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…

Just Write

Just Write Magic Carpet Ride

For inspiration to Just Write:  Click on a topic below and you will arrive at a (hopefully) inspirational post. Just like being on a magic carpet ride! The following are from the 2013 Just Write Posts Gorgeous Writing by Melanie Thorne Fabulous Character Sketch, Elizabeth Berg Natalie Goldberg talks about writing practice  Twelve Steps to Successful Writing by Marlene Cullen Amy Zhang and Your Scraps of Writing How to get in the mood to write by Marlene Cullen Don’t think. Don’t Plan. Just Write. Marlene Cullen Natalie Goldberg’s Six Rules of Writing Get Started. How to use prompts. Marlene Cullen Pass On The Dream And Tell Its Truth – Natalie Goldberg Elizabeth Berg demystifies how to describe characters Debbie Macomber had so many rejections . . . Writing about place, August Kleinzahler Three top Pointers About Writing Personal Essay by Kelly Caldwell One way to learn how to write, get…

Just Write

Make characters real and likable.

Play around with different ways to describe characters in stories. Here are examples of how to make characters real and likable and how to capture readers’ interest. What We Keep by Elizabeth Berg “My mother was dressed in her beautiful yellow summer robe, the tie cinched evenly into a bow at the exact center of her waist, but her auburn hair was sticking up in the back, an occasional occurrence that I always hated seeing, since in my mind it suggested a kind of incompetence. It was an unruly cowlick, nearly impossible to tame — I knew this, having an identical cowlick of my own — but I did not forgive its presence on my mother. It did not go with the rest of her looks: her deep blue eyes, her thin, sculptured nose, her high cheekbones, her white, white skin — all signs, I was certain, of some distant…

Book Reviews

Never Change by Elizabeth Berg

Never Change by Elizabeth Berg, Reviewed by Marlene Cullen The magic of Elizabeth Berg’s writing is that she makes readers feel comfortable with her characters right away. In the first paragraph, she sets the tone, the scene, and introduces the main character, Myra, a person I like immediately. Berg’s writing style is friendly, warm and simple, yet oh-so-eloquent in conveying minute details, giving the reader a detailed vision of the scene. Her characters are so believable that while I’m reading her books (and for a little while after), I think they are living in the next town. . . when I’m sleeping, they’re sleeping. During the day, they go about their errands and work, just as I do. I might even walk by them while they’re eating a meal in a cafe. I might brush against them in a coffee shop. I admire Berg’s ability to create characters so different…

Just Write

Start with something that really happened . . .

In Escaping into the Open, The Art of Writing True, Elizabeth Berg (one of my favorite authors) writes: Whenever people ask me where I get my material, I am genuinely befuddled. “Well . . . from life!” is what I usually say. . . . each of us, no matter who we are or what we do, is offered potential story ideas daily. The people we know, the things that happen to them and us, the random scenes we witness and the conversations we overhear — all of these things are rich with raw material; all of them are capable of serving as a vehicle or springboard for a good story, in one way or another. We need only be aware. We need only be awake, and curious, and willing to share. Note from Marlene: Last night in the Jumpstart writing workshop that I facilitate, this very thing happened. I…

Just Write

Writing is like being a salesperson . .

Elizabeth Berg, Escaping Into The Open, The Art of Writing True on Persuasiveness, page 32. Excerpt: In some ways, writing is like being a salesperson. you are in the business of convincing someone to buy something, as in, believe something. Try to develop your skills of persuasion so that your villain, say, is really felt as a villain. In doing that, think about the small things—everything really is in the details. For example, it’s not so much the description of the murderer killing someone that demonstrates his evil nature, it’s the flatness in his eyes as he does it; it’s the way he goes and gets an ice cream immediately afterward. Similarly, a man offering a diamond bracelet to a woman shows love; but that same person smiling tenderly when he wipes the smear of catsup off her face shows more.  Your turn. Write a scene showing the bad guy…

Prompts

A place where you find satisfaction — Prompt #25

How to write riveting scenery description — shown below by Elizabeth Berg, in an excerpt from her book, Escaping into the Open. The summer when I was nine years old, we lived beside a huge gully. I used to go there nearly every day. Agates and wildflowers were plentiful and free for the taking — you were limited only by the size of your hands and pockets. Near the center of the gully was a secluded embankment covered by blades of grass the length and texture of girls’ hair. Willow trees surrounded it, and the sunlight coming through their leaves created a lacy pattern of shadow that I always wished I could pick up and lay over my head like a mantilla. Day after day, I lay on that small hill and watched the shifting patterns of clouds and listened to the birds.  I could not identify the birds themselves,…

Just Write

Elizabeth Berg demystifies how to describe characters

I love it when writers describe characters in a way that I can really see them, beyond eye and hair color. The trick is how to describe a character that gets into the essential details of the person. Elizabeth Berg demystifies how to describe characters, using interesting details, in “Escaping into the Open,” The Art of Writing True, page 91: Whether you’re writing fiction or  nonfiction, you can greatly help define a character by sharing not only what he says and does, but also how he looks. Again, details matter. don’t tell the reader that someone is old; show it by describing the dime-size age spots, the sag of the cheeks, the see-through hair, the spiderlike spread of veins at the back of the knees. Are nylons falling down? Are belts too big? Are there greasy thumbprints on the lenses of bifocals? Is the posture stopped or stubbornly erect? Is…

Just Write

Fabulous character sketch – Elizabeth Berg

“My mother was dressed in her beautiful yellow summer robe, the tie cinched evenly into a bow at the exact center of her waist, but her auburn hair was sticking up in the back, an occasional occurrence that I always hated seeing, since in my mind it suggested a kind of incompetence. It was an unruly cowlick, nearly impossible to tame — I knew this, having an identical cowlick of my own — but I did not forgive its presence on my mother. It did not go with the rest of her looks: her deep blue eyes, her thin, sculptured nose, her high cheekbones, her white, white skin — all signs, I was certain, of some distant link to royalty.” — What We Keep by Elizabeth Berg