I feel emotions very strongly. This is something I (usually) love about myself because it helps me to live my life to the fullest. When I’m happy, I’m happy! And even when I’m sad, I like how open I am about my sadness. I don’t believe in bottling things up or shoving emotions down. I think that when we force ourselves to ignore how we feel, we cheat ourselves out of experiencing the fullness of what it means to be a person. Emotions are beautiful, even when they’re difficult.
This week, write a story or a poem driven by emotion. It can be sadness, anger, joy, nostalgia, anxiety, or any other emotion you want. But whatever the emotion is, allow it to drive your characters and your plot.
Happy writing, friends, and don’t be afraid to feel!
I have many fiction friends who are incredible writers and incredible readers. I keep them up on poetry, they keep me up on fiction. A friend of mine recently demanded I read Susan Minot’s short story ‘Lust.’ It blew me away. The form felt so effortless, but I know how skilled Minot must be to have accomplished such incredible style and prose. I am currently writing a non fiction essay, reading Minot’s story inspired me to model it after ‘Lust.’ I have not been able to find a body for my essay and believe it may find it through the exercise of vignettes The story inspired me in many ways and I hope it will inspire you for this weeks exercise.
First read ‘Lust’ and pay attention to the form, to the seamless shifts in story and tone. She does all the changes without introduction or explanation. Once you have sunk into the short story, try to write a story modeled after this form. Pick a word of inspiration, like Demise or Infatuation, and tell as many vignettes connecting to the title as possible. This week may not produce a work you stick with it, but it should remind you that we have to be as good (if not better) of a reader as we are a writer.
Since Writers’ League of Texas is based out of downtown Austin, we are thinking a lot about the upcoming Formula 1 Race. Traffic, anyone? This made me wonder, how many of our readers wanted to be race car drivers when they were little? Or a fireman, or a veterinarian, or a circus clown? I wanted to be a rockstar. I am just dating one now, does that count?
This week, go back in time to your childhood hopes and aspirations. Write out five different things you wanted to be when you ‘grew up.’ From those five things, chose 1 to live out and 1 to write about. If one of the dreams was to be a professional tap dancer, this week take a dance lesson. Or if one was to the President, this week volunteer at an event happening at the Capital.
Next, the second choice of five is to live it out via a short story, at a very hightened time of your career. If the dream was to be a Marine Biologist, write about discovering a new species of coral. Or if the dream was to be a Disney Princess at DisneyWorld, write about your first day on the job in mid July.
Have a chat with your inner child this week. He/She is way more fun, anyway.
Good dialogue is unmistakable. It can electrify a piece of writing and bring an otherwise listless story to life. It can create tension from nothing, advance a stalling plot, reveal hidden motives, and add depth through subtext. Yet many writers—even those with years of experience—struggle with it. Why? Because crafting realistic dialogue is not the same as crafting compelling dialogue.
This week, to highlight the upcoming WLT workshop “He Said, She Said: The Art of Dialogue in Fiction,” write two pages of dialogue. Find your characters from a prior daily interaction you witnessed; an elderly couple in the market, two strangers at the bank, a cashier and teenager at the gas station. Try to focus on the dialogue, versus painting the scene. Allow two new voices to guide the writing, the freedom may take you to a place you would not have arrived out with out them!