Course 3: Craft

Sentence Structure: Verbs

Sentence Structure: Verbs

Flashback to the second grade. You’re learning about the parts of a sentence. How does the teacher define ‘verbs’? Why, they’re action words, of course! And that’s actually a pretty good description. The verb makes the subject of the sentence do something. When “the cat jumps”, ‘jump’ is your verb. So without verbs, nothing can…

Paragraph Structure: Pacing & Rhythm

Paragraph Structure: Pacing & Rhythm

In school, you probably learned how to construct the classic, academic paragraph. The O.G. paragraph, if you will. You’ve got your topic sentence, your supporting sentences, and then your concluding sentence. A nice snug package of information. Also, a total bore. In fiction, paragraphs never have to be this structured. Indeed, paragraphing is an author’s…

Scene Structure: Proactive and Reactive

Scene Structure: Proactive and Reactive

Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash Unless you’re working on microfiction, flash fiction, or very short stories, your plots will almost always require you to write multiple scenes. When I say ‘scene’, I’m talking about a specific segment of a larger story that contains its own miniature story arc. Scenes can flow one into the other or be…

Sentence Differentiation

Sentence Differentiation

Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash I live in the heart of a medieval Dutch city and everything in my neighborhood is made of bricks: the cathedrals and cafes, the old houses and the new houses, the streets, parking lots, bike paths, garden walls. Everything. But if you’re picturing some red-brown dystopia of uniform cubic edifices—like a city…

How to Punctuate Dialogue

How to Punctuate Dialogue

Photo by Jake Blucker on Unsplash Punctuating dialogue is often tricky for writers. And this makes total sense because when you look at a page of dialogue, a lot of what’s happening seems contradictory: there’s a period being used at the end of a phrase of dialogue here, but a comma there; on one line, the first word…

Dialogue Tags and Speaking Denotation

Dialogue Tags and Speaking Denotation

Photo by Aleksandra Mazur on Unsplash He said, she said, Gary said. All of these are dialogue tags. Their purpose is letting the reader know who just said, or is about to say, a line of dialogue, which is pretty important if you want your reader to be able to imagine who’s speaking. But there’s more to letting…