Month: January 2016

 20 facets of transformative writing 

Transformative writing is different to other forms of writing. Coined by my lecturer Chris Thurgar-Dawson, transformative writing is unique. Creative writing is purely original, biographical novels are the fictionalised events of a real person, and fan fiction is a spin-off of different fiction. Whereas transformative writing is the power of retelling a story. Some may think of it as being re-creative writing, different aspects can be reinterpreted – characters, point of view, plot, language or even settings. Some works of fiction are already transformative writing. But there’s a few guidelines to follow. I’m going to share these guidelines I learned:

1. The story is closely based on a source text

2. Around 50% of the of the original story and 50% new elements are used. So there is room for some creative license, even though the text is adapted from its original. There’s a direct source text, rather than just an author with similar ideas  to you. This is probabily to ensure you aren’t just ripping off another writer’s work, but it can also make for interesting conversation.

3. The source text can be any media

Painting, poetry, photo, sculpture, life story…. The list is endless. Despite creative be work being original, every writer has their inspiration. Also, there is no limit to the number of source texts you can use, but any more than three might be hard to balance, as a rule of thumb.

4. No story is 100% original

There’s a theory stating that there are seven types of story. Postmodern writers believe that stories are collages of other stories. This is important for transformative writing, as transformative writing is a special kind of writing. To make a tale one’s own is a very special talent indeed.

5. Creative journals are important

Creative journals document any feedback, drafts, photos or personal thoughts whilst writing. Keeping drafts, illustrations, annotations, feedback and photos can all be useful for documenting progress. Mood boards, traditional notebooks, OneNote and even memos on the phone are all useful features.

6. Critical analysis is important

To criticise your own work is particularly difficult. Nobody likes pointing out or admitting the flaws they have.  Honesty is the best policy when writing  an essay on  your own work. Plus, does everyone know their own style? What you pick up on will be very different to what other will pick up on, and very few people can be honest and diplomatic at the same time.

7. Creative reflection

The reflection indicates the transformation through the drafts and decisions made when writing. Any influences or inspiration would occur here, along with various topics such as language.

8. Transformative writing is re-creative writing

Creative writing is pure imagination involved in fiction. Transformative writing is rewriting another piece in your own style. Think of it as a reboot of another piece of fiction. It can be hard to develop your own twist on the story.

9. It’s not something you learn outside the classroom

Meaning, you’ve probably  never thought about adaptations as transformative writing. Just recently, Russell T. Davies adapted A Midsummer Night’s Dream for TV, and changed the setting to what the Telegraphed termed as having a “megalomaniac dictator Theseus”, and the nymphs appearing more like alien life forms from outer space.

10. You as a writer also transform with your story

11. Drafting is important, since many key changes to the characters and story is seeing progressing in drafts. As you continue to write the chapters in the book, your ideas will probably change over time with feedback.

12. Plagiarism is a difficult issue

This is probably one of the most difficult issues to talk about when discussing transformative writing. If you’re writing for an academic assignment, use a bibliography and remember to cite your influences in your critical reflection. Use critical footnotes if there’s a direct quote or reference in your story.

13. And so is maintaining originality

Okay, so it’s probably a fair comment to say that nothing is 100% original. As I said earlier, nobody likes a copycat. So, staying fresh can be tricky whilst balancing being trendy. However, here are few helpful tips:


-point of view


-narrative voice

-Language e.g. txt T@lk, Middle English, a foreign language

-Character gender and/or race

Ideally, there should be a mix of these things to make your story different. But, if you ant to stay faithful to the story, this is also fine – just shake up the plot a bit.

14. There are some features which are not suitable for adaptation

It’s very difficult to adapt poetry into visual formats, and there are a few lines to be drawn when attempting to convert a story into a new medium. I wouldn’t recommend trying to write in a different style if the source text is from social media, because the only medium that could effectively convey the message would be photography.

15. Transformative writing is suitable for any genre

Having said this, history and fantasy genres do work especially well. this is because nobody really knows what actually happened, so creativity is much easier. Don’t be limited by writing style or medium, just go with what feels natural 🙂

16. Nearly every story is transformative writing

17. Keeping up with trends is key

Social media can be a great source of inspiration – from Facebook reactions, #CreativeWriting on Twitter and popular comments in news articles, there are hundreds of ways to be inspired. Metafictional webcomic artist Dorris McComics recently posted a comic about how people “react” to their content round them, from the character’s perspective.

18. A few recommended authors

Angela Carter

Salman Rushdie

Italo Calvino

These guys will put you in good stead, but there’s probably more notable writers. If you can think of any, just drop them in the comments section.

19. Autobiographical writing

I suppose you could interpret this as a form of transformative writing because nobody’s life is quite like it is in memoirs. Plus, some writers prefer to fictionalise life writing so they remain somewhat anonymous.

20. Authorship

There’s a quote which goes: “it’s not who did it first but who did it best”. This is normally applied to songs, but the same does apply to writing. Technically, you wrote your version of the story. but if it’s a translation or modern adaptation, there’s still some credit to the author.

I really hope you enjoyed this post.





Not your usual literary devices 

Everyone knows  what a simile is, and most people have heard of a metaphor. You won’t learn these phrases off by heart. I certainly haven’t, even after graduating. However, if you are a writer, this may spare you from using a literary dictionary. Well, not all the time, but it’s certainly good to learn something new every day. So, here are a few literary techniques that you may not have heard of before 

1. Eponym 

The name of something we associate with instead of the person e.g. Sandwich. Usually someone or something famous is substituted. It’s a very specific form of synecdoche. If the character has a particular nickname or epithet, this is also a form of eponym. 

2. Antimetabole 

Ever heard JFK’s famous “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” speech? Well, this term means rephrasing a sentence so the words are flipped like this. It’s often done for emphasis, or paralleling the meaning to show subtle differences in opinions. 

3. Antiphrasis 

When you use a word to mean the opposite of what you write. It can be a form of irony, disguised as a mistake. 

4. Dactylic meter 

Where we have a rhyming pattern of stressed, unstressed, unstressed in the syllables. If there are five feet, we have dactylic pentameter,if there are  two we have dimeter and so on. 

5. Par hyponian 

This is a logical assumption made when a sentence describes two ambiguous things going on. It can be used as an insult. Here is an example used: 

“My wife was sat in a field of flowers, I was with her. There was a moment between the beautiful, fragrant life form next to me and the flower” 

The assumption made is that surely the “fragrant life form” is the flower, not the wife. A backhanded compliment, if you will. 

6. Pathetic fallacy 

Where the weather reflects the mood of the characters, as a form of personification. The human attributes of emotions are reflected to certain weather elements to convey character or even writer interior thoughts.   Thomas Hardy is particularly effective for doing this in Tess of the D’urbervilles with the romance between Angel and Tess. 
And so there you have it, a beginners guide to a few literary devices that you can employ in your fiction. Please do expriment and see where it takes you. If you have any others to add to the list, or have any questions, please share your thoughts on the comments section below. 

20 things you should know about English

Grammar, spelling, punctuation and style are interesting components of writing. For some, a sense of good English is innate, like intelligence. For others, it’s an acquired skill. But, if there’s one thing most of us can agree on, it’s that there is no universally accepted definition of “good” English. Even the best grammarians would struggle to find the right synonym for an essay 100% of the time. Here’s a quick guide explaining some handy hints, and helpful pointers. Instead of laying down the law, let’s look at some quirks of English. 

1.  English is fluid

A lot of people imagine the rules of English to be carved in stone, like the ten commandments. This works very well for 5 year old children learning how to read and write in school, or non-native speakers of English. However, like the ten commandments, there are contradictions in the rules of grammar. Language is like water; adaptable, flowing and frequently changing shape. Words are added into the dictionary every year, and some people disregard the old school ways of grammar in favour of the more common. 

2. Grammar and style sometimes contradict each other

This problem happens a lot for poets. Slang, enjambment and archaic words contradict what many writers consider “good” style. As many hopeful Facebook philosophers know, it’s hard  have an on-point argument if there is a lot of bad spelling, misuse of words or homonyms. Not necessarily typos can defunct speech. 

3. Punctuation is originally based on breaths in speech

Technically, we speak in punctuation. In the Renaissance, when most people were illiterate, people had to guess the full stops and commas in sentences. They did this by listening for pauses, inflections for exclamations and questions, and tone of voice. Drama is a good example of how punctuation is employed, since the characters often speak in verse.

Nowadays, punctuation for the written word is different from the spoken word. This is because things like commas are used for more things than lists, pauses and asking questions. Most people do not necessarily realise this, and punctuation that you use to write is an acquired skill. 

4. You can never be the best editor because you can’t turn off your mental autocorrect

Everyone has a mental autocomplete in their mind. That’s why it’s very hard to spot your own mistakes on a page (it’s also the reason why your brain blends terrible + horrific = terrific). Like the algorithms used in predictive text, your subconscious squirrel brain is looking out for what it thinks the next word will be, learning individual preferences. If you really want to make sure it’s perfect,get someone to look over it. And no, your spellchecker does not count

 5. There is no such thing as perfect grammar 

Some people still use the word “homophone” for words that look or sound similar. In reality, it’s much more complex than that. Syllabuses can be used instead of syllabli, and with things such as a ghost subject existing, it’s impossible to have the perfect clarity all the time. 

Best books to read:

Collins Improve your writing skills

A back to basics guide to English grammar and punctuation. Each function is described in depth throughout the volumes, including commas, cliches, nouns, abstract content, sentence functions and the nine parts of speech. Utterly essential to cut down on excessive proofreading. 

The Art of Fiction by David Lodge

Lodge devotee each chapter to a plot  device, in chronological order of the sections of a book, and attributes an author who effectively employs this technique. Ideal if you have not attended a creative writing class (although there really is no substitute). 
The Little book of Clarity

This book proves that  clarity begins at home, and without a clear mind, your writing will be cluttered. Graphologists who study handwriting can detect the writer’s mental state by how wobbly the letters are, whether the ink is smudged. So, in order to make use of the creative creature in you, you must first gain zen and mental clarity. 




Word association: different types of homonyms 

 Homonym is a catch all term for similar words. This matrix gives a general definition of the different types. It’s sometimes confusing which is which, but it’s interesting in the English language. In between synonyms being a differently spelled and pronounced word meaning the same, and the antonym being the opposite of a  word in meaning, there’s a grey area in English that exists. This matrix above sums up exactly what the differences are. 

Heteronym – different meaning, different pronunciation, same spelling 

Two words that are spelt the same, but the pronunciation and meaning are different. Essentially, the opposite of a homonym. For instance, read for present tense and read in past tense. 

Homograph – same spelling, different meaning

Two words spelt the same, but have a different meaning. The dictionaries sometimes insists that they sound differently, but others imply they might be pronounced the same.  If the words are pronounced differently but spelt the same, it makes them a heteronym. 

Heterograph: – same sound, different spelling

Spelt differently and means something different, but sounds the same. Think of bow and bough, as a classic example. Or even better, check and cheque. 

Homophone: – same sound, different meaning 

Two words that sound the same, with a different meaning. They may or may not be spelled the same. Carat and carrot are fabulous examples

Homonym – same spelling, same pronunciation, different meaning 

Spelled and pronounced the same, but different meaning. Unlike the others, to be a homonym, the spelling and pronunciation need to be exactly the same. Beams and beams is a good example. 


Two very different word with a similar meaning. These words may have a common theme,  such as rays and beams for sunshine. 

Polysemy: – same meaning

The same word with multiple similar meanings in various contexts. Perhaps more to do with grammar, as this might change with tense. 

In poetry

In poetry, rhyming words and syllables are pretty important. As we know, the ideal solution is to have a perfect, or near perfect rhyme. 

Perfect rhyme: 

Where almost the whole words are identical beam and  and beam are perfect rhymes,maps are slight and flight. 

Imperfect rhyme: 

A rhyme between a stressed and unstressed syllable like wing and caring. Note here the two words do not have the same number of syllables. 

Weak rhyme: 

A rhyme on on two unstressed syllables, hammer and carpenter. Normally, there is either two stressed, a stressed and an unstressed or a stressed following two unstressed. 

Half rhyme: 

A rhyme on matching final consonants. these words sound similar but not the same, Roxie and Lexie. Now, it’s very popular to be seen in rap music as a form of creative license. 


All Consonants match, but not vowels, like tall and tell. Wilfred Owen is famous for using this type of of rhyme in his poetry. 


Where a single vowel in two words match, like scrape and strap. An unusual form of rhyme in only one type of vowel matches, rather than a whole word. 


Only the last syllable must rhyme here. The words will probably be placed at the end of melodious verse, like in John Donne’s “lecture upon the shadow ” with the rhyme of spent and went. The stress is on the final syllables, like rhyme and sublime.


Also known as a feminine rhyme. The stress is on the second from last syllables, like picky and tricky. So two syllables are rhyming in a verse. The final syllables are unstressed. 


The stress is on  the the third or ante penultimate syllables, like  cacophanies and Aristophanes. Three syllables are are rhyming here. Dactyl syllables can be carried over more prosaic verse like in a play, meaning they are sometimes stressed over three words in a stands. 

Eye rhyme: 

two words that are spelt similarly are called eye rhymes. In the past, they might’ve been produced differently than the usual contemporary pronunciation. Cough and bough are eye rhymes, as are love and move. 

Mind rhyme: 

Where the word supposed to rhyme is implied by the writer, thus allowing the reader to fil in the blanks. Enjambment or sentence fragmentation might be used to to cover up a rhyme that could be rude:

One very hot day in the summer last year

A young man was seen swimming round Brighton Pier;

He dived underneath it and swam to a rock

And amused all the ladies by shaking his

Fist at a copper who stood on the shore

So far, pier and year are rhyming. If it weren’t for enjambment, a word rhyming with rock would be needed. We’re putting money on it being cock (yep, I went there). What I’m Getting at is the writer knows your brain should  autocorrect the word that disrupts the pattern of the rhyme. 


Two sentences that that rhyming sounds, but the words are spelled differently. It’s essentially a long string of multiple homophones with the same same sounds mirrored in every word. In French, it’s called rime riche, of more than three rhyming phonemes. The equivalent in English is “I scream for ice cream”. 

Gall, amant de la Reine, alla, tour magnanime!

Galamment de l’Arène à la Tour Magne, à Nîmes.

Alternate rhyme: 

Also known as a broken rhyme, it is also a form of enjambment. Either two rhyming end lines, or a switch between A and B rhymes. Seen commonly in poems such as “The Raven” with lore and more rhyming. 

Tongue twisters: 

Like Holorhyme, only with difficult phonemes so the words are mixed up. ‘She sells sea shells on the sea shore’ is a well known example here.