Eight Easy Steps

Dear Readers: Discovering I was a plotter in the writing arena was the first and easiest step. Where to next? Try fitting my story into the formula called the Eight Point Plotting Method. The class reading assignment listed the eight steps that would get my heroine from her decision to run away to the conclusion that she … More Eight Easy Steps

Twenty Things

Dear Readers: Remember my first class session when I was devastated to learn that telling a story based on real life produced a snooze session book? I had to agree when I read my mother-in-law’s version of her 1939 travels her story definitely qualified for first prize in the boring category.  Along came Twenty Things That Can Happen to the rescue. My creative writing instructor said this exercise would punch … More Twenty Things

P versus P

Dear Readers: Have you ever been mystified by authors who claim surprise at the flow of their story, the twists and turns of their developing plot, hinting that their characters are in charge and writing the story for them? Or better yet, these imaginary beings begin telling the author, through dialogue, what’s going on?  I confess, even before my writing education started, … More P versus P

Alphabet Soup

Dear Readers: I stifled my anxiety about finding another topic for my fledgling novel and listened to the first night’s lecture. The title of the class was Planning and Structuring the Novel. Sounded simple enough. Connie, the instructor, started lecturing about GMC aka Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. Sounded easy enough. Connie defined what each meant and referred … More Alphabet Soup

Preconceived Notions

Dear Readers: My novel-writing days began. I signed on to the college website and was pleasantly surprised a “mature person” (aka known as an old fart) like me could negotiate the somewhat mysterious pathways of the on-line information stream with only minor digressions through the new-user student rat maze. I read the instructions and saw what textbooks were needed. Bringing along a lap top … More Preconceived Notions

A Big Surprise

Dear Readers: In September, 2008 I started my first real book-writing project. I thought I had what I needed: sketchy details provided by the protagonist, my mother-in-law, of the adventures of two young women thumbing their way across America during the Great Depression. In addition, I had her written permission to use any or all of the occurrences outlined in her … More A Big Surprise

What You See is What You Believe

Dear Readers: Our final assignment, writing a one-act play, was an awakening. Although I’d seen movies, television shows, and plays since childhood, I’d never analyzed what comprised a pleasing dramatic work. I knew what I liked and didn’t like; what worked and didn’t work. The reading assignment stated the author need not describe the sunrise or the cramped apartment or the steaming … More What You See is What You Believe


Dear Readers: Our next class assignment: write a standard-length, fictional short story. I was fresh out of ideas for topics. Later, I learned that published authors spend weeks, months, even years, conjuring characters to populate ideas in exotic settings with exciting yet plausible plots. I had two weeks. What to do? Fortunately our teacher recognized this weak link in budding writers … More Overheard

Left Brain

Dear Readers: We creative writers moved on to our next class assignment: writing fiction. Our textbook defined fiction as “…writing invented by the imagination.” That was scary, considering my left-handed brain craved facts and figures, not imaginary balderdash.  To make matters worse, we were to write flash fiction. I’d never heard of it. Jimmy handed out examples and explained we flashers could … More Left Brain

Strange Bedfellows

Dear Readers  I’ve worked in a number of clinical laboratories across this beautiful land. I’ve heard the “owi vyes” on the Jersey Shore, the “uffdas” of the Midwest, and the “a chiwawas” in the Southwest. During my early working years, I thought pathologists were typical physicians: the gods of medicine who mysteriously cured most human maladies. I soon learned Paths were a unique group. … More Strange Bedfellows