Wednesday, March 31, 2010

All About My Writing Home

I'm excited to share this article about StoryStudio Chicago, my writing home that I often gush about here. I've taken creative writing classes at StoryStudio Chicago for about three years and work there part-time as the Events Coordinator.

And did you see that great nugget of news at the end of the article my non-Chicago writer friends? StoryStudio Chicago will be offering online classes in the future! So even if you're not local to Chicago, you can soon take part in the supportive and challenging writing community that StoryStudio provides.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Olive Kitteridge

I just finished reading Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, and it was one of my favorite reads in recent years. I read Strout's debut novel, Amy and Isabelle, years ago, and found it breathtaking.

Olive Kitteridge is a novel in stories, mostly centered around the oafish and oblivious Olive, a schoolteacher and pharmacist's wife, but also the folks who live in her small Maine town. I love character-driven stories and this book is all about character. Each short story has its own story arc, and is beautiful independently.

But through the collection of stories, the reader follows Olive wading through life with oblivion, anger, and sadness. Yet it's her brief moments of self-awareness -- she is very observant, but about everyone else and rarely herself -- that are startling in their simplicity.

Strout won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for this beautiful book. I think it's a must-read for writers who want to study the art of characterization.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Story Ideas: Do You Find Them or Do They Find You?

A writers group I belong to asked to do a profile on me, and one of the questions was, "Where do you get the ideas for your stories?"

I didn't have a glamorous answer, just that sometimes I have a fuzzy idea of a character, or maybe an opening line. I sit down and type and see what happens.

I've been sitting down and typing and seeing what happens to my current WIP, although this time I have a few more ideas of what I want or need to write about next, a rough bulleted list of plot points I know the story will hit. I just don't know how the story will get there or what the characters will do at those points. I just write and hope that these folks I've created know enough by now to keep causing trouble.

How about you? Do you get ideas for stories, or do you show up and see what happens?