Creative Writing and Nonfiction Writing Class Notes

June 9, 2021  Carol Brennan King

Let’s start with the writing prompts for this week, and this should be especially helpful for those of you who could not make it to class last week. You can use either one of the prompts given below or continue writing on a project you are currently working on for June 16.

Secondly, these prompts are good for both classes. You can write from something that actually happened, whether you are a memoirist or creative writer.

Memoirists: You need to tell the truth, the story as you remember it. Think about writing so that others can enter into or relate to your story.

Creative writers: Remember we talked about mining your past for material for your creative writing. So examine your past for something that might fit the prompts. Or, just make up something inspired by the prompts.

FINALLY, HERE ARE THE PROMPTS:

  1. The weather plays a role in the story or scene. Think about weather events you have lived through and all of the things that they affected. We talked about plans affected, maturing that occurred, or major life changes that resulted. We talked about hurricanes, blizzards or floods, but mine your own life. It could be something as simple as a washed-out road that turned life on its head.
  2. The second prompt is a character or you find something from the past. Think a letter, perhaps from a parent to the other parent, or a locket with a photo in it, perhaps a locked box that begs to be investigated.

So spend some time recollecting, and turn your phone off and just write. We all will be bringing to class something very close to a first draft, so NO apologies are needed for your work. Think about something that will take 5-7 minutes to read, and then we will have a few minutes to interact with everyone’s work.

Remember our philosophy about comments in class. We use the Oreo cookie metaphor (borrowed from Eva Marie Everson).  

  1. Think of one thing that you really liked, in the work. You want to encourage the writer by showing that you noticed something that worked well.
  2. Then you might ask a question about something you didn’t “get.” Or ask the writer to explain something you did not follow, or perhaps there is a question you want to ask about the work – but remember, chose only one thing here to discuss in the middle of your cookie.
  3. Then check the notes you took as the reader read his or her work for another positive comment that you can share.

REMEMBER, there a several of you in class, so you must not try to cover all of possible comments on the work. Allow others to address things that you may also have noticed, but you are careful to share the time and opportunities to think through the material.

The process of listening closely and sharing your encouraging thoughts are as important as pointing out things that might be clarified. Remember, this is a learning process for the listener as well as the writer. When you that you like how someone said something, you are reinforcing the learning, and perhaps helping someone else learn how to do something.

As far as a take-away from last week’s class, remember, you are the only person qualified to tell your story. At the same time, someone else may have been there and witnessed those events, but remembers them differently, their truth.

I encourage you, whether you are a fiction or nonfiction writer to take the time to think about an event that you shared with someone else. Then write about that event twice, once from your perspective, then from that other person’s perspective. This is a useful exercise whether you are writing fiction or nonfiction. It forces you to use your imagination and think through someone else’s head or life experience.

Memoirists: this might enable you to write with more texture and awareness when you think through what might have happened that you did not see at the moment.

My brother Tom, it was his funeral we attended this week in Tennessee. He enriched every life he touched.

Creative writers: this could enable you to write what someone who has a very different from yours in a believable way, if you do your best to look at that same event through very different points of view.

For example: maybe you are really ticked at your parent because they would not let you stay out past 10:30 when you were 15. But what happens when you now think through what they might have been afraid of for you, or how much they must have loved you to give you a curfew knowing you were not going to be thrilled about that.

Happy Writing! See you Wednesday

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