Author Archive

All-Time Favorite Writing Prompts

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To round out this year of blogging about writing prompts, I polled writers and writing teachers for their favorite writing prompts–generally, simple prompts that have been useful to them as writers, students, and teachers. One such prompt that I found extremely useful in my early days of writing was,

Triangular Relationships

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In a previous blog post, I mentioned my difficulty with conflict and tension.  For this reason, I love triangular relationships, which bring up conflicting desires, competing loyalties, and dilemmas. All the things that make a juicy story go. When I was just starting out writing fiction, when my writing

The Tangible, The Visceral

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Touch is the sense common to all species. So wrote Aristotle in Historia Animalum and De Anima. And so is the premise for the art show Ann Hamilton: the common S E N S E, which I’ve been helping out with here in Seattle, and which explores the sense

Escalating Conflict

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In fiction, only trouble is interesting. For the conflict averse, instilling a story with juicy conflict may take some practice. Someone who has read many drafts of many of my short stories once dubbed me “Anca Did She Forget the Conflict Szilagyi”–a moniker that has become helpful as I

Experiments in Perspective

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A crucial lesson I learned early on in my attempts at writing fiction is that every character is you–and not you. Characters have parts of you inside of them because you wrote them. But they are still not you. Chris Abani once said in a workshop that readers will

Back to School Special: Thoughtful Imitation

Author: | Categories: Writing 1 Comment
I didn’t study creative writing as an undergraduate; it wasn’t an option. When I enrolled in the MFA program at University of Washington, what I craved more than workshop (which I’d experienced a few times in continuing education settings) was the elusive “craft” class: reading analytically not to make

Writing with Abstract Art

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In her essay “Art Objects,” Jeanette Winterson challenges readers to experiment with looking at an original work of art (ideally something you like, at least a little) for an entire hour. She supposes that over the course of that hour, one would become increasingly uncomfortable, distracted, and irritated, but

Summer-Inspired Writing Prompts

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We’re deep into summer. So how are you going to get any dang writing done when everything is so easy-breezy? That’s how it feels in Seattle, at least, when, after ten months of rain, we blink up at the sun, smile dumbly, and forget what we were doing. Who wants

Follow Your Nose

Author: | Categories: Writing 4 Comments
In my previous post, I suggested the possibility of creating an olfactory map of your neighborhood. I want to pursue this thought some more, because the sense of smell is somewhat neglected in creative writing. Of course, attending to all the senses is a basic, crucial element in any

Walking to Write

Author: | Categories: Writing 2 Comments
It should be no surprise that walking relieves stress and anxiety and increases creativity, but now a recent study at Stanford University has found that walking, even for just ten minutes, increases creativity by sixty percent. (Apparently, there was no difference between walking outside and walking on a treadmill in