Category: WRITING WITH DISCIPLINE

Remick and Ray Interview Janet Yoder

We interviewed Janet Yoder in March & April 2014  R&R: You write in three forms: essays, creative non-fiction, and short stories. What is the difference between “essay” and “creative non-fiction?”   Is a short story different from “creative non-fiction?” JY:     To me, essays and creative nonfiction are essentially the same. Some publications use one term and some the other. I divide my essays into two categories: 1) personal essays inspired by my 30-year friendship with Skagit tribal teacher Vi Hilbert and 2) all other essays. My short stories are definitely fiction. I wrote a novel set in Indian Country but tucked it away in a drawer and I sometimes work on a new novel set in eastern Washington in between work on essays and short fiction. R&R: What are the techniques of fiction that you use in essay and creative nonfiction—if any?  JY:     I try to develop any real person I write about as I would a fictional character, trying to understand what makes that person tick. Lately I am concentrating on the idea of place in both essay and fiction. Looking at geology, mythology, plants, animals, weather, and the cultures of a place.  R&R: When do you decide on the form? Do you start writing and watch the words morph into something? Or do you know the form before you start writing? JY:     I wish I decided on...

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Tips for Page One–The Scene Profile–Part Three of Three

This is part three of a three part series on editing, rewriting, and scene performance ©2013 by Robert J. Ray Page One is a big deal. That’s where you grab the reader. If you’re writing a mystery, you open with a corpse. If you’re writing a thriller, you open with your agent in trouble. But what if you’re writing a book about life’s little ironies? A book like Ian McEwan’s Amsterdam. A quick look at Amsterdam: it’s short, around 200 pages. The story has no overt violence, no murder scenes, no car chases ,no hitmen, no automatic weapons fired by crazy people. It’s an adult book,  no major characters under forty. The cast is adult, educated people with solid footholds in society. The dialogue is crisp, the characters subtle and snide. Amsterdam is a satire – a good model if you have a yen to write ironic – and its opening—Page One and After—gives every would-be novelist a lesson Page One of Amsterdam opens outside a London mausoleum, where two ex-lovers, Clive and Vernon, are sparring over the memories of a woman named Molly Lane. She’s the character inside the mausoleum. If you turn the page, you meet more ex-lovers (one of them a Cabinet minister) and the husband, George Lane. The story of Amsterdam is the husband’s Revenge Quest on his dead wife’s lovers. Your task is building...

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Who Do You Listen To?

Who Do You Listen To? After I came across a very brave and unique novel titled: Taliban Escape by Aabra  which was reviewed in The Dark Phantom Review, I remembered an exchange I had with a fellow writer and former student. I want to post it here for anyone visiting this blog as a reminder of why we write: Writer: I’m trying hard to maintain the last bit of writing advice you provided, “write what you want, the way you want.” That’s hard, especially with two friends criticizing it. Right now, if I take them seriously, I need to go back and almost start over with my work-in-progress.” JR: Yes, that’s a tough one. One short answer is to listen but choose what to change if anything. The way I see it, we have this ideal story in our heads. It’s endless, but when you write, the readers plug in what you write and if it doesn’t connect somewhere to the universal story, they get this disjunction and their pencils move. What that gives us then is the issue of who’s doing the writing. But even deeper is the question of vision–-readers want you to tell them the story they want to hear. It’s your job to tell them a story they’ve never heard. If you can’t get past the universal, then you add nothing to the inventory of...

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20 Steps to Starting Your Novel

When I finished Murdock #6—Murdock Tackles Taos—I dozed, I dreamt of Fame, that elusive imposter, and then I launched into Murdock #7, and felt a bone-chilling loss of momentum, because the work on the Taos book was wrap-up writing, little fixes, edits, careful knitting up, joyful polishing—but the writing on the new book was clumsy, dull, opaque, fitful, maddening.

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Why Writing Practice Works So Well For Me

August 2, 2012 Roxana Arama wrote this essay after an intense discussion about Timed Writing or Writing Practice grew up on our Louisa’s Writers Facebook page. Check out Roxana’s Guest Writer posts. (Roxana Arama, Guest Writer ) She is working on a complex and ambitious fusion novel built on history and fantasy. Why writing practice works so well for me ©2012 by Roxana Arama As promised, I typed up the reasons why writing practice works so well for me. 1. Writing with other people produces insights At Louisa’s, we read what we write, and that makes a big difference in the way I write. The people I write with are my friends, and I’ve grown to like and respect them over the years. No one writing session will change people’s mind about my craft, so I’m not trying to impress anybody. But I’m trying to make the five minutes that the other people sit around the table and listen to me interesting for them. Whatever they’re listening to is a sliver of my work, a scene out of context, a piece of meta-writing. So I’m trying to make myself as clear as I can. Which means that, as I write, I keep an eye on my subplots, backstories, character motivations – any detail that I can add to make listening out of context easier. As I straddle all these...

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©2010-2017 Jack Remick, Robert J. Ray. All rights Reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including text and images, without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Short excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jack Remick and Robert J. Ray and "Bob and Jacks Writing Blog" with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.