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Strengthen Your Writing - Kill Your Thought Verbs

Strengthen Your Writing - Kill Your Thought Verbs

WHEN LEARNING THE CRAFT OF WRITING — which, as far as I am concerned, is a never-ending state of being — we often hear the refrain that we should “show, not tell." “Showing” means writing in scene, using physical actions, sense-based details, and dialogue to create the story, rather than explaining the actions, thoughts, and feelings of our characters. To be successful, both fiction and creative nonfiction, such as memoir, must draw readers into the story through their imaginations. This only occurs through the use of concrete details, not abstract words. Along these lines, I recently ran across a 2013 article written by[...]
Read Like a Writer, Part 2: West With the Night - Tone and Pace

Read Like a Writer, Part 2: West With the Night - Tone and Pace

A CLOSE READING of any book helps us to understand how an author’s word choice and sentence structure affect the tone and pace of the work. For this examination of Beryl Markham's *West With the Night, I decided, (rather arbitrarily) to use excerpts from Chapter V, “He Was a Good Lion,” because Markham’s childhood encounter with the lion is an unusual and fascinating story. Let’s start with the title of the chapter: a reader immediately wonders what a good lion is (at least I did). Is a good lion well-behaved like a good dog? Or does the author mean that the lion[...]
10 Inspiring Journaling Prompts for Challenging Times

10 Inspiring Journaling Prompts for Challenging Times

IN CHALLENGING TIMES, it is easy to get lost in the dark or negative aspects of what is going on around us and forget to look for the good—especially when newspapers and online media sensationalize the negative in order to take advantage of our natural, though morbid, sense of curiosity. And because we see what we pay attention to, it’s easy to notice only the baser aspects of humanity and forget to look for the elevated qualities. In this state of mind, it’s easy to become discouraged, to feel isolated, and to despair. However, we can keep or raise ourselves out of[...]
How to Keep Writing When the Going Gets Rough

How to Keep Writing When the Going Gets Rough

ANYONE WHO HAS WRITTEN A MEMOIR KNOWS that it’s hard work. Not at the beginning, necessarily, but when you’re part way through, and that nice, round idea you had of your story has become fragmented by scenes and summaries of scenes, and reflections about those scenes The memories aren’t clear enough, you are reaching too far for meaning and connection, and there’s an underlying thread that you sense — it’s close enough to taste — but you can’t quite define it. This is widely known as the “messy middle,” when the going gets rough, and many would-be authors give up. I’m here[...]
My Takeaways from the San Miguel Writers' Conference

My Takeaways from the San Miguel Writers' Conference

"[The plot] of personal essay, its drama, its suspense, consists in watching how far the essayist can drop past his or her psychic defenses toward deeper levels of honesty.” - Phillip Lopate LAST WEEK, I had the privilege of attending the twelfth annual San Miguel de Allende Writers’ Conference. I confess, I wouldn’t have even known about the conference if it weren't for a friend of mine who lives part-time in San Miguel. She mentioned it in casual conversation and invited my sweetheart and me to stay with her if I decided to come. With keynote speakers such as Mary Karr, Judy[...]