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Tuesdays with Story

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January 18th, 2022

Flannery O’Connor

“I write to discover what I know.”
The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor

Here’s who presented on Tuesday evening:

Kashmira Sheth (Nina Soni, Perfect Hostess, chapters 10, 11)

Kashmira submitted the last few chapters of Nina Soni, Perfect Hostess. Most of the comments were positive, including the ending. Mike wanted a scene when they drove back after dropping Nina’s grandma and cousin. John had a comment about popcorns vs popcorn. Amber had few small suggestions. 

John Schneller (Blessed Daughter, chapter 28)

We discussed the dynamics of using two story lines. While it is difficult to know the full impressions of a reader who is reading it straight through versus our biweekly breaks between chapters, there is a significant contrast between the two storylines. A larger volume of story is attached to Kotel while the more intense with Nia. Her segments would benefit from development of Nia‘s thoughts and emotions.

Amber Boudreau (Dragoneer 2, final)

Amber read from her final chapters of The Dragoneer 2, the first chapters of which she submitted to the group a year ago in January of 2021. John suggested getting right into the action and not even show Moira arriving at the room. Jamie had questions about Cal and the Librarian but applauded the book ending with such a solid mix of emotions. Also, he may not have liked the first lines of the submission, but John thought the last lines could stand.

Bob Kralapp (What Did You Think I Meant?, short story)

Both Amber and Kashmira made comments about the children at the pool and just how they fit into the story. Jaime suggested having more of Warren’s observations about the other characters and how their lives might continue after college. Mike felt that the characters were well done although Warren needed background. Great suggestions all.

Next Meeting

On February 1st, the meeting will be at Larry Sommer’s house. The meeting link is:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82771394742?pwd=QXlKWUNjTDVnYlVjUk83Vk1lVVNMdz09

For February 1st, the presenters will be:

Jaime Nelson-Noven (chapter, New York After All)

Bob Kralapp (?)

John Schneller (chapters, Blessed Daughter)

Larry F. Sommers (?)

Our Editor

Jaime Nelson-Noven will edit the February Writer’s Mail. If you have something good you’d like her to include in the next issue, email it to her.

A few thoughts from Ann Lamott on what it means to be a writer:

“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.”
―from Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

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Tuesdays with Story
August 21, 2020

The first word . . .

How to begin a new piece? “Look for a sentence that interests you, a sentence whose possibilities you like because of the potential you see in its wake. I don’t mean a ‘fantastic first sentence’ or one that sounds ‘introductory.’ I don’t mean a sentence that sounds first because it sounds like other first sentences you’ve read. I don’t mean the kind of first sentence teachers sometimes talk about—the one that grabs the reader. The reader doesn’t need grabbing. She needs to feel your interest in the sentence you’ve chosen to make. Nothing more.”

―Verlyn Klinkenborg, Several Short Sentences About Writing

Tuesday evening, oh, so non-political for TWS . . .

Eight gathered on Zoom to critique the work of six of their colleagues, and no one asked are we going to adjourn on time so I can watch the second hour of the Democratic National Convention. Larry lent a casual tone to the evening by every now and then sipping from his glass of wine. Here is some of what was said in the critiques:

Kashmira Sheth (children’s picture book, Dot and Dash!) . . . Kashmira shared her picture book manuscript with the group. Most like the concept. John suggested changing one part of the ending. Jerry asked about the Pentagon doing five things to prepare Dot for the race. Larry asked what Dash means by “If I lose, I am doomed.” Huckle pointed out that a dash with two dots was also a division sign. Thank you all for your comments. (more…)

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Tuesdays with Story
July 10, 2020

The first word . . .

Billy Wilder’s 10 Screenwriting Tips:

  • The audience is fickle.
  • Grab ‘em by the throat and never let ‘em go.
  • Develop a clean line of action for your leading character.
  • Know where you’re going.
  • The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer.
  • If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act.
  • A tip from Lubitsch: Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you forever.
  • In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees. Add to what they’re seeing.
  • The event that occurs at the second act curtain triggers the end of the movie.
  • The third act must build, build, build in tempo and action until the last event, and then—that’s it. Don’t hang around.

Tuesday evening on Zoom . . .

Storms prevented John Schneller from using his computer to reach us on Zoom, so he joined us by way of his cellphone. Seven others, though, joined us in the regular way. Here is some of what was said in the critiques: (more…)

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(Apologies for the delay in posting. Times being what they are, I appreciate your patience.)

Tuesdays with Story
May 8, 2020

The first word . . .

I write for myself and strangers. The strangers, dear Readers, are an afterthought.

Gertrude Stein

They met on Zoom . . .

Huckle joined eight of our regulars Tuesday evening gathered in front of their computers to critique the stories and chapters of five of our writers. Here are summaries of the critiques they received:

— Bob Kralapp (chapter 15, Capacity) . . .  There were a few mentions of the chapter’s eerie otherworldly feeling and of Melissa’s POV. This was, mainly, the point of the chapter. That, and giving her character a bit more visibility in the proceedings. The light at the end was meant as an antidote to the alienating (to her) carnival scene. Amber pointed out that the tense in this paragraph is inconsistent and needs attention. (more…)

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(Apologies for the late posting of this newsletter. Times being what they are, I think you for your patience.)

Tuesdays with Story
April 24, 2020

The first word . . .

In the age of pandemic:

“If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door- or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present.”

― Rabindranath Tagore

They met on Zoom . . .

Eight of our colleagues—Larry, Jerry, John, Mike, Amit, Kashmira, Jack, and Paul—gathered Tuesday evening in front of their computers, bottles of beer and glasses of wine in hand . . . hey, now that’s the way to meet . . . to critique the stories and chapters of four of our writers. Here is some of what was said:

John Schneller (chapter 18, Broken rewrite) . . .  The significant elements in this chapter made it a good read for most. The healing in a two-step human/supernatural process held interest. The wolves proved brutal enough to be a formidable antagonist. Larry discussed a stronger revision on Silent Eyes’ philosophical dialogue and Jerry provided significant comings and goings of commas and paragraph breaks.  Thanks for all the comments! (more…)

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Tuesdays with Story
February 21, 2020

The first word . . .

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”
― Jack London

“I hate writing, I love having written.”
― Dorothy Parker

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Learning music is hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it because it’s so much fun.”

My old friend John, a jazz pianist who was teaching me basic guitar chords. Much later, when I could finally do a few chord progressions without effort, I realized that he was right. It’s good to know that other writers, and musicians, talk about their craft being work, something that they have to practice or they lose the muscle memory of that skill. And unlike piano playing, writing can be practiced almost anywhere.

 

Last Tuesday evening with Tuesdays with Story…

 Nine dedicated folk gathered together at Barnes & Noble to discuss their work. (more…)

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Tuesdays with Story

February 4, 2020 meeting.

The first word…

Ernest Hemmingway wrote: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” But that seems a little too dramatic to me, like the guitar player saying he “played until my fingers bled.” Really? More realistically from Hemmingway is, “The first draft of anything is shit.” Years later, Anne Lamott followed up on this idea with an entire chapter of her book on writing, “Bird by Bird,” entitled, “Shitty First Drafts,” which explained that it’s okay to have a first draft that might be a little rough. I’m not sure where I’m going with that, except to say that it’s good to know that even Hemmingway had to start somewhere. (more…)

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Tuesdays with Story
January 25, 2020

The first word . . .

“Five common traits of good writers: (1) They have something to say. (2) They read widely and have done so since childhood. (3) They possess what Isaac Asimov calls a ‘capacity for clear thought,’ able to go from point to point in an orderly sequence, an A to Z approach. (4) They’re geniuses at putting their emotions into words. (5) They possess an insatiable curiosity, constantly asking Why and How.”
― James J. Kilpatrick (1920-2010), newspaper journalist, columnist, author, writer and grammarian

Tuesday evening at ye olde booksellers . . .

Seven hearty souls gathered around the tables—yes, we had two tables—at Barnes & Noble Westside to work over chapters of four of their colleagues. Here is some of what was said:

— Larry F. Sommers (chapters 38-39, Freedom’s Purchase) . . . Jerry wondered how Anders could hold a rag to Will’s head when they were walking to the hospital. He also noted there was too much detail on Grant’s military maneuvers, and a big dump of pointless information on Daniel’s activities before hiring on as a hospital aide. Amber was interested in the romantic possibilities of Anders’ possible demise. Jerry was bemused by the thought that maybe Maria, rather than Anders, is the main character—a possibility suggested by the structure of the story. Thanks to all for comments. (more…)

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Writer’s Mail

Tuesdays with Story
November 25, 2019

The first word . . .

“The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon.”

― Robert Cormier (1925-2000), author of YA novels

Tuesday evening at B&N Westside . . .

Hey, we had a long table to gather around for our last meeting of the year at B&N Westside. Five of our colleagues shared their works. Here is some of what was said:

— Huckleberry Rahr (synopsis and chapters 1-2, YA novel) . . . (more…)

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Tuesdays with Story
November 14, 2019

The first word . . .

“If you want to concentrate deeply on some problem, and especially on some piece of writing or paperwork, you should acquire a cat. Alone with the cat in the room where you work, the cat will invariably get up on your desk and settle under the desk lamp. The light from a lamp gives the cat great satisfaction. The cat will settle down and be serene, with a serenity that passes all understanding. And the tranquility of the cat will gradually come to affect you, sitting there at your desk, so that all the excitable qualities that impeded your concentration compose themselves and give your mind back the self-command it has lost. You need not watch the cat all the time. Its presence alone is enough.”

― Muriel Spark (1918-2006), Scottish novelist, short story writer, poet and essayist

Tuesday evening at B&N Westside . . .

A small group gathered, six of our regular writers plus a guest, Huckleberry Rahr, a math prof at UW/Whitewater and write of YA novels looking for help in getting published. She joined the group and is on the schedule for November 19 (more…)

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