10 Steps to a Kickass Essay – Writing Tips

Greetings Writers!

I just returned from a rejuvenating and inspiring 3-days at Grub Street‘s The Muse and The Marketplace literary conference in Boston.  I live in Boston so it wasn’t to much of a hike.  The sessions were all fantastic and the panelists gave me so much information that it’ll probably take a good week to digest it all.  I even got to meet and listen to Amanda Palmer give a very touching Keynote address.

On the last day of the conference I attended the session called: 10 Steps to a Kickass Essay, hosted by Ann Hood.  You can find her on Twitter: @annhood56. These writing tips were so insightful that I wanted to share what I learned with everyone.  Here are my notes.  Feel free to steal and share as needed.

1.  Write like an orphan.
Hold back emotionally.
If your motive is revenge, no one will want to read it.  Those type of essays lack depth.
If your writing about someone who was died, don’t mythologize the person.

2.  A personal essay is about just one thing.  Only one topic.

3.  Every personal essay is really two things:  what’s on the surface, and what bubbles underneath.
External thing + Internal thing.
Make sure there is a concrete story.

4.  Make sense of the events.  You don’t report them, you make sense of them.
Open the essay with event.  Don’t trick the reader or leave it until the end.
When writing about a hot topic, write it cold.
You report, then you reflect

5.  Push past the ending that makes sense.
Add a line or two after the closing sentence.
Go beyond the Norman Rockwell ending.

6.  “What do you know now that you did not know then.”
Force yourself to come to a realization.

7.  Power of Once.  The use of flashback.  Don’t top load the essay in flashback.  If you start with a flashback, the whole essay will be in the flashback.

8.  Objective Correlative:  The author uses an event or an object to stand in for an emotion.

9.  You need to write well!  A personal essay is not a  bundle of emotions.  It’s not a journal entry.

10.  Don’t write what you know, write what you don’t know about yet.

 

 

Grants for Writers

Today I did not put pencil to pager or finger to keyboard.  However, I did do a little research about grants for writers. Besides the current memoir that I am working on, I have two to three other book projects that I’m thinking about.  Like I said in an earlier post, I’m not a fan of putting all of my eggs in one basket, I’d rather have a carton full of various eggs, preferably PAAS colored Easter Eggs that are tie-dyed and trippy like Jerry Garcia might’ve made them––kidding.

If you are a writer looking for grants, here is one website that I have been combing through.  It’s called Funds For Writers.

And here’s another called, Grant Space.

Now, I’ve only applied for one writing-related grant.  Grants take time to fill out.  Also make sure to check the deadlines.  Those are very important!

You’re welcome!

11 Good Quotes for Writers

quote, fortune cookie, literary, writing, trees, writer, grub street, quotesAre you writing a memoir or a non-fiction book project?  I went back over my notes from last weekend’s AWP Writing Conference in Boston.  Here are some great quotes that I wrote down from two separate sessions: The Art of the Non-Fiction Idea and The Urge Toward Memoir.

Since I’m learning just as much as the next person, I was too busy feverishly writing notes to remember who actually said these great one-liners.  If you know who said it, feel free to send me a note.  Wouldn’t some of these quotes look good inside fortune cookies?  This images is from a fortune cookie that I was given at the Grub Street booth.  You guys rock!

Here’s 11 Good Quotes for Writers to Think About.

“Date around before you marry an idea.”

“Will your idea pass the cocktail party test?”

“You need to be able to sell your idea in two minutes.”

“Tell the stories that only you can tell.” ~ Ethan Gilsdorf

“Test out your ideas in short form first.”

“Build up your authority in your niche.”

“Virality = will your writing piece circulate and go viral online?”

“Your project is a balance between you and your voice and the topic.”

“You have to have control of your story just like your novel.  Your readers are dying to know what’s next.”

“All of life is a cover story.”

“Your family will not see things from your point of view.”