Concentrate on the Why

Students often ask if I think they have the talent to write their story.  I’ve never met anyone with a desire to write who didn’t have a love for words. Lifelong readers have been training themselves to become a writer since they first learned to read. If you have the desire to write, just write. Start getting the words on the page. Don’t worry about the how, think about the why of your story. Why do you want to tell this story? Why do you think others might benefit from hearing it? Concentrate on the why and the how will follow.  

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Memoir Class for Minnesota Writers

If you live in Minnesota, I have a few memoir writing classes coming up that you might be interested in. Along with my Writing in the Pines Retreat this weekend, I will also be teaching at the following locations in October: The Loft Literary Center, Minneapolis  Saturday, October 1, 2011  1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Beginning Memoir: Finding Your Story           phone 612-379-8999 for information MacRostie Art Center, Grand Rapids   Monday, October 3, 2011 from 1-4 p.m.  Beginning Memoir: Finding Your Story   phone 218-326-2697 for information Pine City Community Ed, Pine City  Tuesdays 6-8 p.m. (Classes meet October 4, 11, 18, and 25)  Memoir Building Blocks                  phone 320-629-4030 for information If you have friends in the Minneapolis, Pine City or Grand...

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How to Describe Characters

We are all guilty of it. The boring, ho-hum character description—brown eyes, brown hair, tall, or thin. I’m preparing class notes for my Writing in the Pines retreat this weekend. When we aren’t eating and writing, we will be talking about characters and scene. I’m digging through my favorite books to find great descriptions I can use as examples. One of my favorite go-to authors is A. Manette Ansay. She’s written some great novels (Vinegar Hill, Sister, Blue Water, River Angel) and even a memoir titled Limbo. I often search Ansay’s books for examples because she is a master describer of setting and characters. In one of her books (sorry, I can’t remember which)she has a minor character who only comes into the book a few...

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Advice on First Pages

I love this quote from John Irving — When in doubt, or wherever possible, tell the whole story of the novel in the first sentence. Are you stuck on the first page of your story, unsure of how to proceed? I’m going to give you some advice that may seem odd: write your first page after you have finished your story or book. Radical? Perhaps. But writers often don’t know what they are writing about until the book is almost finished. One of the requirements of a good first page is that it must point the reader in the direction the story will take. If you haven’t developed your novel or memoir completely, you just might miss something you really need on that first page. Write the first page as a rough draft and then move on. As you continue writing,...

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What Beginning Writers Should Know

I ran across this link on a friend’s facebook page and just had to share it. Ira Glass,a famous story teller, gives some great advice for beginner writers. It’s very short, but packs a huge message. Enjoy! http://vimeo.com/24715531

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