So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much! Rebecca
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
The Craft of Writing
I've been told that talented writers don't need to take writing classes. "If a person has talent, he shouldn't need to study writing." Well, I disagree.
A person might be talented in visual arts - painting and drawing - but he needs help to learn about the colors and kinds of paint, the brushes he might need if he is painting a miniature instead of an 18 x 20 canvas. He might get this information from someone in a store or a friend, but somewhere he will need some help in the craft of painting.
Back in 1976, I decided to follow a goal of becoming a painter. I had not done any painting, so I found the perfect teacher for me. Her name was Verna. She was a fabulous teacher and I learned how to use oil paints, to use a fan brush, to use tools other than brushes for painting, how to create shimmering water and so much more. I enjoyed my classes and also enjoyed painting scenes from our farm in south Georgia.
Yes, talent is important, but it also takes time and perseverance to learn how to write. In my classes, I help my students make their stories entertaining as well as informative for the readers. How many want to read a book filled with facts that doesn't entertain us as well.
Two prompts I give my students to motivate them to write involve sketching. First I ask them to list all the houses they remember living in and then choose one to visit in detail. They draw an outline of the house and then draw in the rooms, just boxes on paper. The student goes through the house and in each space he notes the memories that come to him. In the kitchen he writes notes on who he sees there and what he smells and hears in that room. He goes on through this house and each room provokes memories of people and events that happened to him at a certain age.
One drawing like this will bring on a flood of memories that beg to be told. My mother is gone now, but I can see her in the kitchen making biscuits. I can see and smell the food, hear the radio playing in the other room just loud enough for Mother to keep up with the game show.
To be a good writer one must read, and I suggest read what you like to write. After taking classes, we learn to read in a different way. When we begin to read like writers we see so many things in books that surprise us, that open our eyes to what the author is saying, and that we remember.
Wherever you live, try to find a good writing teacher and good classes where you can grow and expand your own work. Ask at the library or a local college. We need the right tools to write well. Sometimes taking one class will motivate a writer to jump in and begin that novel or memoir she has always wanted to write.
Friday, January 6, 2017
What topics for writing are hiding inside your closets, drawers, boxes in your home?
The dreary, dark days of winter can be a blessing for writers or it can dim creative inspiration. Today is a dark day with warnings of snow this weekend. I have my essentials for spending a few days in hibernation. For many years the gray days of winter depressed me, but this year I am enjoying my stillness, my solitude at home with my buddy, Lexie, sleeping in front of the heater. I might take a nap myself, later.
Earlier today I was motivated to submit some poems for publication and that prompted me to revise some poetry. It is too easy to let our writing slide down the scale of importance during the holidays and during the dismal days of winter. But don't let that happen. Use this time to go through old photographs, albums, files of clippings we have saved to find topics on which to write.
No matter what your genre, you might need something to prompt an idea. I use my winter days to clean out and de-clutter my closets, desk drawers, and kitchen. Often objects I see or discard bring back a memory of something or someone I could write about. An old beer can opener reminded me of the time Barry and Stu bought some beer cheese for a picnic in the mountains. They assumed that since they liked beer, they would love beer cheese. NOT. The beer cheese smelled so bad, neither of them wanted to taste it. That odor had permeated the entire trunk of the car. We laughed and laughed. Barry and Stu made more jokes about the cheese and we still laugh about that day.
Yesterday, while culling old Christmas Cards I had saved, I came across notes and letters from friends who live far away. Bill, from California, has been a friend for many years. He and his twin sister were in high school when Barry and I stayed at his home while his parents went away on a trip. Bill likes to refer to us as his baby sitters.
Bill's yearly notes included his memories of working at Zoellner Music with Barry, moving pianos on Christmas Eve, when Barry and I were in our twenties. Later at my family's business, Hercules Bumpers in Pelham, GA. Barry worked in sales and Bill, after going to college, came to work in sales also. Barry trained Bill and Bill became an excellent salesperson for Hercules Bumpers down in New Orleans. Bill introduced me to eating crawfish and sucking the heads. Ugh!
I had some good laughs reading Bill's Christmas notes from many years ago, but some of those cards included bad news. His delightful mother died and left her husband, Wotan, sad and alone. Years later Bill lost Wotan, and sent us a magazine in which his stepfather, the violinist, was featured. In his nineties, he played the classical pieces he first learned when he was four or five years old. He enjoyed playing for his friends at the assisted living facility where he recided when he died.
I think I will write about Barry and Wotan and Bill, an interesting relationship that lasted for years after their working together ended.
What might you find in your house that will motivate you to write? A book or a movie? A video of a special event? Use what is in your house, in your drawers or closets to find your topic.
Monday, September 1, 2014
Write What You Like. Tuesdays at Tri-County Community College
Tri-county Community College
|21 Campus Circle, Murphy, NC 28906|
September 2- September 23 -- Tuesdays
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Write What You Like: Fiction, Memoir, Articles – Fulfilling Writing Dreams & Goals, Creating New Writing, Revising & Polishing Your Writing:
- This class is designed to help you fulfill your writing goals.
- See what mistakes editors most often find in submissions and learn how to avoid them.
- Gain the knowledge, inspiration and motivation you need to put your words on paper.
- Each week writing prompts will generate material for new writing or further a piece in process.
- Through examples of accomplished writers, you’ll learn techniques to aid you right where you are in the process.
- You'll also get feedback on your work and learn revision tools.
- Small class with interaction and feedback from teacher and other students
Instructor: Glenda C. Beall, published author and poet, experienced teacher and blogger.
Owner/Director of Writers Circle Studio
Register now: Contact -Lisa Long
Director of Community Outreach
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Vicki Lane is a successful novelist who lives in the mountains of NC. I came across an article by Vicki on what a critique group can do to help a writer who is working on a novel. She discusses critique groups and what they should and shouldn't do. I agree with her.
Read by clicking the link below.
Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)