Terrytown's Library

Terrytown's Library
Raised in Terrytown, Louisiana

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Write Scenes

Writing scenes helps you concentrate on getting the story down. You aren't worried if its cohesive or logical, you're just writing down things that your senses can touch. My next writing prompt for the online writer's group that I belong to is to write a piece without using any adjectives or adverbs.

I woke up and blinked the light outside my bedroom window. I hated living in New York, living in this tiny, cramped apartment with a girl I wasn't sure I could call my friend, though it was good of her to let me crash here for a while. My aunt and uncle's large brownstone was getting cramped and I couldn't live the life of a single twenty-something woman in my grandmother's apartment. She thought staying out past four was late. My uncle has already said that as a black woman, there were certain places in Brooklyn that I just shouldn't go. He failed to tell me what these places were. Was it Red Hook? Was it any of the places I was already going, any place where there was a Barnes and Nobles? I laid back down and prayed for sleep to return.

This scene raises a lot of questions that I didn't have to be bothered with just yet. I'm simply trying to get the story down. I'm not yet trying to understand the characters, their motives, their yearnings or desires. I used this method for a story that I'm working on and for future stories that I started writing. You can find it in The Architecture of the Novel: A Writer's Handbook by Jane Vandenburgh. I'm still in the first chapter, but it's been very helpful.

The library was closed when I walked up to the entrance. The street lights were on, but would go off in a few hours. There weren't any cars on the street and I couldn't see anyone driving or walking up. I looked at my MP3 player for the time and realized that I had at least a 30 minute wait.

I think Vandenburgh especially work when you've been trying to write a story that you haven't been able to. Things happen in scenes, even when nothing seems to be happening. Characters reveal secrets, questions are raised that you have to go back to when you're ready to write the story. This method makes writing even more enjoyable. Pick up this book when you get a chance.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I am sitting in a Banes & Noble in Decatur Georgia and I'm writing my essay, which is part of my MFA application. I'm excited. Technically I'm writing and rewriting the first paragraph of the essay, but I'm equally excited. While I'm working on my essay and short stories, I am trying to think of who I can get to write recommendation letters and I've tried old college professors. Only one wrote back telling me that too much time has passed. I'm collecting ideas so that I can finally begin to create the life that I want to live. I used to think that it took courage and bravery, two things that I don't have. I'm plagued with doubt and low self esteem. Actually it takes being fed up with your current life and deciding what you are going to do to change the predicament that you've managed to get yourself into. It's not easy, but it's do-able. The only thing that you need to have is persistence and support and I'm learning that I actually have both.

Today's writing prompt is to write a short story based on the life you wish you were living right now. My sister gave me this assignment years ago, and I'm finally getting around to it, because I finally see myself as a real writer.

And, I'm in the revision phase of the short story that I mentioned in the previous blog. I still can't believe that story came out of a book teaching kids how to write sentences. It was a prompt about a lost puppy. The seeds for fiction stories are everywhere.