One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to broaden the scope of my teaching. I’d already begun moving in that direction, and am forging briskly ahead, not only with new subject matter, but a totally new format. February 13 – March 6 I am scheduled to begin conducting a new four-week teleclass called Make Your Stories Sparkle sponsored by the National Association of Memoir Writers (NAMW).
The course topic reflects my growing passion for the fine art of description. I say it’s a fine art, but that doesn’t mean writing flowery, over-the-top prose. I’m referring to completeness and accuracy as well as eloquence. Unless you are writing satire or humor, those descriptions that make readers gasp in delight and wonder should be used as sparingly as flakes of cayenne pepper, but they are one of the ways to add serious sizzle your stories. They rarely appear spontaneously, and we’ll look at ways to coax them out of hiding.
Quite apart from learning some new tricks for writing descriptions, you’ll find that honing your descriptive skills makes you more present in your surroundings, and adds color and spice to your everyday life.
The format of the course is simple. Each week we meet together over the telephone by means of a conference calling service to discuss the week’s topic and assignments. Handouts and other material are posted on a secure website that wll also be used for sharing some writing assignments with classmates. This format gives most all the benefits of sitting in a classroom together without having to leave home, so students are likely to be scattered all over the country — or even the world.
NAMW is also offering a teleclass led by Linda Joy Myers on Writing a Healing Memoir, and Jerry Waxler is leading one on Discover the Story Amidst the Facts. The three of us are teaming up to offer a series of free* 30-minute teleseminar previews of these courses and you are all invited to join us for these calls. We’ll each cover a topic that you can use to improve your writing, not just spend the time hustling you to sign up for the full course.
The first call featuring Linda Joy Myers will take place on January 22 at 4:30 pst, 5:30 mst, 6:30 cst, or 7:30 est. Jerry Waxler's preview is on January 29, and mine will be held on February 5 at the same time each week.
Even if you can’t attend the full course, I hope you’ll join us for the free* previews, and invite your writing pals to dial in with you. To sign up and get the dial-in number and access code, click on the links in the preceding paragraph and enter your name and e-mail address in the fields at the bottom. In fact, sign up even if you can't call in, because those who sign up will receive a link to a recording of the calls, so you can listen later.
*Although there is no charge for the session, normal tolls apply to call the access number.
Write now: write a few lines in your journal about ways you'd like to jazz up descriptions in your writing.