Calling all writers!
I am looking to publish two to three stand-out pieces here on The Writer's Community. Pieces can be on any topic and be considered poetry or prose.
Please keep submissions to approximately 500 words due to space constraints.
Those pieces that are selected for publication will be returned to the author with a free sample of our instructional writing service. See another sample HERE.
Please send all submissions to: email@example.com
Our last NaNoWriMo class was on December 16. What a great experience and memorable journey it was. On with the publishing phase!
For help with publishing your novels, see our NaNoWriMo Specials.
On our last day, the students had some fun with writing prompts. Check them out HERE.
"Two years ago we offered a creative writing class to our homeschool group using the NaNoWriMo resources as our guide. Many of the children in the class were reluctant writers — including my own. I was hopeful, but doubtful. How were two boys who never wrote anything of their own free will and volition going to sit down and write a novel in one month?"
My writing students at Mosaic Freeschool began their noveling adventures last Friday! See National Novel Writing Month.
You can see what they've been up to this fall by reading our update on Mosaic Minutes.
This is my third year teaching writing to homeschoolers. I love working with homeschooled students! Please keep us in mind when considering hiring a writing coach for your kids. Our prices are reasonable and your young writer's skills will improve!
National Novel Writing Month, a.k.a., NaNoWriMo, is almost upon us!
What is NaNoWriMo, you ask? According to the Young Writers Program website, NaNoWriMo is:
National Novel Writing Month happens every November! It's a fun, seat-of-your-pants writing event where the challenge is to complete an entire novel in just 30 days. For one month, you get to lock away your inner editor, let your imagination take over, and just create!
In 2011, my two children (ages 11 and 8 at the time) participated in the program, wrote, and ultimately self-published, 10,000 and 1,000 word novels, respectively.
Prior to "winning" NaNoWriMo, I would have characterized them as non-writers -- only writing when absolutely necessary, and almost never attempting anything close to creative writing. I was delighted to watch this process un-fold. Over the course of the 30-day challenge I saw them struggle, concentrate, create, suppress inner editors, fight writers block, and finish their novels by the deadline!
Last year, my oldest attempted NaNoWriMo again, but only wrote about 2,000 words before throwing in the towel. He was taking a journalism class that fall and wasn't able to find the time or inspiration to write a novel.
This year we are giving it another go! We are joining forces with a group of students and meeting twice a month to prepare for our writing adventure. There are some wonderful ideas emerging already, and as facilitator of the group I am so looking forward to seeing these novels come to fruition next month.
It's not too late to sign up for NaNoWriMo -- simply click the typewriter graphic above. Educators: there are Lesson Plans for grades K-12 and grade/age appropriate Workbooks available, too -- all for FREE. If you have 10 students or more, you can even order classroom noveling kits for a small donation. The kits include a writing progress wall-chart, stickers, and NaNo buttons for the "winners".
If you have any questions about how the program works, please drop us a line in the comment section. Now sign up, set a goal, and join us in creating something great!
A few weeks ago, we gave you some basic pointers on how to punctuate dialogue. Now that you know where the periods and end quotes go, it's time to understand how we can make our dialogue more interesting to read!
First of all, good dialogue does a few important things to the story.
But how can you accomplish these things effectively, especially if you are not a seasoned writer?
Let's take the first part: Dialogue helps us understand the relationship between characters. Below, I'll give you an example of dialogue that does not accomplish this, and second, an example of dialogue that does.
"What time do you have?" Sarah asked tentatively.
The second set of dialogue lets us know that Sarah was asking a stranger for the time and not someone she already knew. Also note: eliminate the use of adverbs in dialogue tags when possible, such as "tentatively" and "brusquely." Show through the actual dialogue how something is being said or asked. It's perfectly acceptable to use says/said, asks/asked as dialogue tags.
Our second objective: Moving the story along might look something like this:
"I'm terribly sorry," Sarah choked back tears, "it's just that I have a very important meeting and everything that can go wrong has gone wrong."
Our last objective: Increasing tension, might look something like this:
"Downtown," Sarah ventured, "at Main, between 5th and 6th Streets?"
Now we've hopefully got you wondering what the gist of the story is -- whether or not the plot is about to unfold.
Again, note our verb choices: choked back (tears), sighed, ventured. All better choices than he said/she said or she asked/he asked, although it is perfectly acceptable to use said and asked, sparingly.
Care to continue the story? Feel free to give me the next set of dialogue in the comment section. If it's believable, I'll approve it for publishing here!
Our Back-to-School Sale has been extended to 9/30/13. Please let us know how we can help your budding writers achieve success this year!
We could write several articles on how to write good dialogue for a story, but first we need to know how to punctuate dialogue!
Here are five basic rules to get you started:
1) Use a comma between your dialogue and the tag line. What's a tag line? The tag line is the words you use to identify the speaker.
"I don't want summer to end," sighed the boy.
Try to use he said/she said very sparingly. It gets boring. Things can be said in so many different ways...he sighed, she groaned, we shouted, they queried (instead of they asked!).
2) Periods and commas go inside quotation marks. Off-set the tag line with commas if it interrupts the sentence and do not capitalize the first letter of the first word in the second half of the sentence.
"I don't think," he muttered, " that we should have to go back to school yet."
3) Sometimes the punctuation goes outside the quotation marks if it is not part of what's being quoted.
What do you do when you hear, "I'm just not ready yet"?
Notice that we off-set with a comma before the actual quote, that we open and close the quote with quotation marks and, in this particular case, no other punctuation. The question mark after the end quote is all we need.
4) If you need to use a quote within a quote such as for titles of plays or books, use single quote marks for the inside quote.
"Mom told me to read 'War and Peace' on my summer break, can you believe that?" the boy asked incredulously.
For interior dialogue, you can use italics instead, but whatever you choose, choose to be consistent.
5) If you are directly quoting someone, but leave out part of the quote, use ellipses to indicate what's being left out.
He said, in part, "I'd rather not go back to school this year....maybe I'll travel the world instead."
This should be enough to get you started with punctuating your dialogue correctly. We'll be back soon with some ideas on how to write better dialogue.
Don't forget all Gathering Ink services are $5 off until 9/15/13.
From now until September 15, 2013, Gathering Ink is offering $5 off all services!
Simply click the S-A-L-E graphic to the right to Get Started!
What can we offer you at Gathering Ink?
We offer affordable evaluation and timely turn-around of your writing projects from creative writing to research reports to college essays. Gathering Ink offers constructive critique delivered in an encouraging and instructional manner. Adherence to grammar and punctuation rules, sentence structure, as well as overall flow and feel of the writing are emphasized. For home educators: if your writing curriculum does not offer specific guidance of your student's completed assignments, then our services may be the perfect complement.
Gathering Ink is perfect for home schoolers, college students, or any individual looking for assistance with writing technique. We do not issue grades or scores. True learning comes when obstacles are removed and the writer can find a safe place to be critiqued. We provide thorough feedback aimed to encourage, not to frustrate. By implementing the suggestions and returning the work for review, writers can feel a sense of accomplishment and gain a deeper understanding of how to improve their writing, eventually becoming independent self-editors.
Another problem we see cropping up in papers is verb tense consistency -- it might seem obvious, but surprisingly, this mistake is made more often than you might think.
A real-life example from a student:
"Bonfires were lit to praise the sun because the days were getting shorter and the sun appeared to get weaker..."
Ok, so what's the problem? If we are going to use were lit and were getting then let's say was appearing (use was, not were, since sun is singular and bonfires and days are plural).
A better way to phrase this sentence would be:
Bonfires were lit to praise the sun because the days were getting shorter and the sun was appearing to weaken.
That just sounds so much better and now our tenses are consistent.
For more practice grab a paper and pencil (yes, I know it's July) and try your hand at the Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL) Tense Consistency Exercise. Answers are included and there are four different exercises.
Sometimes it is appropriate to shift your verb tenses within a paragraph. This depends on what is being written and how the information is conveyed. There is a great example of correct tense shift in the first example of OWL Exercise 4. Can you find the two instances where the present tense is used correctly? The rest of the paragraph examples are more challenging -- see if you can do them without peeking at the answers!
Verb tense consistency can be trickier than you think. It always helps to read your writing aloud -- it will often reveal inconsistencies that you did not realize existed.
Home educators: What writing curriculum are you using this year? Do you have time to correct and provide constructive feedback on your student's work without becoming frustrated? If not, we would be delighted to help. Please visit our rate schedule for pricing or contact us to design a custom package to meet your individual needs.
Occasionally, with the author's permission, we will share exceptional writing. To submit a piece for consideration, please contact us and provide your first name and age (if under 18). Submissions should be 500 words or less.
I wake up to the cry of my little brother who lies beside me on the creaky cot, my blurry vision adjusting to the baby only wearing a cloth diaper due to the hot July air that creeps through the window shutters. I fix myself in a cross-legged sitting position, carefully easing my fingers under my sibling’s back to put him against my shoulder. I pat his back in reassurance that everything is fine. I look through the window to see the usual Sunday morning chores being done outside in the streets of Kandahar.
With my brother in hand, I walk into the only other room in our dwelling, the kitchen. The warm aroma of freshly made bread clogs my nostrils as I near my mother. We greet each other with the normal “hellos” while the baby is taken into her arms, a cold breeze hitting my left side at the loss of warmth. I hear the scratch of bristles against the concrete floor, leading my eyes to find my older brother concentrating hard on his task. I decide to go make the beds as breakfast is being made.
I travel back to the bedroom, stealing a quick glance out the window to see the civilians scramble off the streets and into their houses. I make my way closer to the window, only to hear the faint whipping of helicopter propellers. It is getting louder, and louder as it edges near. I know what’s happening...war.
I turn around sharply and speed into the other room that holds my family. By the looks on their faces, I can tell they already know what’s about to happen. We abandon our recent stances and all huddle into a corner, preparing for what’s to come, the brick wall protecting us from anything that will happen just outside our house.
The first shot is fired, causing our ears to deal with a few moments of pain. A heart-wrenching scream is heard soon after it, worry washing through all of us. The sound of cascading bullets is muted, for what seems like a millisecond before the front door is broken open. A pair of ice-cold eyes meets mine; no sign of emotion seems to be present. The arms that are protectively wrapped around me begin to tremble, tightening their grip. Tears evading my eyes, I bravely look back up.
This is it.
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