“Reckoning,” an essay by Julie Patterson

Navigating early motherhood is hard. Doing it without your own mother—because she dies unexpectedly while you’re in the throes of it—is perhaps harder. In the wake of loss, middle-aged first-time mom Julie Patterson considers whether grief dramatically changed her children’s personalities, or if her children dramatically changed her grief.

Crafting Grief: Narrative Point of View

First in a series of posts looking closely at the craft of writing about grief Last month I facilitated a writing workshop about narrative point of view (NPOV), and afterwards it occurred to me that I have looked closely at the craft of many texts specifically about grief. I’ll even be so bold as toContinue reading “Crafting Grief: Narrative Point of View”

Hold Readers at a Climax

When I first read stories with students and ask them to identify the climax, they tend to point to a small amount of text, often two sentences or less. This is one of a handful of common phenomena that still baffles me — where did so many of us get the idea that climaxes are small?

More accurately, the climax is often the most important part of the story, and, consequently, it gets the most space.

Beginnings: 3 Examples (and Why They Work)

After my post about “Beginnings, Middles and Ends” a few weeks ago, a teacher-friend reached out to me. “When I tell students I want them to work on ‘the beginning,’ I don’t mean all that rising action you mentioned,” she said. “I am talking about much simpler stuff. I just want them to write anContinue reading “Beginnings: 3 Examples (and Why They Work)”