Tag Archives: writing

Plot Holes: What They Are and How to Avoid Them

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We’ve all found a few plot holes in one story or another, and there is nothing that breaks immersion faster. Something about finding a glaring inconsistency that is unacknowledged by the writer nags at us, and makes us focus on the mistake rather than the story as a whole.

I find myself taking an almost perverse pleasure in spotting them from time to time, especially within well-established and popular works. Maybe that says something about me as a person, but there’s something about it that gives me a rush when I can jump up and say, “Ah ha! You screwed up!”

I don’t need to tell you why plot holes are bad. If you don’t already know why, then you should probably consider doing something else with your time besides writing. Instead, I’m going to tell you how to avoid them in the first place.

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How to Make Your Paper Longer, Part Two: The Sneaky Way

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I told you last week that trying to use tricks and chicanery to artificially inflate your paper’s length is the wrong way to go about it. Before I go any further, I want to reiterate the reasons not to use the tricks I’m about to tell you.  Continue reading

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Original Ideas: The Thing Nobody Can Make For You

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Every writer has been there. Every. Single. One. It doesn’t matter if you’re as prolific as Stephen King or as agonizingly slow as George R.R. Martin (still waiting on Book Six, you know). It is going to happen to you eventually, and, if you love writing, you’ll be desperate to fix it. So you go ahead and read some dandy articles on Top Six Story Idea Generators and you follow the advice you’re given.

And, of course, it doesn’t friggin’ work.

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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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Common Paper Writing Mistakes, Part Zero: Basic Errors

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I’ve mentioned some of these in passing in previous posts and in videos on my YouTube Channel, and I’ve actually gotten some messages asking about some of the basic errors people make on papers. Rather than respond to them individually, I figured I’d just make a master post compiling the most common ones that are easy to avoid.  Continue reading

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Tools of the Trade: Anticlimax

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We’ve all seen it before: the story is built up, tensions are rising, suspense is palpable enough that you can’t help but be on the edge of your seat. This is it, you might think to yourself. This is going to be an epic fight. I wonder how he’s going to–

Wait. Did that random, unnamed character from the second chapter just… did he just shoot Bad Guy in the head from a rooftop?

You just got anticlimaxed.  Continue reading

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Plot Outlining: Avoiding the Trap

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Anyone who’s written more than a couple of stories will tell you that the worst thing you can do is sit down and start writing cold. You really should know where the story is going to go before you even open up the word processor. The problem, of course, is that it’s tempting as heck to just rush in. Continue reading

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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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