Nancy Hatch Woodward
Nancy Hatch Woodward has
been a freelance writer for over 15 years and has published over 650
articles (the vast majority in national publications). She is
the co-author of Eldercare: Caring for Your Aging Parents
(National Institute of Business Management 2002). In addition,
she has published short stories, poetry, and essays in a number of
publications. Nancy has taught creative writing through
Chattanooga State Community college, college writing at the
University of Tennessee Chattanooga, and business writing for
corporations such as BlueCrossBlueShield of Tennessee. Nancy is also the founder of ChattaRosa, a writing and critiquing group for women.
To find out more about Nancy FOLLOW HERE
We face a clean sheet of paper (or computer screen) and begin our stories and poems – starting tabula rasa. But are we really? Is it a clean slate in front of us? Are our characters pure before we bring them into being? And what about the plot of our stories or point of our poems? Do they just pop out of the ethereal ether? What is the role of the muse if not to bestow upon us eureka experiences to write about?
You think it’s tough to find time to write? You haven’t met Melissa Fay Greene, author of numerous books: Praying for Sheetrock, Finalist for the 1991 National Book Award and a New York Times Notable book; The Temple Bombing; There Is No Me Without You: One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Her Country's Children and her latest, No Biking in the House Without a Helmet.
A good title not only draws readers in, but it can also be the actual start of the piece you are writing or can allude to some crucial meaning hidden in the writing. A good title is as important as your opening line, paragraph, or page – it should catch the attention of the reader as well as providing some insight as to what is coming.
In a rut with your writing? Bored with your sentences, your descriptions, your characters? Is your writing starting to feel contrived? It may be times to shake things up.
As a reader, I often enjoy when an author has provide the details I need to make a leap into the unknown, a leap that takes me into another realm. This leap often comes at the end of a story, where the character is brought to the point of more than one possibility, but the reader is left not knowing what, if any, choice or action was made.
“Don’t take anything personally. Nothings others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” - Don Miguel Ruiz
Critiquing is part of the process that makes us better writers. It’s a great way to learn where you have lost your readers or bored them, where you have problems with how time works in your story, or what doesn’t ring true with your characters.
How well do you capture specific folks in your characters? It’s easy to fall into stereotypes – the country woman, the Bible-thumping preacher, the heart-of-gold hooker, the self-absorbed businessman. But our characters are not stereotypes – they need to be living, breathing individuals. To do that, you need to capture the specifics that transcend stereotypes.
So what is the difference?
“Leonardo Di Vinci’s
search for beauty led him to explore ugliness in many forms.
His sketches of battles, grotesques, and deluges often appear next to
sublime evocations of flowers and beautiful youths.”
– How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci
Does the fear of perfection keep you from writing? I mean, why even try if you can’t be the next William Faulkner, Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, or Isabelle Allende? Why should you even think you have a story to tell in comparison to their stories, and really, what is your little talent compared to theirs?
The more you know, the easier the writing will be and the more your writing will come alive.
“There’s no clear boundary between experience and imagination. Who knows what glimpses of reality we pick up unconsciously, telepathically.” -- Normal Mailer