Right - correct, accurate, factual, true, good, just, honest, upright, lawful, moral, proper, suitable, apt, legal, fair
- Run - race, speed, hurry, hasten, sprint, dash, rush, escape, elope, flee
- Say/Tell - inform, notify, advise, relate, recount, narrate, explain, reveal, disclose, divulge, declare, command, order, bid, enlighten, instruct, insist, teach, train, direct, issue, remark, converse, speak, affirm, suppose, utter, negate, express, verbalize, voice, articulate, pronounce, deliver, convey, impart, assert, state, allege, mutter, mumble, whisper, sigh, exclaim, yell, sing, yelp, snarl, hiss, grunt, snort, roar, bellow, thunder, boom, scream, shriek, screech, squawk, whine, philosophize, stammer, stutter, lisp, drawl, jabber, protest, announce, swear, vow, content, assure, deny, dispute
- Scared - afraid, frightened, alarmed, terrified, panicked, fearful, unnerved, insecure, timid, shy, skittish, jumpy, disquieted, worried, vexed, troubled, disturbed, horrified, terrorized, shocked, petrified, haunted, timorous, shrinking, tremulous, stupefied, paralyzed, stunned, apprehensive
- Show - display, exhibit, present, note, point to, indicate, explain, reveal, prove, demonstrate, expose
- Slow - unhurried, gradual, leisurely, late, behind, tedious, slack
- Stop - cease, halt, stay, pause, discontinue, conclude, end, finish, quit
- Story - tale, myth, legend, fable, yarn, account, narrative, chronicle, epic, sage, anecdote, record, memoir
- Strange - odd, peculiar, unusual, unfamiliar, uncommon, queer, weird, outlandish, curious, unique, exclusive, irregular
- Take - hold, catch, seize, grasp, win, capture, acquire, pick, choose, select, prefer, remove, steal, lift, rob, engage, bewitch, purchase, buy, retract, recall, assume, occupy, consume
- Tell - disclose, reveal, show, expose, uncover, relate, narrate, inform, advise, explain, divulge, declare, command, order, bid, recount, repeat
- Think - judge, deem, assume, believe, consider, contemplate, reflect, mediate
- Trouble - distress, anguish, anxiety, worry, wretchedness, pain, danger, peril, disaster, grief, misfortune, difficulty, concern, pains, inconvenience, exertion, effort
- True - accurate, right, proper, precise, exact, valid, genuine, real, actual, trusty, steady, loyal, dependable, sincere, staunch
- Ugly - hideous, frightful, frightening, shocking, horrible, unpleasant, monstrous, terrifying, gross, grisly, ghastly, horrid, unsightly, plain, homely, evil, repulsive, repugnant, gruesome
- Unhappy - miserable, uncomfortable, wretched, heart-broken, unfortunate, poor, downhearted, sorrowful, depressed, dejected, melancholy, glum, gloomy, dismal, discouraged, sad
- Use - employ, utilize, exhaust, spend, expend, consume, exercise
- Wrong - incorrect, inaccurate, mistaken, erroneous, improper, unsuitable
confessionsofalitgeek asked: Do you have any articles about writing fantasy races? I’m trying to come up with societies for them but also making their appearances more unique so I don’t just have regular Lord of the Rings type characters.
TIPS:GRAMMAR (WORDS):NAMES:NOVEL:CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT:PLOT, CONFLICT, STRUCTURE and OUTLINE:SETTING, WORLDBUILDING AND FANTASY:POINT OF VIEW:OTHERS:
The Cinderella story is an archetypal narrative structure that can be found in many books, both by established and aspiring writers.
A put upon person, treated unfairly and cruelly through no fault of their own, overcomes their unjust circumstances to win great rewards and happiness.
It’s an appealing format because it creates a sympathetic underdog who triumphs against adversity; the kind of struggle we’d all like to think we could battle and win.
But there are two problems with the Cinderella story that make her an awkward fit for the modern world.
Whatever sort of writing you do, it’s important to revise and edit your work – especially if you write academic essays, or articles or short stories that you’ll be submitting to editors. However much time you took over the piece on the first draft, you’ll always find a few mistakes to correct.
This is the method that I’ve used for years when writing essays or short stories, to ensure they’re as good as possible before a lecturer or editor gets to see them!
Do nothing (for a day or two)
Set your work aside for a period of time – don’t hit ‘Save’ on the first draft then start again straight away on the second pass. You’ll come to the work afresh if you leave it alone for a while.
As Michael said in Write First, Edit Later:
Let your writing sit for a while. It may make more sense if you sleep on it. Or, it may make less sense after you have slept on it. At least you’ll know which.
For essays, try to allow at least a day. Short stories can sometimes need longer – your mind will carry on mulling over the ideas whilst you’re doing other things. And many novelists advise putting your novel aside for at least a month before starting the revision process.
Read over your whole piece quite quickly. Circle any typos and mistakes that you spot, but concentrate on overall flow. If it’s an essay, check for any gaps in logic or any sides of the argument you might have missed. If it’s a short story, do any passages drag – or go too fast?
Print out the first draft, and read through the whole thing, concentrating on the overall flow of the piece. Circle any typos or mistakes that you notice, but focus on the big picture.
- If it’s an essay, are there any logical missteps, points you’ve not backed up, or angles to the argument that you’ve missed?
- If it’s fiction, do any scenes drag or go too fast, and are there any plot holes or inconsistencies of characterisation?
This is the stage to sort out any big problems. I often rewrite the whole thing (especially when working on fiction), starting afresh with a blank document on the computer. If you’re better than me at getting it right first time, you may not need to do that – but you could find yourself cutting out whole paragraphs, adding in new material, and changing the direction of the piece.
After you’ve done this, you might want to ask a friend, classmate or colleague to read the piece. Tell them not to look for tiny errors like typos or clumsy sentences at this stage: ask whether they think it’s broadly OK, or if they have any reservations about the overall direction of the article or story.
Editing and proofreading
Once you’ve sorted out the big picture, you can start fixing any individual sentences and words. Again, it’s a good idea to print out the document and do this on paper: I find I miss errors on screen (especially typos which are valid words, such as “they’re” for “their”).
Look out for:
- Typos and misspellings (a good tip here is to read backwards! You’ll go much more slowly, focussing on every individual word).
- Clumsy sentences and confusing or misleading phrasing (try reading your work aloud).
- Unnecessary words (check for the ones in Five Words You Can Cut).
- Commonly misused or confused words (there’s a whole list of these in the Misused Words category).
If you’re not 100% sure about a spelling, double-check with a dictionary: try Merriam-Webster for clear, succinct definitions. When you can’t quite find the right word, using a thesaurus can help (again, Merriam-Webster is good).
Do you have a great tip for revising and editing your work? Or do you have a horror story about an occasion when you handed in a first draft with a glaring error..? Share your experiences in the comments below!
Anonymous asked: Hi. This might be long. I’m writing a novel for the first time ever and I have so many questions. How to give my characters realistic backgrounds and futures, how to create a fantasy world, how to introduce my novel without sounding like a complete idiot. I don’t want to write, I want to create and I’ve got ideas I just can’t get a story. Have you got anything that might help me with creating characters, a world, and starting the novel? Thanks.
Congratulations on starting your first novel! Very exciting!
Here are posts I’ve made with lots of tips and links to help you out!
Plot: Brainstorming for Ideas
Outlining and Planning a SeriesFinding Focus During a Storm of Ideas
Beginning a Novel
Creating the Perfect Writing Space
Finding the Time to Write
Turning Ideas into a Story
Plot and Story Structure:
Figuring Out a Plot
How to Develop a Plot
Plot and Story Structure
Fleshing Out a Flat Character
Different Kinds of Antagonists
Strong Female Protagonists
Fantasy World Building:
Establishing a Non-Traditional Fantasy Setting
Creating a Fictional Calendar
Creating a Language
Telling Time Without Clocks
Going Too Far with Fantasy?
Should I Cut My Prologue?
Chapter Titles and Endings
To Kill or Not Kill a Character
What to Do When Your Story Stalls
How to Make Simple Writing More Vivid
How to Avoid Forced Romantic Sub-Plot
The Opening Line
Writing Process: Drafts
Suspense, Climax, and Ending
If you have any further questions, you know where to find me! :)
I really want to start writing my first original story but I have no idea where to start! I’ve written lots of fanfiction stories because it’s easier when you already have a starting point and characters to work off of; but I’m ready to start…
I have posted a bunch of tips about that. :-)
#40: Ten Tips For Writing Good Action Scenes.
#50: Writing Action. Part 1.
#51: Writing Action. Part 2.
#60:Writing Action Scenes
#96: How To Write A War or Battle Scene in Your Novel
#120:Fight Scenes and Love Scenes – Seven Tips to Writing Action
#121: Writing Realistic Injuries