In Search of the Perfect Ending

The End(s)Why am I writing about story endings when the very thought makes me want to whimper and hide my head under my pillow?

Endings! Endings! Oh the agony! But oh the sweetness when you get the right one!

Continue reading

Writing Advice From The Sword: What Fencing Can Teach Writers

unpacking sabersWhat’s a writer to do when winter just goes on and on and it’s March and there’s still snow on the ground and minus temperatures? Take up fencing.

As a movement artist-educator I’ve always believed that changing and challenging your usual ways of moving is an effective and pleasurable way to energize yourself and boost your creative thinking.

Fencing is certainly making my brain sizzle. And there’s the bonus of getting writing advice too!

1. Don Protective Gear Continue reading

Hey, What’s She Doing? Developing Character In The Short Story.

The Illuminated Crowd, sculpture by Raymond MasonJust had two stories accepted, and finally, finally finished the final draft of another story. Feeling pretty chipper (as in ‘OK, now I know what I’m doing’), I re-opened a story I’ve been wanting to finish since July 2012.

So much for thinking I know what I’m doing! I’ve no idea how to get into this story. As I’ve mentioned before, I love first drafts. The next stage is like cracking a nut.

Some nuts just don’t crack easily. You might have a lousy nut-cracker or the shell is too thick and resistant. So you try it from this angle, then that, get out the hammer. Some nuts refuse to open and you have to toss them away. But, if you’re lucky, finally a hairline crack appears, and now there’s a chance of getting to the kernel.

“God gives the nuts, but he does not crack them.” Franz Kafka

When I was doing my MFA at Lesley University, my Advisor Brian Bouldrey wrote on one of my first drafts: “Now you’ll have to re-learn what you know.” At the time I had no idea what he was talking about.

But I’ve learned he’s right. There are Continue reading

Eating To Write: 6 Reasons Why Writers Should Go Paleo!

We are what we eat, so it’s said. Doesn’t it stand to reason then, that we write what we eat?

If this is so, then I’m going paleo.

Paleo Treats© postcard ad

Judging by this postcard ad for Paleo Treats©, my writing would have: Continue reading

Writing Dialogue: The Oops Factor.

two albatrossDoes your character say the right thing – but it’s understood the wrong way? Or takes something well-meaning in the wrong spirit?

I was given a great lesson in writing dialogue recently. It all started with me being upset by some responses I received to a piece of news I shared with family and friends.

The news was that my husband had been diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer. It may sound strange that this should be an occasion to gain insights into writing dialogue but, hey, sometimes you have to find small comforts wherever you can.

“Oh, that’s the one that doesn’t amount to much, isn’t it?”

“What a nuisance.”

“But it’s a given that people don’t die of it.”

“Oh yes, I’ve dozens of friends who’ve had it. That was years ago and they’re all fine.”

I got very upset. I felt they were brushing this nasty, threatening disease off as a simple inconvenience, like a sore throat or a headache or the flu. No, my husband said, they’re just trying to be comforting.

Words – those slippery things! One person can use words to mean one thing while another person might understand them in quite another way. Continue reading

Characters, Backstories and Broken Wrist.

wrist in plaster castSometimes characters appear complete with full backstory. More often they don’t. Just as in real life, a writer has to hang around to see beyond first impressions.

Broke my wrist on Saturday. Went to emergency. Still there Saturday evening. Big tough macho fella comes in with bloody hand. Continue reading

Be Inspired: October Grab Bag of Exercises, Links, Ideas

Mother Earth, sculpture, Canadian entry at Mosaicultures Internationales, Montreal 2013

Mother Earth

I’m always excited and immensely grateful to come across links and ideas that inspire me to write and think and dream. Here are some I’ve been enjoying recently that I’d like to share with you.

Writing Warm-Up: a right-left brain exercise

  1. Touch your right thumb to your left little finger, let go, then touch left thumb to right little finger. Let go.
  2. Touch right second finger to left fourth finger, release, then left second finger to right fourth finger. Let go.
  3. Right middle finger to left middle finger. Turn hands over Continue reading