The contest: Submit up to 600 words in response to the writing prompt and submit it to lmblogcontact (at) literarymama (dot) com by Friday, May 18th. Please put “Use Your Words writing prompt” in the subject line. The winning entry will receive a copy of Use Your Words and be forwarded to Kate. The month-long contest’s overall winning entry (chosen by Kate) will be published here, on the Literary Mama blog; the winner will receive a one-hour writing consultation with Kate via phone or Skype.
Here’s an excerpt from her book:
Chapter 4: Our Children As Characters
Sometimes when I mention that I’m working on character development with my students, someone will say, “I thought you were teaching nonfiction.” There is an assumption that because the people in a work of creative nonfiction really exist, there is no need to concern ourselves with character development.
But nonfiction writers need to write believable and three-dimensional characters precisely because these characters are real people; writing them accurately is a way to honor them. We also need to think about character development when we are writing about ourselves. How does the reader know us? How do we reveal who we really are?
One of the wonderful things about writing about our children is that we, as writers, get to decide how the reader first “sees” them. What do you want readers to notice first about your child? How do you get readers invested in your children as characters? Keep these questions in mind as you write about your children.
Writing Prompt: Character Sketch
Think of your child (or one of your children if you have more than one). Try to convey his personality by using dialogue, gestures, and facial features. Ground your writing in detail. It may help to think in terms of objects — what your child eats, what he likes to play with, his hobbies. What does her face look like when she is absorbed in a task? Write as if you are watching your child from the other room. What does she look like when she doesn’t realize that you’re watching?
Writing babies can sometimes be challenging because they don’t do that much. So if you have a very small baby, you might choose to describe her while she’s sleeping, or crying, or gnawing on her hand. Or you can try this exercise with another person in your life.
Note: Some of my students who have twins have found that they cannot write about one without writing about the other. If you have multiples and feel this way, go ahead and write them together in a scene. Think in terms of differences and similarities. When are they most alike, most different?
The contest: Write up to 600 words in response to the writing prompt and submit it to lmblogcontact (at) literarymama (dot) com by Friday, May 18th The winning entry will receive a copy of Use Your Words and be forwarded to Kate. The month-long contest’s overall winning entry (chosen by Kate) will be published here, on the Literary Mama blog; the winner will receive a one-hour writing consultation with Kate via phone or Skype.
We look forward to reading your submissions!