Archive for the ‘The Art of Writing’ Category

Welcome to ENGL 1157!

In Awesomeness, The Art of Writing, The Writing Life on August 18, 2012 at 2:01 am

This seems to me to be something of a “This is WarrenEllis.com” type of post, but for those of you who are students in my ENGL 1157 class, it seemed like a good idea to introduce myself, much as you will all have to introduce yourselves to me. Plus, it seems to me that Sally and Arleen don’t know quite all there is to know about me, and that just has to change.

As an introduction, my name is Wendy Withers. I am currently a professor at UNO (though I in no way speak for the university, and my views are not necessarily those of the university or the English department). I am from Florida and received my BA in journalism from the University of South Florida. I have worked for a number of newspapers and magazines and have had a few short stories published. I am also a slush reader for Nightmare Magazine and am about to commence contributing blog posts to Crossed Genres Magazine. I love “B” movies, role playing games (the non-video game kind), and New Orleans. I may or may not admit to being a crazy cat lady. I am currently finishing up a graduate degree at UNO; if you ever want to be completely overwhelmed, ask me about the significance of the appearance of Cupid in Renaissance literature. I have taught a number of writing workshops and used to teach composition classes at DCC.

As for writing, I feel that I am a competent and often precise writer. Because of my background in journalism, I do a pretty decent job of organizing my writing. I am also good at meeting deadlines and wordcounts. I have been told that my writing often looks at the world in new ways, and I seem to have a habit of saying things that other people don’t. It might be the nerd in me, but when I write I spend a lot of time researching. I want to know the context behind the story; if I’m writing about a modern short story, I want to know how the story fits into the larger tradition of its genre. If I’m writing an article about a politician, I want to know his record from ten years ago and how it contrasts with his stances today.

Even though I make sure to provide context in my writing, I feel that it often lacks depth. I would like to be the kind of writer who finds ways to add complexity to her writing instead of glossing over important details. Some of this is my newspaper background holding me back; newspaper reporters often have short wordcounts that keep them from adding the detail to a story that will really bring it to life in the reader’s mind. I would like to be the kind of writer who appears in The New York Times, not Podunk Weekly. I have found that my writing has been improving since I began reading more widely for my graduate degree. Stepping outo of my comfort zone of reading contemporary science fiction, fantasy, and horror has definitely improved my prose.


Crafty Day

In Knitting, New Orleans, The Art of Writing on July 7, 2010 at 4:29 pm

It looks like I will be joining a craft group tonight. I will probably be knitting a kippah (I tend to do that). I might also bring my sketch book and some oil pastels for the occasion.

In Tampa, I was a member of a knitting group that met weekly at a coffee shop. The leader of the group moved to San Francisco, and we somewhat disbanded. I was also a member of a writing group that met twice. I was the head of that group. There wasn’t much real interest in it.

Here, I am also a member of a writing group. It is run by other people, and I am on probation for the next two weeks, then members will start critiquing my writing. I think writers should join writers group to build their productivity in addition to allowing them to have new sets of eyes look over their work. My productivity has skyrocketed in the past two weeks (although, being unemployed may also have something to do with it).

I think it is somewhat funny that my writer’s group meets in B&N, but the craft group tonight is meeting in an independent dive bar/ pub. Tonight should be interesting.

A step inside my creative process

In The Art of Writing on June 6, 2010 at 5:04 am

I was watching the #query discussion on Twitter today when I noticed an agent complaining about vampire/ werewolf stories. This was worrisome, because the novel I’m working on started out as a vampire/ werewolf story. Now, it’s a blood magic/ nature magic story where humans channel different aspects of the divine. The blood mages channel death, while the nature mages channel the chaotic forces of nature. Still, in its present incarnation, it’s still too much like a vampire novel.

While I fiddle with the story line, I’ve decided to start working on the first draft of a new novel. Here’s how I came up with the bare bones of the story:

I knew I wanted the story to be about a woman who falls in love with an IT guy at a university.

I wandered downstairs to my apartment complex’s library to look for books for research.

On the way down the stairs, I decided that the woman should be an archeologist at the same university as the IT guy. It makes sense that the IT guy works for the archeology/ anthropology department.

I picked up a book on the world’s mysteries (by Reader’s Digest) and zeroed in on Atlantis. I discovered that some people really think Atlantis is the Bahamas. Huzzah! That’s close enough to home for me to work into a Calaveras plot! (Calaveras is my fictional city that I’ve been writing about for a couple of years now.)

I decided that the plot will revolve around an ancient, alien god who pushes the story forward. While I was thinking about it, I realized that the deity will be neither male nor female. It’s an alien god, not a Western god.

Now, I’m filling in the holes and working on a rough outline. And, I feel good about the plot points I’ve come up with so far.