Monthly Archives: April 2011

What I’ve Learned from J.K. Rowling – Writing Methods from “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” – Part 1

After reading only a few chapters into Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, I couldn’t help but notice all the different crafty methods J.K. Rowling uses in her books. Too many to cover in one post, that’s for certain, so I’ll go ahead and point them out one at a time, post by meticulous post. Without further adieu, part one of the many writing techniques to be learned from such wonderful literature:

One of the methods I’ve noticed so far in The Prisoner of Azkaban is that there is a hook at the end of nearly every paragraph. If the paragraph isn’t wholly dialogue, Rowling always instigates the idea that something else is coming. See a couple of examples I’ve taken from pages 50 and 51 of chapter four, “The Leaky Couldron.”

…but the thing that tested Harry’s resolution most appeared in his favourite shop, Quality Quidditch Supplies, a week after he’d arrived at the Leaky Couldron.

What tested Harry’s resolution most? We wonder.

…a newly erected podium, on which was mounted the most magnificent broom he had ever seen in his life.

Do tell us more about the most magnificent broom he had ever seen in his entire life!

As you can see, hooks don’t belong only at the ends of chapters and the end of a book in a series but also at the end of paragraphs to really keep the reader turning pages.

Do you use this technique in your own writing? If not, try it next time you write some prose; and if you like a challenge, try writing a paragraph with a hook at the end of each sentence, and do leave a comment below.


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Catching Up with the Times (and all the other writing birds)

So I’ve finally decided to get on Twitter, an idea at which I’ve cringed for a long time. And like publishing short fiction and poetry on the web–more for the sake of directing people to my blog than directing blog readers elsewhere. But if you happen to be a Twitter addict, click the bird to follow!

I’ll be announcing each new post I publish,  but also lots of little things I fail to mention on the official blog. I hope that this venture from Internet rube-ishness accomplishes my goal of wider readership. And speaking of such lovely things as gaining more readers, check out these 40 Twitter Hashtags for Writers.

Do you use Twitter to promote your writing? What are your favourite hashtags to use and why?

(Hint: I’ve found Writers’ Digest’s #storyfriday to be a great way to warm up the writing muscles and get new readers and followers.)


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Upcoming Projects – May

The semester is finally over and I have no classes left for which to study. It hasn’t quite hit me yet, but I’m sure when it does, I will be as excited as all get out. Because the end of the semester means the start of the summer, which means no more studying, and that means more writing.

I’ve already been compiling a list of projects to pick up again in my mind, and now here they are in lovely bullet point form:

  • Publish creative non-fiction. I’ve been looking at essays I’ve composed for various English classes and have also been working on more articles to publish in places like Unschooling Now and bigger journals.
  • Write more prose every day. Now that I have more time out of the classroom and a lovely little pocket size Moleskine (it was a gift, I promise!), I have more incentive to constantly write things down, and this summer I want to train myself to write little bits of prose and flash fiction throughout the day. That way, I can work up a stash of material ready to be molded into marketable writing.
  • Write more poetry. This summer, I want to experiment with free verse and blank verse daily. Something good always comes out of daily poetry sessions. Last night, I wrote a rough sonnet in one hour’s time, something I’ve never done before. And it wasn’t that bad, either. So this May, my habit will begin–one poem per night. Whether it be a haiku or a limerick, or even a single couplet, this practice will reap heaps and heaps of material for later alteration.
  • Get a job. I am currently seeking work in the English field, whether that be a teaching, editing, or tutoring job, or something else altogether. Craig’s List, here I come with my modest resume and minuscule list of publications. 🙄
  • Read more good writing. This break, my shelves shall be occupied with Ray Bradbury, Victor Hugo, Hans Christian Andersen, and the Brothers Grimm. Oh, I can’t wait. 😀
What are you reading this summer? Do you have any writing projects to keep you busy these next few months?

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Cinnamon Roast Almonds Are My Cup of Tea

I feel lucky to have the time to be typing a blog post right now. (These minutes are coming out of my study time, actually, but we all have our priorities.)  My weekend is only just now slowing down; being a bridesmaid in my brother’s wedding last Saturday, I was swamped all weekend with formal dinners, dress rehearsals, and so on. I tried studying for finals (this week!) at Dave & Busters, and even brought my Precalculus book to the beach to study, but all in vain (I failed the test yesterday).

*sigh* I still have one more week to plow through and finish the semester with flying colours (in the English department, anyway).

Speaking of English, here’s what I’ve been up to lately in the writing world…

  • Finishing my first biblical retelling. As listed in my this month’s projects, I rewrote a biblical event. For the first one, I chose to retell I Kings 17:1-16 as a fairy tale of some sort. I finished the first draft some time last week, but read over it and made final changes last night.
  • Reading submissions for Whispered Vespers. I am pleased with the turnout of submissions we’ve had for the magazine. Already, Brandon and I have read the work of several talented poets. We still have plenty of room in the first issue, however, for both poetry and prose. Cover art submissions are especially welcome as we have yet to receive any illustrations.
  • Hustling for scholarships. I’m transferring to another school over this  summer, so I have had a load of applications to fill out and letters to write. It is not the fun kind of writing.
  • Reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It is such a great read, and I’m sure there have been many to revisit it several times. I’ll be posting an article about writing techniques to be learned from it soon, so keep an eye out for that. 😉 My goal is to finish the entire series before the release of the last movie this summer. 😀
  • Switching from coffee to tea. This has not been an easy transition. I also try drinking decaf, but coming across a pretty little tea set in my garage has impelled me to start experimenting with new flavors of tea to drink while writing. Oh, and cinnamon roast almonds? Best reading snack ever. I munch on these while reading Harry Potter. Yes. I do.
That about sums up what I’ve been up to lately. Not studying for finals. I’m getting there. Oh, and doing some research for a couple of new stories I’ll be writing this summer. (After finals, I suppose. :cry:)

This will all be over soon. Until then!

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“Unschooling Now” – New E-Zine Coming May 1st

I stumbled upon this e-zine a few days after digging up some of my old English folders and decided to polish something up to submit. I chose one of the five critical essays I wrote for LIT-2000 (one on Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”) last night, redrafted it, and sent it in.

By looking at the website, I found that Unschooling Now is a new e-zine that publishes a wide variety of writing; (in addition to the obvious poetry and prose, they also publish articles, blog posts, tweets–you name it). The zine is “like a party for unschoolers,” editor Anna Hoffman says. To find out more about what that means, you can visit her blog and read the first issue, coming out May 1st–it’s free, and my essay “The Revelation of Sin” will be in it. See you there. 😀

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Short-Short Story Pubished with 6S – “Recess”

So I took the “prose-poem-essay” mentioned in this post, and wrote six somewhat personal, somewhat depressing, and somewhat fictionalized sentences which Rob at Six Sentences has agreed to publish at 6 AM on the 20th of this month. I submitted the “story” which I’ve entitled “Recess” more for the purpose of directing people from Six Sentences to this blog, and not the other way around, but if you’d like to read the piece, I’ll (somewhat reluctantly) put the link in my bibliography as soon as it’s available. Maybe I’ll write another sextuplet for this market. It’s all the rage; just ask Writers’ Digest.

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Conception of Literary Magazine

With all of my other goals for 2011, I certainly didn’t expect to be starting a literary magazine now of all times, but circumstances change, and so do priorities, and here I am starting a literary magazine with my co-editor, co-creator, and co-mpanion Brandon Rogers.

We named our magazine Whispered Vespers. Brandon’s created the full-blown site which you can view here to see what it’s all about. We both will be posting updates there regularly, and I will continue to update here as we grow. We’re open to submissions now, so tell your friends and find something to submit! 😉

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