Word by Word

Practical insights for writers from Jessica P Morrell

Archive for the 'Jessica Page Morrell' Category

Rest in peace Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison has died at age 88. Here is one of her many obituaries. Author of novels Beloved, The Bluest Eye, Sula, The Song of Solomon, and more, she taught us so much about the black experience, the power of language, and speaking truth. My favorite of her novels was Sula and 20-some years (or […]

Read the rest of this entry »

August

Read the rest of this entry »

Advice from C.S. Lewis

“If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who  achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come.”

Read the rest of this entry »

A Read for our Times: Stones from the River

After trump’s latest hate rally and cries of “send her back” might I offer a lesson from history in the form of a beautiful novel, Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi? It’s the story of the rise of Hitler and how the German people were pulled into his madness and xenophobia. How easy it […]

Read the rest of this entry »

“The architects do blueprints before they drive the first nail, they design the entire house, where the pipes are running, and how many rooms there are going to be, how high the roof will be. But the gardeners just dig a hole and plant a seed and see what comes up. I think all writers […]

Read the rest of this entry »

In case you missed it: Ruth Reichl on M.F.K. Fisher

I discovered M.F.K. Fisher in my twenties, not from her many memoirs and books about food, but by reading Sister Age. It’s an odd little book. As the title suggests, it’s about aging and features essays of sorts about ghosts, elderly women on a sea voyage,  encountering death, and facing one’s later years. And, as […]

Read the rest of this entry »

….Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door! From The New Colossus, Emma Lazurus. 1883 Happy July 4th out there to any citizen who holds this message dear.

Read the rest of this entry »

Quick take: Story=problem.

Fiction features a problem that needs solving and only the protagonist can solve it. In short stories the problem is often introduced by the inciting incident–an event that triggers or launches what follows. In longer fiction the inciting incident might lead to the problem. This event will disrupt the status quo, demand a response, and […]

Read the rest of this entry »

  Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home. ~ Anna Quindlen

Read the rest of this entry »

Are you using colors?

A pearly full moon is rising through a stand of tall Douglas firs tonight. It’s casting an enormous, mysterious glow through the upper branches.  I’m stepping out onto the porch at intervals to watch its progress, as  meanwhile the Big Dipper shines above the back door. What color is the moon in your part of […]

Read the rest of this entry »