Questioning the Prince, Freeing the Wolf.

Many years ago, I was taking two classes simultaneously: Feminism and Fairy Tales and Women Writers.

snow whiteI feel that it was these two classes, taken nearly at the same time, that subverted my point of view about stories I’ve known all my life. And I began to question things.

In one of the original tales of Snow White, she was already dead, lying in a casket, when the Prince, on his white horse, happened by….

SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!

…the woods where the dwarfs mourned her.

He offered them money to bring the dead body and the casket to his kingdom. (Of course, no, no, they couldn’t take money. Then he promised he would take care of her/the casket – that they agreed to).

WHY DOES THE PRINCE WANT THE DEAD BODY OF A WOMAN?????

Part of being a writer is to question the world around you. Question what you believe to be true. This will give you fodder for stories. pigs

Did you know that in The Three Little Pigs the wolf was framed? You can see the how – the only witnesses were the little pigs themselves, but why??? Why would they have wanted the wolf off the the land?

 

Critique Partners

critiqueisnotscary.jpgThere’s nothing more helpful than having someone read your work and give you the fresh perspective needed to improve.

Recently, my writing partner found a tiny mistake, despite having others read it, reading it aloud, and checking, rechecking, and re-editing it a thousand times. So helpful! I would have been embarrassed had it gone out with that small spelling errors that even spellcheck didn’t catch.

HOWEVER, there’s one thing that’s troublesome about critique groups or partners. The one who does not actually want the advice. I’ve worked with people who, every time I commented on their work, responded by explaining what they’d planned, meant, thought they wrote. They felt they accomplished what they wanted to do and didn’t plan on changing a thing. In other words, they’re weren’t listening. Why they even brought the story to the group, I have no idea. Perhaps they thought the story would be endlessly praised.

Ladies and gentlemen, some praise is necessary and warranted. You may have heard the sandwich method of response. First, say something positive about the work. Next, suggest and improvement. Finally, end with a positive.

In my classes, I actually students to say at least three positive things about any piece of work before we launch into the “room for improvement.”

Showing others their work is exceptionally hard for some people.And there are always good things to be said about any attempt.

But a good critique is learning to be open to hearing what is being said. Respond not with denial and deflection, but consideration of the comments received.

When I’m reading or editing, I ask the writer’s purpose and hopes for the piece. This helps me focus the response a little better. I also discuss the critique so I can be more specific with their desired outcome. Therefore, I do try hard to take into consideration the writer’s ideas.

After the last group with the writer who spent the whole time denying and explaining rather than listening, I avoided responding to that writer. A good critique is work. Not listing to other’s ideas will not win you friends and improve your work.

 

Women’s History – Women Writers

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How is a Writer like a Peanut?

How are you like a peanut?

I gave this prompt to my students. Even as I was assigning this prompt, I saw the looks on their faces. They were not the first class to question my sanity; that happens regularly. So, my answer, must be “I’m a little nutty.”

Some of my students came up with amazing responses.

peanut

  • Like a peanut, I have a hard shell. But once I open up, I’m quite pleasant to know.
  • Like a peanut, I’m coming out of my shell.
  • Like a peanut, I’m a little rough around the edges, but smooth on the inside.
  • Like a peanut, I am versatile.
  • Like a peanut in a shell, I am not alone.
  • Like a peanut, I’m caramel colored.

This is challenging and, as writers, we must challenge ourselves. When we challenge ourselves, new parts of us open and allow us to grow and see life from a different point of view.

Choose an item from your refrigerator or snack drawer and compare it to yourself.
(Or choose an item and compare it to your main character.)

If you’d like to share it in our group, please do. peanut2

 

Use it or Lose it – for writers?

muscle-armWhen we think of “use it or lose it”, many of us think of the physical body. And, I have to admit that I was reading something about the physical aspect of our beings when I thought of applying this to writing.

When I don’t write for a day, a week, or a month, then I start again, it’s difficult and frustrating; the writing comes out scratchy, not making much sense. But, then, as I sit there forcing out the words, pushing the bad stuff out of the way, it might take me another week or month to get it moving again, but it does move and the flow is active once again.

Think of writing as a muscle – it needs regular exercise in order to flow smoothly. keepwir

If muscles aren’t exercised regularly, they lose mass. However, once they begin to work and move again, they regain the mass rather quickly. But the movement must be continual to see progress.

The same goes for writing. We need to write regularly in order to keep the flow of ideas as well as the flow of the story moving and our skills steady. Any disruption over a period of time will make the first times back difficult and challenging.

As always, the advice is – Keep Writing. Your skills will improve with practice and time. Your flow of ideas will improve and grow as long as you keep exercising those creative muscles.

 

Think of it like this:

Actually what the brain is doing is changing its local wiring, changing the details of how the machinery controlling your behavior is connected. It’s also changing itself in other physical, chemical, and functional ways. Collectively, those changes account for the improvement or acquisition of any human ability.

Great Writers Say…..

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Love Toni Morrison!