Practical Prompt 7-19-17

You finally have a moment to write, but what to do with your limited time? Here’s a practical prompt to kickstart the story you’re working on right now. The clock is ticking, people. Start writing.

Watch out for equivocating language that can weaken your prose: just, maybe, a bit etc. Delete them. You won’t miss them.

Pretty Good

Megan Norris Jones

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell popularized the 10,000 hour rule, which states that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to master a skill. This notion is both encouraging and discouraging. It’s encouraging because it means if I practice, I can become good. It has inspired me to dedicate time to my craft and consciously cultivate the skills I lack. It’s discouraging when I consider how long 10,000 take to rack up when I squeeze writing time into 15-30 minute increments. This is going to take a while.

Then I heard a TED Talk by Josh Kaufman, and he introduced me to the 20-hour rule. In it, he argues that, while it might take 10,000 hours to master a skill, 20 hours of deliberate practice can make you decent at most things. Continue reading

Insomniacs Anonymous 7-14-17

You’re awake. Instead of writing the Great American Novel—or even a mediocre one—you’re reading our blog. Okay, then. We offer a topic; you respond. Let your fellow writers inspire you, and return to that manuscript refreshed.

What’s your favorite film adaptation of a book?

Practical Prompt 7-12-17

You finally have a moment to write, but what to do with your limited time? Here’s a practical prompt to kickstart the story you’re working on right now. The clock is ticking, people. Start writing.

Every character, not just your protagonist, needs goals.  Whether those goals are big—destroy the enemy—or small, like walking down a school hallway without getting noticed, your scene will fall flat if your protagonist’s goals don’t conflict with those of another character.  With that in mind, take a few moments before you start writing on your next scene to make sure you know what each character wants and why the character wants it. Then compare and contrast each character’s goals to those of the other characters in the scene. If the goals don’t conflict, tweak them until they do.

The Perils of Lengthy Memorials

Laura Ayo

My high school creative writing teacher once noted in the margin of an assignment that I had “memorialized a moment” in the story I submitted. I remember being surprised by his comment. I hadn’t intended to memorialize anything; but after I re-read what I had written, I agreed with his assessment. I had, indeed, preserved a memory. And while the piece did that well – I still remember the moment 26 years later – my teacher’s point was that the story did nothing other than serve as a way to never forget what had happened one rainy afternoon at a park. The story wasn’t anything anyone else would want to read because it lacked a plot, character development, conflict and a resolution. Since then, I’ve come a long way with my writing. But, as my critique group helped me realize recently, I apparently still like memorializing moments – even if they are moments experienced by fictional characters I create in my imagination. Continue reading