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Is Flash Fiction right for you?

  Want to learn more about Flash Fiction? If you live in the SF Bay Area, you are invited to attend the August 17, 2017 Writers Forum when presenter, Peg Alford Pursell, will talk about Flash Fiction: The Power of Writing Short. “Flash fiction isn’t simply fast fiction. It’s storytelling writ big—by writing short. Miniatures hold so much power that authors have turned to them to write highly successful novels and memoirs. Learn more about the short short and explore its potential to enliven and deepen your writing.”  — Peg Alford Pursell 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm Copperfield’s Books, 140 Kentucky St, Petaluma Free Read about Flash Fiction— What it is and what it is not Places to submit Flash Fiction Smokelong Flash Fiction Online Pulp Literature Fireside Fiction Note from Marlene: Whether your write short, long, fast, or slow. . . Just Write!  

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Back in the swing of things

Hi, It’s been a while since I have posted because there have been lots of Happening Things going on here at my sunny place in Northern California. We began renovating our yard in October in preparation for our youngest son’s wedding in June. Eight and a half months of hauling, digging, pulling, moving, planting, paving . . . and our yard is beautiful and hopefully will be easier to maintain in our later years. The wedding was awesome, amazing, and inspiring. Just as I returned the last wedding item, my 85-year-old mother passed away. I’m at peace with that and happy she is no longer in pain. In anticipation of possible after-wedding let-down, I planned a huge project, which I am in the middle of. More will be revealed in the autumn. So, even though I haven’t been able to post here, I haven’t been idle. I’m going to get…

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Flash Fiction – What it is and is not.

When I prepared this blog post, I neglected to note the source. I only have “White” as the author. I considered not posting this, but I love this definition of flash fiction. If you know who “White” is, please, let me know. Flash Fiction According to White, flash fiction “combines the narrative grip of traditional short fiction with the compression, imagery and allusiveness of poetry. A good flash tale instantly intrigues us, may also momentarily bewilder us, and delivers an emotional jolt to the solar plexus—all in fewer than 1,500 words.” White lays out the steps to writing flash fiction. Briefly: The best flash stories are bona fide stories in which a viewpoint character struggles with internal or external conflict. Aims for intrigue and complications. Includes unique ways the protagonist struggles with the problem. A lesson is learned or an epiphany experienced. Uses sensory detail. What Flash Fiction is not A flash story isn’t…

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Make Sense of Your World Through Writing

“Portable Corona number 3. That’s my analyst.” — Ernest Hemingway Heal Through Writing “Several incidents contributed to social psychologist James W. Pennebaker’s interest in ‘healing writing.’ But when his parents’ visit during college launched a bout of the asthma he thought he’d left behind in the dry Texas of his childhood, he realize climate wasn’t to blame; his emotions were. Once he recognized the connection, the asthma attacks stopped.” —“Writing to heal,” by Gail Radley, May 2017 The Writer magazine. Pennebaker has conducted multiple studies indicating that writing can lead to healing. Dr. Edward J. Murray investigated healing through writing and concluded “’It seems that putting our thoughts and feelings into language helps confront them, organize them, and wrest the meaning from them. . .” —Gail Ridley, May 2017 The Writer magazine. Perhaps we can make sense of our world by using freewrites as a vehicle. Note: If you are experience troubling…

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Mini memoirs unfold naturally

Remember the joke: “How do you eat an elephant?” “One bite at a time.” Same with writing memoir . . . one incident at a time. “Whether your life story has an over-arching motif or you plan to cobble together a montage of more diverse meditations, the project can seem less overwhelming if you approach it as a series of mini memoirs—two-to three-page essays . . . pivotal points. . . in the broader portrait of your life.” Richard Campbell, January 2017 Writers Digest “The beauty in approaching your life story in terms of mini memoirs is that when it comes to themes, you don’t have to pick just one. Write scenes or vignettes on each theme that speaks to you. You may find that mini memoirs unfold more naturally than the more unwieldy, longer story you have to tell—and that they build momentum strong enough to carry you through…

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Details are critical

When telling stories, details matter. You know that. Details, especially sensory details, enhance your story and allow your reader to: ~ Fully enter the world you are creating ~Suspend disbelief ~ Connect emotionally with your characters “All you need to build your setting is in the world around you. Observe, observe, observe.” — Elizabeth Nunez, January 2017 Writer’s Digest magazine. Elizabeth Nunez: “. . . like me, you probably wanted to be a writer because you found a lot of joy and pleasure by making up stories in your head. I love living in my imagination—so much so that when I was younger, my siblings would say: ‘Divide everything Elizabeth tells you in half. One half is true and the other is make-believe.’” Can you relate to that? I bet you can! “The emotions and conflicts your characters experience can be made more vivid by the setting you choose.” Nunez…

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Why should you use strong verbs?

Action words “A French research team found that action words (kicked, stomped, raced) fire up the motor cortex, which governs how the body moves. Even more specific, describing body parts, such as an arm or a leg, activates the part of the brain that controls arm and leg movement. Using evocative language also wakes up a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which activates long-term memories and plays a significant role in how a reader’s mind turns language into a meaningful experience.” Writer’s Digest, Sept. 2016 And that’s why it’s important to use strong verbs. Make a list of strong verbs and action words.  Keep your list handy.  Use it like a thesaurus when you are stumbling for that strong verb that’s on the tip of your tongue, within your grasp, but not quite accessible. Or, use a thesaurus. To learn more about using strong words to convey emotion, action and…

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Use emotions in your writing.

  “Readers covet an emotional experience above all else. When you write scenes, use all the methods you can to help your readers feel the emotions you want them to have—sadness, anger, confusion, mistrust, love, lust, envy, greed and so on. If you want readers to hate your character, show him being despicable to someone who doesn’t deserve his wrath or to someone he supposedly loves. The more you draw readers in to the emotional experience, the more they will engage, and the more likely they’ll want to read your next book.” Excerpted from the September 2016 issue of Writer’s Digest magazine There are over 300 prompts on The Write Spot Blog. Choose one and practice incorporating emotions in your writing. For example:   Physical gestures can reveal emotions . . . Prompt # 211  Just write!  

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Figuring out the important thing

“Writing essays is like therapy because you’re figuring out: What was the important thing in that incident? ”   —   Etgar Keret Keret, an “acclaimed Israeli writer . . . known for his unique and distinctive writing style” began writing essays after the birth of his son. “. . . because I’m sensitive about family issues. . . It never stops me from writing it, but it might stop me from publishing it.”  He wrote personal essays to “have a literary tombstone” for his father.  He is able to create work that is “moving and deeply affecting in only a few pages.” Excerpted from the February 2017 issue of The Writer magazine. Your turn: No pressure to write the next great American novel, just write what you know, what you experience. Write about your trip to the grocery store where you observed an act of kindness or had a weird encounter….

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Nostalgia and writing

When responding to a writing prompt, you are completely free to write the absolute truth, with no worries about what anyone will think.  You are also free to write fiction. You have the freedom to write whatever you want . . .  these writings are called freewrites. There are over 300 prompts on The Write Spot Blog. You can choose one at any time and just write. Sometimes our writing takes us to memories from our childhood, a very powerful place that is important and so intoxicating. From Writers Dreaming, by Naomi Epel,  chapter by James W. Hall: “One of the things that I’ve discovered through reading a lot of best-sellers, studying a lot of popular fiction for courses that I’ve given at the university, is that there are certain recurrent, mythic qualities in books that we could consider, from an elitist academic viewpoint, to be pulp or low-life, mass-market…