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From The Copywriter Underground:
My English teacher said parentheses were the tools of lazy writers. Wikipedia says “In most writing, overuse of parentheses is usually a sign of a badly structured text.”
All true. But irrelevant.
In skilled hands, a parenthetical statement enclosed in parentheses will help bridge the gap between writer and reader, puncturing the invisible barrier between the two. (See what I mean?)
They give you the ability to step out of the copy and into the reader’s space. You can even share what feels like a private joke (just don’t tell anyone else!), transforming your reader from skeptic to confidant.
Here are a few ways you can put them to work.
(You know you need to brush up (really))
Writing for kids can be like abstract art: you see it and you think, I can do that. But if that’s true, why aren’t you getting paid to do so? Oh, you are? Getting paid to do both? I’m sorry. I didn’t realize.
Elaine Marie Alphin has advice over at Writer’s Digest on how to make the characters in your children’s story become real–and a good character can be the difference between your book being at the bottom of the bargain bin (awesome alliteration) or being the next Olivia or Eloise.
Ask the Readers: Is it possible for a journalist to write ethically about a parent’s drug addiction?
I received the following query from a writer who wishes to remain anonymous who would like to get some feedback from you readers. If you have advice for him, it would be great if you could direct it here (anonymously if you wish as well) so I can share the feedback–it might benefit some of you other readers out there. The reader has also included an email address if you want to send him/her input off the record (and if you want to send it to me AND the email address, that’s welcome as well.)
Is it possible for a journalist to write ethically about a parent’s drug addiction? Moreso, should they even consider it?
The Gender Genie predicts whether the author of a text is a male or female. I plugged in three pieces of writing of mine: some fiction (from a female protagonist’s first person standpoint), some nonfiction and a blog entry. Result? The Gender Genie pegged my XY chromosome on the first try, but then thought I was dude based on shots #2 and 3. Assuming this is at all reliable, does this mean that I have a masculine voice in my nonfiction? Does this mean I’d be good at writing in a masculine voice? (The answer is no, because on a fourth try, I submitted some fiction that I’d written from a male first person perspective.)
Maybe it’s just nonsense fun and games, but I’m determined to justify my time spent playing with this by finding some way that this benefits writers. If you can think of one, let me know.
Have you ever worked on revisions on an article or a book or essay, wanting to die because revisions can be so frustrating, so you sit there and sort of push the words around on the page until someone asks you the one question that makes you realize what can make what you wrote really great? Well if you haven’t, maybe you can find it here (Lit Agent X)
Writers: When do you use profanity in writing?
I’m working on an essay, and I’m at a section where I’m yelling at my boyfriend for doing something stupid and I’m waffling between putting down what I really said (“You better cut this shit out”), and making it nicer (“You better cut this out.”)
Eventually I’d like to submit this essay to a major newspaper so I’ll take out the profanity, but I was just curious if you other writers have policies on how much profanity you use in your writing–as much as you want? Just for effect? None at all?
Obviously, if you’re writing for the New York Times, you’re not going to be dropping f-bombs in your pieces, but how about for your fiction, creative nonfiction, essays, blogs, plays, screenplays?
Want to see what other writers have to say on the topic? F*@k yeah you do.
Those of you for whom writers workshops are old hat, just put your heads on your desks and be quiet. This article is for those writers who’ve never joined a writers workshop or who’ve had the sweet joy of having some relative strangers tell you how well you did.
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