Nancy: Borrowing From the Masters

In this terracotta relief circa 450 BC, Odysseus, disguised as a beggar, tries to make Penelope recognize him.

In this terracotta relief circa 450 BC, Odysseus, disguised as a beggar, tries to make Penelope recognize him.

There’s nothing new under the sun, or so say Ecclesiastes, Shakespeare, and conventional wisdom. When it comes to writing, there’s truth in that. You’re not going to be the first to write a love story, a murder mystery, or a journey into the depths of misery of the human soul. But, so continues the thought, that’s okay because you’ll bring something else to your story that no one else can – you.

Sometimes writers go even further and base a story on the structure and meaning of an existing work. In fact, they do it all the time, sometimes quite successfully (West Side Story, anyone?). Borrowing from existing works such as mythology, fairy tales, and Shakespeare allows us to learn from the masters as we write, and can give us guideposts for our own writing. And it’s not all bad for readers, either, as readers’ minds to attach to the familiar, even when it’s barely recognizable, and hopefully a story will bring enough new twists to surprise and reward along the way. Continue reading

Kat: Turning Points

I Wouldn't Start From HereI suspect that if you ask each of the 8Ladies what writing concept they find most challenging to apply to their story, you’ll get at least five difference answers. Conflict (or the lack thereof) is probably at the top of the list. Beats are undoubtedly up there, too. However, its turning points that make me want to scream. Conceptually, I get what they are and how to structure them in the story (see Michille’s awesome post). But determining what they are in my story is a whole different animal.

My problem began when I saw Jenny Crusie’s “cup of tea” illustration—a visual explanation of how turning points work and escalate the action. Since then, I tend to think of TP’s as events so big they practically explode from the page (i.e. someone gets stabbed with a fork). Continue reading

Kat: 2014–A Very Good Year

EightLadiesinWaterHappy New Year, everyone!

The beginning of the year is always a time for new resolutions and fresh beginnings. It’s also a time for reflection and celebration of past achievements. Since I’ve already made the only resolution I intend to keep (12 Classic Women Writers), I’d rather get right to the celebrations.




We’re All In This Together Medals go to:
The Eight Lady bloggers: Continue reading

Michaeline: The Mobile Writing Unit

Taken May 17, 2014 in the library, Shihoro, Japan by Michaeline Duskova

Writing on the go — on location in Shihoro!

Today, I’m writing from location in the beautiful Shihoro Integrated Training Center Library, waiting for my kid’s badminton practice to finish.

We’ve talked about home offices before on Eight Ladies. Most recently, Nancy remodeled to reflect her new career goals.  Kat gave thanks for her tidy office last November. A dedicated writing space can be not only practical, but a real talisman. It says, “I AM devoted to having a writing life, and I make space in my life, my home and my schedule for it.”

But there are many roads to Oz, as Jenny says, and it can be very productive to have a mobile writing kit so that we can write on the run. Continue reading