Books -- reading and writing.
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And whatever connections I can make between these chapters of my life.

Monday, October 12, 2009


How hard is it for you to begin a writing project? I know, I know-- tons of words have already been written on this topic. But I'm beginning anew, and beginnings are hard, especially if you don't know where they are going or how they'll get there. So do you put characters on the pages and let them sort it out? Outline first? I do a little of each. (Any excuse to outline or diagram- after all I was the Queen of Sentence Diagramming in 8th grade English class...)

This morning I opened a book by Carole Burns- OFF THE PAGE: Writers Talk about Beginnings, Endings, and Everything in Between- and reread how some of my favorite writers bring their stories to life.

Alice McDermott mostly writes about Irish Catholics. While doing a reading, she once was asked "Is this your family you're writing about?" and from the back of the room, someone shouted, "No, it's mine!"

Now off I go with a new set of characters, created totally from my imagination, with a few composites plucked from friends, family, newspapers, kids I once knew.

So, all you writers out there- where do you begin? Characters? Outlines? Venn diagrams? Spiderwebs? Journaling? A time or a place? Reading everything you can get your hands on about the most obscure subject in the world? OK, then where did that topic appear from? A box of newspaper clippings like Elizabeth Glaver's? And then, like Joanna Scott, do you get to that arbitrary point- hers is page 100- and tell yourself that "no matter what happens I'm going to finish that book...I have to see it out."

Related post: Plot Will follow

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