Tag Archives: writing exercises

Summer writing prompts

I’ve been enjoying reading Abilgail Thomas’ book, Thinking About Memoir. It offers many succinct and thought provoking observations as well as a boat load of compelling writing prompts, and all in a slim 108 pages. One reviewer writes this perfect assessment: “If [you] aren’t afraid to dig deep, zero in on details, write an honest […]

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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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Writing Wonder: Letter to a Friend

This writing exercise teaches you how to skip the preamble and background detail, which you so often don’t have room for in a flash story, and head directly into the intimate detail that makes the story most interesting. … Think of a significant personal event that you shared with a good friend or family member. […]

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Writing Wonder: Wandering List

With this one very easy exercise, you can grab hold of memories you didn’t know you had and generate many flash stories.  It’s also fun to do this exercise in a group well-known to you – they will add flavor to your entries, and vice versa, and remind you of things you had forgotten about. […]

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Writing Wonder: The Scramble

I asked my friend Cathy to write-up this exercise she introduced me to because it produces such surprising results. We use it often in class, and I also frequently modify it by simply cutting paragraphs and sentences apart to a) find a more compelling start for a story and/or b) to show that story structure […]

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11 editing tips

Early drafts are notorious for repetition, indirection and overdevelopment of the trivial. ~Pamela Erens in The Joy of Trimming Now that you’re done free-writing your first draft, you’re ready for more writing – yes, revising is writing. Does the first sentence grab your reader? Beginning with action or a compelling piece of dialog is a […]

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Writing prompts that always work

I recently wrote a guest post for YourStoryCoach.com that gathers together a few of my favorite writing prompts, which coincidentally all contain the word “always.”  I hope you’ll take them for a test drive and share your thoughts and/or results. For extra credit, here’s another great writing prompt: Write about the person who has always […]

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How to write about family & friends

“What a character!”: How to write about loved ones in your life stories Guest post by Tami Koenig I find the most powerful personal stories are about emotionally compelling relationships. When writing the stories from our lives, we naturally focus on our primary relationships—those with our mother, father, brothers, sisters, lovers, partners, children and friends. […]

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From journal entry to flash memoir

I recently wrote a guest post for Mary McCarthy’s Personal Growth Journaling Blog that discusses the value of your journal to provide raw material for your flash stories. The in-the-moment account of your thoughts, feelings, and experiences are the key to the richness of your personal stories. The post also outlines my favorite exercise for […]

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Freeze-frame memoir

Guest post by Jane Hertenstein Much of what I love about flash is about living in the moment. Capturing and seizing a point in time. Freeze framing it—much like a Polaroid snapshot. I like to treat the page like a friend, like a sounding board, or what the poet Frank O’Hara described as unmade phone […]

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3 essential books on writing creative nonfiction

… I’m an avowed writing book junkie. I get a thrill from checking out the latest advice at my library.  Given my habit, it’s pretty telling that I own only three writing handbooks: Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark, Writing Life Stories by Bill Roorbach, and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & David […]

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Warm up with keywords

An essential in writing a flash memoir is refreshing your memory of the scene. Before you start writing, take a few moments to visualize the scene. Step through the physical environment, sequence of events, and your reactions. While doing this, make a list of keywords and phrases that capture the most distinct elements, emotions, and visual cues.  This […]

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