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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What is Creative Writing?

These last few months, I’ve been researching for a book I’m writing for McGraw-Hill’s education department. It’s called Creative Writing Demystified and is meant for use in high school and college classrooms. Creative writing is a broad term that covers a lot of ground, and when I share this title with writers I know, they … Continue reading

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Five Principles to Write By

Author Joel M. Vance offers a tightly written essay on tips for writers — ones we shouldn’t forget when we are polishing our work and ones we should remember as we are focusing and developing it. Following the essay is writing by Joel that originally appeared in Wisconsin Trails. He says, “I cut the original … Continue reading

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Journaling to Wake Up Your Dream Machine

“We are all already poets in the depths of ourselves — as our image-filled and wildly imaginative dreams show us!” David Richo in Being True to Life When I collected journal entries from contemporary writers for The Writer’s Journal: 40 Contemporary Writers and their Journals, I learned how significant dreams can be for writers. Several … Continue reading

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The Annual Christmas Dress Shopping Trip

This week, I am sharing my developmental editing responses to another Honorable Mention essay in our Summer 2009 No-Contest Contest. You’ll see Karen B. Call’s original contest entry, my written responses to her work and then her revised essay. You’ll see the benefit of reader response that encourages writers to invite more detail into their … Continue reading

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Tenderness and Meat Loaf

Continuing in our revision diary category posts, this week we are sharing an essay by Jack Shea, one of two essays that our guest judge Brenda Miller chose as honorable mention in our recent contest. My developmental editing comments inserted into Jack’s entry and Jack’s re-entered revision for our Writing It Real Fall 2009 No-Contest … Continue reading

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The Berry Patch

Reading the draft Joyce sent to us for the Fall 2009 Writing It Real No-Contest Contest and the tweaked version, you’ll see an example of the importance of polish editing. Although an essay might be “all there” on the page, rearranging some paragraphs and tweaking the ending can make a huge difference in the effect … Continue reading

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Porch Swings

In this article, we present Lisa Kee’s winning essay from our Fall 2009 No-Contest Contest. Each entrant submitted an essay, which I read and responded to. All entrants had the opportunity to revise their essays after reading my comments and re-submit. Our guest judge, Brenda Miller, author of Season of the Body and Blessing of … Continue reading

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Julie Barker’s First Place Essay Overturned

In this article, we present Julie Barker’s winning essay from our Fall 2009 No-Contest Contest. Each entrant submitted an essay, which I read and responded to. All entrants had the opportunity to revise their essays after reading my comments and re-submit. Our guest judge, Brenda Miller, author of Season of the Body and Blessing of … Continue reading

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Interview with Libertary.com

With the traditional publishing world in flux as publishing houses balance the cost of printing and advertising books against their sales numbers, more and more book loving entrepreneurs are finding ways to stay abreast of readers’ changing habits and bring the words of authors they admire to the public’s attention. To publish means, in its … Continue reading

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Insight at the Intersection of Past and Present

In Betsy Howell’s book Acoustic Shadows: Men at War and a Daughter Who Remembers Them, the author searches for an understanding of her family’s emotional legacy. After her parents’ deaths, she realizes that there is no one to tell her what she never learned about their pasts. Somehow, she must find what she needs to … Continue reading

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Finding One’s Way Through Writing

Betsy L. Howell, an only child, was 31 when both of her parents had died. She was drinking and upset with herself when she started to ask questions about her parents’ lives and read the family heirloom her father treasured — the diary of his great grandfather’s Civil War experience. Drawn in by the journals … Continue reading

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Retracing Her Great-Great-Grandfather’s Footsteps

The following is an excerpt from Acoustic Shadows: Men at War and a Daughter Who Remembers Them by Betsy Howell. At 31, after the death of both her parents, Betsy sought solace in a family heirloom–the diary of her great-great-grandfather James Darsie Heath’s journals documenting his service in the Union army during the Civil War. … Continue reading

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2000 Words or 2:00

Meg Waite Clayton’s novel, The Wednesday Sisters invites you in to the lives of five suburban young moms in the late sixties. Frankie, Linda, Brett, Ally, and Kath, want more from their lives than family and playgrounds can provide, yet they don’t even know what they are yearning for when they first bond over the … Continue reading

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First

Seven years ago this October, Kurt and I launched Writing It Real. It would have been Seth Bender’s 27th birthday, had he not died in December, 2000 in a snowboarding accident. The magazine’s first article was “A Special Birthday,” explaining our purpose in offering the magazine so people would have the “right food and the … Continue reading

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Los Tulares: The Place of the Rushes

Many of us have a connection to place and want to use research about that location’s founding, settlement, history, flora and fauna in our writing. Eileen Apperson’s essay about Los Tulares provides a good example of how love of place and fact finding can make an informative essay that preserves and shares valuable knowledge. Los … Continue reading

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Writing About Place

In graduate school, at California State University-Fresno, Eileen Apperson began what was to become a longer creative non-fiction project when she wrote one short essay about the eradication of Tulare Lake, which was once the largest fresh water lake west of the Mississippi. She found that her classmates and professor had never heard of the … Continue reading

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A Quiet Ache

This essay, which won an American Jewish Press Award, originally appeared in the April 2004 Hadassah Magazine, April 2004. It is included in a collection of essays by Sandra Hurtes, On My Way To Someplace Else, that will be out next month from Poetica Publishing Company. Pre-orders may be made at OnMyWayEssays@yahoo.com. The price is … Continue reading

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Pursuing the Dream of Publishing Personal Essays

The following conversation with essayist Sandra Hurtes helps us all realize that we have it in us to pursue the dream of publishing our essays. We need to stick with it, listen to others, and find the publications that are seeking what we are writing about. SheilaTell me about your writing career — how you … Continue reading

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The Greatest Block of All

This week’s article by British author Jo Parfitt recounts the story of her early writing success and extracts the elements of that success for others to emulate. Getting a book published does not have to depend on who you know (although publishing contacts are always helpful, of course!) and if you graduated from a writing … Continue reading

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