Tag Archives: Nonfiction

Everybody Has A Story

Recently, I’ve read several articles about personal essay writing.  They’ve ranged from writing tips to how to get your personal essay published.  Now I don’t know if any of my readers are this way, but when I repeatedly run into the same theme across several different mediums over at least a few days I will usually succumb to the inspiration.  In this case, I did, and I am inviting you to share in the inspiration with me.

My theory is that a personal essay is the best practice you can do as a writer.  While it is important to exercise your imagination by coming up with new stories, that creative measure can be distracting.  If your intent is to practice your wordsmithing, what better place to begin than in your memory.  We know our own stories, certainly better than someone else’s and even better than those we could make up since we haven’t actually made them up yet. It seems to me an ideal way to play with narrative – description, dialog, and character – since you know the whole story so intimately.

So, I challenge you to pick an event – big or small – from your life and write it.  The only recommendation I would put forth is to make sure the event you choose is one that was transforming in some way.  Like any good story, your main character should be dynamic, and, in this case, that main character is you.  Feel free to come back and share your experience in the comments.  Let us know if you seek publication!

Enjoy!

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Filed under life of a writer, writing

R – Recipes, And Other How-To’s: Entertaining NonFiction

Okay, I’m not usually one to put recipes on this site. That’s not what this is about, but as I was trying to come up with an “R” word that had to do with writing, I started thinking of another one of my favorite writers, Anthony Bourdain.  Some of you may be familiar with his former show on the Travel Channel, No Reservations.  Others may know him by his current show on CNN, Parts Unknown.  And some may know him best by his bestselling book, Kitchen Confidential; a (hate to tell you this) very realistic portrait of life working in restaurants.  But one of his books you may not have heard of is called the Les Halles Cookbook.  This is a book that he wrote which includes a number of french dishes that he cooked while working as head and executive chef at the New York Brasserie, Les Halles (a restaurant I am determined to dine in myself one of these days).

Now there may be some out there who are still thinking, “Okay, great.  What does this have to do with writing.”  Well, as I say, Anthony Bourdain is a writer, and he has a great gift with words and imagery.  And his cookbook is like none I’ve ever seen before or since.  He does not simply list ingredients and steps.  He tells you about the dish you are making, and gives you hints and secrets about the best way to cook it.  And he does all of this with a talent for the use of language.  If you can get it, I highly recommend you pick up the book.  This is the only cookbook I have ever sat down to read for entertainment.

So here’s a challenge: (Completely stealing this from a public speaking assignment I had in college.) Write a recipe, or other seemingly doldrum instruction oriented piece, but do so with not only the purpose of informing, but entertaining as well.  Instruction manuals, how-to guides, and cookbooks do not have to be boring to read.  As a matter of fact, they shouldn’t be.

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Filed under exercise, life of a writer, reading, writing