Lessons focusing on fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, and the intercepts between, to provide inspiration and/or distraction.
- The Thickness & The Threshold: A Lesson With Alina Stefanescu
- What Might Have Been: A Lesson With Steve Edwards
- What Echoes Will Always Come Back: A Lesson With Hillary Leftwich
- Creating Emotional Urgency Using Anaphora & Parallelism: A Lesson With Kathy Fish
- The House and You: Intimate Spaces, Objects and Memory: A Lesson With Hannah VanderHart
- Populating Fiction in the Age of Social Isolation: A Lesson with Aram Mrjoian
- All That Lingers: A Lesson with Satya Dash
- A Lesson with Kim Magowan
- Epistolary Writing: a Shortcut to Earnestness & a Step toward Experiment: A Lesson With Tyler Barton
- Diving Through to the Other Side: A Lesson With Meg Tuite
- Evoking Deep Feeling in Narrative: A Lesson With Jennifer Wortman
- What Stays on the Page: Using Photos as Inspiration: A Lesson With Madeline Anthes
- Freewriting With Sentence Starts: A Lesson With Francine Witte
- How Did We Get Here?: A Lesson With Joshua Jones
- Switching Up Your POV For Deeper Access: A Lesson With Melissa Ragsly
- The Sky is a Story: A Lesson With Robert James Russell
- Let’s Talk About How Stories Get Started: A Lesson With K.C. Mead-Brewer
- Hoarding and the Fear of Scarcity: A Lesson With Michelle Ross
- WYSIWYG (A Piece of Writing in Which What You See is What You Get): A Lesson With Kaj Tanaka
- A Lesson With Lauren Slaughter
- On Obsession and Time and Imperative: A Lesson With Sara Lippmann
- Our Bodies, Our Feelings, Our Paratext: A Lesson With Erik Fuhrer
- The A-ha Moments We Never Go A-ha To: A Lesson With Jennifer Fliss
- A Muse In Nature: A Lesson With Ashley M. Jones
The A-ha Moments We Never Go A-ha To: A Lesson With Jennifer Fliss
Why would I tell a story about that?, you might think. Do you veer towards fires and drownings and divorces and storms and thrown vases? These make for wonderful, usually loud stories. But I don’t often read about the more quiet things. The usual. The, let’s call it “mundane.”
Why would someone want to read that? (If you break it open, they will!)
Going to the bathroom, using the credit card pad to pay for groceries, hair on the shower wall, clipping toenails – the things we’re embarrassed of, but if you mention it, everyone will be – oh yeah, FEEL.
What are things that don’t go together or that you don’t usually think of? Well, now think of those things.
A story can be set in small things, not necessarily in big events. Or a writer can use that small thing as a way into something bigger. Often I veer towards domesticity in these kinds of stories, but it doesn’t have to be that.
A story can be set anywhere, doing anything. I think a lot of writers forget this. Almost anything, any object, any action, can be a wonderful launching point for a story. Why? In addition to the familiarity – which will bring authenticity to your work, our lives – the big moments – are still happening, even while we still have to go on with these small tasks. Therein lies the poignancy of these supposedly mundane things.
While changing the sheets, changing a tire, logging into a six person virtual work meeting, picking out drapes, or in the toilet paper aisle trying to decide whether to splurge on the 2-ply. The things we do without thinking. The things we do by rote. Scrubbing children’s paint off the dining table, getting gas, in the split second of holding the door for someone, getting a hole in your oldest sweatshirt, cleaning the fridge, planting seeds, harvesting tiny wilted failed crops, getting the mail, doing a 1000 piece puzzle, stomping in your recycle bin to fit more in, playing Rummikub with your aging grandmother, starting a new calendar, rewriting an address book, finally pulling that nail out of your deck – the one you always scratch yourself on.
We do not have life changing moments only at big deal life events. We can’t schedule or plan for an a-ha moment. And neither can our characters.
Do this. Write a story like this. Fiction, non-fiction, or poetry. Perhaps it’s the next thing you do, or look at after you read this. It should open so much emotion and that familiarity will be an instant connection, for you and for your reader.
Here are some examples: