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Entries in writing (28)


Week Twenty Eight: Objective dialogue, subjective description

I have absolutely no idea what this means. Was this advice given specifically to me, or was it more of a general imperative?

What would subjective dialogue even look like?

So, this should be interesting! Any ideas?


Week Twenty Seven: Parented!

Read it. Read it and weep.

Between this and last week's story (or excerpt, I guess), I seem to be 1,290 words into a fantasy novel I had outlined about a month ago but then sat on. The great surprise is how much I enjoy writing a scene here and another scene there, rather than starting at the start and working my way through. I'm someone who has to watch movies and their sequels in the order they were intended. I'll never read the end of a book before I begin it (not to name names, Breda). 

But for some reason none of that applies here. Maybe it's because I have so much reverence for story that I'm terrified of writing a bad one, but if I can just sit down and tell myself Today, the merchant talks to Garith about parenting and taking responsibility... and also he's kinda drunk, it feels more like playing than work. I know some (or many) of the details will change later, but for now I'm just exploring character. And building something, scene by scene.

So the time has come, ladies and gents. I'm gonna try to write a book. I'm setting myself a deadline of October 31st for the rough draft (~90,000 words). Too ambitious? I defy your caution.

Please wish me luck (and lots and lots of impulse control).

Meanwhile, did this week's prompt do anything for your own writing?


Week Twenty Seven: Write about parenthood

"Write about parenthood"?!

What about it, Freshman Me? Be more specific. Twelve years from now when you are (thank jeebus) still not a parent, you will be perplexed by this one. You will find it difficult to make a story out of it for your blog. Others will, too.

So some consideration, please, Freshman Me. If it's not too much.

Anyway, you have your assignment. No minimum word count this time. Write however much your unshaven muse compels you to. 

See you Sunday!


Q&A, Part II: Online resources essential to the working writer

Nick Fox asks:

Q&A time: Are there any other websites/online resources you consider essential to being a working writer?

Depends how easily distracted a working writer is! For instance, I went just now to my Google Reader replacement, The Old Reader, to see which of the writerly blogs I follow I wanted to mention here, and I saw that Rock, Paper, Shotgun posted a review of a PC version of Space Hulk, which is a board game that seems to have a rabid following and one I suspect I might like...

Damn it. You see? For the easily distracted working writer, the best online resources are probably those that prevent said writer from accessing websites at all: something like Freedom (a Mac app) that prevents you from accessing the internet during a time you specify (there's almost certainly a Windows equivalent). Personally, to train myself to focus more I've been using the Pomodoro Technique I learned about from Ryan Casey's blogfree if you use a timer that's already on your iPod, cell phone, computer, kitchen stove, sundial, etc.

If this working writer is still undeterred, determined to gain inspiration and swears it's not procrastination, I'd say that the Wall Street Journal of the publishing industry today is The Passive Voice. It is biased somewhat toward the self-publishing movement, but once you read a few entries you'll have a hard time finding fault with his logic. It's through The Passive Voice that I discovered many of my other favorite blogs: TERRIBLEMINDSDean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch... It's a compulsively readable rabbit hole, my friend. I've learned a lot, but I can't tell you with a straight face that any of that time wouldn't have been better spent just writing. I think the authors of all those blogs would agree.

As for online resources, I will recommend this without reservation: Workflowy. It's a web-based to-do list that you can format any way you like and access from any computer with internet access. I use this to get track of everythingstory ideas, web project ideas, rough onlines, idea dumps, freewriting, websites/books I want to check out, even chores (the most-neglected category). It's replaced the tired old notebooks I used to carry with me everywhere. God help me if the site ever goes down...

A writing/organization program I frequently use but wouldn't yet swear by is Scrivener. If you're already someone who will spend too much time planning when you ought to be just diving in, Scrivener will not sing to your better angels. It is made for planning. But it has a lot of great featuresthe ability to rearrange your ideas and chapters on the fly and output the final product in any format you can imagine (docx, pdf, epub, etc.), a character name generator, an easy place to throw all your random research and notes, etc. etc. The website has a trial version so it's worth checking out if your interest is piqued! 

I'm sure I'm forgetting things. Any other websites/online resources I should have listed, intrepid readers?



Here I am, up on my writerly soapbox, "Do this challenge! Do that one!" And I've never thought to ask what you guys want to hear about.

So today is question and answer time. Are you considering pursuing a degree in Creative Writing but are on the fence? Are you considering pursuing a second degree in Creative Writing and are wondering if you've gone insane? Do you suffer from crippling writer's block? Are you just curious about Emerson College, or Boston, or about having a full-time job and/or significant other and/or a pet of some kind while also chasing down the writerly dream? Want to know what it's like to drive an ice cream truck? Or to have a paper route? Or to be a real estate agent? Or a college professor? 

All these and more are things I could tell you. 

Whatcha wanna know?


On running and writing (righting?)

From the always excellent blog Fangs and Clause, some Friday inspiration for the writers, runners, and writer/runners among us:

Even a little bit of writing/running is amazing. You are awesome. You ran two miles/wrote four pages without stopping? You are a superhero. A million people never even get that far. Sure, if you want to write a book/run a marathon, you might want to be more focused. But even super-runner Dr. Cougar started somewhere.

Read the rest here!

While punishing ourselves for all the words we definitely should have written by now but haven't, it's easy to forget that we're still in the lead compared to everyone else who does not write. (If writing were a race... which it is not... OR IS IT.)

Small, achievable goals, folks. Like, oh, say, 200 words on Week Twenty Three's prompt, perhaps?


Week Twenty One: The second time she pushed me under...

Goodness, such violence.

Like Week Twenty, this one was also intended to be a first line. And so, similarly, feel free to use it as a first line, second line, last line, or even as a thematic springboard for something else entirely.

The prompt, in case you can't read my doctor's scrawl:

The second time she pushed me under, I knew she wasn't kidding.

Let's move backwards on the word count in order to lure more writerlies to the cause: 400 words, Sunday, midnight!

Tell your friends. All of your friends.


Week Twenty: The elevator did not have a button for floor 5

Okay, so Freshman Me did not know how "elevator" is spelled.

If you can find it in your dark, withered heart to forgive the error, this week's prompt (the twentieth! that's a milestone, right?) is interesting in that it was intended to be the first line of a story. 

So! This could be your first line, or, like the others, you could use it as more of a thematic starting point.

The world is your oyster! (I hope you like oysters.)

500 words, Sunday, midnight, hoo-rah!


A (slightly) new direction for the Unwritten Word

A casual reader of this blog will no doubt have noticed that these updates possess a certain... infrequency. I've talked a bit about this before: I put too much pressure on myself, I procrastinate, I get too busy, I get burnt out, wah wah wah. 

These things are all true, but there's something else to it:

I think maybe the concept ("One man! Boxes of old college notes! A dream!") is maybe kind of a little bit too much about me? 

Hear me out. What I had originally wanted for the Unwritten Word was to get me writing again, yes, and to have an excuse to gain closure on my well-intentioned but poorly executed college years, yes, but what I had really hoped was to build a community and to get that community participating. 

It's all well and fine that these challenges get me writing more, but I also want you to write more! And I want to hear about it! Writing sometimes feels like the most difficult work in the world, especially if you want to write but have not written in some time. Believe me. And I think everyone should and can write more. For self-exploration. For catharsis. For hyucks.

So, effective immediately:

The weekly challenges are also your challenges

I'm still going to post weird "found" prompts every week and try to make some kind of story out of them, but also I want you to start doing them with me. I want your stories to take the prompt in a completely different direction than I did. I want you guys to write stuff that surprises you, that you wouldn't have written otherwise. 

At the end of each weekly challenge (midnight Sunday, EST), I want you to post your story on your own blog, Livejournal, Tumblr, whatever and then link back to it in the comments on my blog. Or, if the story is short, you can paste the entire thing into a comment or onto the Facebook page. Or you can send it to me via the Contact page on this site. 

Or you can report that you wrote but refuse to show the rest of us what you wrote. That's also fine! We will not judge you. (Much...)

In short, let's have fun. Let's write more. Who's in?


Ira Glass on slogging your way to the dream

The last time I watched this was before I had started this blog, and now it seems that I am doing with this blog exactly what Ira recommends.