The Blog of John Hewitt

What is a stanza?

Stanza means stopping place The term stanza means “stopping place” in Italian. A stanza is a set of lines in a poem, set apart from other sets of lines by space. Each stanza comprises its own unit. The break/space between stanzas generally indicates a pause between thoughts, concepts or actions. In standard practice, most poems end a sentence at the end of stanza. It is important to remember, however, that…

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Mapping out your novel’s characters

In much the same way that you need to outline the action points in your plot, you should map out the relationships of your characters. Creating the backgrounds for your individual characters is important, and I covered that with this series of articles about building characters. Here, I am talking about mapping out the relationships between your characters. The goal of this process is to give structure to the relationships in your story. Knowing the…

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How to Write Personal Essays and Opinion Pieces

All I wanted was a pair of boots for plodding around my muddy garden. The local shopping mall offered rubber boots for girls, boys, and men. And low-cut high-gloss “fashion boots” for women. The outdoors shop had a good stock of rubber boots for kids, steel-toed boots for men, and hiking boots for women. At the secondhand store I found rubber boots for men, rubber boots for children, and a…

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Write a poem that follows the three rules of the imagists

The Imagism Movement For the past week or so we have been discussing meter and rhythm as a framework for creating poetry. Today I want to move in another direction. The use of the image as the primary driving force behind your poem. Image driven poetry began with the Imagism movement in the early twentieth century. The movement began with poets such as Ezra Pound and Hilda Doolittle (H.D.) and…

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How to Calculate Potential Book Profits

Most writers have no idea how much money they can expect when their book is published. The formula, however, is fairly straightforward. To begin with, a writer generally receives an advance. An advance is payment, in advance, based on the expected initial earnings of the book. It is a negotiable amount, but once the publisher pays this to the writer, the advance belongs to the writer whether or not the book…

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College majors for aspiring writers

MFA programs are great for graduate students, but what about students who are just entering college with a writing career in mind? There are so many directions for students to go in. Some people even think that writers should study something besides writing. For example, a person who studies history will get plenty of opportunities to write while in college, and by learning about history they will learn about something that…

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Improving your imagery

One of the most common pieces of advice you will see is to use all five senses. Writers tend to rely on the visual almost exclusively. It is a good idea though, to think about how things smell, taste, sound and feel. You can train this by training yourself to write without visual descriptions. If you leave visuals out, you force yourself to think in terms of the other senses.…

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Reselling Articles

Give or take a few thousand, there are over 23,000 daily and weekly newspapers in the United States. Weekly newspapers are published for the most part in small towns where there is no competition from large dailies. A weekly newspaper survives with advertising from local businesses, offering rates that are far below that of a daily newspaper. Of course, weeklies have a limited readership, so they reach a local audience…

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Explaining the unreliable narrator

An unreliable narrator is a first-person narrator that for some reason has a compromised point-of-view. In all stories with a first-person narrator, the narrator serves as a filter for the events. What the narrator does not know or observe cannot be explained to the reader. Usually, however, the reader trusts that the narrator is knowledgeable and truthful enough to give them an accurate representation of the story. In the case…

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What major/degree is required to become a technical writer?

There are no specific degree requirements for a position in technical writing. Many technical writers have writing-related degrees such as English, creative writing or journalism. Others have degrees in fields that employ technical writers such as engineering, chemistry, computer science, aerospace, or biology. Some technical writers have completely unrelated degrees. These writers get into the business either by being promoted within the same company or hired because of industry knowledge…

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Write a definition poem

“To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion all in one.” John Ruskin Reality is subject to interpretation. I have flown from Tucson to Las Vegas at least ten times. When I’ve sat by the window on the left side of the plane, I’ve seen mostly desert scrub and a glimpse of the Colorado River. When I’ve sat on the right side by the window I’ve seen Phoenix, Lake Meade…

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Writing tercet and triad poetry

Tercet Stanzas The tercet is a poetry form with Italian roots. One of the most famous examples of the form is Dante’s The Divine Comedy (aff). At heart, this is a stanza form more than a form for a complete poem. In most cases, multiple stanzas are combined to create a single poem. The poem may be be a string of several tercets. In other cases, the tercet is one component…

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Twelve questions that will help you create your character

Use these questions to help define your characters further: How would I describe this character in a single sentence? What type of personality does this character have? What is this character’s purpose in the story? How is this character different from any other character in the story? What makes this character interesting to readers? What does this character care most about? What are this character’s key physical traits? What is the most…

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Writing elegies and memory poems

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? (Hamlet, V.i) Writing an Elegy Poetry has, from its beginning days onward, been…

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Basing characters on real people

Basing characters on actual people is a fairly common literary practice. The people around you can be a great source of inspiration. I don’t, however, recommend basing a character on a single person. It can be problematic for the following reasons: If that person finds out, they may not like it. It can hurt a friendship or even get you sued. You may be tempted to recreate moments from their…

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Essay paper writing guide

The Basics of Essay Writing General 12 Tips for Writing Your Essay Paper 7 Secrets to a Striking Essay A List of Essay Writing Don’ts Why My Attempts at Nonfiction Essays in Grad School Bombed Outlines Examples of Essay Outlines Essay Outline A Perfect Essay Outline Outline for Essay Writing The Structure Of The Essay Outline Creating an Outline for an Essay Organize Your Ideas How to Make and Use an…

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Building characters through adversity

Creating fictional characters requires adversity, There are few happy stories in the world. There are happy endings. There are happy characters. Few stories revolve around the good things that happen to people. If they do, there is a downside to the “good things” that happen to them. Stories are about adversity and conflict. How characters deal with adversity can create comedy, drama, romance, action, and mystery. Without adversity, there is…

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Exploring characters through their possessions

The possessions that a character chooses to surround themselves with can reveal a great deal about the way they lead their lives. Directors and actors frequently use possessions as a way to study their characters. They decorate the character’s room, office, vehicle, locker or any other common places the character would use. They also determine how the character would dress, often shopping for clothes that fit the persona of the…

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Creating a character biography

When you write a biography for a character, you discuss some of the major events and people that have shaped the life of the character up until the point at which the novel begins. This method looks at things such as accomplishments, tragedies and anything that made a serious change in the character’s life. It should also give you some idea of the character’s everyday interests. You can write it…

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Building Characters by Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a proven technique for exploring just about any idea. The process consists of quickly recording (without editing yourself) all of the options/descriptions/ideas /thoughts you have about a topic. You then sort through your items and pick the ones that work. This process can easily be applied to creating characters. I have purposely tried to leave the sort of details you should review as vague as possible. If you really need…

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Using interviewing to create fictional characters

The character interview is a chance to explore both a character’s background and voice. It is an exploration of a character’s opinions, experiences, goals and attitudes. The basic method of conducting an interview is simple. You ask questions and then, as the character, answer those questions. Many Forms of Interviews Interviews come in many forms, and you can get as creative with them as you like. Many people choose to…

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Using a normal day to define your character

The day in the life approach to developing a character is focused on describing a normal day in the character’s life before something important happens to change it. Most central characters begin a story in their normal world. At some point, an event happens that takes them out of their normal world and sends them on whatever journey the story has in store for them. Until that journey begins, your…

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PoeWar Wiki

I have decided to move most of the content from this site into a wiki. I’m still doing some work on it, but I think you will find it very useful. Here is a guide to the content. Writing Fiction CREATING FICTIONAL CHARACTERS Basing characters on real people Brainstorming your characters Building a character from multiple perspectives Creating a character biography Creating a character bio sheet Creating a role-playing character biography…

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Building a character from multiple perspectives

This character building idea turns the concept of the interview around. Instead of interviewing a character about themselves, you interview the other characters in your story about one particular character. This gives you a profile of the character as seen by other people. It can also help you set up potential conflicts and plot points by revealing hidden bonds and tensions between characters. Characters Change According to your Point of…

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