Time to Write Now By Julaina Kleist-Corwin

About Writing Plus

Exercise for How to Write Descriptive Body Language

Body LanguageWriters are told to show how, not tell. How would you write this girl’s feelings without saying that she’s sad or that she’s alone?

You would describe in gripping sentences, not a list, how she looks: her head is down, her back is bent over, and her arms hug herself.

body language cryingHow about this emotion? Would you say  that she’s crying? Maybe, but first describe her body language, one hand covers her right eye, we can assume both eyes are closed, tears on her cheeks, etc. You wouldn’t write a list like I did, your writing would flow using well-written sentences that capture her emotion.

In my writing class, I assigned an exercise. I asked the members to pair up with one person being A and the other person being B. A is the protagonist talking with B about C who is not present. A and B have opposing opinions about C. Or, either A or B gives information about C who is not present. The members would observe each other’s body language and take notes. How did one show disagreement? How did one show shock about the information, etc.

There are many books that tell how to write body language, but if you directly observe it as you are acting out the emotions in a real conversation, details appear to use in your writing.

Body language 2 happy

Elopement as a Writing Prompt

Elizabeth and Robert Browning

Elopement makes an interesting idea for a story. Why does a couple elope? A writer who organizes the secret details into a plot arc along with character arcs develops a successful tale. On September 13, 1846, Elizabeth Barrett eloped with Robert Browning. Why?

In 1838, Barret published her first poetry volume and in 1844 her second one. Browning, a son of a bank clerk, wrote poetry with adapted dramatic monologue. The critics rejected his work, but Barret defended it. Browning wrote her a thank you note and asked to meet her.

They met and then had a secret courtship because Barrett’s father disliked Browning, judging him a fortune hunter. Barrett, who had wealth and position, lived in her father’s 20-bedroom mansion. She had poor health, suffering from weak lungs. When her family went away for a while, she secretly married Browning and they ran away to Italy. She never saw her father again.

The couple lived in Italy for 15 years. Barrett’s health improved and they had a son in 1849. Her reputation was greater than Browning’s was but later the critics accepted his work. Barrett, at 55 years old, died in Browning’s arms in 1861. (Information from History.com)

A disapproving family member is often the reason for elopement. What other reasons are there?

Limited time and finances are considerations. One of my family members eloped because she had been married in the white dress and had the big celebration and didn’t think it was necessary to go through all that fuss again. She and her fiancee agreed that elopement would be an adventure and it was. After the Justice of the Peace performed the ceremony, they left for the weekend from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Chicago, Illinois. They registered at a hotel without knowing there was a wedding going on there. The bride and groom walked through the lobby and overheard my relatives saying they had been married that morning.  The bride invited them to celebrate with her wedding party.

Elopement as a writing prompt can lead to many different stories.

Website and Blog

under construction

Time to Write Now will be down for a few days while my website master works on my site. I’m not sure when that will happen, but sometime between late next week and August 12th. A new look replaces the row of books and the green background. The blog’s name and link will be the same and all you wonderful followers will continue to receive notices as usual.

I will add a new For Sale page. I’ve researched how to make packets and modules to sell at an inexpensive price. The teacher in me can’t resist an opportunity to offer what I’ve learned in order to help people in different situations. For instance, one packet is my experience as a Special Education teacher and will include stories and resources for parents of severely medically challenged children. Another packet will be information for writers in lesson formats for beginners and experienced. And, I might take Nina Amir’s advice and have another page to blog a book–probably Lilli, my YA novel. 

If anyone wants to make suggestions for other topics that would be helpful, let me know.

Here is the link to Nina Amir’s book:  Blog a book


Revision: A Creative Approach to Writing and Rewriting Fiction by Kaplan

Kaplan on RevisionA dear writer friend of mine sent me David Michael Kaplan’s book called Revision; A Creative Approach to Writing and Rewriting Fiction. On page 5, he compares writers to musicians. A cellist or bel canto singer might have talent and craft, but without endless hours of practice. . . he’ll never get to Carnegie Hall.” Writers need to practice, “which is the revision of his story or essay or novel until it is, in Goldilocks’ words, “just right.”

If we writers are “content with the first draft, the world will know it; if content with one better than the first but still not the best it could be, our fellow writers will know it; if content with one almost perfect excerpt for a few little glitches, perhaps, with luck, only we will know it.”

Kaplan reminds us that Tolstoy wrote War and Peace eight times. Raymond Carver had done twenty or thirty drafts of a story and never fewer than ten or twelve.


Using Fog in Writing

more fog golden-gate-bridge-690264__180I like fog, however, last night as a few hundred people claimed their spot at the Emeryville shoreline park at about 6:00, a thin layer of fog threatened to block the sunset and promised to become thicker.

Our friends from Sacramento who own a boat docked at the Emeryville harbor invited us to join them for the holiday. The four of us arrived in Alameda at 10:30 to watch the seven mile parade, had lunch with friends of our friends on their patio overlooking a lagoon, returned to the harbor, and read for a couple hours on the boat while the strong wind helped to blow the fog inland.

We arrived at the park and positioned our fold-up chairs to see fireworks from several cities across the bay. The spectators continued to be hopeful that the brilliant sparkles would pierce the layers of invisibility for our enjoyment. Determined to overcome the cold, people, including us, were wrapped up in blankets, extra jackets, hoods, and one group set up a tent to protect them from the non-stop wind. By 9:00, the fog was thicker than in the picture above. A few circles of colored lights flashed from the peninsula, but we could see nothing from San Francisco.

We turned our chairs to watch Berkeley’s show and joined the oohs and ahhs, but the fog gobbled up that faint spectacle as well. Half of the audience left by then, but we stuck it out even when the fog completely covered the top of each  blast. I wanted the finale to be next but it took a long time to get there, and only a final spiral reminded us we had come to see fireworks. As we followed the crowd out of the park, one young woman said, “That’s the weirdest fireworks I ever saw.”

As we write our stories, a setting like the one I described could do well for a mystery. People coming to see the holiday event are interesting characters, some could disappear in the crowd and the cold. I remember several visuals of Sherlock Holmes walking in the fog. It creates an effective cloak of invisibility. Although my novel, Hada’s Fog, is not a  mystery, I used fog as a motif because Hada grumbled about it frequently and it repersented her inability to see a situation clearly.

Can you use the 4th of July and/or fog in your story?