Creative writing lessons from Charles Dickens

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From foreshadowing to characterization, Charles Dickens was master of many a literary technique — so much so that his Great Expectations is taught as an exemplar in high schools across the country. As writers, though, it isn’t enough to simply understand what these devices are. We have to recognize them when we read — and instinctively apply them to our own work.

The latter may sound hard, but fortunately, there’s a fix: Start reading like a writer. “This means you don’t read just to find out what happens next in the story,” says Gabriela Pereira, author of DIY MFA, “You…


How Jane Austen and Charles Dickens broke the most common writing advice of our times

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Photograph: Mayank Austen Soofi

‘Show, don’t tell’ is probably the most over-prescribed advice in fiction writing today: Don’t tell your reader the character’s emotions, show them.

On the whole, it’s a pretty good tip. It’s one thing to write “she’s sad,” yet quite another to show readers a woman alone in the corner of the room, face in her hands, body shaking from the tears. That said, ‘show, don’t tell’ is a guideline, not a rule — no matter how often writing teachers say it. As novelists, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens both knew sometimes telling has its purpose.

In this post, we’ll take…


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From crafting fantastic villains to incorporating silence as dialogue, Jane Austen was master of many a literary device. Her Pride and Prejudice is so belovedly well-written that in the more than 200 years since its initial publication, the novel has never once gone out of print. Austen wasn’t just a writer, she was a reader — admiring words by everyone from Walter Scott to Anne Radcliffe.

She also understood the importance of reading with a writer’s eye. As writers, we must do more than understand what literary devices like characterization and foreshadowing mean. …


Want to be a better writer? Start by reading like one.

1. DIY MFA by Gabriela Pereira

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Gabriela Pereira writes, “Reading for pleasure is great, but if you want to be a writer, you need to read like a writer…[R]ead in order to figure out what the writer is doing…so that you can recreate something similar in your own writing.” So in DIY MFA, she shows you how to do exactly that. …


When to — and when not to — tell a romantic interest you have Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

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Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

Every relationship has its questions of timing: How many dates do you go on before sex? When should you allow your date to pick up the check? How early is too early to tell him you have ADHD?

Well, maybe that’s not a question for every new relationship. But it is for mine. And the answer is usually “after I’ve screwed up.”

Don’t get me wrong — I love having Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Just like being smart or having a sense of humor, ADHD is a positive character trait makes me who I am. But I haven’t always dated the most…


Want to be a better writer? Then check out this list of novel and short story craft titles published over the last year.

1. 25 Great Sentences and How They Got That Way by Geraldine Woods

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Read this August release from creative writing instructor Geraldine Woods and you’ll never write sentences the same way again. “We all know the basic structure of a sentence,” she notes, “a subject/verb pair expressing a complete thought and ending with proper punctuation. …


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How do you measure joy? Can we calculate the pleasure of learning to read? Is it possible to quantify the satisfaction of reading an amazingly good book?

For the third year in a row, the Trump administration is trying to remove all federal funding from public libraries. The idea, for many readers, is categorically absurd. But readers or not, we live in a world where economic realities demand facts and figures. …


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If every culture has a story to tell, why are we only reading Europeans?

When it comes to literary translation, American publishers have a pipeline problem. Not a pipeline problem in the way that tech companies use the phrase, blaming low diverse hiring numbers on their purported lack of female and minority applicants. Publishing’s problem is not one of supply — rather flaws in the acquisitions system that make it nearly impossible for non-Western authors and US publishers to connect.

In 2018, for the second year in a row, American publishers released fewer titles in translation, publishing 609 books, compared…


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Strategies for coping at work when your manager has ADHD

It’s not your fault. Maybe you missed that project deadline because your boss never said when it was. Or maybe she kept interrupting you with so many Slacks and emails you couldn’t finish your work. When your supervisor has Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and you don’t, her communication style can sometimes keep you from doing the job.

You’re not alone. Elaine Taylor-Klaus is cofounder of coaching company ImpactADHD and also has Attention Deficit. She says that while people with ADHD are “creative and idea focused,” they also tend to “resist structure…


Marijuana allergies are real, and for people who have one, decriminalization has been hell

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I’m allergic to pot. One secondhand whiff of somebody else’s joint and my nose clogs up. I get a headache and I start to itch. And if I’m around enough of it — say at a concert or something — I’m sick the whole weekend, coughing and weak in bed.

I’m lucky. Immunologist Dr Purvi Parikh says cold-like symptoms are on the milder end of marijuana allergy reactions. “Some people get full blown asthma attacks, rashes, and even anaphylaxis.” …

Terena Bell

2X entrepreneur; reporter & fiction writer; Kentuckian in NYC; advocate for straight-talk & continued improvement

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