Music of the Spheres

This week we are proud to post our second place winner in the recent WIR writing contest. Music of the Spheres By Charles Blondino He sits into the leather chair large enough for three of him. “I just learned to play this,” he says and lifts his guitar. We both watch the fingers of the … Continue reading

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Write as Tukwilla’s Youth of Arrival Write

“…poetry, like bread, is for everyone.” — Salvadoran poet Roque Dalton Many people say they don’t enjoy poetry or they don’t find it accessible. But they didn’t have Merna Ann Hecht for a teacher. She teaches her students how they can find the small stories that tell the larger story through poetry. As a poet, … Continue reading

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Worth 1000 Words

Creative nonfiction writer and novelist, Judith Kitchen shares with us a fruitful exercise she created for those of us searching for new ways to use photographs to inspire our writing. A photograph is both a pseudo-presence and a token of absence. . . — Susan Sontag, On Photography Traditionally, photographs have been used in nonfiction … Continue reading

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I Just Do Not Understand You

[This week we offer a second exercise from Dinty W. Moore, author of The Accidental Buddhist and Crafting the Personal Essay and editor of Brevity magazine. –ed.] Too often, we write about other people because we think we know something about that person, or because we feel that we can weigh in with intelligent correctness … Continue reading

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Just Add Water

[This week we are proud to present the first of two exercises that Dinty W. Moore, author of The Accidental Buddhist and Crafting the Personal Essay and editor of Brevity magazine, uses to help his students work in creative nonfiction. –ed.] Many writers habitually compose memoir-based nonfiction as if someone had once ruled “all childhood … Continue reading

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Ekphrastic Poetry

[This week we are starting a series of postings with poetry and creative nonfiction writing exercises offered by writers who teach. No matter what genre you favor, try the exercises they describe, and you will most certainly surprise yourself with new and interesting writing. — ed] The term ekphrastic comes from the Greek ekphrasis—ek “out … Continue reading

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To Keep Our Senses Open

It isn’t easy for us to write up to the standards we demand of ourselves when we are writing about those we love who are no longer with us. The more we wish to honor them and the life we resolve to live by incorporating their spirit into ours, the harder it seems to write. … Continue reading

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Small Things Hold Great Meaning

Writing poetry does take a certain frame of mind–one in which the poet realizes that small things hold great emotional meaning. We have to trust that whatever comes to mind and heart can help us begin poems. The following exercise is meant to help you find topics for poems and see how well you can … Continue reading

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Using Lyric Techniques in Your Writing: Part Four

Giving Attention to Sentence Construction and to Locution In this last installment of the series on paying attention to the sound your words make on the page, we will discuss the use of interesting (to the ear) sentence variety and phraseology. When you write, write. When you revise, pay attention to what you might do … Continue reading

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Using Lyric Techniques in Your Writing, Part Three

This week we’ll examine more techniques of making meaningful sound on the page to carry emotion and momentum. OnomatopoeiaThe term onomatopoeia comes from the Greek for “word-making.” It means the employment of one or more words to imitate, echo, or suggest the sound of the thing or action described. Such words include “bang”, “click”, “fizz”, … Continue reading

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Using Lyric Techniques in Your Writing, Part Two

Remember Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven“? Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary, Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore, While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. `’Tis some visitor,’ I muttered, `tapping at … Continue reading

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Using Lyric Techniques in Your Writing, Part One

An essential element for good writing is a good ear: one must listen to the sound of one’s prose. — Barbara Tuchman Sound itself… is surely a signifier of mood, and thus of message… –Mary Oliver Paying attention to the music in our poetry and prose helps us build the emotional content and meaning of … Continue reading

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The Craft of Fiction, Part Nine

What is tone? It can seem a hard element to isolate, but we definitely know it when we read it. Compare these two descriptions of the same event: The protest erupted into violence today as police attempted to keep the entrance to the building secure. When they reached the building, the police unleashed their forces … Continue reading

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The Craft of Fiction, Part Eight

What is a subplot? It is a smaller story inside a larger story and it illuminates the life, times, personalities, themes and issues of the main characters, often by introducing peripheral characters and events. In novels (and in films) subplots are typically the place that readers make their identification with the main character. Writing in … Continue reading

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The Craft of Fiction, Part Seven

Francois Camoin writes in “The Textures of Fiction,” a contribution to Words Overflown by Stars, edited by David Jauss, that fiction is: little bits of action to keep us turning the page, to keep us moving through the landscape that is the point of the enterprise. The events and characters exist for the sake of … Continue reading

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The Craft of Fiction, Part Six

In real life, spoken language together with body language carries mountains of information and, like many if not most writers, you may find it difficult to convey the richness of this in prose. But you have already started writing dialog by doing writers Adrienne Harun and Midge Raymond’s exercises on character development in last week’s … Continue reading

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The Craft of Fiction, Part Five

As humans, we are wired for empathy and vicarious living, so we easily put ourselves into stories if we can identify with what the characters are going through in the emotional and physical situations they encounter. Whether we are reading about war heroes who perform godlike acts and save hundreds of people or the girl … Continue reading

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The Craft of Fiction, Part Four

Who is telling the story you are writing? It’s an important choice because it dictates what kind of information the narrator knows, and it reveals the window through which you must tell your story to your readers. Will your story be told in the first person? For instance: I had a little lamb, who followed … Continue reading

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The Craft of Fiction Writing, Part Three

Last week we worked on getting to know your protagonist and understanding the necessity of creating a fictional dream for readers. The week before we worked on narrative line and time frame. Now, we’ll turn to developing plot and arc of story. If you are writing a story, you may certainly keep pumping out the … Continue reading

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The Craft of Fiction, Part Two

Last week we explored story ideas and ways to develop them by establishing a narrative line and a time frame. This week we are going to think about the story’s protagonist, his or her nature, dilemmas and settings. In following weeks, we’ll focus on plot, story arc, dialog, tone, and further character development. Whether you … Continue reading

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