#StopTheCliche – You can describe the way a person walks better

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Do you know that whenever you try to avoid a cliché, it forces you to pause and think of what exactly you want to say? Sometimes you even have to go back to your dictionary in order to pick the appropriate words. This will eventually help you to upgrade your vocabulary.

How many times do you use the word ‘walk’ in a sentence? Have you ever thought of replacing it with another word that will explain what you want to say more appropriately? Using a more suitable word can make your work more exciting.

Anytime you are tempted to say somebody walked, try using any of these words instead, they sometimes depict exactly what you want to say and set a different tone for your article or post.

advance, amble, bounce, clump, footslog, go, hike, hobble, march, mince, move, pace, patrol, plod, proceed, promenade, ramble, roam, saunter, stagger, stride, stroll, tour, traipse, tramp, troop trot, trek, tread, trod waddle, walter

Here are a few examples

1. Suarez walked off the pitch after sustaining an injury.

Suarez limped off the pitch after sustaining an injury.

2. The soldiers made the youth corps members walk round the field seven times.

The soldiers made the youth corps members march round the field seven times.

3.I don’t like the way the chickens walk freely around the house.

I don’t like the way the chickens roam freely around the house.

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#GrammarSeries – Some more grammar errors you probably make

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Welcome to today’s class!

Grammatical errors distract your readers from the overall message of your work. Keeping your work error free makes it easier to read.  We’ve complied some more grammar errors that you need to stop making right now.

1. Me / I. Everyone seems to know the difference between these two words until they have to use them in a sentence.

For example: Sandra gave the physics note to Prince and I.

This sentence is wrong. Try taking out Prince from the sentence, how does it sound?  You would never say Prince gave the note to I, would you? “I” is the object of that sentence and should not be used in objects. The appropriate word to use is ‘me.’

Hence, it should be: Sola gave the Physics note to Prince and me. 

2. i.e. / e.g.

These two words DO NOT mean the same thing, but most people use them interchangeably.

i.e. is an abbreviation of the Latin word ‘id, est’ meaning that is.  You can use this when you want to clarify it also means in other words.

e.g is an abbreviation for the Latin word “exempli gratia’ which means for example. But the examples given are not the only existent ones.

‘I like board games. E.g. scrabble, chess or monopoly.’ This means that I just gave a list of the board game I like, but that’s not a finite list. On the other hand if I say I like board games i.e. scrabble, and monopoly. It means those are the only board games I like.

3. Peek, Peak. Pique. These words sound alike but do not mean the same thing and should NOT be used interchangeably.

Peek means to slightly take a look at something or to look quickly especially when you are trying to avoid being seen.

For example: Pearl peeked out the window to see if her dad was home.

Peak – this means the highest point or level of something.

Pique is a verb that means to annoy, provoke or instigate. It could also mean to arouse.

When next you want to use any of these words be sure to check the meaning.

Manage rejection with these 8 tips

by Adedotun Adejoorin 

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Hello dear writer, how are you doing?

Do you know that Ray Bradbury the author of over 100 science fiction novels and stories had around 800 rejections before selling his first story?

Entrepreneurs, writers, artistes or anyone who puts his work out there must know that rejection is inevitable. It is not every time that the publisher, editor or boss is going to think your work is the best thing that has happened to humanity. Sometimes your work will get rejected and this can be really tough and annoying too.

 So what do you do when rejection stares at you in the face?

  1. Relax. When you get a rejection it does not mean that your life is over or your career is dead. Do not be too hard on yourself; it is JUST a rejection. You may need to take a break from writing especially commercially and just rest. This will give you fresh inspiration when you return to your writing desk.

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  1. Get used to it.  This is not because you are a terrible writer. It is because it is just a part of life. Rejections happen to the best of us so don’t let it bring you down. Nobody likes to be rejected but when we are, we must ensure that we learn from it and move on. Rejections are part of your experience in becoming a better and more successful writer. It’s part of your writing story!
  1. It is not about you. Instead of moping around, acting like you were rejected, remember that it is not about you. Your work was rejected not you. Don’t think that the publisher hates you or does not like the way you dress. Instead go back and get better.

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  1. Go over the comments and corrections. When your work is rejected with comments explaining why it was rejected then you should rejoice. Not every publisher takes the pain to do that. Go over the comments written down and learn from them. You do not have to agree with everything that was written. Pick what you can and move forward.  Although your work was rejected, at least you gained extra knowledge.
  1. Send to another publisher, editor or writing group. Sometimes it is good to get another ‘diagnosis’ for your work you know. Send your work to another publisher or writing group that can help review it sincerely and professionally. Sparkle Writers is one writing group you can trust. We truly care about that article. We have the expertise to help you ensure that your work is properly reviewed.
  1. Implement the recommendations. According to Malcolm Forbes, failure is success if we learn from it. Have you taken time to check the reasons why your work was rejected? Instead of thinking it is because the editor does not like your face, check the comments on your work and learn from the corrections. If you have to change one or two things about your work, change them and ensure that they never repeat themselves again. Even if the work was rejected, at least you learnt something.
  1. Share your feelings. A problem shared is already half solved. You can share your feelings with friends or other writers. It will at least help you lift the burden that rejection seems to have placed on you. By sharing your feelings you may get to hear stories of other writers who were also rejected and got encouraged again.
  1. Remind yourself why you love writing. Let’s face it, rejection can be a huge disappointment and it can discourage anyone. So take a piece of paper and just write down all the reasons why you love writing. it will encourage you not to give up.

 

 

Do you doubt your ability as a writer? You should read this

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Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.” – William Shakespeare

Self doubt can keep you from creating permanently 

Everyone goes through their moment of self doubt, even the most creative and confident people. You just begin to ask “Am I good enough? Will I be able to write something truly beautiful again? What is so special about I do? “

Self doubt is the number one killer of creativity and it can be sparked by a negative comment, disappointment or a rejection. It crushes your creative spirit, weakens you and makes you have second thoughts about everything. Self doubt may come when you envy what others have done and you wonder why you don’t seem to be as good.

If you allow this to continue you would paralyze your ability to express what you have on the inside. Maybe you just finished writing a best seller novel and you are wondering, “What if I can’t create something fresh and exciting again?” These five tips will help you overcome it in no time!

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  • Remember it is NOT true. To think that you are not creative enough is just not true. Whatever makes you think that way is a lie and you have to realize that. You can’t allow what somebody said or a bad mood to ruin and prevent you from sharing that great talent buried inside of you.
  • Remember why you write. Sometimes when you feel like you can’t, you have to remember why you started writing in the first place. Sometimes you need to go back to the beginning. Are you writing to help people live better lives or to make someone laugh after a hard day? Whatever the reason, remembering it might just inspire you to keep on doing what you love to do.
  • Take small steps. Don’t be too hard on yourself. There is no pressure. Are you trying to write that book that will become a best seller? Why not start by writing a short story. Take small steps and watch your creativity improve
  • Celebrate your work. Take time to review what you have done and appreciate your own creativity. Let your previous work remind you of how creative you are and what you are capable of. Read one of your best stories and just enjoy the ‘magic’ you created. The best part of this is that you did it and can do it again.
  • Take the bull by the horn. When it seems like your creativity is put to the test or in doubt just go for it; take it as a challenge and prove them wrong. This will also help you remember that you still got it.

You have nothing to lose, believe you can and you will!

This is how to write a captivating opening paragraph

by Adedotun Adejoorin

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Don’t you just love a great opening line? It immediately draws you into another world, created by the writer. You feel like you are on a journey hence, you want to dig into the article as quickly as possible.

A captivating opening line allows you to take your readers to wherever you want. Sadly, not so many writers write great opening lines. Want to learn how? You need to do these four things;

1) Decide what you to achieve with your writing. Do you want to answer a question, relate an experience, or just make people laugh? Your opening paragraph should give us a sneak peek into what your article wants to achieve. So before you start writing, determine the purpose of the article.

2) Engage your reader. From your very first sentence, you must engage your reader right. Get your reader interested from the beginning of your article. A bad opening line will cause your reader to lose interest. Think of your first paragraph as a hook with which you want to draw your reader into your world. Your first paragraph should leave them craving for more.

3) Use facts, quotes, humor. You can use intriguing facts, thought provoking questions, provocative quotes or humor to begin your article. The aim is to make your reader know how interesting or important the information you want to pass to them is. When you start with a striking opening line, it becomes difficult for them to drop your work.

4) Re-write. After you have finished your work, go back to the opening paragraph and read it again. Does it still sound right? Does it accurately introduce your article to your reader? If it does not suit what you have written then you should change it.

A great paragraph will create an instant interest in your work. Do not forget the supporting sentences and when you are done, go back to the introductory paragraph and re-write it again. Remember you never get a second chance to make a first impression!

Share some of your opening lines with us. We will be glad to read them.

 

 

#StopTheCliche – There are other ways to describe what someone said

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Last week Friday, we started the #StopTheCliche series. Do you know that clichés can be a sign of laziness?  Some thoughts are worth expressing more meaningfully. This requires a bit of effort but doing it can easily turn your work from drab to fab.

The cliche we are address today is the word ‘said’ Here are 30 alternatives that you can use to describe what someone has said.

Admitted, announced, answered, argued, asked, blurted, bragged, declared, exclaimed, explained, gasped, groaned, hollered, insisted, interrupted, muttered, offered, panted, praised, promised, requested, responded, remarked, screamed, snapped, stammered , shouted,  whispered, wailed, whined, yelled.

One thing to learn about clichés is that these words are so common that we tend to add them in our work even when we do not need them. Your work will be much better if you use less cliche.

Now go back to that article and uproot that overused word!

#GrammarSeries – Common errors you probably make

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To become a better writer, you have to make sure that your command of the English language is top-notch. Although no one is perfect, you have to deliberately make sure that you constantly make efforts to improve.

That’s why today, we are taking you back to class! We will deal with words that are used wrongly in articles. Please read and learn a thing or two.

1. Advice / Advise. These two words have confused so many people. ‘Advice’ is a noun. It means a suggestion, guidance or recommendation.

Advise’ is a verb which means to give advice or offer suggestion. They cannot be used interchangeably.

Example

  • My advice is that you go to class today
  • I advised her to take a walk every day

2. Affect/ Effect. There is a difference between these two words. ‘Affect’ means ‘influence’, ‘Effect’ used as a verb means to ‘bring about’ or ‘cause’ but when it is used as a noun it means ‘result or consequence’.

Example

  • The decision of the Senate will affect the President’s speech tomorrow.
  • What is the effect of throwing waste into drainages?

3. Its/ It’s. This is one that gets so many people confused. ‘It’s’ is a contraction that means ‘it is’ or ‘it has.’ ‘Its ‘on the other hand, is a possessive pronoun. Possessive pronouns refer to something which belongs to someone or something.

Whenever you are confused on which to use try placing ‘it is’ or ‘it has’ in their stead. If the sentence sounds correct then use it’s, if it doesn’t please use its.

For example:

  • It’s 11 o’clock (it is 11 o’clock.) NOT its 11 o’clock
  • The dog wagged its tail NOT the dog wagged it’s tail.

4. Ascribe/ Subscribe. They do NOT mean the same thing. ‘Ascribe’ means to ‘attribute to’ or to ‘give credit to.’ ‘Subscribe’ on the other hand means to ‘follow’ ‘pay for’ or ‘agree with

For example:

  • The quote is ascribed to Chinua Achebe
  • I do not subscribe to the theory that government officials are above the law.

With today’s lesson, we know you’ll be able to avoid making these typical errors

Can’t find the right words to express yourself? You should try this

by Adedotun Adejoorin

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Words. Those delicate little blocks that can make or break your writing. They carry great emotions. They have a lot of power when used wisely but sometimes they can be elusive. So how do you find the right words to express yourself? How do you find the words which will communicate exactly how you feel to your readers?

No matter how spectacular your idea is, you won’t elicit the desired emotion from your audience without the right words. Words are building blocks for your writing. They help your writing come alive and bring the reader into your world. Your inability to use the right word to relay your idea will affect the overall presentation of your writing. One of the most important things that writers do is to relay emotions, feelings and thoughts. You don’t want your reader to just smile when you expect them to be jumping and shouting for joy.

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The tricky thing about words is that if you do not know the right words you cannot use them. This is why you have to invest in new words and use them as often as you can.

Whenever you cannot find the right words DO NOT settle for the nearest in meaning. Invest in your dictionary. This is what Gustave Flaubert said about finding the right words and we agree

“Whatever you want to say, there is only one word that will express it, one verb to make it move, one adjective to qualify it. You must seek that word, that verb, that adjective, and never be satisfied with approximations, never resort to tricks, even clever ones, or to verbal pirouettes to escape the difficulty.”

Don’t be satisfied with synonyms and approximations. The right word gets your reader excited, annoyed, anxious whenever you want.

Avoid clichés.

Once you are done with your first draft, don’t be too quick to publish the article or send it off to a publisher. Go over your work and make sure every word expresses the correct emotion.

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Never use a word because it seems fancy. Use it because it brings to life the idea you want to pass across.

This is a simple example:

There is a difference between Sandra went home and Sandra tiptoed home Tiptoed elicits a different emotion in your reader and it makes them ask the question, “Why would she have to tiptoe?”

As you write, remember that finding the right word is always worth it. It makes all the difference in your writing.

Are you ready to find your niche? Here’s what you need to do

by Adedotun Adejoorin

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In our previous post, we told you why you need to find your niche if you want to be successful as a writer. We’re sure you’ve started thinking of how to find your niche and we’re here to help you do just that. You will definitely find this helpful so keep reading!

To find your niche, here are the steps you need to take;

Identify the things you love. One of the best things that can happen to a writer is being able to write about what they love. What do you love? Can you imagine someone who is in love with fashion and entertainment having to write about why the economy of the world is suffering? That is a complete mismatch. Whatever it is that you love to do, whether it is sport, volunteering for a children event, farming and so on, write about it. You will most likely excel in that area if you do.

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Write about what you do. If you love what you do then you can leverage on the information and experience you have. This will help you to connect better with your readers as you would be able to give them real time advice. For example if you make or design clothes, why don’t you consider starting a blog or writing for a fashion magazine? This is one of the fastest ways of carving a niche for yourself.

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Write about that thing you’ve always wanted to try. Are you a lawyer but you have always wanted to learn how to play the piano? Then write about it. You could take your first piano class and write something on ‘5 things every beginner keyboardist has to know.’ That way, you can document your journey as you go.

Know the audience you want to reach. This is another way to carve out a niche for yourself. Who are you interested in talking to; stay at home mums, college students, artisans, politicians? Try to discover your preferred audience especially if you want to write professionally. Prospective clients will be thrilled to know that you focus on their target market already.

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BONUS POINT. If you are still stuck, participate in online conversations on blogs and websites that interest you, go for events and programs that you find exciting. One way or the other you’ll find things that resonate with your spirit and you will find your place as a writer.

After you have done all these, it is important to note that some niches are more lucrative than others so you have to decide whether you’ll stick with your innermost desires or align them with the market. Remember, you can always expand your horizon as long as it works for you.

Good luck finding your niche, let us know when you do!

3 reasons why you need to find your niche

by Adedotun Adejoorin

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Sports, business, technology, health and wellness, faith…what is your niche? A niche relates to the kind of content you will focus on as a writer instead of just writing about any and everything (which we don’t suggest you should do). Whatever you want to specialize in is totally up to you.

Have you ever been asked what your niche is as a writer and you went blank? Here are three reasons why you need to find your niche right now;

1. You’ll be more productive. Finding your niche is really important because it helps you become more productive. Overtime you get more familiar with the tiny little details in that field because you learn more, know more and can give more. You will probably get more work done because you focus on a particular industry.

2. You’ll develop expertise and become an authority. When you focus on content from the same industry, you will develop expertise in that field. You will become familiar with the industry and it will be easy to keep up with new trends. Finding your niche and sticking to it as much as possible also helps you speak more confidently about your area of specialization as time goes on.

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3. To build your portfolio. Focusing on a particular industry will help you build your portfolio which in turn will help you to become more visible to potential customers. When customers see that you focus on their industry they become more interested in working with you because you will be taken as a professional, one who knows his onions. Overtime you will have a lot of work to show to your clients when you have to pitch for a new job.

So if you do not know what your niche is yet, we advise you find out. You can send us an email (thesparklewritershub@gmail.com) and we’ll help you to discover your niche

Keep Sparkling!