Posts by Laurel Leigh

Write Like Water: Free Virtual Class on Jan 14

Dear Writers:

I’m so excited for this class, so I’m glad people are letting me know already that they want to come! In teaching writing, some of you know that I put a lot of emphasis on movement. Which brings us to the title of this class: Write like water.

I find it helpful to keep in mind that your idea for the story’s structure should be fluid. Thinking of the structure as a container or the packaging for the story, also allows for the possibility of swapping out that container en route or during revision. If the structure you’re trying doesn’t meet the needs of the story, back up and rethink the structure. That’s different than coming up with a structure and then getting lazy and not following through. I’m talking about a total swap out.

Knowing when to keep or change the overall structure is all about balance. Get too loose and you lose your grip on the story. Get too locked in to making a structure work, and you can begin to force fit content into a predefined structure.

The ultimate goal is to find and follow the natural path or flow of your story. The goal is to avoid using an artificial structure because it is glitzy or you just like it. That doesn’t mean the structure has to be simplistic. It might be very complex, but it should be as simple as it can be to do its job effectively.

When thinking about structure, I like the image of a river because it’s sturdy, there are definable borders and walls, and yet it’s also flowy and curvy. It’s both strong and yet has inherent flexibility, and to me that’s one of the goals when thinking about your structure.

That’s why I think of figuring out a story’s optimal structure as finding the path of least resistance. If you watch water, it’s smart. It’s efficient. It doesn’t make things harder for itself. It wisely takes the path of least resistance. It flows downhill most easily. But given time, it carves a path through solid barriers, so it’s also really, really strong.

Another way to say this is that the truth is the easiest to remember. To me, finding the path of least resistance is like finding the honesty and authenticity in your story. Telling it in the most honest way you can, and ultimately that’s what will make the story its most compelling.

There’s more to say, so see you in class!

Here’s the link to register: https://zoom.us/…/regist…/u5Qqf-iqrjMjmiX38_c3VtGYp9KQrQcZQw.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Zoom meeting.

XO Laurel Leigh

P.S.: Here’s a post from Cami Ostman of THE NARRATIVE PROJECT with more events for writers in 2020.

As One Year Ends and Another Begins

WRITE LIKE WATER: How to Find and Follow the Natural Path of Your Story

Dear Writers:

I’m really happy to be collaborating with the The Narrative Project and the wonderful writer/coach Cami Ostman for a conversation we are calling WRITE LIKE WATER: How to Find and Follow the Natural Path of Your Story, on January 14, 2020, at 6 p.m. Pacific time. This two-hour virtual class taught by Yours Truly will be offered FREE through The Narrative Project. The focus is your story’s structure: how to find it, and how to fix it.

Over the years, a lot of the requests I get for help with memoirs and novels pertain to structure. As we all know, establishing the architecture of a story can be tricky because the story’s structural design is both a writing tool and a container for the action line, but the structure should not upstage nor inhibit the unfolding action of the narrative, and neither should it be confused with the plot. One issue we all face is that despite everything we know about story and structure, every story is ultimately unique, so we have to somehow apply everything we know and simultaneously forget everything we know each time we conceive, refine, diagnose, and maximize a story’s structure. I have some techniques I use in my editing that authors and publishers have appreciated, so I’ll share those as a type of To Do list I hope you will find helpful.

If you want to spend a couple hours talking structure with Cami and me, here’s the link to register: https://zoom.us/…/regist…/u5Qqf-iqrjMjmiX38_c3VtGYp9KQrQcZQw.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Zoom meeting.

XO Laurel Leigh

A Light in the Darkness (Or, Watching the Fireflies)

Dear Writers: I really appreciated the imagery and insight into writing in this post from The Eye-Dancers. I had to share it!

Eye-Dancers

It’s night–a warm, muggy summer night in the hills of east-central Vermont.  It’s late.  I’ve always been a night person.  Even though I arise by five thirty most mornings, I still shake hands with midnight from time to time.  Tonight is one of those nights.

I’m at the window, the breeze wafting in, carrying with it the sound of crickets as they play their fiddles, unseen, in the grass that needs mowing.  Out there, beyond the house, is the meadow–five acres’ worth, surrounded on all sides by woodlands.  It’s a private spot, down a dirt road.  There is no neighbor within a half-mile.  And while sometimes, the distant sound of a car engine or chainsaw can be heard, for the most part, it is quiet here–except for the crickets and the hoot owls and the creatures of the night who crawl and run and slither through the grass.

I’m not…

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WIN SCAMPERS!

Dear Writers:

Who can resist Scampers?!?!

Hey, Look! A Writer Fellow!

It’s time to win a signed, hardcover copy my new picture book: Scampers Thinks Like A Scientist!

Scampers Thinks Like a Scientist is the book that received a five-star review from Foreward Reviews. It’s the book that nabbed a glowing notice from the difficult-to-please Kirkus. And it’s the book that stars the cutest mouse in the history of ever.

Oh. My. God. Just look at that widdle face!

So let’s get started!

How To Enter

To enter the Scampers drawing, all you need to do is leave a comment below that answers this question:

Which fictional character would you most want to have as a next-door neighbor?

That’s it! Leave a comment and you’ll be entered in the random drawing for Scampers!

But Wait!

Do you already have a copy of Scampers? That’s great! Thank you!

Enter the contest anyway.

After all, if you win, you can…

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There Are Many Kinds of Scars

Dear Writers:
I’m fortunate to be able to say that the very first writing group I was in is still going strong eighteen years later. Our group has been a wonderful constant in my writing life, and I’m amazed at the insights I get from my mates at Dogpatch Writers Collective. As usual, they had much to say about my last piece of writing, and I’m now inspired to finish revising my essay.

Thanks, Dogpatch!

XO Laurel Leigh

Dogpatch Writers Collective

Dogpatch writer Laurel Leigh’s essay explores how as a child she experienced the scars of her mother’s mastectomy and how those issues of image and identity carried into her adult life. Here’s an excerpt of “Scars” and our comments about this deeply honest piece of writing.

The author’s mother on her wedding day.

The wound in my chest was open and wide, and I could see the layers of my skin disappearing into the circular black hole. As a kid growing up in the country and later an acrobat, I’d had plenty of scrapes and bruises, but I’d never had a cut that deep. I was engrossed by how deep the hole was—about an inch.

The doc came back to the table and explained that the wound leakage had just been fluid, but it likely would re-occur if he used liquid anesthesia. If I was tough enough to look at…

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Win a Doodle! Hooray and Huzzah!

Dear Writers:

If there possibly is anyone who knows me who doesn’t know my rather shady past as self-appointed fan club prez (some rude people have brought up the “S” word, but I think that’s totally uncalled for, and part of the proof is that a recent post of his linked to a post of mine, which means we’re sort of friends, so there) of that Writer Fellow Mike Allegra’s doodles . . .

I kind of lost track of that last sentence. Anyhoo, the esteemed doodler is after a long hiatus hosting another doodle contest with fabulous incentives. Plus you don’t have to do much at all to enter. Go on his blog and talk about yourself. Who doesn’t love doing that? Hit a couple share buttons or write a book review if you are a readerly sort. And in return, you get to be in a drawing to win a super-amazing doodle, which if you want could be a doodle of a pal for a certain salamander I know. Head over to Writer Fellow’s site to get the details!

XO Laurel Leigh

Hey, Look! A Writer Fellow!

I really like hosting blog contests!

And I really, really like doodling!

And I really, really, really like the fact that some people like my doodles!

So it is time once again for my semi-annual

WIN A DOODLE CONTEST!

Who will be the lucky winner? Will it be YOU?

The grand (and only) prize will be a custom made, one-of-a-kind, Mike Allegra doodle of ANYTHING YOU WANT!

“Anything?” you ask.

Yes, anything—provided that “anything you want” isn’t perverted. I’m a children’s book author, so get your mind out of the gutter!

Otherwise, yes. ANYTHING YOU WANT!

Past contest winners have asked for all kinds of doodles. Like exotic birds…

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A caffeine gnome…

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A raven shapeshifter (whatever that is)…

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A woman doing yoga and holding a pen as the ghost of her dearly departed dog looks on…

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And (of…

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