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How to Enliven Your Writing

This book presents specific ways to write different types of stories, project ideas, and resources in such a way as to make short story assignments enjoyable. Cartoon illustrations and touches of color make the book attractive. A sample short story takes readers step-by-step through the process, and there are mini-guides on writing humorous, mystery, suspense, science-fiction, and fantasy stories. Lists of recommended stories in each genre are included, as are lists of resources for books and Web sites related to short fiction writing. The easy-to-follow format will appeal to even the most reluctant writers.


Get specific. The more you work at making a character or object unique, the more that character or object will stand out for your reader. For example, the lady in the office is a very minor character who appears only for a moment, but we need to see her as a real person. She isn't simply a lady, but a "pleasant" lady. The "bright red hair" describes her physically.

Use good action verbs. Choose verbs that are exciting and colorful. Instead of saying "ran quickly," we substituted the stronger verb "darted." It creates a much more vivid picture of what Sandy is doing. Go through your story sentence by sentence and look for places you can enliven the writing with strong , active verbs.

Add adjectives. Good adjectives bring people, animals, and things to life. They help create a visual portrait that readers can picture in their heads. It makes the person or thing specific, unique, and interesting. For example the corridor being "long" is descriptive, but this doesn't say much more. By making the corridor "empty" we heighten Sandy's sense of being alone and indicate that she has arrived at school late.

Avoid adverbs. Adverbs modify verbs just as adjectives modify nouns. While adverbs like dangerously and anxiously can improve your writing, a reliance on adverbs can be a crutch for a writer. This is especially true when they are used to describe how someone said something. Example: "Stop that!" Jim shouted angrily. We already know from jim's words and the verb "shouted" that he was angry. The adverb is unnecessary. Better to show Jim's anger through a visual image. Here's an example: "Stop That!" Jim said through gritted teeth. The effect is the same, but we get a visual image that sticks in our mind and shows us how jim feels rather than tells us.

Use metaphors and similes occasionally. Similes and metaphors are comparisons of two unlike things. Similes use words such a "like" or "as" to link two things. Metaphors are direct comparisons that do not use these linking words. By adding the simile "like a swarm of angry bees," Sandy's questions become truly menacing and destructive. When we say her heart is beating "like a tom-tom," you can hear the rapid beat and experience it emotionally. You don't want to sprinkle too many metaphors and similes throughout your story, but used sparingly, they can spruce up your writing and give your story a boost.

Reviewer Renee' says, "I was very impressed with this one. I like the book references offered for comparisons and the way the author walked the readers through a very simple story line and explained the changes made in the process, even suggesting other possibilities. He also gave good insight on basic genres that will be especially helpful to beginners and intermediate writers. Kids of all ages, (including adults), can benefit from this book. The colors, designs, and fun font help break up what could otherwise seem like a very dry, boring book. But they bring it alive and make it more organized and fun. Extra kudos to the designer. I will definitely refer people to this one."

Extraordinary Short Story Writing

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