Brainstorming: Getting the Ideas from Mind to Material

brainstorming ; coming up with ideasBrainstorming is like looking for seashells on a beach. At first, you wander around and search, grabbing just about anything that catches your eye. Then, once your bucket is full, you sort through them, only taking the best ones home with you. In the same way, brainstorming lets you get a lot of ideas onto a page without much judgment or close inspection. Then, when you feel like you have enough or you can’t come up with anything else, you look back through what you’ve created, choosing the best ideas to include in your writing.

It’s a personal process, though. Everyone’s brainstorming process is as unique as they are. However, no matter what kind of writer or thinker you are, there are still a few general strategies to choose from to help you get those ideas out on paper.

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30 Journal Prompts to Inspire You

Why should you journal?

All writers get stuck behind the proverbial wall called “writer’s block.” Sometimes, we just don’t know what to write! But, the key to breaking down that wall isn’t to find the perfect thing to write about; it’s just a matter of getting words on the page. And journal prompts are a fantastic way to get started.

The next time you feel like you just don’t know what to say, choose a prompt and get to work! Forget about grammar, punctuation, and structure. Just write what you know and write what you feel. That wall is sure to come crumbling down.

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State of Being Verbs: To be Used or to be Avoided?

You might be asking yourself what “to be” verbs really are. There is a simple explanation. It is a group of verbs that are commonly used in all kinds of writing. You may have been using them without knowing it. You may be reading them right now as you are wondering why this paragraph seems so choppy.

We’re talking state of being (is, am, are, was, were, be, being, been). That’s what we call those “to be” verbs.

Overusing state of being verbs can give your writing some stubborn setbacks, like false impressions, vague generalizations, and confusing subjects. Here’s how to spot them, find the right substitution, and write with more illustration.

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Transitional Phrases: Helping Your Reader “Get There”

Readers are creatures of habit. As an author, you’ll form your own voice and technique—your habits—and your reader will learn to pick up on these. But, if you get into the practice of choppy writing, your audience will also notice that pattern and may lose interest before you can communicate anything important. That’s why it’s important to have a few tools in your back pocket, like transitional phrases. These phrases can help you move smoothly from one topic to another and keep an unfocused reader interested and engaged.

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Sensory Details: Letting the Reader Experience Your World

Have you ever been listening to the radio when a song came on that pulled you back to a particular moment of your life? Suddenly, you remember every detail of that time, memories flooding back, simply because you heard something you experienced during an important event. Listening to the radio, your brain made connections to a memory without conscious effort on your part.

You felt, simply from hearing.

You can do the same thing in your writing.  You can make someone feel simply from the details that you choose.  In fact, this is of the utmost importance, particularly in narrative writing. Leaving out sensory details can be like watching a movie and suddenly becoming very aware that there is no background noise in a scene—but there should be! We are a sensory species and crave that connection in all of our experiences; reading is no exception.

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Tone vs. Mood

Being a conscientious reader can make you a better writer. When you think about what you’re reading as you read, you absorb so much more information than when you just skim through. Your brain has a chance to turn things over and really consider what it’s storing, and you’ll begin to make stronger and more creative choices in your own writing.

As a thinking audience, you should always evaluate two elements of literature: tone and mood.

These elements help you understand the goal of the author and your reaction as the reader. You can tell the two apart by remembering this: tone is something you hear; mood is something you feel. Continue reading “Tone vs. Mood”

Dialogue: Tips for Creating Realistic and Engaging Conversations

Dialogue preparation

Achieving realistic dialogue in fictional and narrative writing can be a bit of a challenge. Great dialogue provides your writing with essential qualities, like plot progression and suspense, developing a character by designating voice, or setting the emotion of a chapter. Getting that intensity can be as simple as asking yourself a few questions:

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What is a Coach Conference?

One of the most integral steps of our writing process is the coach conference. With every essay, students complete at least one coach conference, and the feedback they get is invaluable. But, what exactly goes into this conference? What kind of information do students get? How does each conference help students improve? Here is a close look at what the process is all about.

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Are Adverbs Weakening Your Writing?

An adverb is a describing word. However, unlike an adjective (they modify nouns), adverbs modify verbs and adjectives. Sometimes, adverbs get a bad reputation, though. Sometimes, they can bog down your writing, making your reader feel like they have to trudge through each sentence, dragging themselves every step. Other times, though, adverbs can offer emphasis or clarity, which is an awesome tool to have in your back pocket.

But, how can you tell if an adverb is helping or hurting? Here are a few ways you can tell.

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