May 10, 2011

Stages in a Writer’s Life, Part One: “My Life Isn’t Interesting”

Posted in Stages, Stages tagged at 2:02 pm by Rebecca Hein

When I started my first book at age twenty-three, I remember editing out most of the personal details because I figured they wouldn’t interest the reader. Ten years later I still hadn’t realized that well-chosen details are vital to a good narrative.

To refer to an event without explaining it sufficiently is both vague and tantalizing. In addition, a lack of setting disorients the reader, and if you’re going to write about your own life, we need to know who you are, as well as the what, when, where, and why of your story.

February 23, 2011

How Does Roundtable Storytelling Stimulate the Imagination?

Posted in Collaboration tagged , , , at 10:02 am by Rebecca Hein

The virtue of roundtable storytelling is that it forces you to improvise. This process becomes easier when you relax into it, and that’s when the magic begins.

My normal mode during a roundtable story is to divide my attention between the installment my neighbor is telling and my pending contribution. My turn arrives and I tell my part; its quality ranges from adequate to mildly entertaining.

But occasionally a vivid image appears from nowhere. I share it, and it gives a new and jolly twist to the plot.

February 16, 2011

Roundtable Stories: The Rules

Posted in Collaboration tagged at 10:05 am by Rebecca Hein

The first and best rule of roundtable storytelling is fun. Thus there’s no standard.

The object is to be as fanciful or silly as possible, and none of the rules of good writing apply. The group can invent as many characters and plots as they wish within one story. Sidetracks and flashbacks can be as long and wordy as the teller desires. Setting and character development can be ignored.

The point is to keep your narrative going with as much freedom and forward motion as possible.

Next: How does roundtable storytelling stimulate the imagination?

February 2, 2011


Posted in Collaboration tagged at 9:45 am by Rebecca Hein

Musicians and writers spend hours in solitary work on our skills, but there’s one important difference between the two groups. Music is by nature a shared endeavor whereas writers must actively seek opportunities to involve others.

Even then, collaboration is rare. Public readings and critique groups require only that the writer read his or her own work or comment on the work of others.

But writers actually can partake of the fun of collaboration, thus achieving a sense of shared art which is the essence of music.

Next: How can writers create the equivalent of chamber music?

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