Questions and Writing Ideas

By fostering curiosity, we can create a fountain of ideas. It doesn’t matter what form your writing takes or what genre you’re writing in. By coming up with intriguing questions, you’ll soon find yourself overwhelmed with inspiration. Below are some questions that you can use to generate writing ideas. Mix them up, change them around, and come up with your own list of questions too:

Who

  • Who is this story about?
  • Who does my main character trust?
  • Who in my life could inspire a poem?
  • Who does this character/person care about?

What

  • What are the characters goals?
  • What images do I want to create with a poem?
  • What related topics could be included in this project?
  • What motivates people to take drastic actions?

Where

  • Where did it all begin?
  • Where will the characters end up?
  • Where does this story take place?
  • Where do these people want to be?

When

  • When does a child become an adult?
  • When did things change for this character?
  • When did this story take place?
  • When should this story end?

Why

  • Why does this story matter?
  • Why did he/she do it?
  • Why would a person take a great risk?
  • Why are there stars in the sky?

How

  • How did the character land in this situation?
  • How will this story make people feel?
  • How do the characters know each other?
  • How far will the main character go to achieve the goal?

Catch Your Typos

Nobody likes typos. They look like misspellings, only it’s usually obvious they are mere oversights, the result of tapping the wrong key. It happens a lot when writers rush, and it happens a lot less when writers proofread their work before submitting or publishing. Most writers are going to miss a typo every now and then. Nobody’s perfect. However, when you read a writer’s work regularly and typos are just something you expect every time, that’s a sign of poor or nonexistent proofreading.

Tips for sharpening your creativity

Everyone can use a little more inspiration, whether at work, school, or home. Try these tips to boost your creativity.

  1. Remember, being creative isn’t only for artsy people: Many people think creativity is about having artistic skills. They say, I can’t write, I can’t paint, and every time I take a photo I put my finger over the lens. I’m just not creative. I say, You can be a creative person. You are a creative person already, you just don’t know it.Creativity is about using your imagination in every endeavor. It’s not just for artists.
  2. Learn something every day: Creativity often involves adapting an idea to make it your own. Continually expose yourself to new ideas and the creative well will never run dry. Always have a book on your nightstand, if you can. Download audio books or check them out from the library to play while driving or exercising. Above all, learn something from every experience.
  3. Get outside: Whether it’s outside your house or just outside your mind, changing your perspective will help the ideas flow. Many people find connecting with nature to be a good way to slow their frantic lives. Sometimes all you need is a little peace and quiet to hear what your mind has to say.
  4. Think big: If you’re stuck working out the details of a project, step back. Go over your goals for the project, and remind yourself what you expect from the result. Remember: the world will not end if every detail is not perfect. Being able to relax and see things from the long view helps keep the creativity flowing.
  5. Think small: At the same time, don’t get lost in the big picture and forget to think about the details. Having a creative vision is important, often essential. But the details make the whole thing come together. Take time to plan out the small steps you’ll need to climb to your final result. Having a well-designed plan will give you a solid base from which to let your creativity run wild.
  6. Daydream: Productivity is important, but it’s not an end in itself. Being organized, motivated, and getting things done only improves your life when it leaves you time to dream. Have you ever noticed that a lot of your best thinking is in the shower? Having time to yourself when you don’t have to be tightly focused on your next deadline is essential to creativity.

Try these tips and you’ll find that your creativity blossoms naturally. All it needs is fertile soil in which to grow.

What are idioms?

Idioms & meaning

Idioms are expressions which have the meaning that is not obvious from the individual words. For example, the idiom drive somebody round the bend means make somebody angry or frustrated, but we cannot know this by looking at the words.

The best way to understand an idiom is to see it in context. If someone says:

  • This tin opener driving me round the bend! I think I’ll throw it away and get a new one next time I’m in town.

Then the context and the comma sense tells us that drive round the bend means something different from driving a car round a curve in the road. The context tells us the tin opener is not working properly and that it is having an effect on the person using it.

Adjectival Opposites

The opposite or the negative aspect of an adjective can be formed in a number of ways. One way, of course, is to find an adjective to mean the opposite  an antonym. The opposite of beautiful is ugly, the opposite of tall is short. A thesaurus can help you find an appropriate opposite. Another way to form the opposite of an adjective is with a number of prefixes. The opposite of fortunate is unfortunate, the opposite of prudent is imprudent, the opposite of considerate is inconsiderate, the opposite of honorable is dishonorable, the opposite of alcoholic is nonalcoholic, the opposite of being properly filed is misfiled. If you are not sure of the spelling of adjectives modified in this way by prefixes (or which is the appropriate prefix), you will have to consult a dictionary, as the rules for the selection of a prefix are complex and too shifty to be trusted. The meaning itself can be tricky; for instance, flammable and inflammable mean the same thing.

A third means for creating the opposite of an adjective is to combine it with less or least to create a comparison which points in the opposite direction. Interesting shades of meaning and tone become available with this usage. It is kinder to say that “This is the least beautiful city in the state.” than it is to say that “This is the ugliest city in the state.” (It also has a slightly different meaning.) A candidate for a job can still be worthy and yet be “less worthy of consideration” than another candidate. It’s probably not a good idea to use this construction with an adjective that is already a negative: “He is less unlucky than his brother,” although that is not the same thing as saying he is luckier than his brother. Use the comparative less when the comparison is between two things or people; use the superlative least when the comparison is among many things or people.

  • My mother is less patient than my father.
  • Of all the new sitcoms, this is my least favorite show.

THE QUESTION MARK

A tag question is a device used to turn a statement into a question. It nearly always consists of a pronoun, a helping verb, and sometimes the word not. Although it begins as a statement, the tag question prevails when it comes to the end-mark: use a question mark. Notice that when the statement is positive, the tag question is expressed in the negative; when the statement is negative, the tag question is positive. (There are a few exceptions to this, frequently expressing an element of surprise or sarcasm: “So you’ve made your first million, have you?” “Oh, that’s your plan, is it?”) The following are more typical tag questions:

  • He should quit smoking, shouldn’t he?
  • He shouldn’t have quit his diet, should he?
  • They’re not doing very well, are they?
  • He finished on time, didn’t he?
  • She does a beautiful job, doesn’t she?
  • Harold may come along, mightn’t he?
  • There were too many people on the dock, weren’t there?

(Be careful of this last one; it’s not “weren’t they?”)

Principles of good writing

Experiences in school leave some people with the impression that good writing simply means writing that contains no bad mistakes – that is, no errors of grammar, punctuation, or spelling. In fact, good writing is much more than just correct writing. It’s writing that responds to the interests and needs of our readers.

Briefly, here are the basic characteristics of good, effective writing:

  • Good writing has a clearly defined purpose.
  • It makes a clear point.
  • It supports that point with specific information.
  • The information is clearly connected and arranged.
  • The words are appropriate, and the sentences are clear, concise, emphatic, and correct.

Good writing is the result of much practice and hard work. This fact should encourage you: it means that the ability to write well is not a gift that some people are born with, not a privilege extended to only a few. If you’re willing to work, you can improve your writing.

Get opinions

It can be hard to critique your own work, may be a story or poetry, so after you’ve done an initial edit, try to get some friends or an editor group (there are plenty online) to look at your writing for you. You may not like all their suggestions, and you don’t have to take any of them, but you might find some insight that will make your writing better. Feedback is good. Pass your writing around, and ask your friends to critique your work. Tell them to be honest, even if it’s painful. Filter their responses, heeding and ignoring, then edit as you see fit.

How to Improve Your Reading Skills

Here are some steps to help you improve your reading skills:

1.  Evaluate your reading habits to find out where you need improvement. Do you “say” the words you’re reading? Do strange words slow your speed and comprehension? Do you read every word? Do you re-read sentences? Do you vary your speed to suit the material?

2.  Provide the best conditions for reading. Choose a place where you’ll have few interruptions, have good lighting, can sit in a good chair, and won’t be distracted by radio, TV or other noises. Hold the book about fifteen inches away (about the distance from your elbow to your wrist).

3.  Use your eyes efficiently. If words are blurry, get your eyes checked by a professional. Don’t “say” what you read, and don’t re-read unnecessarily. Read phrases, not every single word.

4.  Increase your vocabulary by keeping a dictionary handy, maintaining a list of new words, and knowing the origin of words.

5.  Match your speed to the material you are reading. Know what and why you’re reading. Preview the material, especially when studying. Study reading requires closer, slower reading. For leisure reading you can go faster. Be sure you get the information in graphic aids and illustrations.

6.  To improve your reading speed, practice for about 15 to 30 minutes each day, checking your rate in words-per-minute. Check your comprehension by summarizing what you read. Ideally, you want to read faster while maintaining your understanding. Therefore, use the same type of materials each time you practice to provide the consistency needed for meaningful practice.

Book bible

Most writers won’t bother with this, but that’s a mistake. If you are serious about your writing, a book bible is a must-have. However, you can work on that last. This is ideally a binder with everything about your book contained in its pages: plot outline, character sketches, notes, bits of dialog, small details, scene description, research, etc. You’ll find this extremely useful. The habit to develop: get a binder, write notes on characters, plot, scene, dialog, and keep it updated, as soon as you’re done writing. So, write, log it, then update your book bible.