Creative Writing and Memoir Class Notes

Intent of the Year – ANYTHING BUT TOAST

Photo by Anna-Louise from Pexels

June 23, 2021    Carol Brennan King

Hello everyone!

It is summer, and we are doing some different things in class this summer. Today was devoted primarily to putting some resources into your hands and then trusting you find them helpful.

BUT FIRST: Our prompt for the week, in case you do not have something you want to write about already, is this: think about July 4.

Parades, picnics, fireworks, family traditions, special foods. Even fathers who shoot of their rifles at midnight! Make a list of your own July 4th traditions and then choose one to write about and share in class next week.

http://clipart-library.com/clipart/american-flag-clip-art-16.htm

We spent some time sharing favorite books and why we loved that particular book. In general, there was a consensus that we were drawn into the story by the action and by characters with whom we could relate or care about. So we need to take care as we write both our characters and what happens to them so that our reader will stay engaged. we need to make sure they are drawn into the story, not feeling like they are in a class lecture. B-O-R-I-N-G before long.  That happens when we are too “telly,” or when we never took the time to develop our characters or story line so that the reader had someone to care about.

We also talked about some practical helps, more for the time we are editing than when we are in the creative phase of the work. It is not easy always to pull up from our memories the truth about grammar and punctuation. We cannot afford to just lean on what we think we remember from those English comp or grammar classes we took a while ago.

So here you go, just put the cursor on the url and use control and click

  1. https://www.lexico.com/grammar/grammar-a-z

Some grammatical terms may be familiar to you, but others can be confusing or hard to remember. Clicking on any term, then the page will give you a quick and clear definition. Below the categorized section, you’ll find all the terms listed from A–Z, so you can browse that way if you prefer.

2. https://www.grammarly.com/blog/category/handbook/

Grammar rules: Find answers to all your writing conundrums with this simple guide to basic English grammar rules. Subjects covered include the following: grammar, punctuation, mechanics (like abbreviations, contractions or capitalization), techniques (think poetry or creative writing terms like hyperbole, onomatopoeia, idioms and similes) and finally Style (think passive voice, they as singular, and other constructions).

3. https://www.grammarbook.com/ This is an online version of the text I used to teach the English comp class in Jamaica. It is easy to look up rules and illustrations of them.

4. https://blog.reedsy.com/guide/short-story/?utm_source=mailparrot&utm_campaign=blog_short_story_guide

This is a blog, and this entry dicusses what a short story is – giving examples and definitions. You can click on the following prompt and check out their list of 31 best short stories.

Reedsy also offers a free course on how to write a short story – this offer is on the page the above prompt will take you to.

If you are new to our classes or have missed the one where we talked about the value of blocking out time to write, don’t worry. A bit of review: the point is, you are a writer and you need to treat yourself that way. even if you can only start with dedicating 10 or 15 minutes a day, do that. You may find that you get on a roll, and end up writing longer.

Runners, musicians, painters, quilters, swimmers – don’t just go out there without having spent time in regular discipline, exercising their muscles doing what they love to do, what they dream of excelling at. They DID NOT start out great.

Writers are no different. You are here in class because you have a calling, a story to tell, and you want to do it well. So treat yourself just like you would your child when you pay for their lessons and when you say, “You are there to learn!”

You are home (or in the library or the coffeeshop or even the kitchen), to practice. So my friends, start with appointments that you make with yourself for a time period you can manage – maybe three days a week for 15 minutes for starters. And like an athlete, eventually you will build up to more time and more frequency.

And you will begin to read and write like a writer – we talked about this in class. When you read a line you love…copy it into your notebook. Figure out how the writer did that. How did they suck you in, make you want to write like that? When you are done with your work, look at it. Maybe the next day. What did you do well? and I promise you, you did some good things there. And fix what you don’t like.

I have to see about supper so I am going to close here. Hope to see you in class next week.

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