Saturday Writing Essential 2/20/2010

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on February 20, 2010 0 Comments

Welcome to Saturday Writing Essential. This first column is going to be a long one because I have to introduce myself, outline what I have in store for you, and then give you some idea of what I’d like to see you write this week.

I’m at a disadvantage because I’m following Atticus who was loved and respected in this position. I hope I’m able to keep you interested enough that you’ll participate in what I’m planning to do.


My Background

First, let me give you an idea about whether I know what I’m saying. I’ve been writing professionally for a bit over twenty years in national and regional magazines, journals, and newspapers. A few years ago I started doing volunteer editing on two Web sites and I guess I did okay, because a literary agency asked me to be a contract editor for them. Then two publishing houses asked me to do the same. For the past year I’ve been letting my clients go and spending more time writing for fun here on Gather.

In November I started posting a series of writing tutorials for several groups here on Gather and those will continue until someone tells me to shut up. The last two weeks I filled in for Greg Schiller on Humor Monday so I have some idea of how this member editor thing works and, suddenly, I find myself with my own day and I have to fill it with something.

What’s Going to Happen

I have a very rough idea about what I want to accomplish here on SatWE. Basically, I want to challenge you to write things you’ve never written before or never felt comfortable writing.

Somewhere around 1957 I wrote a science fiction story for my English class and the teacher, after giving me an F on the paper, told me to focus more on reality. As a writer I have written most everything and one of them is a sci-fi story. It is one of several hundred files living on my hard drive that will probably never see anything done with it. Then, some weeks ago, a freewrite prompt had me writing something that was kinda, sorta, almost sci-fi. Following that, I wrote two sci-fi stories for WWE prompts.

The reason I’m telling you that is because I’ve never considered myself to be a science fiction writer and now I’ve actually written something sci-fi-ish that people liked (or at least didn’t hate).

That’s what I want to do with this column. Have you ever written science fiction? I’m going to ask you to do just that. How about historical fiction? You will. If you’ve never ridden a horse, you’ve probably never written a Western, but if you hang around SatWE, you’re going to give it a shot. Got it in you to write a fairy tale or nursery rhyme? I’m going to see if I can’t get you to do that.

My idea, right now is to rotate through many different genres during the coming weeks. I mentioned a few of them above and I’ll add whatever else I can come up with. I hope to make you comfortable enough that you’ll actually try something new and, ultimately, won’t fear any writing assignment.


All my friends know that I don’t like poetry. I don’t understand it, I can’t write it, and I read it only to appease my friends here on Gather. That said, I understand why some people like that art form.

It’s kinda like guns. I’m a gun nut — I love every size and shape gun ever made, but I also understand that there are people that don’t like or understand them.

While I don’t pretend to understand poetry, I’m going to try to write this column in such a way that even poets will feel comfortable about making a submission. If you submit any type of poetry in response to my prompts, I promise I’ll read it.

If I don’t succeed in making you feel comfortable making a poetic submission, I expect you to tell me about it.

What Do We Do This Week?

Because I took so long getting to it, I’ll make this first prompt fairly simple.

When you were in school did your teacher include essay questions on your tests? One of the things that my teachers did was to ask us to “compare and contrast” some subject. Most of the kids hated that type of question, but I actually enjoyed them. I found such an assignment much easier because it gave me a starting point for my thinking and writing.

I mentioned above the different feelings people have regarding guns and poetry and both sides occasionally get really heated about those topics.

It seems to me that a less heated topic deals with pets. We have people on Gather that discuss their pets all the time and I’m going to ask you to do that — with a small twist dealing with comparing and contrasting.

Tell me how dogs and cats are similar and also how they are different. I’m not looking for the physical things such as they each have four legs, a tail (usually), and sharp teeth. I’m looking more for personality traits such as how they play, sleep, and interact with other animals and you.

Be cute, be silly, or be serious. Discuss your own pets, your neighbor’s pets, or even pets you’ve seen in movies.

Okay, I’m a softie; if you want to compare and contrast your ferret, iguana, parrot, anaconda, or any other animal with a dog or cat — have at it. (Don’t even dare to compare/contrast your husband/wife with an animal. Not this week, at least — we’ll get to that later.)


Here are the submissions I could find from last Saturday’s prompt. If I missed someone, let me know and I’ll make the necessary addition(s).

The Valentine’s Day Gift Michael Fishman

To My Valentine Granny Janny H.

A Love Story ~~ for SatWE John Beck

My Love Story – SatWE Elsie Duggan

Mum and Daddy — A Perfect Love dianne j.

Unlocking the Secrets of Sky Tovli S.

A Personal Valentine History Clifford N.

~Love Letter~ JustMe ~I’m happy to be~


And the one(s) I forgot, missed, or just screwed up:

Love Worth the Wait… Jodie Martin Cordell


The Rules:

  • Write something (prose, poetry, fiction, essay, whatever) showing how dogs and cats are similar and how they are different.
  • There is a limit of three submissions from each member per day. If you’re extremely prolific, spread out your work and post only three submissions per day.
  • Tag your submission with SatWE.
  • Include (Saturday Writing Essential) as part of your title.
  • I’m in SoCal and, in order to have a new column ready for next Saturday, I’ll ask that you make your submission(s) by next Friday, 3 p.m. (1500) PST; 6 p.m. (1800) EST; 10 a.m. (1000) Australia; 12:00 a.m. (2400) Tunisia; and 11 p.m. (2300) GMT. I promise I won’t bore you with these times every week.

Good Writing!

About the Author ()

Leave a Reply