Learning to write, featured writing instruction resource, and a lesson.

The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile

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Learning the craft of fiction is sometimes a tricky and expensive business. But we are on a single income budget with a whole passel of kids to boot, so expensive and my own ambitions (no matter how noble) don’t go together.

That’s why Amazon, the library, and author/agent blogs where the craft of writing it taught and discussed are places I like to frequent.

Although, the howling toddler flopping at my feet as I attempt to type this quick post is making me reconsider the other options; check into a loony bin, fly to the moon….

The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman is a hand-me-down book from an author friend of mine. But don’t let my worn copy deceive you. It is well-loved! This is a great instructional resource to keep and refer back to.

Each chapter addresses a topic aimed at “staying out of the rejection pile” with examples of errors, ways to fix trouble spots and then ends with a lesson to apply to your own work in progress. From presentation to dialogue and on to more advanced techniques like pacing, this is an invaluable resource. It also happens to be concise and chapters move along quickly so you can learn a lot in a short amount of time especially if you apply the end of chapter lessons.

Your Mission #1: Here is a lesson from my reading that I enjoyed. Join me if you like by leaving your “homework” in the comments below or on a blog post and linking back.

Lesson from the chapter on setting:

Lukeman challenges writers to train themselves to be attentive to their surroundings, and by learning to better observe, infuse richer settings in their writing. Find ten unusual details in the room you are in and write them down. It doesn’t matter how small. Then see if you can convey a feeling or leave an intentional impression about the setting using these details.

Here’s mine:

  1.  Dust clung to the blades of the fan.
  2. A candle tipped out of rank on a wall sconce of otherwise tidy, crimson candles.
  3. Laundry spilled out of the hamper, slumped like an old man, weary and tired.
  4. Neatly stacked books occupied every flat surface, holding up random wads of this and that.
  5. A well-loved quilt was spread over the stilted log bed.
  6. Pages from Parents Magazine littered the floor.
  7. A white scratch marred the wall painted with midnight forest green.
  8. Grandmother’s old rugs made a cozy place for feet to land on the hardwood floor.
  9. The faint smell of heated rice and lavender filled the small space.
  10. A lone wooden block lay abandoned in the corner.

Your Mission #2: What can you gather from my surroundings?



Filed under Book Blab, Journey to Publication, Twenty Something

3 responses to “Learning to write, featured writing instruction resource, and a lesson.

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Learning to write, featured writing instruction resource, and a lesson. | Blog Schmog -- Topsy.com

  2. All right. I’ll bite.

    I’ll even try to keep the list concise, though my tendency is to write a paragraph! Here goes!

    1. A seven-year-old clipping from a horse racing magazine was taped to the wall, an informal memorial to a favorite Thoroughbred stallion.

    2. Next to the magazine clipping, two large photos of a charging steam locomotive held court, steam and smoke billowing, an old Model A keeping pace.

    3. A stuffed cat nestled on a oft-read novel next to the computer.

    4. A live cat snoozed on the couch nearby.

    5. Colored pencils in a rainbow of colors and sizes sprouted like pins on a pin-cushion from three recycled jars. A few pencil stubs too short for even the smallest jar lay in a heap in a shallow dish.

    6. On the easel behind the desk on which those pencils resided was an 8×10 photograph and a much larger pencil drawing of the horse and rider in the photo.

    7. A sea shell lay on the floor, awaiting its next appointment with the cat.

    8. A collection of finished paintings, some of them framed, graced every wall in the house.

    9. Long-since expired Christmas cards paraded around the entrance to the front foyer, wishing a merry farewell to all departing visitors.

    10. Tax paperwork drooped over the arm of the sofa, longing for the day when it could be filed and forgotten for another year.

  3. I love it! I can see you looking around your house. 🙂 Lovely, just lovely!

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