Sign up for our FREE Email Newsletter

Friday, September 17, 2010


Friday Speak Out!: THE A-B-C’s of W-R-I-T-I-N-G, Guest Post by Joanne DeMaio

THE A-B-C’s of W-R-I-T-I-N-G

by Joanne DeMaio

It’s that time again. September means we’re tossing notebooks and pens and paper into our shopping cart, keeping the kids well stocked for a new school year. I say, toss in a few for yourself, too. Your town’s annual adult-ed schedule, and the local college’s non-credit courses, are just waiting for your enrollment. I tried it, and let me assure you this: School is cool when you're attending as a writer. It’s surprising which fun classes help your craft to …

Strengthen Characterization
Is your novel’s protagonist a nervous chef, mulling life in a kitchen? Does your cozy mystery’s thief bury jewels in a garden? Live their lives! Prepare a five-course Italian dinner in the class Tuscan Cucina and won’t your words then be cooking up a storm, right along with your pan frying protagonist. Fall Bulbs: Spring Surprises plants ideas for your plot to blossom on an unaware gardener’s surprise jewel find. Experience is the best teacher, and enrolling in a relevant non-credit course helps you bring a world of experience to the lives of your characters.

Develop Story Structure
Who doesn’t love admiring a beautiful painting? The works of the masters stop many viewers in their tracks. Borrow their knowledge. Be a student of artistic structure in a basic watercolor class. Understand how an idea starts as a sketch delineating shape and form before the painting even begins. Or try a beginner photography class looking at composition, framing, focal points and depth, all parallel qualities to a good story. Study and learn from the similar process of creativity comprising other art forms, then use your words to start painting your picture-perfect plot.

Spark Inspiration
Treat yourself, and motivate your muse. One of my personal top writing rules is to indulge our very own passion. That way, we can not only write what we know, but write what we love too. If you’re a history buff, take Genealogy 101. And you know that seminar in Kitchen Design is just calling your name, inspiring you to spruce up your home. What about that Parisian trip you’ve always dreamt of? Beginning French will get you closer to your destination! Be sure to take class notes on the great ways your passion can show up in your next novel. So let’s go, it’s time to hit the books …

* * *

]Joanne DeMaio is a Connecticut writer and founder of the inspirational blog Whole Latte Life. Grab a coffee and stop by for a visit at


Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


Labels: , , ,


Blogger Carol Kilgore said...

Great tips for anyone, Joanne, especially writers. Thanks.

6:46 AM  
Blogger T. Anne said...

GREAT advice Jo! I plan on indulging in my passion during my next WIP!

8:16 AM  
Blogger Joanne said...

Carol - Thanks, these classes are a great way for us to indulge whatever craft or interest we love :)

8:29 AM  
Blogger Joanne said...

T.Anne - Having done this myself, I can say that it definitely helped to add a layer to my writing. I'd love to know what type of class might do this for you!

8:30 AM  
Blogger Journaling Woman said...

I love these tips. You always give great advice.


10:09 AM  
Blogger Janna Qualman said...

Wonderful post!

11:20 AM  
Blogger Joanne said...

Journaling Woman - Thanks, I always like to find ways to enrich our craft.

Janna - Glad you liked it :)

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Jen said...

Great advice! I agree with the importance of sparking inspiration. This past summer, I took painting classes which inspired my creativity. We learn a lot about ourselves and ways to enrich our lives and passions.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Shirk said...

LOVE these tips, Joanne!!

I'm thinking of asking my friend (who owns a bakery) to let me watch her for a while since I have a heroine who wants to open up a bakery. :)

1:19 PM  
Blogger Margaret said...

Great tips. It really is important to have those characters sound as honest as possible.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Mason Canyon said...

Very helpful post. Inspiring tips.

Thoughts in Progress

1:32 PM  
Blogger septembermom said...

Joanne, I love how you tell us to motivate our muse. I'm going to take your advice. Thanks so much once again for giving such great advice.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Joanne said...

Jen - Great point, that we learn about ourselves in the process. School can be enriching in so many ways.

Jennifer - What a comforting place to bring to a novel, a bakery. Your friend sounds like an amazing resource.

6:08 PM  
Blogger Joanne said...

Margaret - I agree, when you can't tell the difference between fiction and not, it's such an effective read.

Mason - Thanks :)

6:09 PM  
Blogger Joanne said...

Septembermom - Once that muse is motivated, the creativity is really unleashed, don't you think?

6:12 PM  
Anonymous Mare said...

As a full time student, I completely agree that the value of a class is immense. It's amazing how a theme from an English course or a gen. ed like Music Appreciation can show up in other things we choose to pursue. Your post also reminds me of a book I'm reading in my journalism course called WRITING TO DEADLINE. In it the author says "Pursue an interest that forces you to see the world from a new point of view. Sketch, paint, take pictures." I think that when we expand our minds, it can only help to make our choice lives excel!

7:25 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

What a wonderfully creative post, Joanne! :)

I LOVE the simile of story structure and painting. As a painter myself, I know there are many layers to a painting. There's the idea, sketch, underpainting (which, for oil paintings, is a monochromatic wash you use as a base for shadows and light), texture, glazing, and so much more... The process is really like crafting a story.

1:22 AM  
Blogger Sharon said...

Great ideas, Joanne. I have signed up for an adult ed class, but it's for the nuts and bolts of Microsoft Office because my skills are rusty. On the creative side I've been thinking of taking a class in quilting to feed that passion. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea.

8:44 AM  
Blogger Marguerite said...

Very inspirational post! Thanks for the great tips and advice! I recently enrolled in a photography class and I'm really looking forward to it!

9:44 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts