The Truth about a M.F.A. in Creative Writing

A MFA in Creative Writing is surrounded by myths of college teaching positions, publication, and more. If you’re considering earning your MFA, you need to understand what the degree will actually get you and what it won’t. I’m not certain mine was worth it.

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How to "Show Don't Tell" in Creative Writing

Any writer who’s had taken a writing course or been a part of a critique group has probably heard the phrase “show don’t tell.” You may have even said it yourself. Why should you show? Showing — especially in instances like backstory, setting, and emotion where telling is easy — will advance your plot and deepen your characters.

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Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston: How to Read Like a Writer

Most authors have a favorite writer whom they wish to emulate in some manner. However, if your favorite is a classic writer, you may need to pick the aspects of their style you incorporate into your own writing carefully. Today’s readers are not the same as the readers of the past.

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Ellipses and Dashes: How to Use Popular Pauses

Like in speech, a pause can be essential to conveying your message through writing. You have a variety of punctuation marks available to show those pauses, including ellipses and em dashes, but not all pause punctuation marks are interchangeable. Learn what the different dashes and ellipses mean.

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Ghosts by Sophie Calle: How to Read Like a Writer

Sometimes the story we wish to tell is not our story. In Ghosts, Sophie Calle uses a collection of voices to tell the story of missing museum art pieces. Learn how to combine interviews to create a larger story and build distinct character voices from Ghosts.

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Read When Demons Walk by Patricia Briggs

Do you have a book you find yourself rereading for pleasure because you can’t stop thinking about the characters, world, and story? When Demons Walk by Patricia Briggs is that book for me. The novel lingers with its readers because Briggs breaks a few rules, conventions, and tropes. You can use similar techniques to make your own writing linger.

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How to Punctuate Dialogue: Spoken, Written, and Telepathic

One of the best ways to increase the pacing and characterization of your story is through dialogue. In order for your dialogue to be clear and effective, you have to know how to format and punctuate it. This post covers the standard format for dialogue, when to use it, and when to use a different option.

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Read Europeana: A Brief History of the Twentieth Century by Patrik Ourednik

When an author wants to create a certain effect or tone, sometimes the traditional layout of text on a page doesn’t work. You need something slightly or vastly different. Patrik Ourednik experiments with form in Europeana, a nonfiction account of the twentieth century, to generate an objective historical account. Other authors can learn from and borrow his form.

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Syntax: Sentence Organization and Voice Creation

When it comes to sentence organization, many writers nod off or only care enough to be clear, but the kinds of syntax you use has a tremendous impact on voice. A child is going to arrange their sentences differently than a psychologist. Your sentences will look different than another author’s. Syntax is a key aspect of your voice.

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Read Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

If you want to take your readers on an emotional journey and focus on the internal conflicts of your characters, read Milk and Honey. Rupi Kaur uses the hurting, the loving, the breaking, and the healing of her life to create an emotional story arc in her poetry collection. Through different points of view, form, and the economy of words, she brings emotional truths to the forefront of her text.

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Creative Nonfiction: What Is It and How to Write It

To some the phrase creative nonfiction might seem like an oxymoron, but it isn’t. Creative nonfiction is about sharing your story, facts, and reality in a compelling way, so your readers are both informed and entertained. Creative nonfiction allows writers the freedom to build scenes and play with form, while remaining true.

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Read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

Whether you're interested in running long distances or not, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superalthetes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall is a must read for any aspiring nonfiction writer. McDougall employs concepts, conflicts, characters, and causalities often associated with fiction to share the knowledge he gained while asking "Why does my foot hurt?"

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Why Nonfiction Needs to Tell a Story

Humans are psychologically wired to remember and understand stories. Using basic story structure and elements from fiction will help your nonfiction book stand out and deliver the information driving your need to write in a way that will linger in your reader's memory.

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Telling Your Story: Memoir vs Autobiography vs Biography

Are you writing a non-fiction story about a specific person? Is it about you or someone else? If you are, then you need to know the differences between a memoir, autobiography, and biography, so you can accurately categorize your book and appeal to readers looking for your story.

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Read Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

In Station Eleven Emily St. John Mendel transforms dystopian fiction. Through a twisted timeline, multiple points of view, and the importance of art, she speculates on how society might carry on after a pandemic deadlier than the Spanish Flu.

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Multiple Points of View: Benefits, Pitfalls, and Uses

Speculative and historical fiction often tell stories larger than any single character. To show different societal classes or world rules, they need different perspectives. Using multiple points of view can provide information about the larger world while remaining close to the characters.

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Versailles by Kathryn Davis: How to Read Like a Writer

If you find historical events and people inspiring, read Versailles by Kathryn Davis. Davis transforms the famous palace to tell a story larger than the main character, while giving Marie Antoinette the voice and freedom to tell her own story. Discover how you can use these same techniques to enliven your writing.

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Omniscient Point of View: Benefits and Pitfalls

If you’re telling the story of a place or event or that requires revealing the inner thoughts and emotions of multiple characters, omniscient might be the right point of view for you. It is challenging perspective to pull off, so you’ll need to learn and manage the pros and cons.

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