Just Write

Transport readers

“Your main job as a writer is to transport the reader to a fictional world, as in a dream. ” — “The Geyser Approach to Revision,” James Scott Bell, July/August 2011 Writer’s Digest Magazine You probably know this, but perhaps you’re stuck with knowing how to achieve that. A big part is the revision process. The following steps for revision are based on the Writer’s Digest article. Write Hot. Revise cool. Wait two weeks after writing to begin the revision process. Then, read fast as if you were a first-time reader. Take notes about what needs fixing. Capture original emotions you felt when writing. Listen to music that evokes the mood of your story. “Music reaches a part of your mind that you usually have inactive when analyzing. Wake it up and put it to work with tunes.” Create a collage to capture a visual representation of your work to…

Guest Bloggers

Chug, Chuff, Hiss, Squeal, Off We Go

Today’s post is inspired by Nancy Julien Kopp’s blog post about using sound in writing. Nancy wrote: This morning, I was catching up on email when I heard the whine of a train whistle, blown several times. I wondered if it was the historic Union Pacific train, known as Big Boy, making its way across Kansas this week in celebration of 150 years of the Transcontinental Railroad. It was due to stop here in our town at 9:30 a.m.  The sound of that whistle made me stop and listen. I always liked to hear train whistles when I was a child. We lived across the street from the railroad tracks, so we were treated to that arresting sound on a frequent basis. I can remember being in bed on a summer night, windows open, hoping for the train to come by and announce its presence. When I did hear it,…

Prompts

Discovering Epiphanies . . . Prompt #479

How to get to an epiphany in writing. One way to discover an epiphany: Start with: The problem began with wanting something. I wanted . . . I wanted it because (back story) . . . To get it, I . . . (action) However, something got in my way: (there may be several actions/reactions/sequences that got in the way) . . . I had to try something different, so I . . . At the time I was thinking that . . . The turning point came when . . . When that happened, I realized . . . Resolution: After that I . . . Another way to get to an epiphany: Write about a pivotal event in your life. Something happened and you weren’t the same after.  Narrow it down to the exact moment and location where it took place. It could be something wonderful or something…

Prompts

Pacing . . . Prompt #447

When you read the next ditty, read “d-o-e-s” as in female deer. Mairzy Doats Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy a kid will eat ivy, too wouldn’t you? Say it fast and it becomes: Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey A kiddley divey too, wouldn’t you? Link to what this sounds like. I think of this rhyme when I think of pacing – paying attention to the cadence and rhythm of writing. How and when to increase the pace when writing. Paraphrased from Make A Scene by Jordan Rosenfeld: By pacing your scenes well and choosing the proper length for each scene, you can control the kinds of emotional effects your scenes have, leaving the reader with the feeling of having taken a satisfying journey. Pace should match the emotional content of your scene. First scenes should get going with an…

Prompts

33 Ideas You Can Use for Sensory Starts Prompt #278

I bet you have heard “Show. Don’t tell.” What does that mean? And how does one do it? Answer: Sensory detail. As described in Imagery and Sensory Detail ala Adair Lara Prompt #277: Make a list of images Expand into sentences Use sensory detail Not interested in making a list?  You are welcome to use any of the 33 ideas listed below to start sensory writing. Or just look around, choose items within your view, and write, using sensory detail, of course. Scroll to bottom of this post for links about using sensory detail in writing. Expand these images into full sentences, using sensory detail. Write as if you had to describe these visions to someone who has never seen or experienced these things. What do these things look like? How do they sound, taste, feel, smell?  Answer these questions and that’s using sensory detail in writing. Write a sentence…

Prompts

Imagery and sensory detail ala Adair Lara Prompt #277

“Write five images every day, for seven days, using as many of the senses as possible.”— Adair Lara From Adair’s book, Naked, Drunk, and Writing: “Writing is turning your thoughts, abstractions, generalizations, and opinions back into the experiences you got them from.” Adair’s example: “Not ‘women my age become invisible,’ but ‘they handed drinks around and forgot me, again.’” Using imagery involves the details about what happened. Show what happened so that readers can see the scene, hear the sounds, feel the sensations, taste the elements, and smell the aroma. Adair advises, “. . . every time you write a sentence, ask yourself, How can I show this? Try to get image and detail into every sentence. ” Tidbits from Chapter Six, Using Images and Details: “We want experience, not information. ‘Joan was distressed’ is information. ‘Joan looked away’ is an image. The reader notices Joan looking away, and has…

Prompts

Vegetables – Not Just For Eating . . . Prompt # 276

What are vegetables good for, besides eating? Some gardens are bursting right about now with zucchini, green beans, summer squash, cucumbers, yellow squash, kale, rhubarb, patty pan squash, lettuce, have I mentioned squash? Here in northern California, growing squash is easy and so abundant that we don’t leave our car doors unlocked, or we might find a bushel of zucchini on the seat. Write about other things that vegetables can do. Inspired from Adair Lara‘s writing workshop. Write about new uses for vegetables.

Just Write

How to turn memoir into fiction

What if you have written your memoir, or are in the process, and it just isn’t working? What to do? You might decide to publish your work as fiction based on fact, rather than memoir. Adair Lara’s article might be helpful: “10 Ways to Tell if Your Story Should be a Memoir or a Novel” in the January 23, 2012 issue of Writer’s Digest magazine. You can use prompts on The Write Spot Blog for inspiration, especially, “Make a list of pivotal events, Prompt #40” and “How to write fiction based on fact,” Prompt #41.” If you don’t want to write about what happened exactly as it happened, you can use the emotions you felt during the event. Tap into those emotions to write strong scenes. Sometimes it’s helpful to see examples of ideas you want to pursue. The following novels are based on fact. Half-Broke Horses, by Jeannette Walls,…

Just Write

Books on writing

There are more how-to-write books than we have time to read. IF we tried, we would spend all our time reading about writing and not writing. But there are a few especially good how-to write books. Here are some of my favorites. What are your favorite writing books? Dorothea Brande was an early proponent of freewriting. In her book Becoming a Writer (1934), she advises writers to sit and write for 30 minutes every morning, as fast as they can. Peter Elbow advanced freewriting in his books Writing with Power and Writing Without Teachers (1975), and freewriting has been popularized by Julia Cameron through her books The Artist’s Way and The Right to Write. A few more writing books: Aronie, Nancy Slonim – Writing From the Heart Baldwin, Christina – Storycatcher Barrington, Judith – Writing the Memoir, From Truth to Art Baty, Chris – No Plot? No Problem! Bennet, Hal…

Book Reviews

The Granny Diaries by Adair Lara

The Granny Diaries by Adair Lara is an entertaining and light-hearted look at being a grandmother interspersed with smart messages to mothers and grandmothers. Readers are drawn into Adair’s world with her quick wit and keen sense of observation. Advice for the mother: “Remember, that grandmother is your mother, and she’s just trying to help. Talk to her about what you expect, and what she expects, and try to notice the good stuff. A grandmother who bought your child noisy green and pink clogs that the day-care teacher had to write a note about is a grandmother who went into a store, pondered choices (those boring white tennies, formal black Mary Janes, or those cool clogs?), bought the crazy clogs, and looked forward to presenting them. ” This is an easy book to read, especially if you appreciate Adair’s wicked sense of humor. I enjoyed slogging through my day, knowing…