Sunday, January 26, 2014

December (Yes, I typed December!)

The following post was inadvertently saved as a draft instead of being posted appropriately in December.  Please accept my apologies as user error is the only explanation.  I would encourage everyone to enjoy the writing prompts below and please bring them to the next meeting to share or email them to me for posting. 

Happy reading and writing! 

Dennis passed out some slides at the last meeting at Puccino’s in Metairie summarizing what
he, Dawn, and Allen have learned at the Louisiana Writing Institute class they are taking at Loyola. If you weren’t at the meeting, you can e-mail him at for a pdf copy. 

We had a good critique of Allen’s amazing work and all urged him to get it out as soon as possible (so we can read the rest, if for no other reason!). We tested out a new way of timing the individual critiques so that everyone got a chance to speak, and it seemed to work out to everyone’s satisfaction.

We also discussed making a short, intensive critiquing session a regular or occasional part of the meetings. These would last about 30 minutes and involve a line-by-line examination of either a published work or one of our own short works. Dennis volunteered to have one of his short stories dissected the first time as an experiment. We’re looking at this as an on-going learning tool to sharpen writing skills and a way for our more experienced writers to mentor our newer ones.  

Because writing improves with practice, we are also continuing our writing prompts. These, of course, are completely voluntary, and they are strictly for fun, but we all enjoy writing, right? The last time, we read our pieces aloud, with minimal critiquing, and that seemed  to work out well. Let’s do it some more! If you don’t want to do the prompt, bring in a short piece or fragment of what you’re working on, plot idea, mood piece, poem, whatever moves you! Short is better, given the time constraints of reading each piece at the meeting, but if the muse moves you, go long by all means! And if you can’t keep to the conceptual limits of the prompt, write anyway!

Here are three prompts for our next meeting (February 6th):

1) Three one-pagers (300-400 words each)
a) Middle aged woman views a cabin where her son died. Describe what she sees and how she feels without mentioning the death directly (i.e., don’t write “Johnny blew himself up in an unfortunate chemistry kit experiment in the basement.”).
b) A 20-something man describes a cabin where he played as a child. Describe what he sees and how he feels without mentioning the fact that he played there directly.
c) Writer’s choice.

The exercise here is to paint a scene using 'important detail' instead of relying on lists of descriptors. An 'important detail' is one the observer registers, not merely sees (we all see tons of things when we look at a scene, but we only pick out details that are relevant to us). In a story, an important detail is a detail that advances the story in some way (plot, action, suspense, color, mood, emotion). E.g., you could say "He had a typical alcoholic's face." or "His bulbous nose had so many broken capillaries it rivaled that of Rudolf the famous reindeer." Note that the three scenes do not have to be linked (though they may be if you want) and they do not have to constitute a complete story (though they may if you want).