Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Lessons On Writing From Little-Girl-Me

By Marcia Thornton Jones

This month we’re traveling back to our childhood, remembering favorite books, games, and what defined us as kids. I asked little-girl-me to point out what my childhood memories taught me about me writing.

1.      People who say they’re your best friends sometimes steal the toys from your sandbox. (Stories need conflict; don’t make life easy for the protagonist.)
2.      Kids that pluck the glowing part from a lightning bug and stick it on their fingers as a pretend diamond are really being cruel even though they don’t think so. (Antagonists have their own plotline; Don’t tell readers a character is mean; reveal it through behavior.)
3.      The taste of red is Twizzler and the flavor of a SweeTART is pucker: (Make a scene authentic with sensory details; taste is the sense most writers forget to use.)
4.      You must drag the box to the top before you can roll down a hill tucked inside it. (Writing in the flow is exhilarating…but sometimes it can be slow and laborious.)
5.      When you have to erase your math homework so much the paper tears, you can always fix it with tape. (Revising is messy and frustrating, but revising is where the best stories are crafted.)
6.      Skinned knees hurt, and so do broken hearts and bruised egos. (Rejections are tough; honor the emotional hurt, but learn to brush them off and keep writing.)
7.      Sneakers are better for running than flip flops. (Success in writing has a lot to do with endurance; be prepared to stick with it until the end.)
8.      Books like Cleary’s HENRY HUGGINS convey hope and Rawlings’s THE YEARLING bring you to tears. (Rhythm, style, theme, and plotting are learned by reading books that resonate with readers; never stop reading.)
9.      You don’t have to follow the rules when you play with A BARREL OF MONKEYS, and you can use a super ball when playing jacks. (Challenge yourself to write outside your comfort zone; it’s okay to break the rules.)
10.  Be the heroine of your own daydreams. (The protagonist is an active--not passive--participant of her story; the only one that can make you a writing success is yourself.)

This makes me wonder. What lessons from here and now am I missing? What could the today-me teach the ten-years-from-now-me?


  1. Great reminders Marcia. Who knew all that under all that play there were enduring lessons to be learned.

  2. This is clever, Marcia. Thanks for sharing these writing tips from your childhood!

  3. YES! Be the heroine of your own daydreams!