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“Why I Write” Response to Readings, Essay Example

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Anne Lamott’s assertion that first drafts are usually “shitty” is an easy statement to agree with. For anyone who has attempted to write meaningfully, the pitfalls of first drafts are abundantly clear. Most people write first drafts that show little of the spark, creativity, logic or even comprehensibility of second or third drafts. Although I personally agree that most first drafts are unrefined and unusable without revision, it is also true that very occasionally a pice of writing, whether an essay, story, or poem will come out on the page in full-form, or nearly full. Even Lamott acknowledges this as a reality and claims to know one or two professional writers who can write excellent first drafts. She mentions, jokingly, that she hates these writers.

To cure my writers block, I usually turn off my monitor so that I can’t read what I’m writing and I just write whatever I can manage without self-reflecting. If that doesn’t work, I might get up and go away from my desk for a while. If that doesn’t work, I will generally work on revisions of the current manuscript, or other material. Turning off my monitor usually works.

I think the most effective way to start a story is by introducing character and conflict simultaneously. The best stories begin with a sense of character and conflict which is immediate and grabs the readers sympathy and attention. Character and conflict are more important than plot and writing style, in my opinion.

The “Tell Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe contains a great opening line. The opening line of the story presents the main character and conflict at the same time. It also forwards the stylistic “weirdness” of the narrative which relates to the story’s theme of madness and murder. the line is “True! — nervous — very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that i am mad?” (Poe, 502). A highly effective opening line which sets the basic plot nad tension in motion while showing important character development.

Conflict which is realistic and builds slowly is an effective storytelling device. it helps draw readers into the story and also builds suspense. Personally, I prefer believable struggles to “amped up” conflict in fiction. Fiction that shows profound consequence from relatively trivial or seemingly insignificant events can also be highly effective due to the degree of irony that is  created by structuring story-conflict in this way.

Work Cited

Poe, Edgar Allen. Poe: Fiction and Poetry.  New York, Barnes and Noble Publishing. 2006

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