• Memoirs

    How Do I Write My Memoirs?

      Are you stuck trying to write your life story? By the time we become seniors, most of us have come to the realization that we’ve left it too late. We think we’d like to write our memoirs, but we never got around to asking our parents the important questions: How did they meet? Who was their first love? How did they become the people they ended up being?   How Did I Get Here? Then there are the questions about our own history: What was I like as a toddler? Who was my best friend in kindergarten? Where did my first pet come from? What was my first word,…

  • Creative Writing,  Training, Lessons

    Description—How Much Is Too Much?

    Don’t use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do.  — Mark Twain   What is Description? Merriam-Webster calls it “an act of describing, specifically: discourse intended to give a mental image of something experienced.”   Or: “a statement or account giving the characteristics of someone or something, a descriptive statement or account.”   Narrative (the events), and description (how the character experiences the events), are the glue that keeps your reader stuck in your story.  If nothing much happens, if the character is not emotionally engaged, then neither will the reader be engaged.   Why is Description Necessary? 1.  Description is all about the strategic delivery of important…

  • Creative Writing,  Memoirs,  Structure and Plotting

    Riding the Razor’s Edge

    Recently a writer asked me this question:   “How can I turn my ideas into fiction? My short stories tend to be small slice-of-life sorts of things.”   This is something that I often run into in workshops and classes. People tell me they only write about true events. They don’t know how to stretch their imaginations to turn facts into stories. They’ve never learned the infinite possibilities behind that magical phrase, “What if?”   To turn ideas into fiction, take your true-to-life story elements and take them as far into what-if as possible.   The key to making a true story fictional is exaggeration. Make the events bigger than…

  • Creative Writing,  Structure and Plotting

    “High Concept” Stories

    While researching the week’s topic for my seniors’ group, (“A Clever Idea”) I tripped over a phrase that is much revered in Hollywood — “High Concept”.   Definition of “High Concept”High Concept is defined by Merriam-Webster as: having or exploiting elements (such as fast action, glamour, or suspense) that appeal to a wide audience.   In essence, High Concept is: Premise-driven  Suited for a wide audience Unique Immediately intriguing Premise: A High Concept story must have an intriguing protagonist with a challenging goal that is highly significant to him/her, and the outcome must have tremendous consequences for the protagonist and the world he/she lives in.   Audience: High Concept stories must…

  • Creative Writing,  Humour,  Memoirs,  Structure and Plotting

    One Artist’s Journey

    I like to call myself a recovering artist.  I like this description because it has a certain curiosity-piquing je ne sais quoi and it references my lifelong addiction to art and creativity.  It also raises the question of why anyone would voluntarily quit the enchanting life of an artist.   Spoiler alert — doing shows all the time becomes increasingly physically demanding for an ageing painter.  All those classy exhibitions certainly look glamorous on the outside, but behind the scenes, there’s a whole lot of grunt-work, and I was fed up with grunting.    There’s a classic artist’s joke — Q. What’s the difference between an artist and a puppy? …

  • Thoughts, Opinions and Philosophical Discussions,  Writers and Writing

    Declutter your Memoir

    Recently, I had to mop up a flood in my basement, which forced me to move a lot of stuff I’d been storing, keeping and generally shoving out of sight and out of mind, some of it for decades.     You know the kind of thing…”Oh, that’s useful.  I’ll keep it until the other one, the one I’m using right now, breaks or wears out or runs out of power/ink/paper” (or whatever is necessary to keep it running).     Or, “That belonged to my grandparents.  It’s worth something.  Maybe Antiques Roadshow will pay me a lot of money for it.”     Or, “I just can’t throw out…

  • Dialogue,  Point of View and Character Development

    The Song of the Spoken Word

    Music surrounds us.  Throughout human history, it has played a big part in our communications.  But only in the past 100 years has it been available to everyone all the time.  Before this, only a few very wealthy patrons could enjoy music in their homes, and only if they knew how to perform, play an instrument or hire someone to play for them.     Every religion has used music to praise a variety of gods, (entertainment being a large part of their attraction for the general populace), and indigenous peoples have all had their own styles of music, often used to communicate over long distances, to appease the spirits and to ward off…

  • Creative Writing,  Productivity,  Structure and Plotting,  Theme, Purpose and Outcome,  Training, Lessons

    How to Focus your Blog Post

    Start with the End in Mind   Recently, a reader asked me, “How do you write a story with the end in mind?  How do you know what the end is before it’s written?”   He was responding to a blog post in which I wrote about using constraints to spark creativity. One of the points I made was:    “Writing with the end in mind applies especially to writing memoirs.  When you first apply a life lesson, a theme, a psychological or theoretical point to the memoir as its raison d’être, you don’t need to think about everything that doesn’t fit the point.     “But if you don’t…

  • Creative Writing,  Organization and Research,  Productivity,  Prompts,  Structure and Plotting,  Theme, Purpose and Outcome

    Less Is More

    This morning, I went into my writing group completely unprepared to write.  I had to show up at 11:00 a.m. and I’d been doing something else when the timer startled me with its petulant beeping, reminding me to get online immediately, if not sooner!     Now, most times, when I go into the group, I know what I’m going to write — at least I have some idea or framework for the words I’ll be putting down — but for some reason, this morning I had completely forgotten that I had to write this blog post, so when one of my writer friends asked me what I’d be working…

  • Humour,  Thoughts, Opinions and Philosophical Discussions

    I’m Old, Dammit! Not Dead!

    A few months ago, I received an email from a subscriber and it got me thinking…   This lovely lady said something that’s been tickling away at the back of my mind for some time, and I thought I’d take this opportunity to explore it a bit.  Here’s what she said:   “Beverley, I love your website. It feels warm and soothing, like slipping into a warm bath. Ahhhhhhh… “It’s so nice to feel appreciated as a senior. As I scrolled through your blog posts I said to myself, ‘when seniors feel isolated, this is a good place to visit because it honors our life experience.'”   “Honours our life…

  • Creative Writing,  Uncategorized

    Ground your Reader with Sensory Description

    We all know that it’s important to immerse our readers in our story in order that they experience it fully, but how do we do that?   “Show, Don’t Tell” is a truism that writers cannot avoid.  We hear it everywhere, but what does it mean; how does it work?  Engage your reader, say all the great writers; readers must lose themselves in the story.  But how can we do this as writers ourselves when we don’t know how our favourite authors have done it for us as readers?   One way, (though not the only way) is through clear sensory description. If we remember that a story should always…