Just Write

Emulate Writers to Improve Your Writing

The following is an excerpt from “Train Your Eye for Better Writing,” by Tess Callahan, September 2017, Writer’s Digest: “I encourage my students to read deeply a broad range of writers, and after each one, try writing a few sentences in that wordsmith’s style. For example, take a signature line from William Faulkner. . . and, while keeping the sentence structure intact, pluck out all of the nouns and verbs and replace them with your own. Don’t place these emulated lines directly into your own writing. . . Instead, the idea is to practice emulating lines so that the many different styles can work their way into your brain, spin around in the blender of your subconscious, and serve to inform your own unique voice. No art form exists in a vacuum. The impressionists were friends and rivals who hung around in the same cafes, shared, traded and borrowed, and…

Prompts

A tradition involving your grandparents. Prompt #340

“As the years slip past, we become more and more aware of what’s really important in life. With every passing season, we see more clearly and know more surely that the love and traditions a family shares are treasures beyond value.” — A Grandparent’s Legacy: Your Life Story in Your Own Words by Thomas Nelson It occurs to me (Marlene) that we think our lives are boring. We think “No one wants to hear about me.” But. . . aren’t you curious about your grandparents and your ancestors? Maybe you are lucky and know all about them. If you are like me, you know little about your family that came before you. So, write your stories. Write stories about your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles. I bet someone will be interested. I bet more than one person will be interested. Write about a tradition involving your grandparents. Or about anyone in…

Just Write

Fire Up The Reader’s Brain 

“Once you are clear about how to choose your scenes, develop them to create ‘the dream’ of your memoir. The term ‘fictional dream’ comes from John Garner’s The Art of Fiction in which he writes that we weave a world for our readers with every detail we include —every scene, description, character and piece of dialogue. When we fail to offer continuous cues to scenes in that world, the reader falls out of the dream. The best way to create this dream is to write vivid scenes that stimulate the brain to see, feel and taste that world. Research in the neuroscience of writing demonstrates that when we read a story with sensual details, our brain fires up in the areas of visualization, taste and sound.” Excerpted from “You Must Remember This” by Linda Joy Myers, The Writer February 2016 Posts about using sensory detail in writing: Use Sensory Detail…

Just Write

Does your memoir have a theme?

Should your memoir have a theme? Yes, according to Brooke Warner. “Your memoir has an atmosphere, the air a reader breathes, and it’s called theme. Its presence is felt in every scene, whether or not it’s explicitly named by the author.” —Brooke Warner, “Back to Port,” The Writers, February 2016 “If your theme is vague, such as transformation, try to articulate what initiated your transformation.”  Warner gives the example of Wild  by Cheryl Strayed and H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, both about transformation while working through grief. Find your theme and tell your story. Read Brooke’s guest blog post, here on The Write Spot Blog: Why Keep Writing When No One Is Listening. Just Write!

Prompts

Rewrite “What I Did This Summer” . . . Prompt #336

Today’s writing prompt is excerpted from Everyday Creative Writing, Panning For Gold in the Kitchen Sink by Michael C. Smith and Suzanne Greenberg. Ben Johnson, a seventeenth-century English writer and scholar, characterized poetry as “What has been oft thought but ne’r so well expressed.” In so saying, Johnson relieves poets of the obligation of coming up with new ideas and focuses on the perhaps infinite number of ways that ideas can be expressed. To illustrate this idea, consider that most of us were required to write a “What I Did This Summer” essay at some point in our school careers. While the subject matter for these essays is largely the same among classmates – camp, swimming pools, summer jobs – the ways in which we wrote our stories those details we chose to highlight and those we chose to omit, are what gave each piece its own flavor and originality. For…

Prompts

What Got Taken Away From You?   Prompt #335

The following is from I Could Do Anything If I only knew what it was, by Barbara Sher. Once someone I cared for deeply did something very unethical, so I tried to totally revise my feelings about him. “He’s not a good person,” I said. “I don’t know how to love him anymore.” And a very wise woman told me, “Your love belongs to you. You mustn’t let anyone touch it, not even him. You can keep away from him, but don’t try to destroy your love. That love is yours. Keep it.” It won’t really break your heart to remember something that got snatched away from you, even though it may feel that way. Prompt:  What got taken away from you? New York Times Best Seller author Barbara Sher believes we each have a genius inside us, our Original Vision, and we’ve had it since birth. Our culture tends…