Experiential Writing

I’m writing this post from the midpoint of the Morrison Bridge, hunkered down beneath a narrow metal shelter hoping the storm will pass quickly. The hills behind Portland have grayed beyond recognition. Wind drives the rain toward the Willamette’s gunmetal surface like switchblades thrown from the glowering clouds.

Fresh from the summit of the Coast Range, this wind is cold, grasping; it plasters my wet hair to my head. My sweater clings to my arms, as sodden as wet cotton balls. My hands have turned red; my fingers stiffen, so cold I can barely type. Cars sploosh by, tires squealing on the rainslick concrete. The bridge shudders. So do I.

Morrison Bridge Rainstorm


I question myself: What am I doing here? Did I really think I could out-walk the rain?

These are the details of realtime experience, the details we so often forget when we write. Today, send a character out into the elements. Make her suffer so much that she doubts herself. Why is she here? What is she running from or toward? What character flaw or strength made her head outside at this specific time to this specific place? Write it. Feel it. Experience it. Your reader will, too.

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About kimgriswell

I'm an author, an editor, a writing coach, and a workshop leader. I spend my days asking questions and looking (or listening) for answers, and thinking up ideas for new stories to write for my favorite audience: kids! I guess I'm just about as curious as Rufus Leroy Williams III, the intrepid pink hero of my picture book series from Sterling Publishing, is persistent. Did you know that in 5000 B.C. people blamed 'tooth worms' for their cavities? Neither did I until I developed THE HAUNTED OUTHOUSE for the Bathroom Reader's Institute. Turns out, ancient dentists filled the wormholes with metals like gold or silver. Except the Aztecs. They used a mix of iron, water, and belly-button lint. As you'll discover by reading RUFUS GOES TO SCHOOL, RUFUS GOES TO SEA, and RUFUS BLASTS OFF! I believe that reading opens up worlds for young people. Books did that for me, and I hope my books will do the same for today's kids.
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