• Creative Writing,  Getting Published,  persistance,  Writers Groups

    The Waiting Game

    What a time it has been! I’ve gone from tentatively sticking my toe back into publishing waters to swimming in the whirlpool of anxious possibility… Ah, but you have no idea. Let me explain. I finished my latest novel, Pasture of Heaven, at 10:30 PM on June 26 while my family watched a noisy shoot-em-up in the next room. Even as I hit “save” in at least three locations – my computer, external hard-drive, Dropbox and a couple others just in case – I opened an email that swept me away into the riptide of The Writers Circle’s Summer Intensives. I didn’t have a moment to think about my own…

  • Creative Writing,  editing,  practical advice,  revision,  teaching writing,  tips and tricks,  writing technique

    Going Places

    Tips on starting with a bang, from TWC Associate Director Michelle Cameron: Picture this scene: A man lands at an airport. The plane taxis on the ground for nearly fifteen minutes, while all around him, people are talking on their cell phones, hoping to be picked up or explaining when they’ll arrive, or just letting the family at home know they’ve arrived safely. The plane finally taxis to the gate. People take down their luggage and wait, impatiently, in the corridor of the aircraft. Finally, the line begins to inch forward. It picks up speed. Everyone moves out of the aircraft while the flight crew bids them farewell. The man…

  • Creative Writing,  Finding your voice,  practical advice,  teaching creativity,  teaching writing,  tips and tricks,  writing technique

    Writing in 3D

    We’ve all heard it before. “Your character’s flat. You need to make him three-dimensional.” Sure, great. But what exactly does that mean? We all know we live in a three dimensional world. We learn it in grade school: a line, a plane, a cube… But how do you make a character three dimensional? Do you make him really fat? Do you give him a limp so he wobbles when he walks, thereby taking up more space? Believe it or not, I’ve tried both, and no, that’s not what it means. Three-dimensional means you have to dig deeper. Take that character with the limp, for example. It’s fine to describe him…

  • Creative Writing,  Finding your voice,  practical advice,  teaching writing,  writing technique

    He Said, She Said

    Great dialogue tips from Writers Circle Associate Director, Michelle Cameron: Writing dialogue is a critical aspect of fiction and memoir, and many writers struggle with it. So in a recent class, we considered what factors could comprise a successful section of dialogue. As we do in many of these more technical discussions, we deconstructed a few passages of published work. We’ll use some of them in this post to help us extract some guidelines for writing dialogue: Dialogue should never happen in a vacuum.         “Oh, I wish I knew what I’m supposed to do with that child!” She took a deep breath: “I’m absolutely at the…

  • children writing,  Creative Writing,  Finding your voice,  practical advice,  teaching children,  teaching creativity,  writing technique

    Thoughts on a Creative Education

    What does it mean to be creative? Some people might imagine a “bohemian”, someone with no boundaries, who floats on a whim to seek the muse. Someone who dons wild clothing and wilder hair, who is as likely to fall in love as to commit suicide or murder. To be creative, you don’t have to be erratic, uncontrolled, addicted or unpredictable. In fact, these qualities are far more likely to kill your creativity as to nurture it. The word “creativity” shares the same root as the word “create”. In other words, you have to actually make something to be creative. Making things requires discipline, technique, excellent organization and problem solving…

  • Creative Writing,  teaching children,  teaching creativity

    Muses to the Muse

    Here in New Jersey the summer is upon us. We’re slogging through water-thick air, trying to stay alert in the humidity and heat. Typing at my keyboard is best done in air conditioning or outside in the slight breeze where the shivering cicadas songs wash over and around me like waves. I do have a suggestion to make the hot summer months more inviting to the muse. In summer, I take my work to a museum. There’s nothing cooler than sitting in a gallery with an open notebook and pen, allowing the paintings, sculpture and hushed, inquiring atmosphere to seep into your consciousness and fill your mind with words. In…

  • book publicity,  Creative Writing,  digital media,  electronic publishing,  Getting Published,  inspiration,  practical advice,  Publishing,  self-publishing

    The Times They Are a-Changin’

    The Times They Are a-Changin’. I see it again and again. I’m no longer worried so much as bemused (or amused) at the wriggling that the entire book industry is doing right now, trying to find a comfortable fit in so many new and unfamiliar positions. I am wriggling, too, growing The Writers Circle even as I finish the fifth (YES, FIFTH!) draft of my latest novel. Clearly I’m not the type of author who can churn out a book every year. Teaching and supporting writers has become a vital, beloved, and invaluable part of my journey. In the meantime, here are just a few of the curious and inevitable…

  • Creative Writing,  editing,  historical fiction,  power of words,  practical advice,  revision,  writing technique

    Huh…? vs. Hmmm…

    We writers love the mystery of a story’s unfolding. Half the time, honestly, we’re not quite sure where it’s going ourselves. Isn’t that part of the fun – the exploration and discovery? And isn’t that the same amazing journey we want to share with our readers? In our attempts to invite readers into the adventure, we strive for thoroughness, complexity, grace and subtlety. But our efforts, however earnest, can sometimes leave our readers overwhelmed or confused. The Data Dump Beginning writers often feel compelled to get everything down all at once. I call it a data dump, and it’s a natural tendency. We get so filled with our vision. It’s…

  • Creative Writing,  historical fiction,  practical advice,  Research,  tips and tricks,  writing technique

    How One Paragraph Can Take Four Days

    by author and TWC Associate Teacher, Michelle Cameron I love research. To me, there’s nothing more inspiring than discovering how my characters might have lived their lives – what they wore, what they ate, how world events might have affected them. All of my writing tends to start with a single scene in my head. When I wrote The Fruit of Her Hands, the picture of twenty-four cartloads loaded with volumes of Talmud being driven to a fiery death in a market square in Paris inspired me. With my next book – the story of Judean exile during the Babylonian epoch – it was imagining what those captives must have…

  • Creative Writing,  discipline,  Finding your voice,  practical advice,  teaching creativity,  tips and tricks,  writing technique

    Writing the Body Electric

    So often I begin a writing class with a simple, free-writing prompt, usually just a word or phrase – “skipping in the rain”, “amusement parks”, “the kitchen sink.” I enjoy watching the quizzical glances of my writers at these random ideas. But slowly each of them connects to some inner flash of thought or memory. In just a moment or two, all their pens have touched down and the air becomes infused with soft shushing. The room almost sizzles with an electric flow of thoughts connecting our deep, interior minds to the exterior space that allows creative energy to manifest into something real. It’s a miracle really, as magnificent as…