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Friday, February 18, 2011

6 Things You Should Be Writing About

About a month ago, lovely agent Brenda Bowen (Sanford J. Greenberger Associates) posted about award ceremonies. She referenced Virginia Euwer Wolff’s remarks at the 2001 National book awards (the winning book was True Believer).

Ms. Wolff mentioned September 11th, and how she (like many writers) wondered how they would ever write again and if it would matter. She went to visit the World Trade Center site with her son while she was in town for the ceremony.

The following is an excerpt from her speech:

What I saw was living proof of Faulkner's six. Faulkner said in 1949 in the Nobel speech that if we are not writing about these six things we are not doing our job. They are love, honor, pity, pride, compassion and sacrifice. I think of them as Faulkner's six. I used to have them on my wall until I memorized them and now they're on this wall in here.

LOVE
HONOR
PITY
PRIDE
COMPASSION
SACRIFICE

Are these things in your manuscripts? One or two? All six?

Reading Brenda’s post and Ms. Wolff’s words made me want to examine my reason for writing—my reason for telling stories. Because at the end of the day, whether we’re writing middle grade adventures or literary horror, these six elements should be somewhere, reminding us to find and exhibit grace where we still can. Our characters are fiction, but we write from a place that’s not.

Anyway, it was a nice reminder for me. Keeping the “Faulkner six” in mind while writing certainly couldn’t hurt :)

Have a wonderful weekend!

39 comments:

  1. I'll have to memorize those. Great post!

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  2. Thanks for the reminder. Those are definitely the basic elements that create the emotion I want my readers to feel when reading my stories.

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  3. Very moving and great advice.
    -Vicki

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  4. Never heard of it, but I'm not surprised at the list. Everything on it is so important.

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  5. How inspiring! I want to examine my mss with these ideas in mind. Thanks so much for sharing this...

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  6. I LOVE these! Thanks for sharing.

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  7. Oh, this is awesome! Writing should be about more that just entertaining. And if you can write these 6 things in seamlessly, (we're not supposed to be too obvious, right?) all the better! I'm writing these down! I've got a few in my WiP, I'll have to read and see if I can find more. Thanks, Jess! Have a great weekend ~ :)

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  8. I've never heard of Faulkner's six before, but I totally agree and I am so relieved that all three of my current books include themes of love, compassion, pride (pitfalls of pride) and sacrifice. Maybe also honor... not sure about pity. Have to think about pity somemore. Both pride and pity could be take two ways: pride can be a positive trait, but it has pitfalls as well. Pity is not what I would consider a positive trait, though some might think so (???)

    Oh, that checklist for a contest is really helpful, too. Bookmarking that for later use...

    Hey, did you notice we are in the same Crusader Group? Not sure yet what we are supposed to do with our "group" but pleased all the same.

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  9. These are six excellent themes that comprise the story of humankind. Totally agree with these.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out and the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2011

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  10. I love those six elements. All very important! I need to copy that and keep it :) Thanks for sharing.

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  11. This is a wonderful reminder about raising the stakes in our writing. Thank you!

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  12. Very interesting - I shall have the compulsion to check all my novels for these six themes now :D

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  13. sad, thoughtful, moving and lots more things; thank you Jess, they're gonig on my writers room wall.x

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  14. Excellent post - I was just talking to a co-author of mine about this exact same thing. New follower:)

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  15. Hey fellow crusader, thanks for the awesome advice! We should be creating a world that is beautiful and not corrupted. Thanks for sharing! :D

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  16. Just stopping by to say hello to a fellow crusader! :) Thanks for this post! Great advice.

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  17. Great list! I'm working on all those things in my WIP, but I think love and honor are the top two this time.

    Hello from a fellow crusader! (And hi to my CP, Chantele above!)

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  18. I hadn't heard of these either. This is really great information. It makes perfect sense.

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  19. Wow that's wonderful!! I actually think I have all 6 unintentionally! I mean...so intentionally....

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  20. The Faulkner Six will stick in my mind after reading this post. I'd never heard of them, but that's just about perfect advice, and six elements that a good story should include.

    Great Post!

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  21. Insightful. I sometimes forget the bigger picture when I write. I'm your newest follower from the crusade. Good to meet you. My blog is idevourkidbooks.blogspot.com

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  22. Fellow Crusader (group 3, woot!), and wanted to pop over and say hello. Loved this post!

    EJW

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  23. I've never heard of that before, that's awesome! I shall add it to a "post-it" on my computer right now. *squee* Yes, I have all of these in my novel, and this blog just made me feel SO much better about myself. Thank you. Sometimes a writer needs that.

    <3 Gina Blechman (fellow crusader)

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  24. Hi fellow crusader.

    I never heard of Faulkner's six. Now I'm going to have to think about my manuscripts to see if I've done my job.

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  25. Great post! These are all necessary ingredients for a believable and sympathetic character. I like the idea of posting the list above the computer.

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  26. Excellent post with great advice. Thanks!

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  27. Hey Jess, I just wanted to let you know that I gave you an award on my blog today! Yay, come on over and get it :)

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  28. Great post. You're right and I'm going to make sure I've hit all of them in my WIP. Thanks Jess.

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  29. I love these! I've defintely got love and probably a little bit of pity in there, too. Thanks for posting them!

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  30. Hullo Crusader! popped in from Rachael's list to say hello! Also loved 'The girl who could fly' (saw it on your list!) Terrific book! Cheers!

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  31. I like it a lot! I may have to add that to the multiple stickies on my monitor...

    Fellow crusader, swinging by to say hi, and follow so I don't miss anything!
    The Survival Mama

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  32. Lovely list! Thanks for posting this.

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  33. I like that. Sound advice from a great writer. Thanks for sharing. I am a new follower.

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  34. I love this! Time to post it on my wall somewhere :)

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