Unlock the Muse – February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine’s Day! May the romance of this special day add a bit of passion to your writing!

Your writing exercise for this week is:

Rewrite the ending to your favorite book.

In honor of the holiday, make it your favorite romance novel. Or, give your favorite suspense novel a new romantic twist.

The last writing craft book I read is The Joy of Writing Sex, by Elizabeth Benedict. Somehow, it seems an appropriate conversation for today. Personally, I write a lot of middle grade and young adult fiction, where sex scenes aren’t necessarily appropriate. Even in my work intended for adults, I don’t often write about sex. Still, when the story calls for it, I want to be able to write it well.

Above all, writing fiction is writing about relationships between people. And what is sex but an intimate encounter between people. More than anything else, what I have taken away from this book is that a sex scene, like any other scene, needs to be about the writing. It shouldn’t be just about the sex, but rather should in some way advance the plot or reveal character.

This week’s grammar tip – That vs. Which. From Strunk & White’s Elements of Style:

That is the defining, or restrictive, pronoun, which the nondefining, or nonrestrictive.

The lawn mower that is broken is in the garage. (Tells which one.)

The lawn mower, which is broken, is in the garage. (Adds a fact about the only mower in question.)

The use of which for that is common in written and spoken language. Occasionally which seems preferable to that. But it would be a convenience to all if these two pronouns were used with precision. Careful writers, watchful for small conveniences, go which-hunting, remove the defining whiches, and by so doing improve their work.

Happy writing!

Please consider sharing your response to the writing exercise. Got a question? Just ask! Put it in the comments below, or send your question by email here:

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