|Links for Writers|
Every middle- and high-school English teacher knows a good writing prompt spurs fluency on the page. Even students who claim they hate to write will produce three paragraphs if the prompt is interesting/inspiring enough. The challenge, of course, is to devise an assignment that makes students reach for their pens or pencils.
Recently, Cheryl Strayed, who wrote the memoir WILD: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, gave a group of writers some of her favorite prompts. Make no mistake; writers need good prompts as much as the eleven-year-old who insists he hates school and anything that's not skateboarding. Ever spend half the precious hour you scheduled for writing locked in resistance? (Don't wanna write. Can't. Have nothing to say. Who cares what I think?)
Here are a few of Strayed's prompts:
Write about all the secrets that have been kept from you.
Write about a gift that was not well received.
Write about a time when you’d dressed inappropriately for the occasion.
Write about a question you wished you’d asked.
Write about when you knew something was over (or had begun).
Strayed told the writers she met with to respond in their own voice or that of a character. I don't know about you, but I see character turning points in her prompts.
Find more from Strayed in this blog post from Albert Flynn DeSilver: Albert Flynn DeSilver » Great Writing Prompts. Thank you Cheryl Strayed! Meanwhile, keep the prompts handy for your don't wanna/can't moments
Writer and editor William Zinsser, author of ON WRITING WELL, is losing is vision to glaucoma, but his editing skills remain sharp, so he listens while students read their drafts to him. “People read with their ears, whether they know it or not,” Mr. Zinsser says. I dare you to say don't wanna/can't after you read about Zinsser. (Anna DeStefano pointed me to the article. Thanks!)
The next two links come from a post I did this past Sunday for the Women's Fiction Writers Association. I repeat them here because they deserve attention.
Want to be a better critique partner and focus on big-picture problems rather than grammar? Becca Puglisi shares the questions she uses as a checklist when reading her critique partners' work. (I found this one via Gene Lempp's Writing Resources blog post)
Writer Elle Cosimano didn't coin the expression "high stakes plotting," but she explains how to do it.
Your turn: How do you break through don't wanna/can't moments?