Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sharpen Your Craft

As writers we must not only work our craft, we must hone our craft. ACFW provides plenty of opportunities to do that regardless of the level of writing through on-line critique groups, Novel Track, Genesis contest, and loops. The annual conference also is set up to aid all writers from newbie to profit-making professional.

Plenty of fine websites provide helpful tools for quick and reliable reference. Right here on Hoosier Ink we address writing issues. For instance, you can flit over to Steph Pritchard’s “If I Were a Butterfly” on subjunctive mood. Other sites such as  and act as traffic cops at the intersection of sloppy diction and proper English. One site that guides you to other helpful places is

While computer use increases availability for those hands-on or hard to find questions, sometimes it’s best to hold a book in our hands as we alternately read and work exercises. There’s something about physically recording work that aids in learning.

What is your favorite craft-of-writing source? What is one idea that held great take-away value for you? Do you have a favorite site to check grammar?

Mary Allen, a lifelong Hoosier, has authored many articles and two books of poems, “Journey to Christmas” and “Ten Days to an Empty Tomb”. She also contributed stories to “Kernels of Hope” published by Majesty House. Allen was named La Porte County Poet Laureate 2010-2011. Follow her online at She blogs monthly for, a site about the Midwest.


  1. One of the best things I've done to sharpen up is to join a crit group. Following that, Donald Maas is my hero. Also, simply reading and reading and reading other works helps tremendously. As for grammar, I do admit to depending on my crit group for fixes as I'm comma-impaired and there simply is no hope. It's incurable.

  2. Mary,

    One of the helpful ACFW loops is the course loop. Each month an author shares information on an important topic for writers. For example, this month (April) the class is on PUGS. So if you can't resist those adorable little dogs ... no, that kind of Pugs! It stands for Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling.

    That reminds of a story of an English teacher who was visiting a friend, and when she got to the house, the boy violated every rule in the English book in greeting her. "Young man," she said, "where's your grammar?" "She in kitchen bakin' cookies."

  3. Karla, Maas is great. I love being a writer because I can chalk reading time up as research or work-related. Jeff, sharing the grammar joke with the family.

  4. Great points, Mary. The Chicago Manual of Style works well, esp. as most fiction publishers use it as their guiding grammar light. I recommend Purdue's OWL site, too, to the Genesis entrants I'm now judging. If only some of them would check BEFORE they submit!