Tag Archives: writing tips

Writing Wonder: Riff on a random Word

I’d like to share my ultra-favorite writing exercise with you. Pick up any book that’s close at hand. Close your eyes. Open the book and place your finger randomly on a page. Write a story using that word as inspiration (or move your finger until you can). Alternate: Start your story with an eye-catching phrase […]

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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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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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What makes a flash story?

Flash refers to a very short story. Think of them as elevator stories – a quick smile or flash of diamond, a peek of thigh and whiff of cologne. Read in five minutes, but remembered for a lifetime. You’ll find varying definitions of the length of a flash story, but 300-2000 words is common; a […]

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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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Featured Journal: Brevity

Reading good flash stories walks hand in hand with writing good flash stories, which means you’ve gotta know about Brevity magazine. Brevity is synonymous with flash, and has been publishing stalwart and emerging writers for decades. Be sure to browse the current & past issues, as well as the craft advice, book reviews, and blog. […]

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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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Alternative thesauruses

So, you know how much I love the thesaurus as a writing tool, yes?  Well then you can imagine my excitement at discovering an abundance of alternative thesauruses at Writers Helping Writers. You’ll find links to scads of helpful resources, such as the Weather & Earthly Phenomena Thesaurus, Setting Thesaurus, Symbolism Thesaurus and more. The Character Trait Thesaurus and […]

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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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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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