Just Do It

by John Robert Marlow
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Just Do It: False Starts, Late Deaths, and Appearances
by John Robert Marlow


There are several things wrong with this sentence: “Frank was visibly upset when he started to cross what appeared to be a street.” Strictly speaking, there may be nothing grammatically incorrect here. Stylistically, though, it’s a train wreck—and would be even if Frank hadn’t died fifty pages back. Simply put, the sentence pussyfoots around, wasting time and space. This post will help you to avoid doing the same…

Blah, Blah, Blah

by John Robert Marlow
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Blah, Blah, Blah: Overdescription, Exposition, and Stage Direction
by John Robert Marlow


Have you ever attended a lecture, or sat in a classroom, or watched a video where the speaker droned endlessly on about what should have been an interesting topic? After a while, the eyes and ears glaze over, and all you really hear is “Blah blah blah…” Don’t let that happen to your writing…

Hey, Look at Me!

by John Robert Marlow
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Hey, Look at Me! Intrusive, Chatty, and Explanatory Writing
by John Robert Marlow

Authors have a single, overriding function: to connect reader and story. At our best, we immerse the reader so thoroughly in the world of our story that the “real” world disappears and, for a time, there is nothing but the story. That’s the kind of experience readers hope for and deserve. It’s a zen-like state that is not easily achieved.

Bouncing Eyeballs

by John Robert Marlow
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Bouncing Eyeballs and Other Unintended Meanings
by John Robert Marlow


Unintended meanings are mood-killers. This is as true on the page as is it is in life: you say one thing, your listener hears another, and trouble soon follows. They heard every word you said, and accurately too—but they took those words to mean something very different from what you intended.

Consider the following passage:

“His eyes bounced between Teddy, Mandy, the girl, the geologist, then back to Franklin.”