Terrytown's Library

Terrytown's Library
Raised in Terrytown, Louisiana

Monday, February 28, 2011

Free Writing

Free writing is the best thing a writer has against writer's block. You're looking for a subject, an experience, a character, a way to begin. What you're really looking for is questions to answer. I like to start writing with a character, whether or not I have a subject to write about.

The zoo was the best place to be. It was dark and her friend loved her enough to do anything for her. Sure she was using him, but she needed this time away from people, at least for now.

I don't know what this means, but I can answer the questions or use the questions it has already created. Why is the zoo the best place to be, because she doesn't have to deal with people. Why doesn't she want to deal with people? And why for now? Is she usually a people person? Did someone let her down? Did several people let her down? If so, how did they let her down?

I begin again with these answers in mind.

Each animal had something different to say and they were all misunderstood, as she was. She looked up to see her friend coming towards her. She knew he wished she'd stop calling him and asking her to sneak in the closed zoo. She knew he'd be fired if his boss ever found out.

I still don't have all of the answers, but I feel like I can continue with what I know. I can write a first draft with everything I've learned.

Your prompt is to free write on anything you want to.
The cat and I both stormed out.

I find that no matter what I'm writing, in the end, it's always a story I wanted to write or one that I'm enjoying writing and can't wait to get to the final draft so that I can really make the story sing.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I have been doing a lot of writing and that feels really good. I completed the second draft of a story based on a dream I had, I completed a first draft of a story based on my friendship from high school and I've written several scenes that I hope to expand into short stories, particular the one I just posted on my Fiction Side Blog. Hope you will enjoy it.

I feel like my writing is changing in a good way, as if I'm finally paying attention. It's something I'm learning to do through out my life.

A slight detour, I'm also looking for a better job that will allow me to finally be in my own apartment. I've applied for an administrative assistant job in a library and I might have a chance of another administrative assistant job thanks to my sister. I'm starting to feel comfortable writing fiction stories because I know that I'm supposed to be a writer. I just have to keep working at it and never give up.

Hopefully, within the week, I'll be able to expand the scene into a short story.

Writing prompt: Your character gets on a plane... What happens next, why is she getting on a plane?

Happy writing

Friday, February 4, 2011


Last Sunday I purchased Charles Baxter's New and Selected stories. I have read and enjoyed every story I've read, especially this story called Shelter. I felt like Cooper took me into his life and said this is what I was going through at the period in my life. It was his guilt over his dislike over the homeless. He knew something had to be done about them. He didn't like seeing them so he brought them food and was surprised to learn that like anyone else, they can be rude and seem a little ungrateful. These stories make me hope that his next book is a collection of new stories.

If you haven't read anything by Baxter yet, start with this selection and go straight to Gryphon, a story set in a class room about a substitute teacher who forces her students to think and not just sit in the class room and believe everything the teacher says or any adult says.

I enjoyed what I read of Saul and Patsy, one of his novels and can't wait to buy it so I can continue reading it at my leisure, but I enjoy this man's short stories much better. But, I'm biased towards this form. When we tell each other the stories about our work or our home lives, if we wrote them down, they'd be short stories. Andre Dubus said: "I love short stories because they are the way we live. They are what our friends tells u, in their pain and joy, their passion and rage, their yearning and their cry against injustice." And I agree with him and with Steve Almond who also praises the short story.

I've mentioned this literary magazine before, Narrative Magazine.
Narrative Magazine. It's a great magazine full of short stories and it's online and free to subscribe. John Updike's A&P, another story I keep mentioning, can be found online. If anyone has seen The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons should read the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The short stories is different and the differences surprised me. The movie did an excellent job, I loved the movie, but when I read the short story, I was surprised at the differences. I knew Hurricane Katrina wouldn't be in the short story and it would most likely stay in the past, but I wasn't prepared to see how different the Brad Pitt character was or how different the father was.

Another short story made into a movie was Broke Back Mountain by Anne Proulx, found in her collection called, Close Range: Wyoming Stories. It's possible that they still sell it by itself. I thought it was better than the movie

There's something about reading short stories that you can't get from novels. I love reading novels, but reading a short story is so satisfying because you meet all sorts of characters between the pages and are taken to a variety of places. I've always believed that one T.V. show episodes equals a long short story while the show itself is the collection of connected short stories.

Other writers to read
Danielle Evans Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self
Ron Rash Burning Bright
Richard Lange Dead
Laura Van Den Berg What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us

Also pick up a short story anthology:
New Stories from the South (Kenneth Calhoun's Nightblooming)
The Best American Short Stories (Wayne Harrison's Least Resistance)
The O.Henry Awards Prize Stories

Pick up a short story and read it. I promise you'll want to read another short story and another one. And writing them is just as fun, maybe more because they are your stories.


These are the stories I love so far and I can't wait to read more short stories. Don't forget about the literary magazines that are on the shelves; Glimmer Train, Zone 3, and Tin House to name a few.

Today's prompt: Write a story, your version of a short story you enjoyed reading. I'd write my version of Charles Baxter's Gryphon or John Updike's A&P.

Happy writing