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Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Writing for the Senses by Olivia Aragon (A Book Review and Giveaway)

Writing for the Senses by Olivia Aragon is a book full of creativity and inspiration--in fact, it is the perfect book for a writer who loves prompts OR  writers who are trying to improve the amount of sensory detail they have in their writing. It's chock full of writing prompts--365 of them to be exact. Remember, the craft of writing takes practice, and that is what Olivia is providing you in this e-book.

She starts with an introduction, explaining what led her to pen a book of prompts. Her story is similar to many of ours. She has studied writing, earned a degree in it, taught writing, and read books full of advice. But she still stared at a blank, white page. "What I’ve found is that it’s incredibly helpful to have somewhere to start besides the blank page," she writes. "That’s what brought me to writing this book. My students, my friends, and I needed somewhere to start besides that scary white page staring back at us."

She also explains that these writing prompts can be just for you, or you can turn them into something publishable. But the one requirement that she has is that you remove the inner critic while you respond to them. That is amazing and excellent advice!

The 365 prompts are mainly designed for fiction writers to get in touch with their senses and bring that awareness to their stories. She organizes the prompts into ones that focus on each of the five senses and exercises that address all five at the same time, as well as a few that focus on reading, inspiration, excuses (none of us have any of those, right?), and old ideas.

Being a writer myself, I decided to try out a few of her prompts. Here's how I feel after this experience.

Prompt one from the beginning of the book: Write about why you care to write. "To be a good writer, you not only have to write a great deal, but you have to care." Anne Lamott
I like this prompt a lot because sometimes I lay in bed at night, and I think to myself, Why am I doing this writing thing to myself? I am crazy! But when I did this prompt, I realized that I would  not be happy doing anything else. I can't imagine a life where I am not a writer. So, I am going to keep the response to this prompt and read it whenever I am feeling a bit down about the writing life.

Prompt two from the "seeing" part of the book:  "Looking through a magnifying glass, he finally saw…" I always enjoy these kind of prompts--I call them story starters. They can give you a story idea, the beginning of a story, or the whole thing. When I did this writing prompt, it gave me an idea for a second book in the middle-grade novel mystery series I am working on. (I should tell you I am still writing the first book, however.) But the way I finished this sentence is: "Looking through a magnifying glass, he finally saw the clue that would help him solve the mystery. How could he have missed it before?" To find out what the clue is, stay tuned for the mystery series! (smiles)

Prompt three from the "smelling" part of the book: Write about the smell of old books. This prompt made me really think--the first thing that comes to mind most likely for everyone is musty--but when I write, I don't want my readers to read the same thing that everybody else writes. So, I dug deeper, and I tried to compare the smell of old books to something--a memory came up of when my husband gave me an old book for Christmas the first year we were dating to support my writing. It was very sweet. So, I connected a memory with the smell. I'm not sure if that's what this prompt was supposed to do, but remember, Olivia instructs us in the beginning to let ourselves go!

This is a well thought-out book--it's like taking a fiction writing class for a year for under $12.00. It will take dedication and determination to complete one prompt a day; but as with all things, you do what you can--if you need particular help with hearing and feeling sensory details, then focus on those first. You don't have to do the prompts in order, necessarily.

The best news of all is we have a copy of Writing for the Senses to give away.

***** BOOK GIVEAWAY *****

We are giving away a print copy of Writing for the Senses by Olivia Aragon (list price $11.99) to one lucky writer. Just enter the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win. Open to US and Canada for a print copy. (And open internationally for a Kindle copy!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be picked. Good luck!

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Anonymous Tori said...

When is the giveaway?

5:18 AM  
Anonymous Tori said...

Nevermind---12 days from Wed. Thanks.

5:19 AM  
Blogger Margo Dill said...

Thanks for entering, Tori! :)

7:04 AM  
Blogger Patricia Anne McGoldrick said...

This is such a great book for writers!

7:07 AM  
Blogger Janel Gradowski said...

Right now I work on my writing from about 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. - when my kids are in school. If I'm really in "the zone" I can continue to write after they come home, amidst all of the chaos of normal family life.

7:24 AM  
Blogger MP said...

Prompt books are always good to have around. This one sounds interesting!

8:27 AM  
Blogger Margo Dill said...

Thanks, ladies, Olivia will appreciate all this support!

9:07 AM  
Blogger Julie Luek said...

Would have been happy to do this even without the give-away. It sounds like a great book. Thanks for highlighting it.

9:43 AM  
Anonymous Eleanor said...

Sounds like a great book, but I can't enter because I'm non in US or Canada.
Would it be possible in future give-aways to allow people outside US or Canada to enter for a Kindle copy? Thanks!

9:47 AM  
Anonymous T.K. Marnell said...

Ooh, this sounds like the book for me. I have dozens of detailed outlines for stories, but each of them also has a file labeled "Chapter 1" that is completely, depressingly blank.

But these Rafflecopter giveaways always confuse me; it says the "prompt" for leaving a comment is "What's your writing schedule like," but that doesn't have anything to do with this post, so I'm not sure it meant to comment here or elsewhere. I'll just answer it now: my writing schedule is whenever I can grab time for it! I work mornings, and there always seems to be something that needs to be done in the afternoons, so usually I write in the evenings. Weekends are my writing marathon days.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Gracie said...

Good Morning :)
I am unable to access the Rafflecopter form on the post, so I will enter my name here. My writing schedule is usually prior to bedtime, or when I'm waiting in my vehicle for my kids!

Thank you for the chance at this draw.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Margo Dill said...

@Gracie--thanks for letting us know your difficulty with the form.

@TK--the prompt is for people who wonder what to write about. But we love your comment the whole thing! :) Thanks.

@Eleanor--good point. :) Thank you for letting us know. I know Murphy would love a copy of Writing for the Senses--it would give him some more blog material!

1:33 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

@Eleanor ~ Ask and ye shall receive! :) Go ahead and enter the Rafflecopter form if you have a chance. International winners now have the option of winning a Kindle copy!

I'll look into the Rafflecopter form. Gracie, if it's not working for you, you probably need to update your browser's javascript plugin.

Margo, fantastic review! I love your take on the prompts. I have a really funny story for the smelling one, so I will have to do some of the exercises!

These are great warm-ups to get your creativity at peak performance for NaNoWriMo!

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Kirstie said...

My writing schedule is whenever my toddler naps and I'm not so exhausted I need a nap too. I'm planning to push the limits in NaNoWriMo to see if I can achieve more.
This book would be an amazing addition to my collection.

9:06 PM  

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