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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Specification Prompt

There were twelve members in attendance at our September 16 creative writing session. Mary Ann Weakley shared her notes from the Kentucky Women Writers Conference which she attended the prior weekend. Here are some of her notes:

Speaker: Sue Halpern: Rhodes Scholar, Guggenheim Fellow, doctorate from Oxford, author of many books.
Topic: Finding Your Voice
  • Find your voice by writing; when you find words not working, get rid of them.
  • Read, read, read; become a self editor.
  • Observe. Interrogate your senses; make adjectives mean something
  • Be specific, use taste, smell, etc.
  • Get rid of throw-away words, e.g. fun, pretty, bright.
  • Strike a balance between descriptive and mundane.
  • Overwriting is a big sin. Description needs to fit into context.
  • Keep the reader engaged; be coherent.
  • Careful of repetition of words.
  • Be a good listener/editor.

Speaker: Erin Cox: Agent; Develops and represents writers for Rob Weisbach Creative Management, New York. Previously Book Publishing Director at the New Yorker.
Topic: Agents, How to find one and keep one.

  • Most important is, a Good Story and Good Writing.
  • Develop a platform to sell your book. Who will you sell to, how will you sell.
  • Use blogging, Facebook, Twitter--keeps you connected.
  • Personal connections: other writers, booksellers, collect e-mail addresses.
  • Know your end goal.
  • Next wave publishers are looking for: GHOSTS! Vampire is over.
  • Young Adult writing is easier to break into; needs good setting and strong characters.
  • Nonfiction is easier to sell than fiction.
  • Try to get published in literary journals.
  • Get something published anywhere you can. Shows aggresiveness and experience of going through the process.
  • E-magazines are good place to publish. Glimmer Train popular one.


1. Mary Ann passed around two bags of candy - one bag contained peppermints, the other contained peanut butter candy bars.

2. Each member chose one piece of candy (peppermint or peanut butter).

3. We were instructed to use our senses and create a descriptive paragraph about the candy focusing on specificity.


In our Creative Writing sessions, we have twenty minutes to brainstorm and write. The focus is on opening our minds to other types of writing or other writing ideas we might not explore on our own. Our focus is not on grammar, style, or technique as it would slow our creative process. So keep in mind, when you see Creative Writing session stories on this blog, they have not been proofread and drafted in multiple - these are speedy, one-shot brain dumps. Here are some of the paragraphs created from our prompt above:

By Suzette Greer (peppermint)

Twisted into crackling celophane, braided red and white, the scent of Christmas burst through the wrapper. Slow, rythmic, contemplated gestures released the tiny treasure into my hand. Oh the joy of that first touch to the tip of my senses. The fresh clean bite of winter air, woven into a single morsel, melting like ice behind my lips. When I can bear no more… crunch! - crunch! - crunch! The fragments blend and drift down my throat, but in my mouth, lingers wonderful peppermint!


By Judy Lee Hooper (peanut butter - done outside of the creative writing session)

I hold the small package in my hand. As I begin to liberate the tiny morsel from the cacoon that protects it from a cruel world, the sound of cellophane crinkles in my ear. The sweet aroma of peanut butter asails my senses, taking me back to my childhood. How long have I deprived myself of this simple luxury? One that does so much for me yet cost so little? Too long - I decide - too long.

I savor the remembered flavor of the peanut butter and the sweet crunchy coating as they melt on my tongue. I am transported to another time, childhood. Ahh...the taste of yesteryear.


By Karen Aldridge (peppermint)

The peppermint is crisp. Frosty vapors ascend into my nasal cavity and tickle my mucous membranes. The texture, smooth at first is fading into textures my tongue explores. Now, sharp crevices form slicing at the tip of my tongue. There is a sticky sensation gathering on my lips and the corners of my lips meld together and take some effort to part. My eyes are awakened as the vapors move to the tops of my sinuses and the lights seem brighter. A clicking vibrates through my head as the peppermint travels among my teeth. The flavor sharpens making my tastebuds recoil in flavor shock.

Post by: LWC Director, Karen Aldridge. Visit her personal blog at My Writing Loft.
Contribution by: Mary Ann Weakley (Notes from KY Women Writers Conference)