Writing Tips: Denotation vs. Connotation


Definition: A denotation is the dictionary definition of a word.

Example: One example of denotation would be stating that the word cheap means inexpensive.


Definition: A connotation is a definition of a word, but with cultural and personal feelings added in.

Example: One example of connotation would be that the word “cheap” often has a negative meaning, or connotation in this case. For instance, when someone says something was “cheaply made”, it’s often taken to mean that the item wasn’t made very well and won’t last very long.


Using Denotations and Connotations in Writing:

As writers, denotations can’t be the only thing we focus on when we write. We also have to look at the connotations of words. For instance, when you go to describe a character as a more dominant person, you have many words to choose from. You could use words like assertive, aggressive, or pushy. However, although all of these have a similar denotation, they have very different connotations. Out of these three words, assertive is the nicest as it means someone is willing to assert their opinions. The word aggressive implies potential violence, and the word pushy implies that the person tends to force things onto people. The word you would use would obviously depend on the character, but word choice is very important. As a writer, you have to consider the connotations of the words you use, in and out of context. Readers only get to know your characters and settings and such through text, they don’t get to have you there to describe what you meant. As such, it’s best to make sure you pick the best word for your specific meaning to make sure your writing comes off as you meant it to.


Horse Writing Resources

Horse Breeds:

http://www.horsechannel.com/horse-breeds/all_landing.aspx (listed alphabetically)

Horse Colors and Markings:


Horse Care:


English Horse Training:


Western Horse Training:


Horse Tack Guide:


Horse Tack Cleaning:


Horse Tack Fit:



Figurative Language: Part One


Definition: A simile is a comparison between two or more things using the words like or as.

Examples: Her eyes were as vibrant as the forest. He fought using swords like a master.


Definition: Metaphors are comparisons between two or more things without using the words like or as.

Examples: Sam broke her heart when he left. A sea of mist came slithering through the forest. (Technically the second example is also personification, as mist cannot slither.)


Definition: Hyperbole is an obvious exaggeration of something, whether it by the size of something, the amount, or something else.

Examples: There were ten billion ants crawling on the counter. The fish was so big it ate my boat and the homework on it!


Definition: Oxymorons are when two opposites are put together in the same description.

Examples: The cold water made her hands burn.


Definition: Onomatopoeia is when sound words are used for noise.

Examples: Bang! Boom! Splat! Bark. Ribbit. Meow. Creak.


Definition: Alliteration is when two or more consecutive words share the same sound. In some cases, the words don’t have to be consecutive if there’s enough of them in the sentence.

Examples: Sally sat silently in the sand. James jumped over the jagged metal.


Definition: Personification is when something that isn’t human is described like one or given the traits of one.

Examples: The shadows danced on the walls. The door hinges screeched out in agony as the door was closed. The wind whispered through the trees.


Definition: Synecdoche is when you use part of something to stand for the whole. This also is what it’s called when you use a material to refer to the whole.

Examples: I asked for her hand in marriage. Jane laid out her mother’s finest silver.


Definition: Metonymy is when you use something related to something to reference it.

Examples: The orders came directly from the crown. Who will claim the throne? The suits are in the courtroom now.


Weapon and Fighting Reference Vi

Here are some weapon and fighting videos that we compiled a little while back for reference purposes. We use them for writing, but you could probably use them as references for writing, art, anything.

Weapon Videos

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3n7MKHEwA9xXBErhXYZbMQ (this channel in general)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l76lDYHsLAs (documentary, fighting with)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z143thJWRBQ (techniques/duel)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsR-C_P98r0 (sword and dagger)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYRJttpKmRM (documentary, history there of)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hfLZozBVpM (two handed greatsword)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfQ0tzYxIG8 (scottish greatsword)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMe0tBBOgCs (staff vs staff)

Unconventional Weapons

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OuMsPQeKT0 (cane sword)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNH55EMGyO8 (chain whip)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56xXUEyi_e8 (chain whip)


http://legacy.fordham.edu/Halsall/ancient/zeno-paradoxes.asp (Zeno paradoxes about arrows)

http://margo.student.utwente.nl/sagi/artikel/longbow/longbow.html (lots of technical stuff)


How To Properly Format Your Manuscript

Here are some things that are usually considered best practices in the writing world. Some of these things will be obvious, and many of them are actually the default settings of most word processing programs, but they’re still good to know. Also, even if I mark something as usually being the default setting, please double-check your own settings. You might have changed them at some point and forgotten about it. Always read the publisher’s specific instructions, no matter what you’re submitting, as it may deviate from these suggestions.

Copies: If you are submitting a manuscript physically, do not send them your only copy. Keep a copy for yourself. If you are sending a manuscript digitally, make sure you have the file backed up. I’ve honestly started writing mostly in Google Drive, as it saves any changes you make automatically. And if my computer bites the dust, I can always log into my Google Chrome account on a different computer and retrieve my work. Even if you don’t want to use Google Drive, please backup your files on a flashdrive or on another online service regularly. The worst thing is losing months or years of work when it could have been prevented.

Printing: Print ONLY on one side of the page. Most publishers hate double-sided manuscripts.

Text: Make sure your text is aligned to the left of the page, except for chapter titles, which are centered. (All text is normally aligned to the left in default settings)

Font: Times New Roman or Courier New

Font Size: 12-Point

Font Color: Black (Usually Default)

Paper/Background Color: White (Usually Default)

Margins: One inch margins on all sides. (Usually Default)

Spacing: Double-Spaced

Paragraphs: Indent half an inch from your normal margin line. (Usually Default)

File Types: If you are submitting a manuscript online, always make sure it is one of the file types the publisher accepts. If they only accept .rtf files, do not send them .doc files.

***Important Note on Fonts: Some publishers prefer Times New Roman, some prefer Courier New. Some will accept both. Read their instructions before you format font. If they will take both fonts, many actually prefer Courier New because the font is bigger and much easier on an editor’s eyes.

Scene Break Symbol: Usually a # is used for scene breaks, indented to look like the beginning of a paragraph or centered in the middle of the line.

Chapters: Chapters always start on a new page, with the title of the chapter at the top. Start a new chapter about one-third of the way down the page and put a few lines (2 or 3) between the centered chapter title and the chapter’s text.

Title Pages: Title pages tend to be done differently depending on the company. If you’re submitting your manuscript online, you might not even need one, as many publishers have an online form that takes the place of the traditional title page. As always, read the publisher’s specific instructions. Most title pages have the title of the work centered in the middle of the page, with the byline below that. A byline is the line that says By: Jane Smith, or whatever your pen name happens to be. If you want your work to be published under your name, then put your name in the byline. If you want it published under a pen name, put that in the byline. Your real name goes with your address, email, and sometimes phone number. I’ve seen this information put in the bottom right corner, but this isn’t always the case. Your word count could also be in the bottom corner with your personal information, or right below your byline. DO NOT put a fake pen name in your personal info section, unless you want your bank to be very confused when you try to deposit a check made out to someone who is not you. If you have an agent, often their information will also go on this page.

Headers: In manuscripts, the page number (not counting the title page) normally goes in the top right corner. Depending on the publisher, they might ask for the header to include your title and/or your last name as well, in a format like this: Smith/1. Sometimes it will be something similar to this, but not quite this. This is sometimes not required if your manuscript is submitted online. If it is, read that publisher’s specific instructions.


Action Writing Video Refences

Here’s a list of video resources for various action scenes (whether it’s for writing, art, or just for fun). Beside each one will be a small description of what’s in each video.

Fighting in General

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3n7MKHEwA9xXBErhXYZbMQ (Amazing channel by people who make these weapons) 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHP4pSQvbxk (Polish saber fighting demonstration)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEG-ly9tQGk (fast archery explanation/demonstration)

Martial Arts

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hXjr_7bSdg (Krav Maga Compilation)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63ENGr82p0o (Aikido Competition)

Parkour/Freerunning (Warning: People Hanging from Extreme Heights)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVILaXvspcU (Compilation)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMmrDpsYr0s (Compilation)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUHEeFYJt-M (Compilation)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMi0kEzXl8o (Compilation)

Horseback Riding 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcAOJmXwbaE (Casual Jumping)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwFFZj6zICI (Jumping Compilation)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7TyAHqgl1M (Jumping Competition)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLGZbeC1kzc (Horse Racing on a Formal Track)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVbMdU5pn-I (Informal Beach Race)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Rp0xmcVKSg (Horse Vaulting Competition- Women)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5ZaQNoMUWQ (Horse Vaulting Competition- Men)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vY3wmWT-sb8 (Lipizzaner Stallions Dancing)


NOTE: Full Metal Jousting is an entire show dedicated to this, if anyone is interested. The first link below is part of the first episode and will give you a decent idea of the show.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48BS6mM8vd4 (Full Metal Jousting Part of Episode 1)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20GKCMMFDYk (Looks like some Renn Fair Jousting)


7 Rules of Roleplaying Etiquette

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is by no means a perfect list. This is a basic list of things that should be considered when roleplaying (RPing) with other people. The most important thing to remember is to be considerate of the people you are RPing with.

1. Read the rules specific to the RP and ask questions if need be. Most RPers are happy to answer your questions.

2.  Ask permission before joining an RP that has already started.

3. If you are running an RP, be sure to be reasonable with your requirements. For example: do not limit the amount of characters people can have unreasonably, and remember: RPs are fun because no one knows what is going to happen next, since other writers can be unpredictable. Take away that element, and you might as well write by yourself.

4. Make sure to find the limits of the people you write with. Some people are uncomfortable with certain types of scenarios. Usual triggers may include, but are not limited to: abuse, inordinate amounts of violence, sex scenes, sexual assault, children and/or animals being harmed, et cetera. Remember, we are all here to have fun, not to make each other uncomfortable. If rules about the above are not listed in the RP rules, then just use your own judgment to make sure you are considerate to your fellow roleplayers.

5. Do not take control of anyone else’s characters. You do not decide how that character reacts to that situation, that character’s writer does.

6. Do not ignore other RPers. If your character goes off on a scouting mission or something and needs a scene to describe that, feel free, but the entire point of an RP is to interact with the others, so that everyone can have fun and improve their skills.

7. Be respectful of other RPers. Remember, they are people too. Not just usernames. They have the right to leave the RP at any point if it makes them uncomfortable, or simply does not meet their incoming expectations. RPs can be spontaneous and unpredictable. That’s half the fun.


Writing Dystopias

Writing Dystopias

A dystopia is, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives”. It is the opposite of a utopia, which is a sort of perfect world. Dystopias have been made famous by works such as 1984, Animal Farm, and Brave New World. More modernly, series like Hunger Games and Divergent have come out featuring dystopias. While all these books show very different types of dystopias, all of them feature certain common elements.

An Us vs. Them Mentality

Many dystopias start with an Us vs. Them Mentality. In many dystopias, this is a hatred of people based on political views. However, this mentality can be fostered in many different factors, including, but not limited to: race, sex, gender identity, religion, nationality, social class, and species (in sci-fi or fantasy). Essentially, to get into and stay in power, the dystopian leader(s) spew hatred for other groups. They make it out to be “Us vs. Them” to create hatred for another group, often a minority. Using this hatred, they make themselves out to be saviors and protectors and continue to vilify this group to stay in power. For instance, Hitler made a point of blaming Germany’s post-World War I problems on minority groups in the country, specifically on Jewish people. By making the Jewish people seem like villains, he was able to get power and stay in it. However, the side effect of creating and using this fear and hatred was genocide. Us vs. Them Mentalities are very, very dangerous and inspire people to do awful things. It makes the vilified group seem subhuman to the oppressing group and basically equates them to vermin. And, in doing this, these groups spark a vast and dangerous array of hate crimes that threaten the integrity of the society. Dystopian governments also do this to have a group to use as a scapegoat. Essentially: if things go wrong, it’s not their fault. It’s the fault of the vilified groups. For instance, according to Hitler, the state of the German economy wasn’t the fault of the government. It was the fault of the Jewish people, and so it was perfectly alright to find ways to deal with this drain on Germany’s resources. However, this led to nothing but genocide, the loss of six to eleven million human lives. And for what? For nothing more than to give a terrible man the stairway to gain power and the footing to keep it.

Silencing of Dissenters

Dystopias also tend to silence the dissenters. One of the top ways they do this is by vilifying the group of people speaking out or by saying they belong to a group that’s already vilified. For instance, if someone lived in the period of Protestant Reformation in Europe and spoke out about the murdering of early Protestants, they were often called a Protestant themselves. Another example of this would be a government trying to jail journalists for covering something in a manner that they didn’t like, for instance. Essentially, this goes back to the Us vs. Them Mentality of if you’re not with us, you must be against us, which means you’re one of them. And by equating anyone who goes against them to the hated group, they make them lose all credibility to much of the population being controlled. They also use this technique to make it okay to imprison or kill those who are doing nothing more than speaking out about real injustices in their society.

Alternative Facts

Another habit that dystopian societies have is feeding blatant lies and incorrect figures to their public. Essentially, the government begins to censor what is being told to people in the society and gets rid of anything that opposes their “alternative facts”, or what they tell the public to keep them under control. An example of this would be, for instance, if a government tried to deny a fact that had proven time and time again by the scientific community. Like climate change, for example. However, even worse would be if the government tried to censor these findings and keep the public from knowing about them. Some of the ways it could potentially do this would be through taking over the government organizations and forcing them to stay silent so that they could be censored. However, such censorship is one of the first signs of a dictatorship and dystopia. When you take away your people’s voices and their right to the truth, they’re no longer people. They’re tools to be controlled and manipulated through fear and hatred of other groups. People should have free access to information and science that does not threaten peace or national security, and when a government starts removing these things, it’s nothing more than the government abusing its power to control its citizenry.


Basic Character Sheet

Basic Information






Special Abilities:

Physical Information






Hair Style:


Distinguishing Features:

Voice Description:

Physical Disabilities, Disorders, or Diseases:

Mental Information




Empathy Levels:

Sexual Orientation:

Romantic Orientation:




Mental Disabilities, Disorders, or Diseases:


Significant Family Members:

Significant Friends:

Significant Other(s):

Living Situation:

Financial Situation: