In our writing classes – nights, weekends, year-long courses, writer’s conferences – we encounter hungry writers. Everyday people dying to write. Starving people. People who love telling stories and who love hearing stories. In a matter of minutes, we get these hungry people writing. There is no lecture. We don’t talk much about being a writer. To be a writer, you sit down and write. You put the pen to the page, the pencil to the paper, the cursor to the screen.
To get them writing in the room, we use startlines. I remember. I want to write a story about. This is a story about. The story I want to write is called. The startlines force the hungry writers to commit. Write it down. Start a story now before your mouth talks it away.
Their source for story is narrow: life, personal tragedy, someone they knew who died, a parent, a sibling, anger, illness, despair, a faded memory of an ugly disease.
In a memoir course, we guide these writers toward discovery—how the personal story can find its way out of the mind and onto the page. We write to discover connections. Using the memoir moment as a writing technique, we urge writers to dig into the past. We teach them to keep the story short. Short and packed with power and energy. Short and explosive—the personal memoir written with dynamic insight.
In a fiction course, we use startlines to plunge them into story. How to start. How to build. How to finish the story they started. When they have something solid on paper – a character, a setting, a story situation – we use exercises to help them build a complete story. The exercises guide the writers in a detour around the internal editor. That’s the judgmental creature inside the brain of the hungry writer. The internal editor is critic, judge, deadly foe of creativity in any form: painting, music, architecture, poetry, writing.
In this resource for writers, our aim is to share some of what we know about craft–story, structure and style –with writers looking for guidance deeper into the art of fiction. You won’t be asked to attend a workshop, you won’t be asked for dough, but we might ask you to buy one of our books.
Jack Remick and Robert J. Ray
Bio: Jack Remick
Coffeetown Press brought out Valley Boy, the second book of the California Quartet, in May 2012. Gabriela and The Widow arrives on January 15, 2013. Details on my fiction page.
Be sure to check out Blood (2011) from Camel Press. I co-wrote The Weekend Novelist Writes A Mystery, with Robert J. Ray, The WNWM is a how-to/write-along for beginning and achieved mystery writers.
I have taught Fiction and Memoir in Certificate programs at the University of Washington Extension and Distance Learning. Before I went deaf, I was a frequent presenter at writers’ conferences with Bob Ray.
Bio: Robert J. Ray
I sold my first book in the late sixties. It was a book to help student-writers see the patterns in words on the page. The title of that first book – The Art of Reading: A Handbook on Writing – tapped the power of the close read as a key to better writing. For a dozen years I taught college kids to write better. A handful of my student writers turned pro.
I left full-time teaching when my first novel – The Heart of the Game – hit the stands in the corner drugstore in Roswell, New Mexico. I wrote books and taught tennis. My detective hero, Matt Murdock, appears in five novels. Two other books – and Cage of Mirrors and The Hitman Cometh – are closer to the thriller genre. In 1985 I co-authored a small business text that is now in its sixth edition. My latest book is The Weekend Novelist Rewrites the Manuscript, the third book in The Weekend Novelist series. Jack and I co-wrote The Weekend Novelist Writes a Mystery. I am resurrecting the Matt Murdock series with a re-issue of Merry Christmas, Murdock, which will hit the stands in early November 2011. Camel Press will bring out all the the Matt Murdock mysteries in 2012-2013. Check out the Kindle and the paperback versions–both on Amazon.com
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Jack Remick and Bob Ray