One of the things that my father-in-law loved about me when we first met was that I had my own power tools. But since my husband is so good at fixing stuff, I’ve slacked off. As a result, I’ve gotten really rusty and hesitant about using some of the really dangerous things and our garage is a scary reminder every time I’m in there. I’ve actually gotten scared of using some of them! But lately, I’ve been slowly rediscovering that there are some power tools I can use to make my life easier. It’s been scary, but fun.

In a lot of ways, writing is like my garage. There are writing tools that can simply make a mess of your poetry or prose if you don’t use them purposefully or correctly. As a result, many new writers simply live in terror of them and will spout truisms like, “Never use being verbs!” Or “Flashbacks are evil!” Or “Cut out all adverbs!” The truth is that every tool in the writing toolkit has value including backstory, adverbs, passive voice, viewpoint switching, or any of a truckload of things you’ve been told to avoid. The key isn’t to keep your hands off; the key is to learn how to use the tool properly.

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