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On Craft

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Starting Over – A Writing Prompt

This week we’ve been focusing on syllables, and we’ve even learned a new poetic form to fit that focus. In honor of that newfound knowledge, your challenge for the week is to write a carlito poem – you guessed it – about starting over. You can write from the perspective of someone starting over in life, starting over after messing up a recipe, or you could even write about what it would be like for the earth itself to reset. I’m purposely leaving the subject matter wide open to artistic interpretation, so write it as you see fit, but remember: A carlito poem should be formatted as follows: -10 lines in total: Line One: 1 syllable Line Two: 2 syllables Line Three: 3 syllables… …and so on up through line seven Lines 8-10: A haiku -The haiku can be traditional or conventional, but it must follow the typical 5-7-5 syllable…

Poetic Fundamentals: Where We All Begin

Poetic Fundamentals: Syllables So far, we’ve looked at the basics of writing: grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, and voice. Understanding these concepts is essential for any writer be you a novelist, biographer, historian, or poet. Today, however, we’re going to take our first plunge into the basics of poetry, and this is only the beginning! In the next few articles, we’ll take a look at concepts like syllables, rhyming and phonetics, and meter, and in doing so, I hope many of your questions will be answered, but moreover, I’m hoping you’re understanding of how to craft a poem will increase dramatically. Let’s start climbing that diving-board ladder, shall we? What’s a Syllable? Explaining syllables to someone who isn’t familiar with the concept can be tricky. After all, syllables usually have more to do with spoken language than written. It’s like defining the term inch without using the word itself in the definition.…

Voices in Time

Today we look at a concept often overlooked in the writing community: voice. Truthfully, I’m not sure why so many writers go through their careers with no concept or awareness of their voice: perhaps the idea of a normally audible sound being present in a silent work is to blame, or maybe it’s something to do with the impatience of our current generations, but more often than not, if a writer is asked to speak on their written voice, the answer is confused at best and, at worst, utterly lacking. Shall we attempt to clear up that confusion a little? What is Voice? Strange as it is, every single successful writer the world over can be “heard” through their works. Most often, writers who are aware of their voice have a few things in common: the direction of their writing is clear and engaging, the transitions between different parts of…

The Power of Punctuation

Beep, Bop, Blurp! For so many of us, cell phones and text communication have made the rules of grammar and punctuation obsolete. Indeed, in a world full of messages which are, on average, between five and nine words, is punctuation even necessary anymore? In a word, yes, but for those of us seriously pursuing writing as a career, that yes had better be an absolutely, because without punctuation, our sentences lose clarity, and our readers lose interest. That being said, let’s take a look at two of the most commonly misused pieces of punctuation. The Ellipsis The Ellipsis – three consecutive periods (…) – is one of the many tools at our disposal at writers, but unfortunately it’s misused more often than any piece of punctuation I’ve seen. Ellipses are not meant to be used at the end of a sentence nor are they used to indicate a pause or…

Grammar Express

All aboard the grammar train! This is one train, as an aspiring writer, you don’t want to miss. Grammar is a very broad term defining the rules of any given language including sentence structure, when and how to use punctuation, and the proper use and placement of different parts of speech. In short, grammar is to writing as holy books are to religion: without them, everything falls apart. In fact, the rules are so numerous and varied, that I couldn’t begin to enumerate them in a single article, so instead, we’ll focus on some of the basics of English sentence structure. Train Metaphor = No Joke I have always been a visual learner, so when I say, “All aboard,” I mean it: grammar is very similar to a train in many ways. Where sentence structure is concerned, each train car could be considered a different part of speech, each car…

I, Logophile

Let’s discuss vocabulary! As writers, words are our lifeblood, our essence, and the core of our craft. When we consider the various ways to form a sentence, paragraph, or poem, words dart through our minds in a tangled web of composition and possibility. On the other side of the spectrum, however, are the readers – the group of people who determine the quality of our work – and fortunately, most of us jump back and forth between those roles. How often, then, have you come across a piece of writing which started out beautifully written but quickly lost momentum when a single word was misused? Or maybe you came across a word you’ve never seen before, and you had to halt your reading until you found its definition. If that’s what you did, then you already have my respect, because if writing is a path you want to fully pursue…

Exploring the Craft of Writing

Where writing is concerned, let’s face the facts: the game isn’t the same now as what it was for our parents or their parents before them. Like almost everything within our society, change keeps us current, defines us as leaders or followers, and in the best case scenario, helps us to grow and evolve both as individuals and as a greater whole. Fortunately, reinventing the wheel isn’t always necessary, and as a writer, you should be aware of (and working on) several constants if you really want to step up your game. Find Your Voice Roughly one quarter of the quality of your work can be attributed to your “voice”; the characteristic which communicates some truth about yourself whether individually, part of a group, or lost somewhere in between. The concept sounds simple enough, but many writers produce several publications before ever truly finding their voice. Some of that is…