UNCOMMON SENSE: Concrete, Significant, Dynamic Details

Vivid writing engages all the senses. But a writer doesn’t slather cobalt blue and Prussian blue and titanium white onto the page to paint the sky as it darkens before a rain. She can’t reach for her trumpet and belt a B-flat to herald the end of an act. He rarely has the opportunity to slide a sliver of dark chocolate laced with habanero chile between his readers’ lips. And when was the last time a book reached out with a feather and tickled that spot at the base of your neck?  Writers use words to awaken and engage a reader’s …

Continue Reading

The Wild Freedom of 100 Lines

My writing friend in Mexico introduced me months ago to author CM Mayo’s generous web offering: 365 five-minute writing exercises. Somewhere among those exercises is one that suggests writing 100 lines about a story, scene, idea. I don’t remember the exact details of her exercise, but I am completely addicted to the flexibility it has inspired, and I use it all the time. These days, when I’m diving into a new scene, I begin with 100 lines of free association. These free me of fear and lead me to infinite discoveries, including: dialogue, emotionally evocative sensory details, physical descriptions, various …

Continue Reading

FIRST DRAFT, SECOND DRAFT, THIRD DRAFT!

Writing a book is a long and demanding endeavor. It is best accomplished by breaking the process into doable steps. These include dreaming, brainstorming, researching, outlining, and drafting. I am always surprised when writers are surprised by the concept of drafts. I know many writers and not one of them has penned a novel or memoir in one sitting–or even in one draft. Most writers confess to a minimum of two, usually three, and sometimes many more drafts. I suggest you aim gently for three drafts: the first being the rough and wild draft, the second being the editorial revision, the …

Continue Reading

10 Things I know about writing (not in order of importance)

Beginning with 1 – 5 1) I know that writing is in our blood. Follow the twisty, knotty line of our ancestry back through time, and sooner or later, you’ll reach the storyteller. This storytelling business is part of our human DNA. 2) I know that to be a good writer, you must be awake—really listening, observing, feeling, tasting life. Living life! This is a great gift. But sometimes you’ll curse it. Sometimes you’ll be willing to sell your soul for a few minutes of numbed-out oblivion. Take me to the Devil—just let me watch TV. Resist that impulse and …

Continue Reading