Becoming aware of our skills and limitations will have a great impact on what we work on.
Writing prompts are great warm-ups for writing. I’ve posted a few on my newsletter, Join the News!
When I write from a prompt, they are the drafts that help strengthen my thoughts to get more writing done on my novel. Though, some do end up being great stories.
I see each of these opportunities as a door opening. An endless void pulling us closer to face that which we aspire to be.
I can look back on these prompts now and see where I need to improve. Where I lack structure. Where I need more description. Where I need to ‘show rather than tell.’ Where I need to remove a scene and add another one.
I can do this now because the more I practice the craft of writing, the better I get at what I do.
A good friend of mine shared a poem about colors the other day. She began, “People are a piece of work.” At first, I thought she meant something else. Once she proceeded to the next lines, I started to pick up on what she meant. She described how people consist of different hues, allowing them to come together and create artwork.
It was a very beautiful poem. But for some morbid reason, it reminded me of the poem I wrote titled: To the People of Earth. It dealt with something less… colorful.
It's not that we don't share the same thought. It's what we chose to share about people. Our approach was different. It's what makes us pieces of the same artwork.
I am revising a novel I completed. It deals with the non-relationship between father and son. Writers have commented that it’s a great story with splendid laid out dialogue, but (here it comes) it still needs:
-more emotional conflict in order for readers to turn the page
-the son to have more drive
Not only that, but the father is too passive and (worst), family drama is not what sells.
I can go on with what they said, but it would be too extensive.
My concern is whether I should adhere to these suggestions or keep writing my way? I don’t want to write about a stereotypical teenager or absent father who can’t relate to each other. I want to write a story that entertains. I want to write the story I started with. Is that possible?
Yes, it is.
The more feedback I receive from other writers and friends, the more the story grows.
The story grows into this massive challenge to get the right words down. The more they tell me, the more I want to keep the reader engaged.
Isn't that what we all want? Readers who ask questions, get interested about the story. Better yet, loving every minute of the words you put down.
It also forces me as a writer to dive into my novel. To pluck out everything that’s slowing the action down and affix moments that will cradle it. So, if you find yourself with a challenge like this, know that it comes with the territory. The more you write, the better you get. The old adage: Practice! Practice! Practice! Still holds true.
I felt like crawling back to my apartment after a few steps into this old building. It had all the reminders of a mother who used to pull out a stick and beat you senseless for ditching school or painting the patio purple. Yet, here I am. Clearing up the cobwebs and dishing out junk. I have to keep tabs on everything before my sister gets here from Mississippi. The worst part of this place is her room. There are a bunch of pictures in their collective frames lined up on top of a mantle.
"Ol' Gus and his hound dog. Huh!" I placed the frame back and it caused the preceding ones to tumble over.
The sudden smash of the frame at the end to the floor sent a jolt up my neck. I went over to pick it up and a note fell out from its backing.
"What's this?" I open the folded paper and noticed my chicken writing of a signature at the bottom,
Dear me, This house is a gold mine! Don't let Sue sell it to your Uncle Jesse. Convince her of the investment. Mom left a few other things behind this mantel piece. It's a real jackpot!
I crumbled the paper and shoved it in my pocket. I began removing the frames and mantel from the wall. A bright light surfaced from the small crack. I pulled the mantel some more and my eyes couldn't believe it.
I have written poetry for most of my life. Seldom did I write short stories, unless they were assigned by a teacher. Yet, I was told the stories had potential. At first, “potential” did not inspire me to be a writer. So, I began reading about writing. After some coaxing, a good friend of mine suggested I write down the short story idea I’ve been sharing with her. She challenged me to get it down on paper. Thanks to her, I did, and the short story spiraled into my first novel, which has not got published [yet]. Since then, I needed to be a writer. I joined a writing and poetry group. I’ve written drafts from different prompts. I’ve finished the first draft to a second novel, and I’ve kept writing ideas for future novels on file. Writing has become part of my life. I hope one day to take the title of “writer” and ingrain it on the wall so the doubts that cloud me disperse…
I learned so much about writing and I wrote even more stories that the next best thing was to try my hand at editing. I studied books, took courses, chatted with other editors, and here I am.
Stay tuned for the writing prompt!
Maria A. Arana, Editor
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