On Tuesday, we had our first Writing Feast. We ate lasagna, drank mojitos, wrote, and talked about writing. I had so much fun.
At one point, we sat in a circle and read through each other’s practices. “This is what you did here that was so cool,” we said. “When you said this, I felt like I was right there with you in the room.”
Tiffany said, “It’s so cool to hear someone else read your writing and tell you what it did for them. A lot of times, I don’t think about what I’m doing. It’s cool when people pick out those parts that really worked.”
You’re right, Tiffany. It is cool. That’s why we’re introducing a new series, long planned, on the Write Practice. We’re going to choose one of our favorite practices and talk about why it was so cool (or not!).
To kick things off right, we’ve plucked a practice from the experienced Mark Almand from the post EMERGENCY: Your Creativity Is Dying. Here it is:
There’s a jolt as you move from unconscious to conscious, and even before you open your eyes, the thought is there. You don’t want it to be true. Please, can it be a dream. God, make it a dream, an imagination, something my brain has created, from another dimension, anything but real. Is it real? Yes, it’s real.
So you swing your feet out over the side of the bed, pull your hands up to the sides of your head, and begin your plan. I have to call mother. And then the kids. And then, oh God, there’s Jake. And of course there’s the money. Did he tell you where he kept the money? No. You’ll just have to find it.
You hear Kathryn still asleep behind you. Thank God for her. She will get you through this. God gave her to you for a time like this.
It’s time to move. You take a breath, turn to look at your sleeping wife, and stand. So it begins.
1. Second-Person POV
I love that Mark writes in second-person point-of-view. Second person got super trendy in lit fiction after McIrney’s Bright Lights, Big City, a novel about partying and cocaine in NYC (it’s also popular in the choose-your-own-adventure genre, but we won’t talk about that). It moves the action toward the reader, bringing them into the scene more quickly than most other techniques. Even though it’s trendy, I love it.
“Even before you open your eyes, the thought is there. You don’t want it to be true.” Um…can you tell me what the thought is? Please. Pretty please. I need to know!
Of course, Mark knows that I need to know, and is not telling me on purpose. Mystery is one of the best tools in the writer’s tool chest because it makes your reader read. They have to find out. That’s why crime shows like CSI and Law and Order are always the most popular on TV. If you watch the first ten minutes, you can’t not watch the last fifty. Mark uses mystery superbly throughout this piece.
“And then, oh God, there’s Jake.” Nice interjection, Mark. You, dear reader, do know what an interjection is right? If not, read our post about how to use interjections effectively. Real people use interjections all the time. If you’re trying to create a distinct voice, it’s essential to throw in some interjections.
All in all, very well done, Mark. Thanks for practicing.
Can you top Mark’s practice? Write for fifteen minutes combining second-person POV, mystery, and interjections. As always, post your practice in the comments for your own bit of individualized feedback.