The Art of Using Literary Devices and Techniques


Guest Post by Melissa Donovan When I first learned about alliteration in a writing class, I couldn’t believe there was a word for it. I used it in my poetry all the time! Then I learned about anastrophe and deus ex machina and I began to discover a whole world of literary devices and techniques. […]

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Sentences: Control of Voice


Creating the voice you want for your story or novel begins with Word Choices. It continues with control of your sentences. I emphasize control because many writers–well, they just write. Without consideration of sentence structures. Sentences, as the basic building block of the written word, need careful attention. You can write long, short, simple, complex, […]

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Voice Begins with Word Choices

Word choices matter!

Voice begins with the right choice of words Each story or novel has its own diction, or the group of words that could be used for this story. For example, a historical fiction would have different word choices than a romantic comedy. Of course, there’s lots of overlap, but each story has certain words that […]

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Long and Short: Sentences


Importance of Sentence Variety My niece was here this weekend and we talked about her college writing experience. She said they try to change her habitual writing of high school into something more sophisticated. For example, they eschew the five-paragraph essay, rightly so. Instead, they look for more sophisticated structures. But when I teach writing, […]

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How to Fight Writer’s Depression

I am almost sad and depressed today. Why? Because I’m looking at the wrong things. Writers of picture books or novels must remember to pay attention to their work, not the audience’s appraisal of their work. The Audience is Always Late The audience is always late to the party. When I sold The Journey of […]

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Story Tension

How do you create tension in a story? I’ve been talking with a friend and his gut instinct is to withhold certain information, for example, the exact location of the scene. Story Tension In How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy, Orson Scott Card says that tension is created by withholding “what happens next.” You […]

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Starting a Novel with Voice

I’m still looking for a way into a new novel. So, here’s my plan for today: experiment with voice. Starting with Voice I’m reading Finding Your Writer’s Voice: A Guide to Creative Fiction by Thaisa Frank and Dorothy Wall. While I don’t like every exercise they suggest, there are some interesting ones. For my purposes […]

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Narrator’s Voice

I’ve been thinking about the narrators chosen to read various books-on-tape . As I revise my current novel project, I wonder– who be chosen to read my current WIP? I need suggestions! The Voice Problem One of my favorite fantasy titles is Lirael by Garth Nix, the the first book in the Abhorsen Trilogy. This […]

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Approaching Voice: summary of comments

This is an attempt to summarize and organize the comments on my posting last week about voice. Thanks to these writers for making comments: Janni Simner, Joni Sensei, Sarah Miller, T.E. Wymer, Lori Van Hoesen, and Linda Urban. Apologies, if I’ve misconstrued anything. Read the full discussion. Voice: A summary of comments What is Voice? […]

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How to Approach Voice

When you approach the topic of Voice of a novel and how to produce a pleasing Voice for fiction, especially as you revise, I think a helpful attitude is to think of the approaches as a continuum. The Approach to Voice Continuum The continuum runs from a Craft Approach (very left-brained, structured craft oriented skills […]

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Twisted voices

As you Wish Are you a fan of the Princess Bride movie? My daughters can quote that move backwards and forwards. J actually went looking for the screenplay online, downloaded it and studied it. Now, she and her friend use quotes from Princess Bride as a shorthand for things. Well, I love the scene where […]

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3 Writing Voice Tips

Patricia Sargeant on the importance of the writer’s voice. (Scroll down to her advice for other writers.) Author Grace Paley died yesterday at the age of 88. Here’s an excerpt of her comments about the way your cultural roots affect your writing voice. Cynthia Morris offers a checklist for evaluating your writing voice. This RSS […]

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Name that author!

From their fantasy novels–can you name the author of each opening line? Do you recognize their voices? (All published since2003) 1. Getting dressed was always the hardest part of the afternoon. 2. Jack woke before dawn and listened to the cold February wind lash the walls of the house. 3. Rain fell that night, a […]

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Why History Textbooks Put You to Sleep

Why History Textbooks Put You to Sleep Ever wonder why history textbooks put you to sleep? You might think that formal v. informal text vary based on the level of vocabulary and complexity of sentence structure. Some of that may come into play, but it more than that. Rhythm patterns in formal texts are the […]

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Voice Experiments

One way that I play with voice is to mimic the style of another writer.  For this exercise, I write a section without worrying about voice.  Then, I take a couple of books I admire that I think might have a voice that would work for my story.  I try to imitate their style. That is, I […]

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POV and Voice

L asks: “Do you think an author’s ‘voice’ is easier to establish when a novel is written in 3rd POV omniscient than in 1st POV? Just asking because in the writing of my current WIP novel, I felt that I had to find and stick with the MC’s voice, and now in the polishing – […]

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Voice Friday: Words for Your Voice


Voice Friday: Search Your Voice for Words Words Voice Friday: Word Choices Voice Friday: Word Connotations Voice Friday: Word Sounds I’ve talked before about the importance of word choices in establishing voice. So, now, you’re editing your novel and you’ve decided that this word is the right diction, has the right connotations, and sounds right. […]

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