Last Updated 01/20/06

If you have questions about creative writing (fiction, poetry,
nonfiction), you've landed on the right page!  Writing hints and tips,
along with software suggestions will be posted here on a regular basis.

 

1. Plagiarism: Definition: The intentional or unintentional use of copywrited materials in your writing. Avoid plagiarism in your writing! It's easy to accidentally *borrow* too much when copying from any source, whether a book, magazine, the web, or other resource. To help avoid this common, but potentially criminal offense, try to resist looking at the source (or copying and pasting) while taking your notes; keep careful resource notes.

2. Copyright: Definition: The filing of original works of writing with the U.S. Copyright Office in order to protect the author from infringement. Avoid copyright infringement in your writing! Whenever you quote from a piece of written work, you must list the resource and/or have explicit permission to use the quote from the author! For more indepth information please contact the United States Copyright Office.

3. Sources: Definition: The books, magazines, newspapers, television, and radio broadcasts, movies, and websites where information for a research project is found. Always list your sources! A standard in the preparation of research materials is MLA (Modern Language Association). For information and samples of how research resources should be listed in your works, visit the MLA Works Cited Resource page.

4. Book Contract: Definition: The documents where a publisher and a writer agree in writing to the conditions of publication of writer's works. Always read your contract(s) carefully and have an attorney review it before you sign! For a look at a standard novel contract visit Mystery Writer's Guild links page.

5. Freelance Writing Taxes: Definition: Those taxes attributable to freelance writing income at the end of the fiscal year by the Internal Revenue Service. Always keep good track of your freelance income since most paid work is not taxed at the time payment is made! Visit The Freelancers Union for a monumental amount of legal information concerning taxes for writers of all types.

6. Entertainment Attorney: Definition: An attorney who represents an individual or entity in the entertainment industry. Always get a good lawyer's opinion on legal matters! Visit Entertainment Attorneys for a listing of attorneys who specialize in Entertainment Law (membership required).

7. Literary Agent: Definition: An individual who represents a writer's works to publishers. Visit Literary Agent Information for a comprehensive profile of researching and finding literary agents.

8. Usage Research: Definition: The fine art of applying the English language. Visit Grammar Book to see English language usage research at its finest.

9. Writer's Market: Definition: The medium through which a writer has his or her work published be it book, magazine, ezine, newspaper, or other media. Visit The Write Market for an intricate look at literally thousands of mediums for writers!

10. Publisher: Definition: Any company, firm, individual, partnership, or corporation which publishes original works of writing. This may include, but not necessarily be limited to, magazines, periodicals, journals, tabloids, newspapers, newsletters, ezines, and book publishing houses. For a complete look at the steps involved in publishing, take a look at Trafford Author's Toolkit.

11. Infringement: Definition: To transgress, violate; to encroach or trespass. Stepping on toes in the writing business can mean a hefty lawsuit, and not necessarily only from what you are writing. Watch what you write, where you write, who you quote, and what illustration or images you use! In other words, watch out for copyrights, plagiarism, patents, and trademarks. For more information on infringement, specifically, punishment for copyright violations, take a gander at TITLE 17,CHAPTER 5, Sec. 504. Similar code exists for patent and trademark infringements as well. Also see Plagiarism and Copyright above, and Patents below.

12. Patent, Trademark, Servicemark: Definitions: A patent is the grant of a property to an inventor. A trademark is a word, name, symbol or device which is used in trade with goods to indicate the source of the goods and to distinguish them from the goods of others. A servicemark is the same as a trademark except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product. The terms "trademark" and "mark" are commonly used to refer to both trademarks and servicemarks. This an important area for writers to at least understand and be aware of. Please see Infrigement and Copyright above. For more information on patents, trademarks, and servicemarks see The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

13. ISBN Number: Definition. The unique machine-readable identification number, which marks any book (book as referred to here is anything "readable") unmistakably. While this tends to more important for publishers and distributors of books, authors, too, should be aware of this number because it is the way the book is tracted country wide (America).(Europe, too, has a similar tracking system [ISSN]) The identification number is generally located in three (3) places on a book: (1) on the back cover (store purchase seal); (2) on the the inside cover (generally the jacket); and (3) on the inside copyright information page. For information on ISBN (and other tracking numbers), visit isbn.org.

1. Remember: There are four kinds of note taking: Summarizing, paraphrasing, quoting, and personal comments. To avoid plagiarism, be sure to include exact references for the first three kinds of notes.

2. The Comma: A variety of ways exist for comma usage. The most common are:

• After an introductory clause or phrase • Before a coordinating junction joining independent clauses • Between all items in a series • Between coordinate adjectives not joined with *and* • To set off nonrestrictive elements • To set off adjective clauses • To set off an appositive • To set off transitional and parenthetical expressions, absolute phrases, and elements expressing contrast • To set off direct addresses, the words *yes* and *no*, interrogative tags, and mild interjections • With expressions such as *he said* to set off direct quotations • With dates, addresses, titles, and numbers • To prevent confusion

3. Structure: The foundation of preparing to write. The most common structure involves generating ideas and sketching plans: 1. Find your subject (what you want to write about), 2. Know your sources of information (personal experiences, direct observations, interviews, questionnaires, reading, and the Internet), 3. Know your purpose (to inform, persuade, evaluate, recommend, call to action, change attitudes, analyze, argue, theorize, summarize, request, propose, provoke thought, express feelings, entertain, or give atheistic pleasure), 4. Know your audience (peers, colleagues, friends, family, or children -- how old are they, what is their heritage, where do they live?, 5. Know how long your work will be (is there a word limit), 6. Review, revise, and watch for deadlines.

4. Parts of Speech: The foundation of good sentence structure is knowing the parts of speech, what they mean, and how to use them. The ten basic parts of speech include: 1. Nouns (name of person, place, or thing), 2. Pronouns (substitution for a specific noun [personal, possessive, intensive, reflexive, relative, interrogative, indefinite, reciprocal), 3. Verbs (expresses action), 4. Helping Verbs (consists of 23 forms [have, do, be and modals], 5. Main verbs (a word which changes form if put in different tenses [base, past, past participle, present participle], 6. Adjectives (a word used to modify, or describe, a noun or pronoun), 7. Adverb (a word used to modify, or qualify, a verb, an adjective, or another adverb), 8. preposition (word placed before a noun or pronoun to form a phrase modifying another word in a sentence), 9. Conjunctions (joins two words, phrases, or clauses) and include coordinating, correlative, subordinating, and conjunctive adverbs, 10. Interjections (a word used to express surprise or emotion.

5. The Semicolon: The semicolon is used to connect major sentence elements of equal grammatical rank. 1. Use a semicolon between closely related independent clauses not joined with a coordinating conjunction; 2. Use a semicolon between independent clauses linked with a transitional expression; 3. Use a semicolon between items in a series containing internal punctuation.

6. The Run-on Sentence: Two types: 1) no punctuation and no coordinating conjunction between independent clauses -- Fused Sentence; and 2) two or more independent clauses joined by a comma without a coordinating conjunction -- Comma Splice. Beware of this common problem in writing. Read your work carefully and look for long sentences in which you can make two or more sentences.

7. Untangling "Is" Constructions: In formal English many readers object to is when, is where, and reason . . . is because construction on either grammatical or logical grounds. Grammatically, the verb is (as well as are, was, and were) should be followed by a noun that renames the subject or by an adjective that describes it,not by an adverb clause beginning with when, where, or because. Logically, the words when, where, and because suggest relations of time, place, and cause -- relations that do not always make sense with is, was, or were.

8. Choosing Appropriate Language: Language is appropriate when it suits your subject, engages your audience, and blends naturally with your own voice. Some rules of thumb: 1) stay away from jargon: jargon is specialized language used among members of trade, profession, or group. Use jargon only when readers will be familiar with it; and even then, use it only when plain English will not do as well; 2) avoid pretentious language, most euphemisms, and "doublespeak:" Hoping to sound profound or poetic, some writers embroider their thoughts with large words and flowery phrases, language that in fact sounds pretentious. This is so ornate and often wordy that it obscures the thought that lies beneath; 3)avoid obsolete, archaic, and invented words: obsolete words are words found in the writing of the past that have dropped out of use entirely. Archaic words are old words that are still used, but only in special contexts such as literature or advertising. Invented words (also called neologisms) are words too recently created to be part of standard English; 4) avoid slang, regional expressions, and nonstandard English: Slang is an informal and sometimes private vocabulary. Regional expressions are those words which are spoken in specific regions by specific groups of people. Nonstandard English is that which is informal and generally spoken with friends and acquaintances; 5) Choose an appropriate level of formality: when deciding on a level of formality, consider both your subject and your audience. (Of course, these rules can be broken for fictional purposes.)

9. Point Of View:  Point of view is the "eye" through which a story is told. Basically, four main points of view can be used: 1) First Person: This is the "I" point of view. A story told from the writer's experience and the character's present. First person still proves to be the most natural way to write and is useful, especially in nonfiction and article writing. However, writer be warned, a multitude of editors in the creative writing industry won't give a first person a second glance. Of course, if the story is written well, has an interesting, unique story line and plot, then the editor may consider publishing it. 2) Second Person: This is the "you" point of view. This point of view puts the reader in the foreground and is appropriate if the writer is advising readers directly. Again this is most useful in nonfiction and article writing. The same warning for fiction writers applies here. 3) Third Person: This is the "he/she/they/it/one" point of view. This point of view is the most widely used by nonfiction and fiction writers alike and is the accepted norm for editors. This point of view puts the subject in the foreground. The reader see the story through one character's eyes and experiences. 4) Omniscient: This is the "several" point of view. This is a risky undertaking, but many good novelist use this method. This point of view tells the story through many character's eyes and experiences. When used well, and carefully, this is an acceptable and interesting way to tell a story.

10. Finding The Exact Word: In the words of French writer Gustave Flauber, "Whatever you want to say, there is but one word to express it, one verb to give it movement, one adjective to qualify it; you must seek until you find this noun, this verb, this adjective." Even if you are not reaching for perfection in your work (which you should!) you will sometimes find yourself wishing for better words. Here are a few ways to determine the perfect word: 1) Use varied dictionaries and thesauruses -- this will widen your variety; 2) select words with appropriate connotations -- words which have emotional colorings such as steel; 3) select specific, concrete nouns -- using these will point to definites and particulars, instead of generalizations; 4) be wary of misusing words -- when in doubt, check it out!; 5) use standard idioms (words which follow no particular rules) -- these are a little difficult and you might wish to keep handy a list of the most common ones (e.g., abide by, according to, agree with, intend to do, etc.); 6) avoid worn out clichés -- e.g., blind as a bat, selling like hotcakes, etc.; 7) use figures of speech with care (an expression that uses words imaginatively to invigorate an idea or make abstract ideas concrete) -- simile (e.g., comparison using like or as), metaphor (e.g., comparison without using like or as) while exceeding useful in descriptive writing, be cautious of mixed metaphors (a comparison that makes no sense).

11. Repairing Sentence Fragments: A sentence fragment is a word group that pretends to be a sentence. Sentence fragments are difficult to see in context. One way to recognize one is to understand what a sentence is. To be a sentence, a word group must consist of at least one full independent clause. An independent clause has a subject and a verb, ad it either stands alone or could stand alone. Most fragments can be repaired in one of two ways. 1) pull the fragment into a nearby sentence or 2) turn the fragment into a sentence. Some things to watch for when proofreading for fragments: 1) subordinate clauses (sentences that begin with after, even though, so that, when, whom, although, how, than, where, whose, as if, that, whether, why, as if, in order that, though, which, because, rather than, unless, while, before, since, until or who); 2) phrases standing alone (such as "waiting silently for his pray" or "a fear of the outside world"); and 3) word groups (parts of compound predicates and lists). Any of these (1-3) which stand alone are an indication of a fragment.

12. Style Differences in Writing: Modern Language Association of America (MLA); The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law (AP); The Chicato Manual of Style: The Essential Guide for Writers (Chicago); American Mecial Association Manual of Style (AMA); The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA); and U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual (GPO). These are the various style sources used in writing. To choose which is best for what you're writing, the following might be useful: MLA is typically used in school and colleges; AP is the most commonly used style in writing; Chicago is common for book writers; AMA is common for health and medical writers; and APA is common to consultants; and GPO for government writings.

Coming Soon!

Coming Soon!

Coming Soon!

1. Writer's Blocks: Having some trouble getting your thoughts together? Whether is creative or scientific writing, this index card type interface will surely help you to organize and prepare your work in a logical fashion.

2. StoryCraft: Trying desperately to put together characters, scenery, or plot? This *tree* interface program will help you to accomplish exactly that! Then you can export your notes to any compatible word processing software or just print and store!

3. InkLink: Need a way to manage your manuscripts? This is it! The number one rated manuscript management software around. Tracks submission, income, taxes, and more!

4. Final Draft: Have a screenplay bouncing around in your head, but you are unsure of how to get it down on paper? Here a solution you'll like! Easy formatting, easy structuring. The number one best selling scriptware around!

5. Power Structure: No complicated forms to fill out, no new theories of story or arcane terminology to learn. This software conforms to you, its nine unique story views giving you a Playground of the Mind™ where you can explore, develop and yes, even structure, the best writing of your career.

6. Character Pro: Character Pro 3.0 harnesses the power of the Enneagram, a personality-typing system used by professional psychologists, to help writers, actors, editors, and directors develop memorable, well-rounded story characters.

7. Life Journal: Much more than a word processing tool or a daily management calendar, LifeJournal is a personal journal software program filled with innovative features to promote creative self-discovery.

8. Newnovelist: Whether you are specifically searching for a way to write a novel, or generally looking for something more fulfilling than a computer game, newnovelist is a must for you and your family. It harnesses your creativity, the power of your PC and the resources of the Internet to produce something of real value - an original work of fiction. Newnovelist software will turn you into a master story teller - taking the ideas dancing around in your head and transforming them into fully developed short stories or novels.

9. Movie Magic Screenwriter 2000 : Are you a Hollywood professional or a first-time writer? Makes no difference: Movie Magic Screenwriter 2000 has virtually every feature invented to improve your writing process! Within minutes of opening the box, you'll experience the magic of a writing tool with stunningly intelligent design.

10. StoryWeaver: In need of more sophisticated story creation software? This may be your answer. The most intuitive yet powerful story development software available. It guides the writer step-by step, with over 175 story cards, automatic referencing and much, much more!

11. Dramatica Pro: Got a story in mind? How about an idea for a story? Either way, Dramatica Pro is a great place to start. As your creative writing partner, it takes you to a special place- a story development environment where together you'll solve the plot and character problems that prevent many good stories from becoming great enough to sell. Dramatica's StoryGuide will handhold you from initial idea all the way through to completed narrative treatment, inspiring you and supporting you along the way. It's like having a successful author as your writing partner, sitting by your side and mentoring you!

12. Word Menu: The ultimate fun-to-use reference for finding and using words. For anyone who wants to understand and discuss a subject with confidence and authority!

13. Power Writer: Based on Power Structure's award-winning development tools, Power Writer focuses more heavily on the actual manuscript, allowing you to write anything from a short story all the way up to a full novel in one powerful, easy-to-use program. And its integrated Story Development & Outline Tools finally lets your writing proceed as one continuous act of creation from first idea through to final manuscript.

14. Storybase: The only writer's software that sparks the imagination with a library of 2,363 essential plot moves and character relationships tailored to characters and story-- the ultimate brainstorming resource.

Coming Soon!

Report broken links (or ask to add links):