Tag Archives: tips

Characters People Loathe, Part Two: Passive and Reactive

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Let’s continue our look at characters people tend to hate, shall we? Last time, I wrote about Mary Sues, which is a type that is pretty easy to spot. This next one is a bit more nebulous, and can be harder to pin down, because they can be likable people! In the hands of another author, they would likely be compelling and genuinely interesting. Unfortunately, there’s something about them that just seems… off.

Maybe it’s because they don’t actually do anything on their own. 

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Author Overreach: How to Lose a Reader in Ten Pages or Less

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It isn’t enough for some authors to tell us about their characters or the setting when they’re working on a story. They can’t limit themselves to just a bit of background information. No. In order for them to tell you about this world that they have created, they need to tell you about each of its Kings and Queens. From the beginning of the monarchy. In order. And in excruciating detail. Also, how the monarchy was formed. And the attempted revolution three hundred years before the current story takes place. But don’t worry about that revolution, because it didn’t work. You know what else didn’t work? When notable citizen Mark Lingtree thought it would be a good idea to try to bring metal carriage wheels to market fifty years before the story began. It wasn’t that they were designed poorly, you understand– they worked quite well, but they were hard to manufacture, and delivery times were too long. Speaking of things that were too long, did you…

I think you get it. This is an author who needs an intervention, because it is entirely possible to give too much detail when you’re writing a story.

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Creative Cowardice: The Scourge of Good Stories

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If there’s one thing that annoys me more than anything else in terms of fiction, it’s when an otherwise good story is ruined by the creator’s cowardice. It drags down a story that has kept my attention, one that had me hungry for more content, and sometimes? It makes me disregard other material that the creator already has out there. What’s worse? It seems to get more prevalent with each passing year.

Today, I’m going to step up onto a soapbox and explain to you why you need to stick out your jaw, and own your work. Continue reading

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Formatting: Parenthetical Citations Made Easy

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This is something of a follow-up to my previous post on in-text citations. Consistently one of the most common questions I get from students or classmates is “How do I format this citation?” And honestly? It’s pretty straightforward most of the time. Here’s the rundown.

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Common Paper Writing Mistakes, Part One: Where To Put Citations

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This one seems to come up frequently. One of my classmates or students will email me a copy of their paper and ask me to take a look at it before they hand it in. I oblige, because I actually like editing (I’m one of those people) and I like giving friends a hand. Looking over the paper, the text itself seems pretty good, and I reword a few things for them or catch a couple of grammatical errors– basic stuff. But there’s one problem that is rampant throughout the paper: the writer clearly doesn’t know where to put his or her citations, so he or she puts them everywhere. Or, there aren’t any citations at all, and at the end they stick in a works cited page.

I can’t really blame them for not knowing; I can only assume they have never been taught. So I explain to them how to cite properly, fix it for them and move on. Well, to prevent future questions, I thought that I’d put together an article explaining when and where your citations belong in your paper.  Continue reading

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