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Hope's Rebellion

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Writing 101: Stationary vs. Stationery

The moment you use the wrong word in your writing, you make yourself look like you have no idea what you're doing. The trouble is, it's really, really easy to use the wrong word. The English language is stuffed with word pairs that sound alike and may even be spelled similarly, but they have two different meanings. Knowing how to use these words properly is something every writer has to learn...because there are lots of readers who already know the difference.

A or E?

So when it comes to stationary and stationery, which word is the right word for the sentence you're trying to write? They sound exactly the same and they're spelled exactly the same, with just one letter's difference. But that one letter changes absolutely everything.

Stationary with an A means that something is immobile and unmoving. A stationary object is sitting still. Think of it as pushing a heavy object. What sound might you make while you're doing that?

Correct: "aaaaaa!!" To remember that stationary means not moving, think of yourself screaming "aaaaaa" while trying to push a heavy object.

Stationery with an E refers to pretty paper, envelopes and mailing supplies. In the digital world, this word is becoming less and less common. So think of stationery with an e this way: email replaced mail. Stationery with an E is paper mail, which no one uses because of email.

You may come up with your own tricks to remember the difference between the two words. Whatever helps you remember will work, as long as you remember the difference. Using the wrong word will hit a sour note with every reader and every editor, so do your best to avoid it by always using the right word.

Language is always evolving and changing, but the differences between word pairs is stationary and set -- so when you're writing out that nice letter on stationery, make sure you're choosing the right word!

Writing 101: Let's Talk About Reptition

There are very few hard rules in writing, rules that cannot be bent or broken in any way. Many writers have taken great delight in breaking the so-called rules of good writing, to much success. But even in the art of writing, there is one thing you should never, ever do. Do you know what it is? Because I just broke that rule to make a very important point.

No matter what, you should never repeat the same word twice. No, not even when it's separated by punctuation. It's never okay and it's always going to make you look like a bad writer.

Getting Repetitive

There are rules in writing. You must capitalize names and the first word of sentences. You must end sentences with some kind of punctuation. Every writer knows the basic rules. But there's another you must always follow because it always looks bad if you get it wrong.

Don't repeat words. Never at any point should the same word appear back-to-back, not even when there's a period between them. We already covered the importance of never saying "that that" on this blog, but it's worth talking about the importance of avoiding all word repetition. Every editor will cringe, every reader will flinch and every time you do it, you will look like you don't actually know what you are you doing!

Sentences can always be re-worked. Words can always be moved around. Everything can always be changed. And if you've got the same word appearing back-to-back for any reason and in any way, change it!

This is a rule of writing that must always be observed. Whether it's a name, a special word or anything else you're using, don't repeat. Stick to that rule and all your writing will be better for it.

Writing 101: Conspiracy Theories

Have you heard that the Earth is actually flat? How about the one where the government tried to train cats to be secret spies? Maybe you heard a story about the battleship that disappeared out of one harbor and reappeared, moments later, hundreds of miles away.

There's just something compelling about wild conspiracy theories. And that means you can probably create some pretty compelling writing when you use conspiracy theories in your stories.

Spinning a Yarn

There's nothing people like more than a good story. But what makes a story good? Sometimes, it's something that's so far out there it's impossible to believe. And what's so wrong with that? 

There's been a lot of good storytelling based on outlandish, outrageous conspiracy theories. So why can't you tell a really good story based around a conspiracy theory?

Try going out on that limb and try writing a story built around a wild conspiracy theory. Maybe in your story, the theory is true. Maybe in your story, a main character merely believes it's true. It's your story. Let inspiration guide you in any direction is goes and see what happens. Sometimes, writing is about just letting go.

Maybe there's a theory you heard before that you never forgot. Maybe you've got one of your own. Either way, conspiracy theories make a great basis for any story. So if you're low on ideas and looking for something to write, try starting with something that's just too ridiculous to be real. Because usually, those stories end up being easier to believe and even more interesting than all the fairy tales ever written.

Writing 101: Finding Inspiration in the Worst Scenarios

With everything going on in the world today, it's pretty hard to think about writing a story. How do you write about happiness, love, good health and other positive factors when it seems like the world is totally falling apart? It's hard to put aside the fear and the worry. It's hard to ignore those terrible headlines and the numbers of deaths that just keep getting bigger and bigger. 

So don't ignore it. Use it. If you're finding it difficult to work on your writing projects, put them aside for a little bit and start channeling all your feelings about coronavirus into a brand-new story. Writers find inspiration even in the worst scenarios and turn them into entertainment. After all...doesn't everyone deserve some entertainment right now?

Get Inspired

I once said that a writer's task is not to live life. It's to observe it happening to others. Right now is the absolute perfect time to write. You can't go anywhere. You can't see anyone. You can't do anything right now except for writing. Which, let's face it, is a great way to socially distance yourself from everything. So, remove yourself from the equation. Get out of your head. Take a break from the fear.

And write about it. 

Find inspiration even in the horrors of the world. Make them more horrible. Make them better. Make them whatever you want. Because you're a writer, and that's what we do. After all, if a society of people walking around in masks doesn't inspire some kind of frightening dystopian epic, what the heck does? 

Take the bad things and put them on the page. Because there, you can control them. There, you can determine the outcome. You can make things as horrific as you like or as wonderful as you hope. You decide who lives, who dies, who gets sick and who doesn't. 

Take the fear and the worry and make it work for you by writing it. Because writers find inspiration even in the worst things and turn them into incredible, amazing stories.