Write About Weddings



June was once the number one month for weddings. I was married in June and so were both our children. Why June? It's warm. It's the end of school. Coats aren't needed. Grass is green and flowers are abundant. So why not June?

Have you written about your wedding or someone else's wedding? There are so many different kinds of weddings--lavish extravaganzas, small with family only, destination, elopements, courthouse, Justice of the Peace, outdoor, church, and perhaps a Zoom wedding this year. 

Weddings offer so many sub-headings that you can write about. Here's a partial list:
  • humorous happenings
  • selecting the wedding dress
  • choosing attendants
  • finding a venue for ceremony and reception
  • ordering the wedding cake
  • shoes to go with the special dress
  • veil
  • wedding photographer and photographs
  • rehearsal dinner
  • wedding day jitters
  • tears at weddings
  • sad happenings
  • disastrous happenings
  • father of the bride
  • mother of the bride
  • the groom and his attendants
  • the reception--flowers, food, drinks, musicians
  • the honeymoon
  • weddings you attended as a guest
  • weather on the wedding day
Write about any one of the above or incorporate several into one memorable family story. Wedding stories are also publishable. Weddings draw readers, especially the female ones. If you are writing a wedding story to submit somewhere, be sure you don't just describe what happened. Add feelings and a universal truth or something you learned. You want it to be more than a (wedding) slice of life. 

You can also write an article as a how-to for people planning weddings. 

New Beginnings for Writers




Yesterday's post was aimed at those of us who are finding it difficult to write during these troubled times. Today, I thought it might be good for all of us to discuss new beginnings. It's something we're all looking forward to in our day to day life, but we know that it is going to take a while before it happens.

Meanwhile, how about having a new beginning in your writing life? Is there a story or poem that has been doing flips and dips in your mind? One that you've thought about but just never got around to working on it. If you've been having any kind of difficulty in writing, let today be the first day of a better writing life.

My state authors group runs an annual writing contest. They accept submissions from April 1st to June 15th. I've worked on polishing up a few things that I plan to enter, but I haven't started a brand new story. Chicken Soup for the Soul has a call for submissions for several books now in the planning stages. I've thought about writing a story for one of them. Today's the day to stop thinking and start writing.

I love new beginnings. I enjoy turning the calendar page to a new month. It feels like a breath of fresh air, a whole month with who knows what to come? I like starting to read a book. It's fresh and new to me, perhaps the beginning of something very enjoyable. When I was in high school and college, I liked starting a new class. I must admit the joy often wore off once I realized how much work would be involved. Still, those first few meetings were fun. It's fun to wear a new clothing item for the first time. A new beginning of any kind is uplifting.

So, how about a new beginning today? If you've been stuck in your writing journey these past weeks, today's the perfect time to get moving again. Maybe that new beginning will be a great one. I hope so!

Today's poster quote bears repeating: And suddenly you know. It's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings." --Meister Eckhart

A Bit of Help For Writers in This Pandemic



When I looked through my library of poster quotes, this one stopped me. I got to thinking that we've all had times when that drive and desire to write has left us. I think it's happening to a lot of writers now as we make our way slowly and hesitantly through this pandemic our entire world is experiencing. 

We have all had days during this period when the inspiration to do anything around the house has fled, and the thought of sitting down to write something new or work on polishing a piece already in the works is just abhorrent to us. If it happens now and then, I would not be too worried because you are one of a myriad of writers having this problem. If you have certain days where the desire to write makes itself known, give it a try. Even if you only write a little bit, that's progress.

It's when it becomes a constant that would be concerning. If you quit writing throughout this troublesome period, it's not as easy to go back with vigor once our lives become normal, or semi-normal again. Stop writing altogether, and it will be easier to just let your writing life slide. I'm speaking about people, like me, who are not professional writers who make a living from the words they type. Once you stop altogether, the harder it will be to get back to where you were last January.

You've read about Julia Cameron's Morning Pages on this blog several times. Her advice to writers is to handwrite three pages in a notebook every morning, soon after you rise. Not a story, not a poem, not an essay. Instead, write whatever comes to your mind, even if it doesn't make much sense. Write about how you felt the night before when this or that occurred. Write about what you have on your schedule for the day. The key here is that no matter what you write your creative juices can start to flow, and your mind is cleared so that you can write seriously later in the day. I have a Guest Blogger who will be talking more at length about this topic in a few weeks. 

What you can do with those Morning Pages now is write about the pandemic and how it is affecting you, your family, your friends, your community, or your country. My writing group spent several weeks writing what we ended up calling our Pendemic. We wrote about all the things I mentioned here and then shared with the group. Some used poetic form while others wrote paragraphs. It seemed to help many in the group, as it gave them a safe place for releasing their thoughts and feelings. 

I'm a firm believer that writing helps us deal with many things. I think we can all agree that keeping strong feelings inside can make the situation worse. Try some Pendemic writing yourself. One real benefit is that you let those thoughts and feelings out and tell yourself that is done and now on with the rest of the day. You'll know that you can vent again the next morning. 

I can hear some of you saying Ha! I have to deal with little kids in the morning. I am working at home and have to get started in the morning. For those of you with situations like that, my only suggestion is to get up a little earlier than the rest of the people in your household and spend a matter of minutes writing your Morning Pages. 

Maybe you can turn the Pandemic into a Pendemic. 

Beginning Writers Can Become Better Writers



Today's photo quote will give us a twofold situation. First is the quote itself. All of us who write have been beginners, maybe some still qualify as beginners. The bestselling authors in the world were all beginners at some time. We're all in good company!

Look at the little boy on the baseball field. Maybe this is his first time with a bat and a glove. He's in a big baseball park, and no doubt he is dreaming of the day he will be a pro ballplayer with the stadium filled with cheering crowds. It never hurts to dream a bit. Didn't you have some special dreams when you started to write? I bet you did. It's a natural thing to look ahead and think about what might be someday. 

We should also be aware that that bigtime dream doesn't happen easily or quickly. When our writing journey begins, we set one foot on the path with the first piece we plan, write, and finish. We move ahead a step at a time. What helps us make the next move and the next? Think of your writing journey as a children's game board where you toss the dice and move as many spaces as the dice tell you. Each time you do something to help your writing, you can move one space. Not just writing, even though that is what you really want to do. Write but also read about writing, talk to other writers about the craft, attend writing conferences, and join a writing group. One more thing you can do to advance on your journey is to do writing exercises.

A writing exercise is the second part of today's post. The little boy in the picture is the perfect one to use today for a photo prompt writing exercise. Most of you know the drill. 
  • Study the picture--don't just look, but really study it
  • Ask yourself some questions about the person, the place, the situation
  • Write a descriptive paragraph or any of the following
  • Write a few paragraphs, the beginning of a story or just a few paragraphs
  • Write a full story about what the picture brought to mind
  • Write a character sketch

A Poem Can Capture A Special Moment

Crystals



The Wall Street Journal had an article recently profiling a contemporary poet by the name of Maggie Smith. One of her quotes was simple but said a lot. She said,  "A poem doesn't have to tell a story; it can just crystallize a moment." I read it two or three times, then copied it on a notepad. 

If you've ever been stopped by a beautiful sight or sound and wanted to write a poem, you'll understand her thought--just crystallize a moment. There's no set number of verses to do that, no rhyming pattern, or anything else. ...just crystallize a moment.

Maybe you've watched your children interacting, and there was a moment that you wanted to keep forever. It's then that you should get that little notepad you keep nearby and jot down the thoughts you had. If you don't do it right away, you'll probably lose the intensity of the moment. 

Early one morning, I went outside to pick up the newspaper, and I saw something that made me stop and watch and think. I wrote a poem about that one moment and what I saw in that tiny sliver of time it took me to do a daily chore. It was a moment I wanted to remember, and the poem helped me do so.

Message

The cacophony of geese  
caught my ear immediately  
this cold, early morn, 
as I claimed my newspaper
on the still frosty driveway.

I scanned the cloud-dense sky,
                                                            paper clutched in hand,                                                              
none sighted, but raucous honking
pierced the dawn as they flew
 north from warmer climes.

Yet, their message arrived with
clarity, joy, and triumph.
I smiled, knowing another spring
will grace us one day soon. 

---Nancy Julien Kopp

Many nature poems are something we see for a moment, perhaps a quick glance at a colorful butterfly on a flowering bush. If that glimpse of something beautiful spoke to you, that's when a poem might 'crystallize' the experience. It might be as simple as a haiku, or it could be a poem of several verses. 

As you go about your day, use your writer's eye to look for that exceptional moment or special sight, and pen a poem. You can 'crystallize' whatever it happens to be. 



Titles--Tough, Tricky, and Troublesome



Wouldn't it be fun to have a stairway of books in your house, one where you could remove one stair-book at a time, read it, and replace it? On to the next stair! The stair-books shown here are all children's books. The titles are what stand out. 

Titles are a very important tool for the writer. I think that many writers give little thought to the title of the story, book, essay, or poem they spent eons of time writing. Finished. Need a title? Grab one and plunk it above the piece I labored over. A title is important enough to give it some thought before you bestow it on whatever you've written. 

A title is the first impression; it's what draws the reader to look further. A title takes some real thought on the writer's part. The title, or name, can be tough, tricky, and troublesome. Let's look at those three T words a little closer. 

Tough  It's not easy to lure a reader with a mere spattering of words, even one word, in a title. That's exactly what that title is supposed to accomplish. You want to give a hint as to what is in the body of the story, book, essay that you've written. Keep it merely a hint as you don't want to give too much away. Think of a title as the movies term Preview of Coming Attractions. As a child, teen, and young adult, I adored movies and spent part of every weekend in a theater. I loved the previews which told me just enough to make sure I'd be back the following week. The few movies I've seen recently tell way too much in the previews. You may notice that the books in the stairway in today's photo sometimes use a person's name as the title. It doesn't tell you much about the story itself, but you know you're going to learn something about Huckleberry Finn, Peter Pan, and Pippi Longstocking. And don't you want to pick up that last one to see what in the world someone with a name like Pippi Longstocking is like? 

Tricky  If you're writing a tragic story, you don't want to use a fluffy, humorous type of title. Match the mood of the title to what you've written. In reverse, if the story is filled with humor, then don't use a generic, somber kind of title. Put a bit of humor into the title, too. The length can be tricky, too. Those proper name titles are nice and short, but if you choose to use a very lengthy title, it won't be easy to choose the right words, the ones that make the reader pull your book off the shelf to look at. You might use some unnecessary words, ones that add nothing to the meaning of the title. Cut them.
Most poetry stays with shorter titles. The poet doesn't want the title to overwhelm the poem. 

Troublesome  Yes, titles can be troublesome because you have to play around with several before you settle on the best one. One of my Chicken Soup for the Soul stories was accepted, but the editors had completely changed the title. At first, I was a bit miffed, but then I read through the story and realized the title they had selected was preferable. The editor had used a line toward the end of the story to use. I understood then why she had changed it. At least, she didn't send it back and tell me to choose another title. An editor can do that, too. 

When choosing a title, ask yourself if it tells too much or does it not give a real inkling of what the whole thing is about. I have been reworking an old story for children, and the title is what is giving me the most trouble. I had one, but then decided it sounded like an adult story. I tried another and thought that no one would rush to read the story with this title. I'm spending almost as much time deciding on a title as I did writing the story. 

Titles may be tough, tricky, or troublesome, but they are also of major importance to whatever you have written. Don't snatch one out of the air and call it quits. Spend some time trying several, even when one comes to you quickly. That may be the one you use in the end, but try others to make sure the first one is the best. I wonder how long it took the author to come up with a title like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. 



Show Changes When You Write



The keyword in this photo quote is change. No one is the same person today that they were twenty, thirty, forty, or more years ago. All our life experiences bring changes, some of them good and some not so hot. 

When you're writing fiction, if your protagonist does not change from the beginning of the story to the end, you probably don't have much of a story. Maybe we can use both change and learn. He/she changes or learns something from whatever happens between the opening and closing paragraphs. 

If you write a personal essay without telling your reader how whatever occurred either changed you or what you learned, you're writing more of a slice of life. The key element of the personal essay is the universal truth that you learned or how what happened changed you. 

Even children's fiction should illustrate a change of some kind, be it ever so subtle or a smack-you-in-the-face kind. Don't think kids don't see it. They do.

Memoir writers also should show how what they experienced changed them and perhaps how it influenced life after what happened. 

Change is definitely a part of our personal story just as it is what goes on around us. The town you live in is not the same town it was fifty years ago. Your high school has changed from the years you were there. Even religion changes in some ways as time goes on. Politics definitely changes. When I was growing up, stores were closed on Sundays; now it's a busy business day. 

When you read your finished first draft, make 'what and who changes' as part of your checklist.

Ponder on how you have changed as a writer from early days on your writing journey to the present.

Write About Weddings

June was once the number one month for weddings. I was married in June and so were both our children. Why June? It's warm. It...