Creative Writing and Memoir Writing July 14, 2021

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Carol Brennan King

Both classes may benefit from these notes because whether you are writing fiction or nonfiction, you must be authentic.

That means you may have to check and confirm what you think you remember, for fiction and for nonfiction. The narrative must take place in an authentic and believable world, believable because you have examined all of the realities possible for the period.

photos supplied by Evelyn Rothrock

  1. What did people wear? Unless you are writing fantasy or science fiction, your costuming must be appropriate to the time. And if you are writing imaginatively, you must have a consistency to the garb of your characters, not that everyone wears the same costume, but that you don’t put someone in something that better fits 1950 than 2050.Here’s a fashion history timeline:
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Garments made and modeled by Evelyn Rothrock

2. What did houses look like? Average houses built since my childhood have doubled in size. By 1950, the typical new home had not grown at all, averaging about 1,000 square feet. It still had just two bedrooms and one bath, but was much more likely to be a single-story ranch plan best represented by the Levittown houses bought by scores of returning World War II veterans.

But even 50 years ago, more than 35 percent of American homes still lacked complete plumbing facilities (hot and cold piped water, a bathtub or shower and a flush toilet), according to the Census Bureau.Here’s a place to begin when you are researching Home history

3. Perhaps you are looking for a place to set your story or you want to know how your town compares with others. This site,  The Worst City to Call Home in Every State, gives median home value, poverty rate, and five-year average unemployment  and some of the reasons for these numbers and classification:

4. What did you do back then, or what did your parents do? Or what could your characters do to make a living? Check out

Jobs by salary:

Full time jobs, part time jobs, warehouse jobs, hourly jobs

Six Figure Income jobs ($100,000+)

High Income jobs ($80,000 – $100,000)

Upper Middle Income jobs ($50,000 – $80,000)

Middle Income jobs ($30,000 – $50,000)

Entry Level Income jobs ($10,000 – $30,000)

5. Education Changes I started school in a building that housed two grades to a room. Needless to say, there have been many changes in education. Check those possibilities out at Education changes :

6. Students Through the Decades: How Have They Changed?

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Old school bus

Students then and now:

Key is difference between numbers of whites – diminishing, Hispanic, blacks, and Asian  increasing

Traditionalists are known as the “silent generation” because children of this era were expected to be seen and not heard. They’re those who were born between 1927 and 1946, and they average in age from 75 to 80 years old in 2018.

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This site Includes stats on education, degrees women working outside the home, marriage rates and ages, percentage involved in military (10 to 1), greater percentage now live in metropolitan settings

7. What would a room or inside of house look like where your story took place? Confirm your memory here. Furniture styles by the decade:  not a lot here

Good place to start:


8.Did your dad hunt? Is your character a gun-toting dame or dude? Then check out guns used in crime  or outdoor life.



9. Drug use

The History of Drugs in Twentieth Century America

Online Resources for Creative Writers

Poets & Writers
This website not only provides ready access to databases of literary magazines, small presses, literary agents, MFA programs and writing contests, it also has information about how to get published, and an active community of writers who share information, support, and advice.

Grammar Girl
Aptly billed as “your friendly guide to the world of grammar, punctuation, usage and fun developments in the English language,” Grammar Girl will set you straight when you’re feeling insecure about your use of a semicolon.

Jane Friedman
When it comes to the topic of publishing in the digital age, there are few people more knowledgeable than former Writer’s Digest publisher Jane Friedman. Her blog includes posts on topics ranging from “how to find a literary agent,” to “best practices for author Facebook pages,” and “the complete guide to query letters.”

Brain Pickings
If it’s inspiration you’re after, look no further than this treasure trove of ideas. Curated by the endlessly curious Maria Popova, Brain Pickings is a one-woman labor of love that will provide you endless intellectual and creative stimulation.
sunday newsletter

Brain Pickings has a free Sunday digest of the week’s most interesting and inspiring articles across art, science, philosophy, creativity, children’s books, and other strands of our search for truth, beauty, and meaning.

Writer’s Digest
Another great one-stop shop for creative writers, this site hosts everything from writing advice and prompts, to publishing tips, to community forums and blogs (and you don’t have to be a magazine subscriber to access it). | The Academy of American Poets
When you’re in need of motivation, this website has lots of essays on “why writing matters.” It also has an extensive collection of over 5,000 poems by writers past and present. 

Literary Market Place 
The LMP is a directory of book publishers and literary agents in the U.S. and Canada.

Kirkus Reviews – “Word on the Street”
Every week, Kirkus posts a Q&A with a publisher, agent, or bookseller on the Pro Connect part of their website. This is a great resource for writers looking for the inside scoop from industry professionals.

Literary Hub
Dubbed “the best of the literary internet,” LITHUB curates daily and weekly lists of engaging and informative articles from across the literary spectrum. They also publish original content and exclusive excerpts by great writers.

U.S. Copyright Office 
This is dryer reading for sure (it’s the government after all), but here you will find everything you need to know about copyrighting, including a step-by-step guide to registering your work.

I owe special thanks to Evelyn Rothrock, a talented young woman I met when she was a college student, who is now a talented designer and creator, among other things.

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