Word by Word

Practical insights for writers

Archive for the 'Jessica Page Morrell' Category

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Hooked: The Dropper by Ron McLarty

We’ve got a few days respite from the heat here and the wildfire smoke that was choking our region has dissipated, though fires are still burning. The good news is that one fire to the east of the Cascades is nearly contained. Ron McLarty wrote one of my favorite all-time novels, The Memory of Running. […]

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Amp up Tension Word by Word

Here’s a project I’ve been playing with –1130 words that will amp up tension in your writing. Because no tension, no propulsion. Because no tension, no unease in your readers. And you want your readers worrying, fretting, wondering. Not to mention frayed nerves. (You’ll find more information on tension and how to achieve it in […]

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August

We’ve almost limped through another heat wave around here and it’s ending not a moment too soon. I’ve been living in Oregon since 1991 and the weather has profoundly changed in these past 27 years. I never imagined unrelenting sunshine could be so punishing. When I first arrived here I’d marvel at natives splashing around […]

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The power of silence

When we write we are wrapped up in words. Descriptions, expositions, verbs, adjectives, and conversations. A great way to get wrapped up. However, don’t forget the enormous power of silence. The dirty look, the words we wish we’d said but didn’t, the cruelty of a withheld compliment, the generosity of withheld cruelty. Think of the […]

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Make Them Sweat

I’m so happy we had a few days of milder temperatures. Another heat wave is beginning today and lasting through the week. I’ve developed systems for keeping my hanging plants alive, and so far they’re all still blooming. Early mornings spent watering as the day began simmering, meant I returned indoors already slick with sweat. […]

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Tim O’Brien on fiction

The goal, I suppose, any fiction writer has, no matter what your subject, is to hit the human heart and the tear ducts and the nape of the neck and to make a person feel something about what the characters are going through and to experience the moral paradoxes and struggles of being human.

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Word of the day: littoral

With thanks to Robert Macfarlane (@RobGMacfarlane) Littoral: a shoreline region orĀ  related to the shoreline of a sea or lake; occurring at the edge of things. It also means the zone between high and low tide marks on the shoreline. In marine biology the definition is more complex and refers to the zone and conditions […]

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July

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A love letter to words

I like words. I like fat buttery words, such as ooze, turpitude, glutinous, toady. I like solemn, angular, creaky words, such as straitlaced, cantankerous, pernicious, valedictory. I like spurious, black-is-white words, such as mortician, liquidate, tonsorial, demimonde. I like suave “V” words, Svenghali, svelte, bravura, verve. I like crunchy, brittle, crackly words, such as splinter, […]

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