One of the first posts I wrote here had to do with finding the right place to write. For me, that meant sitting in the library. But after a few months, my creative juices dried up. I think the space was too quiet. So then I got a desk for the bedroom at home and rearranged the furniture and began writing in there. But that place had too many distractions. Dog, kids, man. A couple of weeks ago, I found the absolute perfect place and it’s not so much a place as it is a website.
Hat tip to Flavorwire for shining a light on this piece of advice published on Letters of Note. It’s from F. Scott Fitzgerald to the aspiring writer at the time, Frances Turnbull, who sent him a story for comment while she was a student at Radcliffe. (The Turnbulls owned a summer house called La Paix, which Fitzgerald rented in 1932-1933 and where he wrote portions of “Tender Is the Night.”) Continue reading
A writer’s ability to evoke emotion is the one skill that separates the greats from the mediocres. I’ve been compiling advice, articles, chapters, blogs posts and more that explain how a write can evoke emotion. So far, all of the examples, tips, and devices and I’ve read explain what to do, and I wrote about this yesterday in my post “Fiction Should Evoke Emotion.” But I think where might be equally important.
The most important thing a piece of fiction can to do is evoke emotion in the reader. This is the goal of all art, isn’t it? To evoke emotion? The question is, how do the great writers do it? I’ve been digging around on this subject quite a bit lately and I have to say, I’m not finding much. It surprises me. I’d expect to see every craft book devoting entire chapters to the topic. I would expect to see entire books devoted to it.
I’m just starting to explore the idea of emotion, so expect more entries on this topic. For now, let me just share a few resources with you that may be helpful. Continue reading
I wanted to point you to a wonderful series of writing lessons that recently appeared in the New York Times. I stumbled upon the last of eight entries written by Constance Hale, a journalist based in San Francisco. This column was devoted to the voice of the storyteller. What I liked about it is that she didn’t provide examples solely from the world of fiction. She dipped into song lyrics and nonfiction as well.
This past Saturday I had difficulty writing. I knew what the problem was right away. I have absorbed a lot of craft ideas as a result of writing this blog, which doesn’t sound like a problem. In fact, it sounds like an advantage. After all, I’m reading as a writer and seeing with greater clarity how some of my favorite writers master story. But I have the same 20/20 vision when it comes to my own work. Unfortunately, I’m seeing with great clarity the awesome crap I’m writing. I tried to stay in the room, but I got sick of the sight of my sentences. I was discouraged. Frustrated. I had to take a break. Just needed to back away from the computer before I tossed it over the balcony. I pulled out a craft book for some recuperative reading and stumbled upon this little nugget from Philip Roth in Nail Your Novel, by Rox Morris. Continue reading
Recently, I started going to a fitness trainer who is trained as a functional movement specialist. After listening to my goals and then assessing my flexibility and balance, she told me that some major tension I had complained about in my upper back and shoulders was due to my right hip being slightly tilted forward. I didn’t know what she was talking about. I was sure that I had tension and pain in my upper back from sitting at a computer for hours on end and using a mouse. Nope, she said. It’s from your hips. She gave me corrective exercises to do. I was skeptical. What do my hips have to do with the tension in my neck and upper back? Continue reading