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The power of family stories

I’m resurrecting this post because the article cited is so affirming.  Affirmation is welcome even when recycled, right? ——————————————— Storytelling hit the news recently, in the New York Times no less, with research regarding the importance of family stories on child development. Bruce Feiler authored the article about a study conducted by Marshall Duke at Emory […]

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Create associations for your reader

This great advice is about the associations you create with the words you choose in your story, and the need for mindful precision. It’s focused on poets and adjectives, but applies equally to flash story writers and to nouns and verbs … Ted Kooser, in the Poetry Home Repair Manual, writes:  You may have been […]

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Pros & cons of present tense in memoir

Have you tried to write a memoir in present tense? It’s a perfect fit for many memoirs, but can be challenging for the writer. I recently attended a panel discussion on this topic at the 2014 AWP conference, presented by Kate Hopper, Hope Edelman, Bonnie Rough, Marybeth Holleman, and Ryan Van Meter, and they had […]

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Add some crackle

It’s called onomatopoeia and it’s words that bring sound to your stories.  Merriam-Webster defines it as 1) the naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it (buzz, hiss)  2) the use of words whose sound suggests the sense (hiccup). Make a list of word sounds you like.  […]

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Trap your story topics

I have found it extremely useful to keep a list of subjects or, more specifically, scenes I want to write about as they occur to me. And, since things to write about nearly always occur to me at inconvenient times – in the shower, during a conversation with a friend, while I’m reading a book, while […]

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Economize with setting descriptions

With length of prose being the perennial challenge in flash storytelling, making setting descriptions crisp and meaningful is paramount.  A great description of place can be helpful in compressing a story by serving double-duty and illuminating a character or other necessary story element. For example, a thoughtful description of the contents of your dad’s desk is […]

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Blind your inner editor

I was talking about Flash Memoirs at my book club the other day and a fellow writer/reader threw out a brilliant idea: To stun your inner editor into giving you a moment’s peace, use a symbol font such as Wingdings, or change your font to white, while writing on your computer.  When you’re ready to review […]

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Color of our words

In this piece, Rick Bragg uses the dialogue of the South to draw a beautiful illustration of place and character. I hope you miss half the fun on your first read through because you’re too busy thinking about how you’re going to do this in your next story … The Color of Words by Rick Bragg […] […]

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Your memoir vs. your memory

Soon after we begin writing our personal stories in earnest, we all bump into the issue of not remembering or having access to certain necessary details. For the most conscientious writers, this can become a quagmire of delay and conflict.  At minimum, it spurs frustration and doubt.  If that isn’t enough, there’s also the issue of […]

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Go small to go big later

Memories, moments, scenes, nothing longer than a few pages, some only a line or two. These bits and pieces kept flying out of me, and I kept writing them down. ~Abigail Thomas, author of Thinking About Memoir With most projects, I find that breaking them down into small specific pieces makes for greater success, and […]

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13 writerly quotes for inspiration

These are just a few of my favorite quotes about writing, which I hope provide some inspiration for you too.  For a tasty endless supply, browse #writequote on Twitter. Their stories are not so different from my stories and their healing aids my healing. ~Len Leatherwood My writer self is braver than the rest of […]

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Top 5 posts of 2013

It’s always interesting to review the blog stats at the end of the year to see what has risen to the top: 1.  This post, at the heart of it all, was the most widely read for the second year in a row.      What makes a flash story? 2.  This post garnered the most […]

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