Using reported speech to avoid writing boring dialogue (tip 34) Reply

Unless you’re a certain type of Californian, the question ‘How are you?’ isn’t designed to solicit and in-depth answer. Rather, like much of our spoken communication, it’s designed to merely perform some social task – it’s an example of what linguists call a ‘phatic expression.’ Other conversations are mundane, and the information they contain is only important to the participants – it may matter to Jack what time Jill will get home from the dentist, but it’s not a conversation that would entertain an eavesdropper. When writing dialogue in fiction, we normally want to cut out as much phatic and mundane speech as possible, so that only the interesting stuff remains. One of the best ways to do this is by using reported speech.

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Precious words: an exercise in concision for writers 2

Words are precious! Here are some thoughts on editing and trying to be grateful for every word you can cut.

A narrative in need of shortening: The story of Jimmy and his brother in 500 words

Suggested solution: The story of Jimmy and his brother in 33 words

Here’s a link to a useful online resource to help authors practice writing concise sentences.
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Parts of a sentence: adverbs and adjectives, pronouns and prepositions, clauses and conjunctions Reply

In order to discuss what makes a good sentence, we need some shared vocabulary to discuss the function of different words. You may have learned your prepositions from your adjectives at school, but subsequently you may have forgotten which is which. Or, if you’re like me, maybe you never learned the difference between an adverb and a conjunction.

Useful links:

Grammar Girl
Grammar Revolution
Grammar Monster
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The topics we’ll be covering in 2015 Reply

online writing tips logoWant to know the sort of thing we’ll be covering in 2015? Well, our posts will be grouped into the 25 topics listed below. We won’t be doing these strictly in order, but selecting from the topics menu on the right will bring up the videos we’ve done so far in any chosen category (thus far, we haven’t done any, so save yourself a click!).

  1. Getting started
  2. Writing as communication
  3. Selecting your material
  4. Story and plot
  5. Elements of style
  6. Specific concrete detail
  7. Tense and Point of View
  8. Dialogue
  9. Characterisation
  10. Setting
  11. Description
  12. Story time and narrative time
  13. Common problems
  14. Pet hates
  15. Metaphor
  16. Subject and theme
  17. Endings
  18. Entertaining your readers
  19. Short fiction
  20. Novel writing – mastering the narrative
  21. Advanced stylistics
  22. Editing
  23. Grammar
  24. Punctuation
  25. Getting published