Linear VS Non-linear Structure

Have you ever heard the terms linear and non-linear and wondered what in the world they have to do with writing? This video is for you!

The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern

Interview with Erin

The Prestige

Thanks for watching ibelonginabook! I’m Emily, and I am a writer with a masters degree in writing and experience teaching writing and English at the college level. Writing, reading, and talking about books and literature are my favorite things to do. If we have this in common, leave me a comment suggesting topics you’d like me to discuss in future videos, and subscribe to my channel for more videos like the one you just watched. Happy writing!

 

Should My Characters Curse?


What is your opinion on cursing in books? Do you use it in your own writing? In today’s video, I share my thoughts on this interesting subject.

Thanks for watching ibelonginabook! I’m Emily, and I am a writer with a masters degree in writing and experience teaching writing and English at the college level. Writing, reading, and talking about books and literature are my favorite things to do. If we have this in common, leave me a comment suggesting topics you’d like me to discuss in future videos, and subscribe to my channel for more videos like the one you just watched. Happy writing!

Writing Exercises to Use Again and Again

blog3.jpg

  1. Guess That Color: This is is a fun, easy exercise to do with a group of student or writers. Go to the website randomcolour.com. The page will fill with a color, and your group designates an amount of time – 5, 10, or 15 minutes. Everyone spend this time writing, and when the time is up, take turns reading the exercises out loud. The goal is for everyone listening to try to guess what color you were given.
  2. Children’s writer Gail Carson Levine is well known for sharing writing advice and prompts on her blog, and in books like Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink. One prompt from this book is to take the nursery rhyme “Little Miss Muffet” and “tell the story from the spider’s point of view. Give it spidery thoughts, whatever they are. Make up the workings of a spider’s mind.” You could do the same with many other nursery rhymes!
  3. The LOCK system for plot development from Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell can be applied to any work in progress, whether you are in the beginning drafting stages or finishing up revisions. Fill in the blanks for each sentence: “My Lead is a _________________. Her Objective is to _______________. She is Confronted by __________, who opposes her because _______________. The ending will be a Knockout when ____________.”
  4. In her book Writing Fiction, Janet Burroway provides the following exercise in showing and telling: “Write about something familiar from the point of view of a stranger – a foreigner, a time-traveler, a prisoner released after 20 years in jail. Pick something that might seem commonplace to your readers and imagine how the stranger would perceive it through all available senses. The goal is to make the everyday seem strange and new again. Avoid using familiar words the character wouldn’t know. You might even try not to name the situation but let the reader figure out where the character is through your use of sensory details.”
  5. For the essay writer, one of my favorite prompts is to “Tell your life story in three incidents involving hair,” taken from Janet Burroway’s Imaginative Writing.
  6. From the same book, write a poem or essay “about a building you care about. Choose one of which you have strong memories, then research the place itself. How does your memory of the place contrast with, or how is it qualified by, what you learn?”

I hope you use these prompts to create some beautiful words. Happy Writing!

Why I Went to an MFA Program


Have you ever thought about getting an education in writing? If a masters degree in creative writing is something you have never heard of, or something that you might be interested in pursuing in the future, then today’s video is for you! Let’s demystify the process.

My MFA Program

Thanks for watching ibelonginabook! I’m Emily, and I am a writer with a masters degree in writing and experience teaching writing and English at the college level. Writing, reading, and talking about books and literature are my favorite things to do. If we have this in common, leave me a comment suggesting topics you’d like me to discuss in future videos, and subscribe to my channel for more videos like the one you just watched. Happy writing!

The Care and Keeping of Ideas

BLOG2.jpg

I have heard of a species of writer that keeps only one idea in mind at a time. They live and breathe this one idea, allowing it to consume their minds and all of their spare time. But what does this writer do when the idea is finished? When the manuscript is done? When they need a break, or it is time to move on? I suppose they must be stuck waiting for the next all-consuming idea to come along.

This concept is terrifying to me. If I were this type of writer, I’d be petrified that the idea I have run away with isn’t any good, and I’ll have wasted this burning energy and precious time.

So what do you do if you are another type of writer, who likes to have a few things going at once to refresh the brain, or to jump into once the draft of another project is complete?

I suppose you keep lists of ideas. I’d love to hear how other writers keep track of book or story ideas, so be sure to let me know any tips and tricks that are different from my simple list.

  • Back page of a notebook – If an idea strikes while pen is in hand, I jot it down on the last page in my notebook. That way any ideas are together in one place and easy to find.
  • Pocket folder – I keep loose notes, printed pages, or research for current stories in a simple two-pocket folder.
  • Word document – I keep an idea file in Google Drive, where I paste prompts, quotes, or links to articles that spark an idea. I try to write a few sentences about what the idea was… if I don’t I often can’t remember why I saved a certain thing.

In addition to this, I almost always have multiple projects going at once. Usually one of them takes precedence, and I spend the majority of my time and effort on that, but sometimes if I am stuck it helps to take a break and work on something else. The nice part about this system is that when I finish the main project, I don’t have to face the daunting task of starting something new from scratch. Instead, I can dabble in the projects that are already started until I figure out which one is going to take over.

I’d love to hear your solutions for the idea storing process!

My Thoughts on Ebooks


Do you only read hard-copies of books, and disdain any mention of the digital reading realm? Or have you lost track of when the last time you read a hard book was because you take your Kindle with you wherever you go? In today’s video, I share where I fall when it comes to reading!

Thanks for watching ibelonginabook! I’m Emily, and I am a writer with a masters degree in writing and experience teaching writing and English at the college level. Writing, reading, and talking about books and literature are my favorite things to do. If we have this in common, leave me a comment suggesting topics you’d like me to discuss in future videos, and subscribe to my channel for more videos like the one you just watched. Happy writing!

Including Other Interests in Your Writing

What other interests do you have besides writing? Have you ever wondered how you could include them in your writing process? Let’s discuss!

My blog post on learning about writing from other disciplines.

Thanks for watching ibelonginabook! I’m Emily, and I am a writer with a masters degree in writing and experience teaching writing and English at the college level. Writing, reading, and talking about books and literature are my favorite things to do. If we have this in common, leave me a comment suggesting topics you’d like me to discuss in future videos, and subscribe to my channel for more videos like the one you just watched. Happy writing!

The Magna Carta Exercise


In his book No Plot? No Problem! Chris Baty describes this exercise as the Magna Carta list. I call it books that make my heart hurt, and it’s a great way to determine which story elements from your favorite book really resonate with you as a reader, so you can use them in your own writing.

My blog post on the books that “make my heart hurt.”

Thanks for watching ibelonginabook! I’m Emily, and I am a writer with a masters degree in writing and experience teaching writing and English at the college level. Writing, reading, and talking about books and literature are my favorite things to do. If we have this in common, leave me a comment suggesting topics you’d like me to discuss in future videos, and subscribe to my channel for more videos like the one you just watched. Happy writing!

Where I Write

blog1.jpgWhen I was a teenager, I carried a spiral notebook or a set of ten loose ruled pages stapled together and folded in half on my person at all times. I could write anywhere – in the car, while waiting for my parents, while waiting for an appointment, during classes or other events, and everything in between. While I didn’t keep track of things like this back then, it’s likely that I wrote every day, even if only a few lines or paragraphs.

Now, I find that I need a little more time. I need to get my head in the game, and it takes a bit more effort. So I thought I’d make a list of places where I have found my writing endeavors successful.

  • Home office – one small bedroom in my house contains a few bookcases and two desks, one for me and one for my husband. We like the setup because it reminds us of the tables we used to work at in our college library, but we are hardly ever at our desks at the same time. I find that I am able to work well in this space, but that I don’t take advantage of it as much as I could. If there were space in one of our living areas, less separated from the rest of the house, I think I might use a desk there more often.
  • Work office – as a full-time instructor last year, I had the pleasure of a nice sized office with a view over the pond all to myself. I found that during class days it was difficult to switch from teacher/grader to creative writer, but I occasionally made special trips in on the weekends or off days, and they proved to be quite productive. I found this space especially useful for full manuscript revisions, because I had plenty of space to lay out pages and pages of manuscript.
  • Yard – at home, when the weather is nice I like to write outside. Whether in a shaded rocker, around the fire pit, or just outside on the deck, nature and fresh air are inspiring to me. I try to take advantage of this as much as possible.
  • Coffee shops – of course, coffee shops. I live dangerously close to a Panera Bread, but if I drive a bit farther there are several local options. It’s true that the sense of business, coming and going, and other people with laptops set up to work on their own projects definitely put me in the right head space to work.

I thought I’d also mention some places that seem as if they should be good places to write, but where I have found that for one reason or another I just couldn’t get into my manuscript.

  • Public libraries – I’m not sure what’s different about the comings and goings at a library compared to a coffee shop. Perhaps it’s the expectation of silence, or the separateness of the little homework rooms (usually the best bet for an outlet). I’ve given this a try on many occasions, and it never proves as productive as I’d expect.
  • The beach – okay, maybe this isn’t an obvious writing spot! But since I can be so productive in my yard, I’ve tried the beach. Didn’t quite work… I wonder why?
  • With a friend I haven’t seen for a while – even two writers (or even two people who just have things to do) can be caught spending more time catching up and sharing about what they are working on then doing any actual writing. I still think this is a worthwhile thing to do, I just have different expectations about getting things done when doing it.

Where do you like to write? Anywhere I didn’t mention? Let me know!

 

Supporting Characters (and What is a Foil?)


Have you ever heard of a “foil” in literature before? Or wondered what all of those other characters do for a story while the protagonist and antagonist are locked in their epic struggle? Let’s look at some examples!

Joseph Cambell’s The Hero’s Journey and Character Archetypes:
http://www.movieoutline.com/articles/the-hero-journey-mythic-structure-of-joseph-campbell-monomyth.html
https://narrativefirst.com/vault/archetypes-and-the-heros-journey

Thanks for watching ibelonginabook! I’m Emily, and I am a writer with a masters degree in writing and experience teaching writing and English at the college level. Writing, reading, and talking about books and literature are my favorite things to do. If we have this in common, leave me a comment suggesting topics you’d like me to discuss in future videos, and subscribe to my channel for more videos like the one you just watched. Happy writing!