“The personal essay begins as an act of exploration. We write in order to figure out where we’re going and make sense of where we’ve been.” — Susan Bono Susan Bono is an extraordinary writer whose words go right to the heart. You can read her excellent writing in her collection of short essays in What Have We Here: Essays about Keeping House and Finding Home. Susan is a writing teacher and freelance editor specializing in memoir. She facilitates writing workshops at Copperfield’s Books in Petaluma. California.
“A writer’s problem does not change. It’s always how to write truly and having found what is true, to project it in such a way that it becomes a part of the experience of the person who reads it.” — Ernest Hemingway Photo by Breana Marie
“The reader reads for dialogue more than anything. The writer’s habit is to describe, but the reader would rather hear the character.” — Anthony Varallo, May 2017, The Writer
“Writes are such heady creatures that we often forget our characters have bodies and senses. To fully imagine a life, one has to supply undeniable details about the exterior world so that when the novelist has to make the truly improbable leap to the interior world of another human being, the reader is primed to believe us.” —Julianna Baggott Excerpt from “Pure Writer,” by Elfrieda Abbe, The Writer Magazine, January 2016
“You have to connect to the language of your work by paying attention to what you’re trying to say. Sometimes what you want to say doesn’t come easy. That’s fine. Give yourself time to make mistakes, to start again, to scrap good pieces that are going nowhere.” — Virgil Suárez
“Writers can learn a lot from reading comic books and graphic novels, such as about brevity. Of course, comics do have the benefit of imagery. That said, the importance of scene can’t be understated. I’m always telling my students: Show us moments instead of wildly narrating an entire story and describing what’s happening. Try to find ways to immerse the reader.” Roxane Gay, September 2017 Writer’s Digest
If you have attended a Jumpstart Writing Workshop, you may have heard me say, “There are two kinds of writing I like. One is when the writing speaks to universal truths—something we can all relate to. The other is when the writing speaks to me personally.” This excerpt from “The Review Rat Race,” a “5-Minute Memoir” by Barbara Solomon Josselsohn expands upon that thought. “To me, success meant having readers who felt that my novel articulated something important, something they had felt deeply inside but had never been able to express or fully understand before my book came along.” —Barbara Solomon Josselsohn * That often happens in Jumpstart . . . the writing touches us deeply as the writer articulates in ways that we hadn’t been able to express or understand prior to hearing their freewrite. * Excerpt from January 2017 issue of Writer’s Digest Magazine.
“The bigger the issue, the smaller you write. Remember that. You don’t write about the horrors of war. No. You write about a kid’s burnt socks lying on the road. You pick the smallest manageable part of the big thing, and you work off the resonance.” —Richard Price
Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you. —Anne Lamott, Salon, April 10, 2015
“All humans understand and use story on an intuitive level. It’s our most effective teaching tool.” — Deb Norton, “Story Structure, Simplified,” WritersDigest, February 2017