Workshop Space

UPDATE! Your’re also invited to check out the Wadadli Pen Prompts.

I’m calling this the workshop space for now. It’s where I’ll post links on craft and maybe writing prompts to help us hone our craft year round, not only at challenge time. Here goes:

Poets and Writers has numerous daily prompts, check them out.

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This one’s an online poetry workshop; check it out.

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I decided to share this post because it tackles the creative line writers must walk when writing historical fiction for readers with modern sensibilities; if you too are writing historical fiction, you might find it useful. It’s How to Put Women where there were None by Nick Taylor.

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Best Books for Writers – an extensive list over at Poets and Writers

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Genesis of an Idea.

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Finishing your novel.

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Grammar matters.

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Use adverbs sparingly, says Maria Murnane. She also explains why you should just say it.

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“The writer is both a sadist and a masochist. We create people we love, and then we torture them. The more we love them, and the more cleverly we torture them along the lines of their greatest vulnerability and fear, the better the story. Sometimes we try to protect them from getting booboos that are too big. Don’t. This is your protagonist, not your kid.” Read this and more tips from Janet Finch, author of White Oleander, an Oprah’s Book Club pick and later a film starring (the ageless) Michelle Pfeiffer, (Bridget Jones or) Renee Zellwegger, (the Princess Bride herself) Robin Wright, and Alison Lohman. Despite the star power, I really did prefer the book and I think Finch’s tips are really spot on. One of my favourites: “Learn to look at your sentences, play with them, make sure there’s music, lots of edges and corners to the sounds. Read your work aloud. Read poetry aloud and try to heighten in every way your sensitivity to the sound and rhythm and shape of sentences.”   Check them out.

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This piece is on writing dialogue.

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Check out what she says about “active description“.

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“For a story to work, there needs to be both consequence and agency…” so says novelist Joshua Henkin. Read more.

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“Active description requires the writer to think hard about the objective of the scene he’s writing, create conflicts based on the setting or other descriptive elements, and then write the conflicts INTO the description.” from this interview with author Holly Isle.

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Here’s another one

This is a prompt I came up with to encourage folks to start thinking of their Wadadli Pen Challenge (2013) pieces…or to just write. I got an idea for another one today; will be posting that soon. So look out for more. Meanwhile, how about attempting this one.

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This isn’t a quid pro quo for Andrew Blackman naming us one of the Caribbean’s top 20 book blogs, though that was pretty sweet. For some time now I’ve genuinely enjoyed reading his blog and it’s because of postings like this one in which he references things like “To write well, I need to spend less time writing, and more time staring out of the window… to think creatively, you need to let your mind wander, rather than trying to tame it” and “it’s less easy to concentrate when you’re tired, so it’s more likely that your mind will wander and come up with interesting ideas”. I’ll have to agree to disagree with him on the debilitating effects of coffee (“caffeine is bad for creativity”), however. Go read the blog…and then let your mind wander.

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I thought about adding this post to the Reading Room – its a written and audio presentation, though which, in the end, seemed more appropriate for the workshop space given that it breaks down how to construct (or the elements of) a blues poem. It is The Blues a Craft Manifesto by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers at the Kenyon Review.

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Here’s a whole list of writing prompts in different genres.

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I spent part of today working on a response to an online writing prompt only to realize I’d missed the submission deadline. But though this serves as a reminder to me to double check submission deadlines, time spent working on craft is never wasted. What the hell, since they’re never going to see it, I’ll share what I came up with with you. The prompt was to write a 100 word or less opening to a story about a guy overhearing something he didn’t want to in a workplace setting. Here’s what I came up with:

Late shift at the station, only a handful on duty; Dean’s bored stiff, and restless, which probably explains how his hand comes to flip the audio switch for studio one when he stretches to fix the picture on one of the monitors.

At first he doesn’t understand what he’s hearing, but his brain soon catches on and little Dean perks up. He quickly flips it back, but the sounds, sucking and heavy breathing, stay; though through the glass separating studio and control room, he sees only the shadows of tripods, cameras and set pieces.

But now he knows they’re there.

That’s 100 words on the nose, chopped down from nearly 300 words on my first try; if I keep working at it, which I might, it might turn out to be something. If not, it was a fun and challenging exercise. Doing these prompts is one way of not only winning prizes and recognition, but staying limber. Here’s the link to the next Writers Digest prompt, if you feel like flexing your muscles. It’s a visual prompt this time (and I know Wadadli Pen judge and organizer of the Just Write Writers Retreat Brenda Lee Browne is a fan of those).

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This is an exciting insight into the process of creating a story using visual prompts and one’s natural curiosity. If you haven’t read her book Girl with the Pearl Earring or seen the film you really should, and you’ll find yourself looking at the painting again and thinking, hmm maybe. Because it just could be. Stop and take in an image today and see what stories it reveals about itself to you.

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One True Sentence by Kendra Bonnett

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Memos to Poets by Kwame Dawes

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Processing Feedback by Joni B. Cole

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WADADLI PEN EXCLUSIVE! Diana McCaulay, Jamaican author of Huracan and Dog-Heart, and Commonwealth short  story prize winner for Dolphin Catcher talks writing, publishing, and more of particular interest to the Caribbean writer.

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A little perspective on “show, don’t tell”  by Jessica Strawser

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Take Your Readers Somewhere…The Importance of Place  by Kendra Bonnett

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Don’t be Afraid to Use Pronouns by Maria Murnane.

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PLUS

Recommended books on craft (here’s some of mine; feel free to suggest your own)

Writing Fiction by Janet Burraway

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

The 3 AM Epiphany by Brian Kitely

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

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Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, A & B WRITINGS, Caribbean Plus Lit News, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business, Wadadli Pen News, Wadadli Pen Open Mic, Workshop

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