Monthly Archives: July 2015

Advice on Writing? Horrors!

When the name of author Stephen King comes up in conversation, it’s usually to discuss his hair-raising horror tales and the movies that they have spawned: Carrie, The Shining and Children of the Corn, for example.

What many people don’t know is that he is also the author of On Writing, a respected book for budding authors. It is part autobiography, part writer’s guide, and certainly worth a read for anyone serious about improving their fiction.

Like many good writers, King has always been a reader and has absorbed language through his pores. However, he also consciously studies other authors whom he respects to learn from their stylistic strengths. In talking of description, for example, he cites such diverse voices as Raymond Chandler and T.S. Eliot.

“Good writing consists of mastering the fundamentals (vocabulary, grammar, the elements of style),” he opines and filling your writer’s toolbox with these necessary elements. “Good writing is also about making good choices when it comes to picking the tools you plan to work with.”

Whether you enjoy King’s writing or not – I’m a coward when it comes to scary fiction – there is no arguing with his talent in achieving the impact and effect he sets out to create. His writing about writing is worthwhile reading for anyone who dreams of producing the Great Canadian Novel.


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Technology Has the Last Word … or Two

Language, as I have noted before, is fluid and ever-changing. Nothing is surer proof of its fluidity than the inclusion of many media and social media terms in the online version of that august tome, the Oxford English Dictionary. Fitting, I suppose, that these words are being featured in the free online OED.

The editors of the OED don’t take new entries lightly. As the OED blog notes, “Each month, Oxford Dictionaries collects examples of around 150 million words in use from sources around the world, and adds these to the Oxford Corpus. The editors use this database to track and verify new and emerging word trends.” Their research leads to more than 1,000 new inclusions annually.

Included among recent entries are terms such as listicle, an online article in the form of a bulleted list, and live-tweeting, an activity undoubtedly common among Pan Am Games spectators – posting comments about an event on Twitter while the event is ongoing. In fact, those who hate-watch television shows can make the most of the experience by live-tweeting about them.

Perhaps you’ve already read about these entries – after all, in our hyperconnected world, this information in undoubtedly everywhere.

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