Author Experiences with Book Titles

Have you had a difficult time finding a title for your work? Needed help from others or resented help from others when you thought your title was just right? Here are 12 stories by 12 writers about how titling worked for them. I think you’ll enjoy the read and realize that there are two kinds … Continue reading

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More on How to Write the How-to Essay (and Why)

I’ve been teaching the how-to essay again and reading models. I love how the how-to format offers the personal essayist a structure that inspires poignancy, honesty, and humor. Here is an excerpt from my book Writing and Sharing Personal Essays. And for after you’ve read about this style essay and the sample essay in the … Continue reading

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Endings: From Seeds Planted in the Openings

We have to leave a story, of any length, both satisfied and wishing the story stays with us—having fallen in love with the protagonists or having been at least drawn close to their situations, we want to carry the characters inside of ourselves, as if they are friends we know we won’t see again, people … Continue reading

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“Talk Much?” by Morgan Baker 3rd Place Winner

When our 2018 winter contest judge Kelli Agodon awarded 3rd Place to Morgan Baker’s personal essay “Talk Much?” she commented: As someone who loves finding words inside of words and who has struggled with dyslexia, I thought “Talk Much?” was an intriguing look at what the world (or the words) look like through dyslexia. The … Continue reading

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“Driving Home” by Barbara Simmons, 2nd Place Tie Winner, Winter 2018 Contest

Our fall/winter 2018 contest judge Kelli Agodon felt that two poems tied for 2nd place. We posted one last week, “Grave Site Visit” by Nancy Levinson, and this week we are posting the second second-place winning poem, Barbara Simmons “Driving Home.” Kelli wrote this about her choice of Barbara’s poem: “Driving Home” is a lovely … Continue reading

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“Grave Site Visit” by Nancy Smiler Levinson, 2018 Winter Contest Winner

One of two writings tied for second place in our fall/winter 2018 writing contest is “Gravesite Visit,” a poem by Writing It Real member Nancy Levinson. Our guest judge Kelli Agondon described her choice this way: “Gravesite Visit” is a beautiful meditation on the healing powers of poetry and how poems (and writing) can help … Continue reading

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“Disturbing the Calm” by Judith Kvinsland, 1st Place

Our contest judge, Kelli Agodon, wrote this of her first choice piece in the fall/winter 2018 writing contest: Judith Barker Kvinsland’s essay, “Disturbing the Calm,” explores how sometimes, despite the ease of our lives, we need to take a risk. It is a thoughtful exploration of family, responsibility, and location, where the author learns something … Continue reading

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Recipes for Living Our Lives

We all have favorite recipes we’ve used for food preparation and sets of instructions we have followed to succeed in putting something together. What recipes or instruction sets might we write up concerning what we have learned in negotiating other aspects of our lives: instructions for facing disaster, surviving loss, or failure? What would we … Continue reading

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Omniscient Narrator–Have fun with the all-seeing!

I’ve made a short video for a program called 11 Stories that has “aired” for the people in that program. I am sharing it with Writing It Real members this week. In the video, I give a lesson on the third-person omniscient point of view in writing.  I think those of you writing flash nonfiction or fiction … Continue reading

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To Follow the Right God Home

I wrote this essay a year after my widowed mom moved from the home she had shared with my dad after his retirement. It was a new time in our lives, my mom widowed, my husband and I stepping up to help her during a time of health problems caused by ignoring her needs while … Continue reading

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A Writer’s Digest Prize-Winning Essay

Who among us wouldn’t envy the stamp of approval Vicki Horton’s personal essay “Fishing with My Father” received from Writer’s Digest magazine in 2016? In answer to some of my questions about this writing and her writing life, Vicki responded: As you know writing is done mostly in isolation. I am my worst critic and … Continue reading

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Crafting Stories for Children (and Adults)

This week’s article by Nancy Lamb is a repost from 2008. It includes information on easy readers as well as on shaping other stories for children (or for any reader, really).  Nancy Lamb, author of The Writer’s Guide to Crafting Stories for Children, has edited many books by those hoping to enter the young adult … Continue reading

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Writing for Young Children: What’s an Easy Reader?

Author Beth Bacon is teaching her popular online workshop “Writing for Young Readers – Words of Honesty, Hope, and Wonder” for Writing It Real members March 15 – April 12, 2018. When I called Beth recently and asked her how things were going, she was very enthusiastic about a new batch of easy readers she … Continue reading

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You: Writing in the Second Person

There are many strong essays and stories written in the second-person point of view. One I’ve come across recently, “Bread” by Margaret Atwood, is especially instructive for its use of scenes to build an argument.  With just the right details of place, situations, and people in those places, the you (who is her character and … Continue reading

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For Writers, “Finders Keepers” Can Mean “Finders Re-arrangers”

[This article appeared in slightly different form in 2014 — ed.] As writers, our ears are tuned for measuring the quality of the words we hear around us. Sometimes, our ears catch speech we think is pure poetry or could be if read that way. We find that with a little rearranging these words express more humor, more … Continue reading

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The Flash Sequence: A Form for Saying the Unsayable

The flash sequence uses poetic leaps of association for examining the impact of difficult-to-articulate circumstances. Sometimes it is accomplished in journal entries, other times with meditations about place, or people or objects. Sometimes it is composed of collections of scenes. Whatever the container of the sequence, the form is undoubtedly a psychological exploration, often of … Continue reading

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Anna Quinn’s Novel The Night Child Holds Lessons for Writers

In The Night Child, Nora Brown, descends into the kind of fragmentation that results when traumatic events have been repressed, her world becomes anxious and dark. In Anna Quinn’s skillful hands, both the world inside of Nora (who is no longer able to repress terrifying memories) and the world of loving people in her adult … Continue reading

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January 2018 Favorite Online Sites for Reading and Publishing

As writers. we should always be on the lookout for interesting and helpful resources online as well as places to publish our own work. I share a lot of resources on Writing It Real’s facebook page and on Pinterest at The Writing Life. But there are many, and I would like to share my current favorites … Continue reading

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To Explain How a Poem Grows

This winter’s holiday school break, my grandson, now 15 and a half years old and equipped with his driver’s permit, took a two-week intensive driver’s education class. I certainly felt the passage of time as I remembered using an image of my son Seth receiving his driver’s license as I wrote a poem for him … Continue reading

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A Writing Exercise to Help You Arrive at Deep Material

Many say that the hardest part of writing is moving from daily activities to being able to create work that transcends the daily. There are ways, though, to launch new writing that unexpectedly gets you to your deepest material while allowing you to make the shift easily. What follows is an exercise that is meant … Continue reading

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