Tag Archives: Writers Resources

Hello, Stranger!

I’ve been so busy writing and teaching for LitReactor.com, I have completely neglected my own blog.  Contrary to appearances, I have been busy! I have contributed over 40 articles to LitReactor and even started teaching an online grammar class.

My articles on Grammar, Usage, Vocabulary, Craft, and few other random topics can be found on the site.  My most popular article to date is 10 Words You Literally Didn’t Know You Were Getting Wrong.

I also sponsor a monthly Flash Fiction contest on the site.  The winner of the July contest gets a copy of Chuck Palahniuk‘s new book–which isn’t coming out until October! You have until the 30th to enter, so get on it. Entries have a 25-word limit, so it’s easy to enter.

If you don’t win this month (of if you don’t enter this time), there is a new contest at the beginning of each month, so check back often.

I also teach a semi-regular Basic Grammar class for LitReactor. We just completed the last session in June, but another session is in the works. I’ll let you know. The class covers basic parts of speech, sentence structure, punctuation, usage, and the differences between style guides. It’s a fast and furious two-week intensive, but it’s cheap and it’s all online. So you can log in from anywhere anytime and be wearing anything (or nothing…I’ll never know!)

Other than that, I’ve been working like crazy. I now work as a technical writer and instructional designer for a Portland engineering firm. It’s very challenging work, and it’s given me a lot of great experience writing for the high-tech and business world. I find that even though the subject is not my area of expertise, the basics of good writing still hold true. It’s good practice–that’s for sure.

I’ve noticed I’ve gained a few new followers in the past few months. I apologize for my lack of content, but please do go check out my articles on LitReactor.com. It’s a great site, and I am proud to be a part of it.

Thanks for reading!


Fiction Writing Lesson 1: Setting

Here is the lesson plan we will follow in tonight’s class. Enjoy! (Click PDF to download.)Setting Worksheet 9-16-10


What is setting and how do I write it?

Setting is, well, the place where a story’s action unfolds. In plays, movies, novels, memoirs, poems, etc. the role of setting varies from being very important to the unfurling of the plot, or it can be completely arbitrary.

The typical way of writing setting is to explain the details big and small, physical and factual, through a section or several sections of exposition. Exposition is a fancy term for longer prose sections of background information or explanatory sections. There are, however, many ways to create setting—dialogue (and dialect), tone, characters, etc. Play with it.




“Fjord of Killary” by Kevin Barry (Published by The New Yorker at http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/features/2010/02/01/100201fi_fiction_barry)

After reading, consider the following question about the setting?

1)      What is the setting of this story? Is it a real or fantastical place?

2)      How does the setting drive the plot?

3)      How does the writer use pre-existing conflict as a jumping off point>

4)      How does the writer use the setting to move plot, create suspense, or set tone?

5)      What are the big details of the setting? How does the writer include them?

6)      What smaller details play a big part in the setting?

7)      Is the setting vivid? How so?

8)      Does the writer assume the reader recognizes the setting? If yes, to what extent?

9)      What are some specific ways that this writer creates the space with details or tone?

10)   Could the action take place anywhere else? Is the setting deliberate or arbitrary?

Writing Exercise

Practice writing setting AND maintaining a consistent writing flow (in prep for NaNoWriMo) by writing a setting—real or imagined. Use your powers of exposition to create a detailed setting. Play with the details—what to include or exclude. Run with it. Consider, if you’d like, characterizing your setting with thematic details that convey a particular tone. Think of Barry’s Killary, and the way the narrator colors the hotel using word choices and allusions that give the setting a particularly dark and ominous tone.

This exercise can also work for journaling or memoir purposes. Write (without stopping) about a setting that profoundly affected you. It can be a past setting (a grandmother’s house, a favorite childhood hiding place) or a setting that you are in often (your home or workplace.) How does the feeling that the setting gives you play out in the details? Use the same technique to create mood or tone. A “rolling-hot-breath-box” is an image much more loaded with feeling than “a city bus.” Consider how the place makes you FEEL on top of just the physical and factual characteristics of the place.



Get Cramped for NaNoWriMo!

Writer’s Cramp is gearing up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) coming up in November. Our classes will focus on creative writing tricks for writing fiction. But, don’t stress if that’s not your thing. Class will still include the usual mix of grammatical tips, interesting writing prompts, and more.

I have signed up to write my own novel this fall (check me out on nanowrimo.org. My handle is “TaylorsWritersCramp” (look at all those possessives…very messy.) Be my writing buddy and help me motivate!

Please note: class is STILL scheduled to go forward every Thursday from 6:30-8PM at the Fremont Abbey. (I heard the class wasn’t showing up on the website anymore, but class is always on, even if it’s not at the Abbey.) If the café at the Abbey is unavailable, look for us across the street at Cafe Vita. We are easy to spot, as I have a stack of books with me and we are all writing.

Even if you don’ plan to write a novel this November, class should be rich with interesting writing topics to entertain and inspire you–character development, plot development, dialogue, description, vocabulary, and of course–grammar! As always, questions, requests, and inquiries are welcome: writerscramp1@gmail.com.