Tag Archives: outline

Sophfronia Scott on Writing About a Generation

26 Aug

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I had the opportunity to interview Sophfronia Scott for the Festival of Women Writers. She is the queen of outlining, and her discipline makes me realize how structure can actually free up creativity. Sophfronia’s first big publication was writing about Generation X for Time Magazine. Since I am interested in the notion of categorizing people and literature by generations — the Beat Generation! — I was excited to ask her about her role in speaking for a generation.

Here is a snippet from our Q&A:

Nikolopoulos: While at Time Magazine, you and David Gross collaborated on the story “Twentysomething,” about Generation X. From the Lost Generation to the Beat Generation, and from Generation X to Generation Y, society tries to label groups of people based on when they were born and their shared historical and cultural experiences. As a writer, in what ways do you see yourself speaking for your generation?

Scott: The point of the Time Magazine story was that our generation, having observed and taken in the issues of the previous generation, seemed to be proceeding with our lives in a very thoughtful, observant manner. As a writer I tend to pursue my projects in similar fashion. Yes, I want to tell a good story or write an engaging essay but I’m also conscious of the fact that the story or essay has a deeper meaning. The story or essay interests me for a reason—I know I’m trying to say something important even if I don’t know right away what it is. The novel I recently completed explores sexuality, love, identity, and faith and when you read it you may find it challenging to what you believe about these things. In the big picture my writing, I hope, on some level will always leave you questioning who you are, what you believe, what your life is, in a style that will move you in positive ways.

If you missed it, I also did a Q&A with fellow Festival instructor Esther Cohen.

And, Breena Clarke interview me for a Q&A.

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Writing Wednesday: Hung Up on the First Line

18 May

I often get hung up on the first line.  I feel like if I get the first sentence right, the rest of the work will have a better chance of coming out right too.  Maybe that’s because I generally don’t write with an outline.  Rather, I allow the first line to determine the direction of the piece.

That’s probably not the best way to write.  It’s probably better to know what you’re going to say and then say it.  But sometimes it takes writing about something for me to really wrap my head around it.

Unfortunately, that puts a lot of pressure on writing a good first line.  I guess that’s why the whole revision process is so important.

What about you?  Do you know ahead of time exactly how your story is going to conclude?  How does your first line determine the rest of your piece?