Nobel Laureate Louise Gluck tells us in her poem, "Nostos":
"We look at the world once, in childhood. The rest is memory."
Let's use that as our writing prompt this month and we'll get together on Saturday 10/17/20 at 5PM to share our work, chat about writing, and offer each other feedback and support. See you Saturday at 5PM.
Let’s have fun with Clichés!
Here are a few classic plot clichés. Pick one and write a 100(ish) word story (or poem, or script, or dialogue, or infographic) to break the cliché mold.
Submit your piece here (Leave a Reply) by 5PM on Saturday August 15th.
Read your fellow writers’ work and comment.
Feel free to tweak gender or plot or use another cliché or just make up your own thing.
John Smith is sitting in the park, feeding the squirrels, when a beautiful girl runs up, kisses him, and whispers, “Pretend you know me.”
It is the year 3030 and the Time Tourists are receiving their final instructions in the lounge of Time Travel Incorporated: “Remember,” says the guide, “do not try to bring back any souvenirs with you.”
Johnnie Smith is thirteen-years-old today and he’s been hinting for weeks that what he wants for his birthday is a brand-new bicycle, but nobody even says “Happy Birthday” to him and he is sure that everybody has forgotten his birthday.
Jane, the quiet, mousy, intelligent graphic designer mentions to her vivacious, buxom coworker that she’s interested in the new guy. The coworker says, “He looks like my kind of guy.”
Romance Part 2:
Two people meet. They dislike each other. They are thrust into a situation where they have to cooperate and subsequently fall madly in love, only to have a setback, which they overcome and fall even more madly in love.
Welcome to the Blank Pages Virtual Salon, May 16-17, 2020
Pandemic Playlist, or, The Music of Our Lives, or, Whistling in the Dark
In its own words, largehearted boy “is a literature and music website that explores that spot in the venn diagram where the two arts overlap.”
The site features playlists that authors create for a book they wrote, with a brief explanation for, or riff on, each song.
For this month’s salon, you have the choice to create a playlist of up to six songs that complement either a completed written work (your own or something personally significant), a project in progress, or the last six weeks of social distancing. Please tell us why, or tell us something. We're all ears.
Submit a response between noon on Saturday, May 16 and midnight on Sunday, May 17.
We miss you.
Welcome to the Blank Pages Virtual Salon!
Submit and respond from Saturday April 18th to Midnight Sunday April 19th
Given the continued constraints regarding social gatherings and interaction, we’re once again moving this show to the Blog with a prompt. We’re thinking about the world coming alive and this gorgeous spring we're experiencing (some of us through a window), and what nature means to us individually.
Here's your prompt: What element of nature would you choose as an emblem for yourself?
Enter your responses in the Comments section in any fashion you like: a poem, a stream of consciousness riff, a piece of flash fiction, an essay, etc. And don't forget to respond to your fellow writers—this is a conversation.
The Virtual Salon is Asynchronous, meaning we won't all be present at the same time. Come back over the course of the next day-and-a-half and read and respond to the ongoing conversation.
Welcome to Blank Pages Virtual Salon!
From Noon on Saturday March 21st to Midnight Sunday March 22nd
Given the prescribed constraints regarding social gatherings and interaction, we’re moving this show to the Blog this month (March 21) with a prompt. We’re thinking about freedom, what it means to us individually and collectively, and under what circumstances that meaning can shift.
Of course, recent events have significantly impacted what we might think of as freedom, but consider, too, other events and times in your life—a job, a new baby, some period of time in which your parameters were redrawn.
Enter your responses in the Comments section, in any fashion you like—a poem, a stream of consciousness riff, a piece of flash fiction, and respond to your fellow writers.
The Virtual Salon is Asynchronous (we’ll be hearing that word a lot), meaning that we don’t all have to be present at the same time. Come back over the course of the next day-and-a-half and read and respond to the ongoing conversation.
2.How important is freedom to you today? What do you give up for personal freedom, if anything (security, safety, relationships, etc.)? And, what do you think has most influenced your attitudes and beliefs regarding personal freedom?
And, of course, the punchline to the old joke is: Practice, practice, practice.
As a writer, what is your Carnegie Hall? Do you dream of getting your thriller on to the New York Times Bestseller List, or is quietly crafting a poem that speaks true to your heart and mind the pinnacle of your writerly ambition? I want to do what I love to do well, and often forget that well in my creative writing looks different given the day and an infinite set of variables. I commit to practice, to showing up, and that looks different given the day, too.
It’s November, and some of us are bellying up to the beast that is NaNoWriMo, the 30-day marathon toward 50,000 words, a month-long sprint in pursuit of that coveted achievement, the novel. I’ve had good experiences with NaNo, from creating the bones of what would become—with much more than a month’s work—my first published novel, to supporting others in their deep dive into practice. For that is what NaNoWriMo is to me, a baptism, of sorts, into serious practice. Are most of us likely to pound out 1,666.66 words every day for the rest of our writing lives? Not likely. But if you can do it for 30 days—in no way incidentally one of the toughest months to procure alone time, what with a major holiday and daylight savings and what-all nonsense—you’ve affirmed that you can make time to write.
And then there’s process, from the Latin, processus, a going forward. Your process may be distinct from another writer’s, but it takes a form, and proceeds best when fed with new challenges and inspiration. The November creative writing workshop at Blank Pages is entitled Process & Practice. We throw the word development into the description, from the French, déveloper, to unroll, or unfold. Like all our workshops, this one is designed to inspire that which wants to unfold with craft-specific prompts and other tools to take back to your practice, hone your process.
Whether you’re planning to participate in NaNoWriMo this month or no, our community offers a plethora of opportunities to touch base and practice the craft among your fellow creatives. Check out the calendar on writerscollectiveofcentraloregon.com, and join us for Process & Process November 2nd, as well as our come-one-come-all writers’ salon on November 16th, at The Workhouse.
While May positions us on the other side of the year from Halloween, it’s not unusual for certain people in my household to be thinking of creating character, aka, designing their Halloween costume. Last year one of ours dressed herself as the titular heroine of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. In the past, people have left the house in character as Bellatrix Lestrange, Albus Dumbledore, Mrs. Lovett of Sweeney Todd, The Shadow, and Batman (a la, The Dark Knight). Each year the goal is to conjure a likeness that so perfectly assumes personification as to be utterly unambiguous. And also: thrilling. Achieving the goal takes time and effort. Authentic pantaloons and hand-painted button eyes do not simply manifest overnight.
Aristotle may have been referring to drama when he said that the secret to inspiring passion in others is to be moved oneself, but we creative writers can take his words to heart. A memorable character is what—and who—pulls us into the story, gives us perspective, makes us care. Fictional or true-to-life, great characters drive the bus. You might carry an idea of a great character around in your head, or you may know someone you deem worthy of committing to story. Or, maybe the story is running around in your brain and it needs a character—maybe a band of them— to serve as vehicle, take it from your head to the page. Like the pantaloons, bringing character to life takes effort. Choices must be made. Notions selected, patterns constructed.
Superb characters are unique, fashioned from the inimitable fires of your individual creative furnace. Characterization is the craft by which we spark them into breath. What do we mean by craft? Craft is a set of techniques applied to the lightning of your creativity to make the thing. Tools and methods. The famous acting coach Lee Strasberg trained “actors to use their imagination, senses and emotions to conceive of characters with unique and original behavior, creating performances grounded in the human truth of the moment.” At Blank Pages Workshops this May, we’ll focus on accessing memory and imagination to forge unforgettable, truthful characters through prompts, play, and discussion. Join us, May 4, 2019, 6-8 pm, @ The Workhouse.