The 3 A.M. Epiphany Review

The 3 A.M. Epiphany - Brian Kiteley

Brian Kiteley, a professor at the University of Denver's Creative Writing PhD program, gives writers 201 writing exercises in several different categories to are pledged to "transform your fiction."

The exercises are split into 20 sections:

-Point of View
- Images
- Characters and Waysof Seeing
- Women and Men
- Children and Childhood
- Conversation
- Thought and Emotion
- Biography and Autobiograhpy
- Time
- History
- Description
- Sentences - Butting up against each other
- Other People's Sentences
- Play and Games
- Sports
- Humor
- Travel
- Internal Structure
- Exercises for Stories in Progress
Each exercise ranges from 600 to 1,000 words to keep the details short and each one meaningful. While Kiteley advises not to use these as an extension of a work in progress, I find them useful for new ways at looking at scenes to be written or needing to be rewritten in my works in progress.
For example, I did the first exercise (they can be done in any order), The Reluctant I, where you are suppose to write a story fragment from the first person point of view while only using personal pronouns (I, me, my, mine) twice. It was a challenge but it made me realize there are times I don't need to use I, me, my or mine and yet I do.
Kiteley's book has given me a new look at certain aspects of writing and has also given me prompts for when it's a dry day.
I would recommend the book to anyone - it's a creative mix and there's definitely something for everyone in there.

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Wealth of Knowledge?

On Wednesday I took a foreign language placement test at my University. I was thinking I would test into 201 (hopefully 202) Spanish. That's third (or fourth) semester Spanish. After all, I had four years as a Spanish student and almost a year of helping a Spanish teacher. I thought I would be covered.

I tested into second semester Spanish.

So I decided to take German for my foreign language requirement which wasn't going to bother me since I wanted to take it anyway.

Okay, so where's the lesson?

Don't over estimate your knowledge. Things get harder as time passes. Don't believe that you can get by with just what you're doing now. You have to constantly improve; to make yourself better each time you try.

But most importantly, understand that there is no way in which you can know everything. I know I can never know everything about living in Germany (something I know a lot about) and because of that, it not only has made me humble, but it has also made me more wise. Because only when you can admit you don't know everything, do you know something more.

So keep learning. It'll come in handy.

And if you ever take BYU's foreign language placement test, don't expect anything other than grammar. :)

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Tweet, Tweet

Completely lacking in inspiration for writing today, I decided to spend more than my usual five minutes on Twitter.

I subscribe to several author/agent/writing guru's feeds. Some, like Elizabeth Craig are very prolific, offering links to other writing blogs or sites with information on every topic under the sun writing related. It's useful, but also overwhelming.

I might have learned a lot from people's Twitter feed about writing, I also wonder at what point should I stop looking at every link. When does this good, helpful, information get to be too much? And what do I do if two tweets disagree with each other.

Sure, I like to learn by reading - that's who I am. But this is one of those times I need to take a snippet of advice and go after it myself. I might not know where every comma needs to go, but I'll learn through trial and error.

And doesn't that make it more meaningful anyway?

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Without a Parent

I always found the stories of a chld who had to take care of other children because a parent was absent. I understood alcholics, druggies and occasionally, the death of another spouse.

What I couldn't understand was workaholics.

Why couldn't they let things go from their job so that they could spend time with their kids? When did it become more important to have a job than to love and cherish your children?

In recent experiences, I have learned not only what it truly means to be a workaholic, but also how it affects the kids. They are forced to grow up way too soon. They are the ones picking up perscriptions, dropping off the library books, making dinner and school. And those are the ones who are only children or have older siblings away.

It's even worse for those with younger siblings. They not only have the responsibilities dropped of errands and dinner but the actual job of parenting. It's a huge task to ask of anyone - and its ginormous for a teenager who doesn't have the choice or the option to say no.

It all makes sense - and I may now be able to write about it. But that doesn't mean I wanted those experiences for anyone.

What experiences have made it easier for you to write about but you never wish on anyone?

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Editing vs. Rewriting

I am working on making my novel ready for querying sometime this summer. It needs about 10-30K more added to it which brings me to a curious question.

What's the difference between editing and rewriting? Opinions? Go ahead, post them. I'm curious as to your answer.

I think editing is the final tweaking - grammatical errors, spelling errors and realizing that your character changes eye color five times in the course of a 75,000 word novel. It's definitely an important step but it is not the first one.

I made that mistake with my first novel, Her Testament to Life, (which I'm currently rewriting). I edited first and then decided to rewrite. Basically I wasted a revision on my own stupidity. I suppose that's how it goes with writing. You learn after the fact.

Rewriting, I believe, is more substance. It's retooling scenes, characters, places. Fleshing out the novel if it needs it and then, when all the actual substance is there, then you can go and do the actual editing process.

Brrr! February Update

It's suppose to be fifty on Monday. That's bikini weather in Iowa right now. And while I've probably all got people imagining pasty white Iowans running around in skimpy swimsuits, I am going to try and divert attention to my completed goals for the month.

My goal was to write 27,083 words. I wrote 27,093. And the last about 900 words of that was at 8:30 at night when I really should have been getting ready for school the next day.

What did my February writing include? This is a list - though not very detailed.

-Additions to Her Testament to Life
- The SOS scene
- Typing journal entries - both in the Keep Life Simple journal and the Pink Bird one.
- Portfolio work (Almost 10K total for the year.)
- 4 blog posts
- 2 co-written subplots
- The very beginning of a West Wing fanfiction
- 2 scholarship essays
- Annotated Bibliography and History Day paper (on Jane Austen)
- Public Address and Oratory for IHSSA Competition
- Sociology research and the beginnings of a paper
- 2 school pen pal letters
- 5 poems

Now that's a lot of writing. But it is also a lot of not writing. All but about 1600 words was not on novels. Granted, my school words have to be written no matter what happens. And WriYe counts them as words, so I count them too.

My portfolio needs things to show how I've improved and the journals are so I don't have to carry five pounds of journals with me wherever I move. Both of these last two things are part of my goals for the 2010 year.

But I also have a bigger goal. I want to start querying my first novel, Her Testament to Life before the end of the year. But first I have to get it to length and then go back and re-edit it. At the pace I'm going, it's going to take me over 407 days just to get the novel to length. Then there's editing.

So, this month, my goal is editing and I want the majority of my words (51% or higher) to be on either Her Testament to Life or Ruined Emotions, both of which are novels.

Here's to hoping this works because my novel desparately needs more meat to it.

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