Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Creative Nonfiction--whatever the heck that is

In my Creative Writing class we're starting Creative Nonfiction. I had never even heard of this genre until I started the class. Simply put, it's nonfiction that's written similar in style to fiction. Mostly it's personal things that have happened to you and you can apply outward to humanity in general. I'm looking forward to getting into a new genre, although I know that my life hasn't been terribly interesting so far.

And I'm really excited, because I've had an idea in my head for nearly two years now, and I think it's finally time to put it onto paper (or computer screen). I'll need a few more weeks to prep for it most likely, but I can feel the moment of concentrating on it is right.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


One thing that I am obsessed over when planning a new story is names. So much goes behind a character's name. I once had to rename a character because the name that I originally gave her was hindering me from delving deeper into her character. Once I changed it, her personality came much more freely to me. It was pretty crazy.

I love finding meanings behind names when I read, and so if possible, I like my characters to have names with hidden meanings as well. It doesn't always work that way, of course. Sometimes a character just is Mary or Justin or Alex, for no particular reason. And minor characters tend to have less of importance to me when it comes to deeper meanings.

When I was younger I used to flip through the name book my parents bought in 1986 for their first child.
I'm pretty sure I used it more than my parents did. They only had four children, I've named dozens of characters with that book. Poor thing, the cover is missing now and the pages have gotten a little crumbly as old pages tend to go.

But as I got older and internet became more popular and my parents let me use it, I've found two sources that are gold in finding new names. The first is It's just a great place to browse, and their searches are crazy good. You can choose the sex, syllables, letters, origin, and meaning all in one. It's great. The second website that I've more recently found is This goes into more of the historical/mythological/literary/Bibical aspects of some names. It's handy if you want a bigger meaning behind your character's name.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Vonnegut Says It Best

I loved this and it made me laugh, so I thought I'd share it here with all of you.

But I have to say, for how limited writers are in patterns of stories, some people come up with some pretty incredible stuff to read.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


On my eleventh birthday I greatly anticipated my acceptance letter to Hogwarts. I didn't get it (to which I thought, It's because I'm American, isn't it?!). I had done more than fall in love with the story and characters in Harry Potter. I had fallen in love with the setting as well. So much, that I wanted it to be real, and I was sure it was. There was no way that J.K. Rowling could have made up such a place! It was too thoroughly described to not be real.
I've come to realize that I suck at setting. But setting is important. Imagine Harry Potter with a weak setting. It wouldn't have done nearly as well--and forget about a theme park. The world our characters inhabit should be as vivid and real as them. Something else to add into my  list of improvements on writing.

But a trick I learned in creative writing today is to write the setting as if you're shooting a movie, and "pan" through the setting. Start out broad, and then move in through the setting and into the characters and the situation. In fact, if you look at a lot of scenes describing setting going this way, only now I realized how people used it.

Of course, now I want to go to the theme park in Florida to see Hogwarts. Because now it is real.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Semester, New Perspective

Today was my first day back in class and I started my first college creative writing course. Since it was the first day it was a lot about the syllabus and the way that the class is going to be run, there isn't much to report back on the class. But I've been going through the reading, a book called Imaginative Writing by Burroway, and I'm really excited for this class.

Already I've found so much in my writing that I need to improve on. Of course I've heard about using active verbs and nouns, but actually reading this book has opened my eyes to just how detailed a passage can be. I'm not always slapping on weak verbs and nouns, but there's still a lot to work on in that aspect.

I was also going to talk about this comparision the book talked about between dissecting and frog and dissecting writing, but it sounds weird coming from me. But the point was that when we dissect a reading as a writer, the text comes out more alive than before and our own writing comes more alive.

So here's looking forward to a lot of aha moments this semester!