Creative Writing DeMYSTiFied by Sheila Bender

Creative Writing DeMYSTiFied by Sheila Bender

Author:Sheila Bender
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education
Published: 2011-02-10T16:00:00+00:00

Just Add Water: An Experimental Mini-Essay in a Can by Dinty W. Moore

Author of the memoir Between Panic and Desire and editor of, Dinty W. Moore, helps students work in creative nonfiction with this exercise:

Many writers habitually compose memoir-based nonfiction as if someone had once ruled “all childhood stories must be told in chronological order.” Though there is obvious utility to relating events in the order in which they occurred, this tidy approach can also be very limiting. Often, it is the juxtaposition of events that gives one’s childhood memories meaning, and sometimes the odd juxtaposition becomes a gathering place for discovery and fresh insight. Logic, in other words, is not the only way into the truth.

The following exercise forces incongruity. It also teaches the importance of detail—nouns and verbs, specific moments and particular things. Finally, the exercise encourages the writer to trust “chance” to a certain extent. Seasoned writers often marvel over some element or another that just seemed to show up, unbidden, in their writing, yet ended up being alive, surprising, and richer than where the author was headed. This, of course, is the unconscious reaching up and through the rational mind, but at times it seems random and capricious. If some oddity of detail or language appears in your writing, and it works, then keep it there, and be thankful. You don’t have to know why!


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