Archive for the ‘Writing Tips – The Why and How of It’ Category

One Word at a Time   Leave a comment

One word at a time

To begin your journey, pick up the pen,
Write that prose or rhyme;
Though book or sonnet, each must be written
One word at a time.

Tune in the melody your ear does chime
‘Till harmony does float;
Each lullaby and symphony sublime
Starts with just one note.

Let palettes of vision your canvas coat
With hue stark or lush;
From sketch to masterpiece is not remote,
Take in hand the brush.

The spirit once seen and heard will not hush,
No more silent mime,
The dream once savored, muse’s nascent blush
Will but higher climb.

© 2006 Kate Sender

Prompt: “When asked, ‘how do you write?’ I invariably answer, ‘one word at a time.’” Stephen King

Virelay ~ Interlinking quatrains, 1st and 3rd line long, 2nd and 4th line short; linked by rhyming 2nd and 4th line of first stanza with 1st and 3rd of second; etc., final stanza, link the short 2nd and 4th lines to the rhyme of the same lines in the first stanza. Though no meter required, I tried to sustain a rhythm where I could.


Is writing a ‘happy’ thing?   Leave a comment

A fellow writer, Pat Dale, today posed the question “Are you happy with your writing?” 

My response:

I don’t know if it’s happiness.  What I feel when I write is wholeness. When I sculpt letters into words, then read aloud the poem I just wrote, and I can perceive it with my eyes and ears and nose and skin; when I wrap up a scene or a story and it feels real (even though it be a fantasy or speculative fiction) – I feel connected and a part  of something essential, a voice in the lyric cacophany that began before we measured time and evolves through its essence with each note that rises melodic, each leaf that sips sunlight, each seed that reaches skyward, each sparrow that soars on a whistling zephyr. 

When someone else reads those words and says, ‘hey, I can see it, I can hear it, I can feel it’ that’s sublime; my eclectic solo evoking a response from another.

When I write I live in the moment, albeit one I inscribe with my essence.  If we need a label, then I guess when I write I am happy ~ Write On!


I give thanks to Pat Dale for posing the question and the writers who each raised a pen in response ~ do check it out here

And, fellow writers, Be Happy! ~ Write On 🙂

Show and Tell ~ Writers, Let’s Play :)   1 comment

Show and Tell ~ A Writing.Com Editorial

Remember back when you were a kid in school and you got to take something to school for ‘show and tell.’ You and some of your classmates sometimes had like items (a doll, a fire truck just like the one that rescued dad off the roof, skates, a Transformer, perhaps), but no two were the same. Because each had its own story, and you each shared it with your friends and classmates.

As we got older, we were taught to narrow our focus. We learned to respond to questions with succinct answers; to show what we knew, without telling how or why we knew it. Many of us, over time, perhaps forgot altogether to notice or seek the ‘why’ of things.
I submit that we, as writers, have an arrested development. We’ve not given up, or have recalled, the joy of searching, of questioning, and of sharing the journey behind the quest. We observe and explore, we imagine and postulate, then regale ourselves and our readers with the details of our journey. We do some ‘telling.’

Numerous “How To” writing books and articles instruct us to ‘show, don’t tell’ in order to keep our readers in the moment and grab their attention. When writing a chase scene, a gunfight, an alien to mortal brain transplant, yes, one needs to show the event unfold in real time to draw the reader viscerally into the story. But then, to hold your reader’s attention, to make him/her want to stay for a time in the ‘otherworld’ you’ve created, I think you have to tell him the why of the chase or gunfight. To turn a scene into a story, you want to make the reader care about the ‘why’ of it. You’ve shown your reader the cherished item, now tell him/her why it’s important or interesting.

As writers, one way we do this is with ‘backstory’. We know the details behind our characters’ actions; we know how the ‘snapshots’ derived from a sound or scent evolve to reach their full-screen resolution; we know what each of our characters does, looks like, thinks like, fears and hopes. We share with our readers only enough of this information to draw them into the story and make them understand why events are unfolding as they are, why characters act as they do, and make them want to know more. We don’t want to give them everything, they don’t need an information dump to distract them from the world we’re creating for them with our story or poem. Your reader doesn’t care, and doesn’t need to know, what each character had for breakfast (unless perhaps poison is involved). In my example above, the kids in class didn’t need to hear a distracting litany of the swear words dad used when his foot went through the old roof shingles. Those had nothing to do with the hook and ladder rescue; they didn’t move the story along. Telling them that would not have shown why the toy fire truck was interesting or special.

When the details are important; when they draw the reader further into the story; when they show the ‘why’ of things, then a writer has several ways to ‘tell’ readers.

There are several you can use as a writer to ‘tell’ your reader things about your characters, your idea, your ‘otherworld’; things that make him/her understand the why of things, and to make your reader empathize with a character, want to turn the page, join you for a time in the literary world you’ve created. But give no more than what’s necessary (no litany or information dump), that your reader can follow the story.

Flashback – on the one hand, answers a question you’ve posed for your readers; tells them something in response to action that’s taken place. It’s an effective way of weaving history into your ongoing story. For example, Mike will not consider living in a house without a basement, one without a foundation. He becomes again the five year old running for the door his grandpa held open against the storm. His grandpa stopped smiling as the oak hit the trailer, mashing it, and his grandpa, into the unyielding ground.

Backstory through dialogue – is a dynamic way of engaging your readers, and give depth to the characters themselves. Conversation among characters is an effective way of telling why they are taking one action over another, foreshadowing events to come by alluding to events in the characters’ past. It can be overt or subtle, proclaim deeds done or allude to the motive for what may occur.

Narrative – is another way that you can tell your readers something, either using your character’s voice or your own author’s omniscient voice. Your character can provide background, internal and external, for action taking place or perhaps yet to occur. Or, as the omniscient author, you can offer third-person narrative to explain the present by relating it to the past. “When we made the first campfire,” grandpa begins, “the bears came to feast, and where once we were four, by dawn we were three.”

Framing – is an effective way to give a ‘narrator’ (like ‘grandpa’ in my example above, depth of identity. Telling a story within the story, often recalling in first person events of the past, can give added relevance to events occurring in the opening story. Consider the cliche “Once upon a time,” and how the story that follows is framed by the opening and then resolved with a message, a lesson, a quip, or by somehow changing the actions or beliefs of the characters in the opening story = it’s a story within a story. Framing is also effective in explaining by action some tenets of a belief system or political or social mores. The characters in the original story are engaged with and changed by their encounter with the framed story.

So, don’t be afraid to show – and tell – your readers your story. Each of the above techniques can be effective, used judiciously, to add that flavor to your story that will make your readers want to know more, make them want to enter more deeply into your world built of words.

Try it!  Show a bit of your ‘otherworld’, and tell your readers just enough to make them want to stay awhile.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this Writing.Com Editorial and wish you joy and success with your writing journey as you Write On!

(c) 2010 Kate Sender

Please feel free to visit and share the full text of the Writing.Com Short Story Newsletter, June 2, 2010, along with the journey of some of our members. 

I would also like to share one of my favorite resources here for exploring my short story writing, Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular, by Rust Hill.  If you have a guide you’d like to share, write back or post ~ until we next meet,  as we say at Writing.Com ~ Write On!!

Kate ~  Here’s the link. ^_^

What is a Poem?   2 comments


embrace thoughts
spoken freely or bound
convention honored or form redefined
lighthearted verse to sonnet profound
always creative
creative always
profound sonnet to verse lighthearted
redefined form or honored convention
bound or freely spoken
thoughts embrace

© Kate Sender 2006

     A poem is a form of verse that alludes to, but does not tell, what it is. That’s the purpose of prose (or in verse, a metaphor perchance). Maybe an article or a class lesson will tell you what to do, but a poem shows what can be. Yes, the old ‘show’ vs. ‘tell’*Smile* ~ poetry shows the image or idea envisioned by the writer of the poem.

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learned to dance.
‘Tis not enough no harshness gives offence,
The sound must seem an echo to the sense.

quoted in Rhyme’s Reason A Guide to English Verse, by poet and critic John Hollander An Essay on Criticism, Alexander Pope,

     Poetry is: “A verbal composition designed to convey experiences, ideas, or emotions in a vivid and imaginative way, characterized by the use of language chosen for its sound and suggestive power and by the use of literary techniques such as meter, metaphor, and rhyme.” American Heritage Dictionary

     As writers, we are wordsmiths. We select words that transmit ideas, images, sounds, both real and those of our invention. To be a poem, rather than an article or story, however, we take the words a step farther, and piece them together in a way that evokes a sense of the image, idea, or place we want to recall or invent, and the reader to perceive. We mumble the words as we convey them to paper or laptop. Poetry needs to be spoken to achieve its full potential; the reader actively participating in the poem crafted of words in patterns fixed or free form. Reading aloud, the writer and the reader connect with the image or event, bringing it to visual, sensual life.

     That’s the only way to sense the poem — become involved with it. And the way to write one. Just as the dancer puts one foot in front of the other, the painter begins by putting brush to canvas in a series of lines and dots of color, the poet forms an image or story by arranging words with rhythm. And just as the artist first learns to connect two dots to shape a three-dimensional image, the poet learns to craft a poem by connecting words to images to patterns of sound, then making them his/her own.

© Kate Sender 2008, 2010–Poetry—Palindrome

Write On!



Sabbles woz 'ere


Smile! You’re at the best site ever


Having Fun with Mr. Right Now


Write, read, eat, drink.


James Dorr a.k.a. James S. Dorr

Lynn Rush

New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author

Word Warrior

Skip Miller

Debbi Mack: My Life on the Mid-List

a few reflections on the writing life

"Internet Marketing Made Easy" Conquers All!

JO-ANNE VANDERMEULEN - Online Social Media & Marketing Expert - Best-Selling Fiction & Nonfiction Author - Founder & Business Operator - Radio Producer & Host

word warrior

the power of words at your command is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

The Blog

The latest news on and the WordPress community.