Problem Words: Replacement words for story

One of the problems I run into all the time both here on the blog and over at Ron’s Amazing Stories is I am having to use the word “Story” a lot. I have tried to come use other words like tale, episode and such, but I am constantly getting stuck on this silly little word. So today I sat down with my word processor and found every word that suggests storytelling types or techniques.

Here is what I came up with:

Account: a retelling of an event or series of events, sometimes with a connotation of bias or at least subjectivity.
Anecdote: a short, entertaining story, which often involves the person telling it.
Allegory: a story that expresses ideas about human nature through the actions of the character undergoing a challenge.
Annals: a record of events, especially a yearly record, usually done in chronological order.
Chronicle: Basically the same as Annals.
Exemplum: an anecdote or similar story intended to provide a moral or argue a point. Also, a very cool word and by the way it is pronounced ig-zem-pluhm.
Fable: a story with supernatural or imaginary elements. It is often used to make an observation about human nature or present a moral.
Folktale: a tale originally passed down orally featuring vague or universal story elements.
Legend: a story that is significant to a culture and originally passed down as if it had actually occurred.
Myth: a commonly accepted or supposed factual account from the distant past that figuratively explains a cultural phenomenon. This includes Urban Legends and Folklore.
Narrative: a relation of factual or fictitious events. Also, spoken or written account of a series of connected events.
Parable: a short tale that a religious or moral principle.
Record: Again basically the same thing as annals.
Yarn: a story that is adventurous or humorous or both, and perhaps is a tall tale. Tall tales were common in the 19th century and are still considered today.

That is what I have come up with so far. Do you have one that I missed? Please help make this a complete list. I need more synonyms for the word story!



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Brief guide: How to format a children’s book

I put this together for a client this past week and I thought I would post it here.  This is not the complete guide to set up your children’s book, but I believe it is a good place to start.  There are a number of good books out there on the subject and I will update this blog with a few later this week.


Font and Paragraphing

Use a twelve point font like Times New Roman. (Courier is another acceptable option – but tends to use more room). Do not try to flag the attention of an editor by using splashy font.

Page 1 – Header information

You will want the header of the first page of your manuscript to be different than the rest of the manuscript (Note: To accomplish this in MS Word, go to File->Page Setup. Then click on the Layout tab. Check the Different First Page box. Now go to the first page of your document and put your contact information in the header block).

On the left side enter your:

    1. first and last name


  • street address



  • city, state and zip



  • phone number



  • Email address.


On the right side:

Specify your word count. Like “Word Count~ 500″. To place this statement on the first line of your header, you’ll need to set a Right Tab (Note: To do this in MS Word, click on that first line after your last name so your cursor is there. Then select from the menu Format->Tab. A pop-up window will appear. Under Tab Stop Position: enter 6″. Under Alignment, click on Right. Then click the SET button in that window. Now press the tab key on your keyboard and notice what happens. Your cursor will flush right).

Page 1 – Title your work

About half-way down the page. Enter your title in all caps. NO BOLDING. NO UNDERLINE. There is no need to put a byline since it’s assumed from the header. DO NOT PUT A COPYRIGHT on there. There is no need; your text is automatically copyrighted as soon as you write it.

Chapter Titles for Chaptered Books

If your book is chaptered, center the chapter title and write “CHAPTER ONE–CHAPTER TITLE” in all caps. Your subsequent chapters should each begin a new page, so insert a page break (Note:  To do this MS Word Select Insert-> Break. Click on Page Break).

Your story text

    • Indent paragraphs – To indent, use Tab key on your keyboard. Avoid using the space bar five times. That was the old school way of doing things before the arrival of the personal computer.


  • Spacing – One space is the standard now. Two spaces is used on a typewriter. So with that in mind, if you ARE using a typewriter, then follow the old rules.



  • Do not double-space (hit enter key twice) between paragraphs unless this is intentional for your story-telling.


Tags and Page Numbers

Starting with page two and every page thereafter a tag and a page number should appear in the header. The tag should include: Your last name, a slash and then keywords from the title. (For example: Author, Bobby’s Day Off – Page 2).  It should appear on the left side of your header.


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Word’s to Confuse III

We are going to continue on the subject of words that confuse. This time Ensure, Assure and Insure take center stage. Of course, the first point to make is that all of these are verbs and have the general meaning “to make sure”. Some experts will tell you that they are interchangeable, but in truth their usage is actually dependent on context. Let’s take a look at these guys in their own environments.

Assure – This word is used when you talking to a person, a group of people or even an animal. Assure is to use to remove doubt or anxiety. For example you can assure a panel of experts that your data has been double checked and verified. Simply put, only something that is alive suffers from doubt or anxiety. So, only they can be assured.

Ensure – This word is used to guarantee an event or condition has been met. For example you can ensure that you have enough spiked eggnog for the party by having extra ingredients on hand. In this case the extra materials are used to ensure the condition.

Insure – This word is used when something needs to be done to a noun (person, place or thing). Its most common usage comes in the form of an insurance policy. For example you can wonder if you are insured if one of your party guests falls into the pool. In this case liability is the issue and we can insure we are protected by having proper insurance.

There is a related verb, “secure”. This word is used when you take possession of a noun. For example you can secure the pool area by putting up barriers to keep party members from falling in. In this case you take an action to prevent a problem from occurring.


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Words to Confuse II

This time around we continue to look at words that confuse. I see this mistake all the time. When to use “to” or “too”? These two words are called homophones and are included with other pairs such as your/you’re, buy/by, miner/minor, weather/whether and stationary/stationery.

Too is an adverb, and actually has two different meanings. The first being: Excessively or to an excessive degree. The second usage is: in addition. Here are some examples of “too” being used in the excessive case “You worry too much” or “Isn’t it just too obvious?” In these cases, the adverb too precedes an adjective. Examples of too being used as “In addition” are “Mary is coming too” or “I want to go, too!”

“To” is one of the more widely used words in the English language and has several different definitions and parts of speech. In its most common usage, it is part of infinitive verb phrases, such as in “to eat” or “to go,” and as in preposition such as: “Let’s go to the store” or “Give it to me.”

On a side note: “Two” is simply the number 2, exclusively. In formal writing, numbers between 0-10 should be written out as in: “I have two sticks of gum.” While larger numbers are typically written in numerical format, as in “There are 3,433 kittens for sale at the pet store.”

When in doubt, use “to,” but remember that if you’re meaning to say “in addition” or “to an excessive degree,” use “too.”


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Words to Confuse

Welcome to another tip to help your improve your writing skills. This time we are going to talk about how words can get us in to trouble. Some words can look and sound similar, but knowing how to use the correct word goes a long way of improving your creditability in the writers market. In this tip we are going to talk about three words that were my personal bugaboo until I finally sorted it out. The words are: allusion, illusion, and the rare elusion. Heck even my word processor’s spell checker is stumped by elusion. All three of these words come from the Latin root ludere, which means “to play”. This same root word is used in the ludicrous and if I were a humorist I could make a very witty statement here. But, I will just leave that to your imagination.

Lets break these three little devils down and determine their usage:

First up is allusion – An allusion is a reference to something, but with special conditions. The reference is implied and not outright stated. If you look at the verb form of the word (allude) is makes perfect sense. So, think of an allusion as a playful attempt at something and you get the idea. (Example: You might have come across many literary works where allusion is made to Noah. The story of Noah in Genesis is often alluded to, where he represents a man who had no faults or is the only good man of his time.)

Next up is illusion – An illusion is something misleading or open to misinterpretation. The Latin term illusio simply means “a mockery.” If you think of an illusion as something that occurs when your mind plays tricks on you then you understand the meaning. (Example: He gave the illusion that he had the answer to the teachers question and hoped she would not call on him.)

And finally elusion – An elusion comes from the Latin word for “deception” and is the act of eluding, to avoid or evade. While this word is not used much in modern English it is still a good one to have a handle on. (Example: Pre-shot materials projected on three screens will create an elusion of depth and unusual dimension behind the dancers.)

There you have a brief overview of these three words. Taking the time to make sure that you are using the correct word in your writing project is the responsibility of the author and of course the editor. If you are not sure if you are using it correctly then look it up or simply use another word choice.


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Who? What? When? Where? Why?

When we write there are mistakes we make that can send our readers in to fits of frustration. Often times we forget the simple fact that: Just because I know what I am talking about, doesn’t mean my readers share that knowledge. My personal solution for this is to become the reporter.

There is basic information all people want to know no matter what subject is. So take the time and answer all the questions your readers might ask. Not everything you will write has a: Who, what, when, where, and why. However, you should at least ask yourself if it does. In solid writing techniques, omission of information is by plan, not a mistake. Thinking of your reader’s questions before you begin your project helps you organize your writing and makes your memos, reports, and letters as complete as an article in the New York Times.

So I would end with this quote:

Writing is the hardest work in the world. I have been a bricklayer and a truck driver, and I tell you – as if you haven’t been told a million times already – that writing is harder, lonelier, nobler and more enriching – Harlan Ellison


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Word Usage In Business Correspondence

Some words in the English language take a constant beating in business correspondence. Be one of those writers who use them properly and pleasantly surprise your readers. We have all had an email come in from a business or co-worker, only to get stuck on something that just does not make sense. Take a moment and read over your content before you send it not only makes you look better, but can build confidence the reader has in your company. Let me give you some examples of what I am talking about.

That vs. Which:

The word “Which” often follows a comma and introduces a phrase that provides additional information not essential to the meaning of the sentence. (Example: The testimony, which was transcribed by Marie, is mandatory reading.)
The word “That” introduces a phrase that is essential to the meaning of the sentence. (Example: The testimony that Marie transcribed is mandatory reading.)


Okay let’s get this one right. Hopefully does not mean hope! Hopefully is a state or frame of mind. Think of the end of a love letter where you might write, “Hopefully Yours”. Hope on the other hand means that you are looking to something. (Example: Hopefully, I will be in your area by Thursday. What you really mean to say is: I hope to be in your area by Thursday.)


Okay I am very bad with this one. I use it all the time and I very much wish to stop it. I am very happy to just slap this thing in just about anywhere to stress the fact that I am very excited about a subject. What a dumb thing to do you when you think it about. Is VERY bad that much more impressive than just plain old bad. You can make your sentences so much more impactful by saying what you mean and avoid using the word, “very”. (Example: I am very bad at over using the unspecific adverb, “very”. Why not Just say: I am bad at over using the unspecific adverb, “very”.)


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