Lots of times writing feels like taking two steps forward and one step back. After making progress in the narrative comes editing and making sure what you just wrote doesn’t conflict with the continuity of the story as a whole. This is where the work aspect of writing comes in. And this work is done without booze.
Sober writing sucks, man.
When the American writer David Foster Wallace died four years ago, he left behind the following fragments: notes towards a dictionary all his own. DFW had an amazing mind, and his notes on words are at once insightful and at times, hilarious and beautiful.
A noxious puff-word. Since it does nothing that good old use doesn’t do, its extra letters and syllables don’t make a writer seem smarter; rather, using utilize makes you seem either like a pompous twit or like someone so insecure that she’ll use pointlessly big words in an attempt to look sophisticated. The same is true for the noun utilization, for vehicle as used for car, for residence as used for house, for presently, at present,at this time, and at the present time as used for now, and so on. What’s worth remembering about puff-words is something that good writing teachers spend a lot of time drumming into undergrads: “formal writing” does not mean gratuitously fancy writing; it means clean, clear, maximally considerate writing.
A paradoxical noun because it refers to a kind of beauty but is itself one of the ugliest words in the language. Same goes for the adj. formpulchritudinous. They’re part of a tiny elite cadre of words that possess the opposite of the qualities they denote. Diminutive, big, foreign, fancy(adj.), classy, colloquialism, and monosyllabic are some others; there are at least a dozen more. Inviting your school-age kids to list as many paradoxical words as they can is a neat way to deepen their relationship to English and help them see that words are both symbols for real things and real things themselves.
Getting slightly drunk is a great way to get over writer’s block.
Holy shit, I’m Hemingway. Or Nick Miller. I don’t even know anymore.
Finding the information you need as a writer shouldn’t be a chore. Luckily, there are plenty of search engines out there that are designed to help you at any stage of the process, from coming up with great ideas to finding a publisher to get your work into print. Both writers still in college and those on their way to professional success will appreciate this list of useful search applications that are great from making writing a little easier and more efficient.
Find other writers, publishers and ways to market your work through these searchable databases and search engines.
- Litscene: Use this search engine to search through thousands of writers and literary projects, and add your own as well.
- Thinkers.net: Get a boost in your creativity with some assistance from this site.
- PoeWar: Whether you need help with your career or your writing, this site is full of great searchable articles.
- Publisher’s Catalogues: Try out this site to search through the catalogs and names of thousands of publishers.
- Edit Red: Through this site you can showcase your own work and search through work by others, as well as find helpful FAQ’s on writing.
- Writersdock: Search through this site for help with your writing, find jobs and join other writers in discussions.
- PoetrySoup: If you want to find some inspirational poetry, this site is a great resource.
- Booksie.com: Here, you can search through a wide range of self-published books.
- One Stop Write Shop: Use this tool to search through the writings of hundreds of other amateur writers.
- Writer’s Cafe: Check out this online writer’s forum to find and share creative works.
- Literary Marketplace: Need to know something about the publishing industry? Use this search tool to find the information you need now.
These helpful tools will help you along in the writing process.
- WriteSearch: This search engine focuses exclusively on sites devoted to reading and writing to deliver its results.
- The Burry Man Writers Center: Find a wealth of writing resources on this searchable site.
- Writing.com: This fully-featured site makes it possible to find information both fun and serious about the craft of writing.
- Purdue OWL: Need a little instruction on your writing? This tool from Purdue University can help.
- Writing Forums: Search through these writing forums to find answers to your writing issues.
Try out these tools to get your writing research done in a snap.
- Google Scholar: With this specialized search engine from Google, you’ll only get reliable, academic results for your searches.
- WorldCat: If you need a book from the library, try out this tool. It’ll search and find the closest location.
- Scirus: Find great scientific articles and publications through this search engine.
- OpenLibrary: If you don’t have time to run to a brick-and-mortar library, this online tool can still help you find books you can use.
- Online Journals Search Engine: Try out this search engine to find free online journal articles.
- All Academic: This search engine focuses on returning highly academic, reliable resources.
- LOC Ask a Librarian: Search through the questions on this site to find helpful answers about the holdings at the Library of Congress.
- Encylcopedia.com: This search engine can help you find basic encyclopedia articles.
- Clusty: If you’re searching for a topic to write on, this search engine with clustered results can help get your creative juices flowing.
- Intute: Here you’ll find a British search engine that delivers carefully chosen results from academia.
- AllExperts: Have a question? Ask the experts on this site or search through the existing answers.
Need to look up a quote or a fact? These search tools make it simple.
- Writer’s Web Search Engine: This search engine is a great place to find reference information on how to write well.
- Bloomsbury Magazine Research Centre: You’ll find numerous resources on publications, authors and more through this search engine.
- Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Thesaurus: Make sure you’re using words correctly and can come up with alternatives with the help of this tool.
- References.net: Find all the reference material you could ever need through this search engine.
- Quotes.net: If you need a quote, try searching for one by topic or by author on this site.
- Literary Encyclopedia: Look up any famous book or author in this search tool.
- Acronym Finder: Not sure what a particular acronym means? Look it up here.
- Bartleby: Through Bartleby, you can find a wide range of quotes from famous thinkers, writers and celebrities.
- Wikipedia.com: Just about anything and everything you could want to look up is found on this site.
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Find all the great philosophers you could want to reference in this online tool.
If you’re focusing on writing in a particular niche, these tools can be a big help.
- PubGene: Those working in sci-fi or medical writing will appreciate this database of genes, biological terms and organisms.
- GoPubMd: You’ll find all kinds of science and medical search results here.
- Jayde: Looking for a business? Try out this search tool.
- Zibb: No matter what kind of business you need to find out more about, this tool will find the information.
- TechWeb: Do a little tech research using this news site and search engine.
- Google Trends: Try out this tool to find out what people are talking about.
- Godchecker: Doing a little work on ancient gods and goddesses? This tool can help you make sure you have your information straight.
- Healia: Find a wide range of health topics and information by using this site.
- Sci-Fi Search: Those working on sci-fi can search through relevant sites to make sure their ideas are original.
Find your own work and inspirational tomes from others by using these search engines.
- Literature Classics: This search tool makes it easy to find the free and famous books you want to look through.
- InLibris: This search engine provides one of the largest directories of literary resources on the web.
- SHARP Web: Using this tool, you can search through the information on the history of reading and publishing.
- AllReaders: See what kind of reviews books you admire got with this search engine.
- BookFinder: No matter what book you’re looking for you’re bound to find it here.
- ReadPrint: Search through this site for access to thousands of free books.
- Google Book Search: Search through the content of thousands upon thousands of books here, some of which is free to use.
- Indie Store Finder: If you want to support the little guy, this tool makes it simple to find an independent bookseller in your neck of the woods.
For web writing, these tools can be a big help.
- Technorati: This site makes it possible to search through millions of blogs for both larger topics and individual posts.
- Google Blog Search: Using this specialized Google search engine, you can search through the content of blogs all over the web.
- Domain Search: Looking for a place to start your own blog? This search tool will let you know what’s out there.
- OpinMind: Try out this blog search tool to find opinion focused blogs.
- IceRocket: Here you’ll find a real-time blog search engine so you’ll get the latest news and posts out there.
- PubSub: This search tool scours sites like Twitter and Friendfeed to find the topics people are talking about most every day.
And now for a Halloween themed post.
Also known as Samhein, Sauin, La Samhna, Samhuiin, Oiche Shamhna, Samain, Hallowmas, Shadowfest, All Hallow’s Eve, Samhuinn, Samhain, Witch’s New Year, Summer’s End, the Third Harvest, Samana, Vigil of Saman, and others.
The name “Samhain”, and its other spellings and similar names, comes from the Old Irish “sam” for summer and “fuin” for end, thus making this holiday the mark of the end of summer.
The celebration of Halloween goes back six thousand years where the Celtic people celebrated the end of the harvest and the coming of winter. This day is traditionally October 31st, though some celebrated it in the early days of November. Its most precise date is when the sun is at 15 degrees Scorpio. In the year of 2013, it will occur on November 7th. The celebration usually began the day before, at sunset.
This day was used to honor the dead and those who had passed away that year, as it was said the veil between the living and the dead was thinnest at this time of year. Rather than mourning the dead, Halloween was a celebration for the death of all things old and the beginning of all things new.
- An owl that circles a house three times is said to be a sign that someone within the house will die soon.
- It is said robins gained their red feathers because they attempted to remove the thorn crown from Jesus’s head, but his blood fell on the bird instead.
- It is unlucky to kill a robin.
- The eye on a peacock feather is said to be the “evil eye” and therefore bad luck to bring inside a home.
- There are countless superstitions about birds near homes and windows that signify oncoming death.
- Tip your hat at a magpie to avoid back luck.
- It’s unlucky to kill sparrows because they carry the souls of the dead.
- A crow at the window represents the soul of a dead person.
- A nearby robin carries the soul of a deceased family member.
- If a bird call comes from the north, misfortune will follow.
- If a bird call comes from the west, good luck will follow.
- If a bird call comes from the south, a good harvest will follow.
- If a bird call comes from the east, love will follow.
- Unbaptized children become birds until they are accepted into Heaven.
- Pet birds must be informed of important family events or they will die.
- It is unlucky to find a dead bird outside the home.
- A raven near a sick person means death is coming.
- In Wales, a blind person can regain sight by showing kindness to a raven.
- Cardinal Superstitions
- Bird Folklore
- Crow Folklore
- Victorian Funeral Customs and Superstitions
- Superstitions on Death
- Superstitions of Death
- 13 Superstitions About Death and Dying
- Superstitions About Death
- Death Superstitions
- Superstitions Surrounding Death
- Put almonds in your pocket when you need to find something.
- Scatter chili peppers around your house to break a curse.
- Never blow out the first candle you lit before you blow out the others or bad luck will follow.
- Throw rice in the air to make it rain.
- Ask an orange a yes or no question and count the seeds. An even number of seeds means no and an odd number means yes.
- In a photograph of three, the person in the middle will die first.
- Walk through the branches of a maple tree to have a long life.
- Carry peach wood to have a long life.
- Eat a peach to assist in making a tough decision
- Mix salt and pepper together and scatter it around your house to repel evil.
- Do not whistle at night.
- Eat mustard seed to ensure fertility.
- Place chips of cedar wood in a box with some coins to draw money to you.
- If you bite your tongue, someone is talking about you or thinking of you.
- Hanging up a new calendar before the year is over will bring bad luck
- Animal Superstitions
- Irish Superstitions and Folklore
- Superstitions From Europe
- Superstitions in Shakespeare’s Time
- Folklore of Puerto Rico
- Old Irish Superstitions
- Put out all fires in the home the night before Halloween to cleanse negative spirits. Reignite them from a common source on Halloween.
- Burying apples along the path is said to serve as food for souls as they pass through our world.
- The veil between the living and the dead is said to be thinnest on Halloween.
- 13 Halloween Superstitions
- Halloween Superstitions
- Halloween Superstitions and Folklore
Home & Hearth Superstitions:
- Hanging a pair of scissors over the front door will cut off negativity
- Hanging a cluster of acorns on the front door will protect those who live there
- Put thorny branches on your doorstep to keep evil away
- Smell dill to get rid of hiccups
- Place cotton on an aching tooth to relieve pain
- Place a sliced onion in the room of an ill person to draw out the sickness
- Hang a pea pod with nine peas above your door to draw your future lover
- Place a pine branch above your bed to keep illness away
- Cut an apple in half and give one half to your love for a long relationship.
- Put pepper inside a piece of cotton and sew it shut to bring back a lost love
- It is bad luck for siblings to marry within the same year
- If you see a robin on Valentine’s Day, you will marry a crime fighter
- Eight Love Superstitions and Their Origins
- Superstitions About Love and Marriage
- Love Superstitions
- Wedding Superstitions
- Love Superstitions (highlight to read text)
- Smell peppermint to help you sleep
- Eat a bit of thyme before bed for sweet dreams
- Putting garlic under the bed will prevent nightmares
- Rub a lettuce leaf on your forehead to help you sleep
- Placing a full glass of water by your bed every night will collect any negativity in the room, but don’t drink it
- Putting a broom on the bed brings bad luck
- If you leave laundry hanging outside during the night, a spirit will attach itself to it and possess the wearer
- Never put a hat on the bed
- Place morning glory seeds under your bed to cure nightmares
- Place an onion underneath your pillow to have prophetic dreams
- Never sleep with your head pointing east
- Never sleep with your head pointing west
- If you go to bed backwards, you will have good dreams
- Best Books to Read for Halloween
- Best Halloween Books
- Best Halloween Picture Books
- Great Reads for Halloween
- Halloween Reads
- Reading for October Evenings
- Spooky Kids Books to Read at Halloween
- October Reading List
- Witchy Picture Books
- Halloween 2012 Must Reads
- Killer Ghost Stories
- Creepy Halloween Reads
- Haunted Reads 2013
- All Hallows Reads
- Amazing Paranormal Books
- Forests in Myth, Folklore, and Fairy Tales
- Fantasy Novels Based in Native American Myth
- Ghost Story Collections
- Asian Folktale Picture Books
It’s not what we usually post, but in the spirit of things (heh) have some myth, folklore, and good ole ghost story collections.
Every story has a hero, and the hero of the story can often change depending on the narrator’s point of view. The trick is to create an interesting hero that your reader can root for without boring your reader to death. So here are some tips for doing that
1. Create an interesting backstory. We’ve all seen stories about heroes who come from nothing and through virtue of destiny/a hidden power/sheer hard work and dedication, the hero finds himself/herself in a position to defeat the bad guy. But there are some twists you can add to this old archetype. Your hero could be the son of the antagonist (just look at Star Wars!) or at the very last minute, one of your supporting characters can show up to save the day (do I hear Samwise Gamgee?) There is no “ideal” background for your hero, so be creative!
2. Heroes are not good all the time. Even Hercules had a weakness. Perfect characters are boring and they will kill your plot. It will literally flatline. So the thing to do here is add a flaw. Let’s take for example, Michael Corleone in The Godfather. He’s a murderous member of the mafia, for Pete’s sake! And if the story were told from the perspective of his enemies, Michael would be the bad guy. But the fact of the matter is, we’re enthralled by his flaws as well as his virtues. These traits can be physical or psychological as long as they come into play during the course of your hero’s journey.
3. Speaking of which, the journey: typically, a hero goes on some sort of physical journey that ends up being a psychological one as well. Lessons are learned, friends are made, battles are won and lost, and all of it shapes the outcome of the story. Now you can choose to have one or the other or both, but there MUST be some sort of journey involved in order for your characters to be dynamic.
4. Sometimes, the hero loses. As much as you will love your hero and her/his friends, they have to fail every once in a while. (HUNGER GAMES SPOILERS: Katniss is a prime example! She did her best, but in the end, nothing she could do could save Prim.) Be brutally honest. Channel your inner George R. R. Martin and slaughter some characters.
5. Give everybody something to fight for. This part is tricky, because you really have to know your character. What would he/she fight for? Die for? Why is it so important? Who would try and take it away? Would the hero ever give up and if so, under what circumstances? (Do this for your villain as well.)
Some other quick tips:
- You can have more than one hero, just as you can have more than one villain.
- You can tell the story from both perspectives; this forces your reader to choose a side. It’s important to make both sides equally good and bad here, but in different ways.
- Put some innocent bystanders in the way of the enemy so that your reader can have a little tiny glimpse of the consequence of failure.
- You can have a hero that encompasses a “big idea,” such as honesty, friendship, honor, etc. This also makes it easier to choose a fatal flaw. For example, an honest character could come off as haughty, a friendly character could be naive, an honorable character could be stubborn, etc.
There are several nuances to creating a character and it takes practice to perfect your own process, but these are some good starting guidelines to make sure you at least have a moving plot. The rest will begin coming together once the rest of your story starts to develop.
1. If you think you are suffering from writer’s block, stop writing immediately.
2. Walk away from your computer.
3. Remember this: writer’s block doesn’t exist. What does exist is a condition in which you don’t really know what you’re trying to say, and therefore are having trouble saying it.
4. Don’t try to think of what you’re trying to say—yet. Go do something other than writing or thinking, preferably something where you’ll sweat (running, weeding the garden, walking the dog) or be pleasantly distracted (cooking, going for a drive).
5. When you’re done with that diversion, start thinking about what you still need to learn before you know what you’re trying to say. Don’t start writing yet.
6. Usually this will require making some phone calls, or doing some research. DON’T START WRITING YET.
7. Once you’ve done that additional research and thinking, start composing in your head the idea that got you stuck.
8. Find someone whose opinion you trust. Explain to her what you are writing. Listen to yourself as you’re talking. You’ll be sorting out your thoughts as you’re talking.
9. NOW sit down and try writing that down. If you’re still stuck, maybe you still don’t know what you’re trying to say. Repeat steps 1 through 9. If necessary repeat again. And again.
10. Celebrate getting past a hard part of your writing!
1. Play Mass Effect’s Citadel DLC
2. Realize you don’t want to play video games.
3. Leave game running in Shepard’s apartment and listen to the soothing waterfall in the hallway near the stairs.
4. Pour liquor into glass.
5. Drink the liquor as you decide to write.
6. Keep writing.
7. Repeat steps 4-6 as needed until you fall asleep (or don’t fall asleep. Writing is great and is better than sleep).
Just in case any of my awesome followers want to follow/take a look at my free-form writing blog it’s located here. I don’t update it very regularly because most of my creative energies right now are going towards my book, but I still do post stuff occasionally.
Go on and give it a look-see.
there is a jug of it in my house and i want some but my mom was like “you can’t have that” and now i’m sad
What a pity. I write best after a couple drinks, and I imagine most other writers do as well.
Just drank a healthy amount of rum. Time to write.
Just realized I’ve written over 10,000 words for my book. It’s all
uphill downhill from here.
Not sleeping is bad, but writing is good. Things even out.