Today was a full day of writing. It started with tutoring before school. We reviewed how to punctuate dialogue and my student began a non-fiction piece about the fish of Maui. An interesting topic.
At 10:00am, the women's writing circle began. This is our fifth week of writing together and it feels like home when we gather. We began with a warm-up write as usual, and then we did a writing exercise, veering from our typical pattern just a little. We wrote two or three lines about our morning or our day yesterday, and then rewrote them multiple times in different tenses and perspectives. The sharing was so fun...I loved hearing how each person's short little story came alive differently depending on what tense and perspective it was written from. Everyone agreed that it was interesting and fun, and our writing expanded out of the grooves we normally tend to write in. We closed with a round of writing from a compelling prompt that elicited strong pieces. It is soul satisfying to share this time with these women.
The Alameda after-school writer's workshop was also satisfying. We reviewed the three pillars of a story (character, setting, and plot) and talked about how to use them to start off a new piece. Instead of imparting all my knowledge immediately (haha), I paused to ask the students..."Do you ever get stuck on how to start a story? What do you think about when you are starting a story?" Their answers were awesome. So thoughtful and varied. I added my two cents: consider opening with one of the pillars...describe the setting, or the character, or jump right in with plot action or dialogue. We wrote and shared and I had a chance to check in with most of the students.
It was a wonderful day of writing with others. I love days like this.
Sarah Pemberton is a teacher, a writer, and the founder of Write Now!. Sarah lives in Portland, Oregon with her two daughters.