Thursday, March 31, 2011

Red Writing Hood - Annoying

This week's assignment was to think of someone - it could be a fictional character, a public figure, someone you know - who gets under your skin, and write a piece from his or her perspective.

Check out Katie's sort of fictional post that she wrote from an annoying neighbor's point of view.

And remember: please only link up if you've done the prompt.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Katie's Pick

I can't lie...I thought Cheryl and Nichole were being all over-dramatic about how hard this would be.

But people?  They were SOOO not kidding!

It's one thing to gush and love on a bunch of posts throughout the week while I read them, but narrowing them down to ONE for my PICK?!?

Damn near impossible.

I have to be honest, I didn't get to nearly as many as I would like because I was reading them all so closely trying to decide...which one would be MY pick?

This week I have chosen "Pink Doughnut Perfection" by the lovely Erin Margolin.  

She claims to not write much fiction.  Pffft.  I will let you all be the judge of that!

I chose this piece because even as much as other pieces touched me?  I kept thinking about this piece long after I read it.

Even though it was fiction, this character that Erin created was so real.  And she was so sad.

Erin's attention to small, yet vital details is what won me over.

Amy waited in line at Quik Trip tapping her right foot on the dirty linoleum floor. The perfect pink doughnuts in quaint rows inside the Krispy Kreme box whispered her name. Then the Oreos, Twix and Reese’s peanut butter cups joined in, humming softly. Cool Ranch Doritos, hot dogs, and Funyuns spilled out of the top of her basket, eager to come to the party. Treetop apple juice, her favorite, to wash everything down.

It was always the same. Mostly the same things in the cart, but rarely the same gas station or corner store. Too risky, Amy thought.

 At first I thought that this was a fun post...all the yummy snacks (which I LOVE she mentioned by name) made me feel like I was in my local 7-11 picking up snacks for a party or for the beach with friends.

But then the word "risky" made me realize this post?  Was going nowhere happy.

After tossing some crumpled bills and change at the cashier who couldn’t even look her in the eye, she hurried with her goodies back to her car, which was parked on the side, away from the others. Slowly she unwrapped everything, saving the pink doughnuts for last, as was her ritual. She needed a marker, something to show her when she was done. Bright pink Krispy Kreme sprinkles were easy to spot.

Here I was a bit confused.  Was it the cashier who couldn't look Amy in the eye?  After reading the entire post, I think it was AMY who couldn't look the cashier in the eye, but it's ambiguous.

This is also where I started to get the feet sweats as I read "She needed a marker, something to show her when she was done."  I would have changed the comma to a dash, but that is me being picky.  Erin got her point across: the pink sprinkles were not meant for happiness.
Amy opened the familiar green and white box and stared. So neat, so pretty. Dainty, even. Until she reached her giant paws in and started stuffing her fat face. One down, eleven to go. Then ten, nine, eight…until only one remained. A single tear slipped down her cheek. Quit being such a goddamned baby, she reprimanded herself.

This is where it gets hard to read.  Not because it's horrible, but because the subject is horrible.  I do admit that I picture Amy as large.  This will be cleared up later, but it's a bit confusing to know that she sees herself as large, but is actually not.

I was also confused about her eating the pink donuts here if they were supposed to be last.  That also gets cleared up later; however, I wonder if a slight change in wording would have helped the reader to know what a "marker" meant.

The food was delicious at first. But a few minutes in, she stopped tasting and mechanical movements took over. The sweating began, the race to the finish line. Shoveling food in, more and more, gulping faster and faster, she couldn’t stop swallowing. She hated herself in those moments. Oreo crumbs in the corners of her mouth and stuck in her teeth. Stinky Doritos breath, sticky fingers covered in melted chocolate, empty food wrappers littering the floor of her otherwise clean and pristine car.

I am telling you, the details in these paragraphs kill me.  They are so vivid...and so horribly sad.
When the last peanut butter cup disappeared and only crumbs remained in the Funyuns bag, Amy checked her mirrors to make sure no one was around before grabbing the remaining Oreo and getting out of the car. Walking slowly towards the back of the Quick Trip, she savored the last bites of cookie, which now tasted sickeningly sweet.

This is where I began to beg Amy not to do it.  I knew what was coming and because Erin has uses such specific, perfect details to this point, I was afraid to keep reading.

After a final glance around to determine she was alone, she found a spot next to the dumpster. She didn’t even have to put her fingers down her throat anymore, the habit was so ingrained. Her body knew what she wanted it to do. She bent over and retched violently as her hand reached into her jeans pocket for a tissue.

I told you.  Horrible.
But such wonderful writing.

What really gets me is that she "retched violently as her hand reached into her jeans pocket for a tissue."   Erin pairs such a brutal act with one that is so every ordinary.  And the word "tissue" is so delicate.  Especially paired next to the extreme act of vomiting.

My little piece of picky here is that after "throat anymore" should be a semicolon.  Punctuation lesson of the day:  semicolons hook up two related independent clauses (or complete sentences in every day speak).

Relief swam over Amy as she vomited again and again.

Your thighs are fat and your stomach is flabby, said a voice.

You’re ugly and no one really likes you, a second one chimed in.

You will never be good at anything, added the third.

Just then, she caught a glimpse of something pink. She hurried to finish the job.

This is where the pink donuts being eaten first make sense.  But it's so quick it takes more than one reading to catch it.  This is also where the reader realizes she is a skinny girl...someone who has been doing this enough to not have a shred of fat on her body.  A girl who is very, very sick and needs help.

You’re a coward, too, the voice came back. Taking the easy way out. Why don’t you just go to the gym?

Amy snapped up, swiping a pink trickle off of her chin with her sleeve.

Such a disgustingly small detail...that is PERFECT for this scene.

Shut the fuck up!” she screamed so loudly she realized the whole store must’ve heard. She jammed the wet Kleenex back into her pocket and ran to her car. Racing out of the parking lot, she chucked the empty Krispy Kreme box out the window as her tires squealed.

 The fact that she "jammed the wet Kleenex back into her pocket" totally grossed me out. And I felt like the last sentence was a little bit cliche...the last image of a car peeling out with a box flying out the window is a little cheesy.  I would have liked better if it just ended at her running to her car.

I LOVE this post.  Time and time again I would find myself thinking about it and realizing that even though many of us (I hope) don't go this far, how many of us have these voices in our heads telling us that we suck?

The idea behind this post was so damn close.  So universal...but so close.

What do you think of Erin's post?  Let's chat about it in the comments.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

RemembeRED - Kindergarten

This week's RemembeRED assignment was to write a memoir piece about kindergarten.

It was MUCH longer ago for some of us than for others.


If you have not done the prompt, please don't link up. It's not fair to those of us who spend time reading as many of these posts as possible.

But if you did do the prompt? Link up!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Red Writing Hood

This week we want to challenge you to try something new.

Is there someone who drives you crazy?

Someone who really gets under your skin.

It doesn't have to be someone you know (although it certainly can be). It could be someone famous. Or even a character in a book.

Now, write a first-person piece - as if YOU are this individual. Write from his or her perspective and include the things that really bother you. For instance, maybe there's a good reason why they eat with their mouths open, or why they use sarcasm as a weapon.

This can be completely fictional or you can base it on a real-life person.

Word limit is 600. Come back and link up with us Friday.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Weekend linkup

It's time to link up a favorite post of yours. It's a great way to find terrific new blogs and meet new writers.

Try to visit as many as you can, or at least the one before and after you.

Link up!

Red Writing Hood - Donuts

This week you were to write a piece, fiction or non-fiction, inspired by this picture. Word limit was 600.

Katie doesn't remember her first one.. Short and Sweet

Cheryl writes about compassion... Donut Girl

What did YOU write? Link up!

Please DO NOT link up if you have not done the prompt. Your link WILL be removed.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


For this week's RemembeRED prompt, we're asking you to remember kindergarten. If, after thinking about it for a while, you can't recall anything, move on to first grade.

Mine your memories and write about the earliest grade you can recall. What was special? What was ordinary? What did you feel? Hear? See? Smell?

Don't underestimate the power of your memory. If you have a difficult time remembering, sit down and'll be surprised what comes to the surface.

Immerse yourself in crayons, chalk dust, and those tiny milk cartons and then come back on Tuesday, March 29th and link up.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Nichole's Pick

You guys sure made it tough on me this week. I narrowed down my absolute favorites to three pieces and for days, I’ve been trying to select just one. Each time I thought I had finally decided, my mind kept going back to one truly spectacular piece.

I have chosen Crayon Wrangler’s “Bitter Memories” for my pick. Her words kept echoing in my mind this week and I couldn’t shake the magical, yet melancholy feeling of her piece.

I loved that while pathos was woven throughout, it wasn’t heavy-handed, but rather was used carefully and balanced out beautifully.

What I loved most of all, however, was her deft use of anthropomorphism throughout this beautifully haunting piece...

On the second bite I was able to declare with no reservations that this peach was the worst I had ever tasted. I spit the fuzzy skin that tickled my tongue a little too much onto the ground. Surfacing as though they heard a siren song too faint for my ears, ants eagerly discovered and celebrated my waste. A trail of bitten peach casualties behind me on the grass. The summer hadn’t been particularly hot and there had been no Biblical plague of insects on the orchard, but the peaches had gone bad.

There are a couple of problems with this opening line. Firstly, I would avoid opening a story with a preposition. Secondly, I would make the sentence active, rather than passive. Reworked, it could read, “I declared on the second bite, with no reservations, this peach was the worst I had ever tasted.”

Since my grandfather’s diagnosis, everything on his land mirrored his own life fading. Friendly animals that clucked and mooed welcomes were long gone. The grass that softened the landing steps of my running feet seemed sharper and more painful. Weeds choked the garden and blistered under a sun that felt as if it glared down in disapproval. Fruit trees bore their usual offering but with a grudge that said their heart wasn’t in their work. The peaches, along with life; had lost the sweetness.

I suspect that she meant to use a comma in that last line instead of a semi-colon.

I love the use of anthropomorphism in this second paragraph. The sun glaring in disapproval and the trees holding a grudge are excellent images that grab me and pull me in.

Many harvesting seasons were behind me and I felt as though peach juice intertwined in my blood somehow. I surveyed the withering orchard and my heart sunk. Most everything had flourished under my grandfather’s watch. I had sampled everything that he had lovingly coaxed from the ground, bushes and trees; it was always perfect. Reaching out I rubbed a leaf from the peach tree between my fingers. Untrained and slightly ignorant of being a horticulturist, my only conclusion was that the trees were in mourning and missed their Master’s touch.

The word everything is used twice. I would change the second everything to all.

I would rework, “Untrained and slightly ignorant of being a horticulturist,” as I find it clunky and confusing. Perhaps she could simply write, “My hands were untrained in the art of growing, my only conclusion…”

The use of the anthropomorphic trees mourning and missing their Master is gorgeous.

Perhaps one day someone would live on this farm and once again bring sweetness and beauty back. There might even be a little girl who would sit among bushels of peaches beside her grandfather on a covered porch cooled by a forgiving breeze. She would delight in the velvety texture of a peach’s flesh and would be able to work out her preteen angst under the silent companionship. For a moment under a peach tree she would be able to shed her insecurities and twirl with an imagined partner; declaring life as sweet as the peaches. Sticky, sweet peach syrup would adorn her lips as she kissed her grandparents good night and was given the freedom of being a child a little while longer.

I would change “would be able” to “could.” It’s good practice to avoid using “to be able,” as it is passive and weakens a sentence.

Until then, I will mourn with the trees and leave a trail of bitter tasting memories behind me.

This piece will stick with me for a long time…I truly loved it.

What do you think of Crayon Wrangler’s piece? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Red Writing Hood

I apologize in advance to anyone who will be offended by this picture.

But this week's prompt is simple: write a piece, fiction or non-fiction, inspired by the delicious shot. Word limit is 600.

Come back Friday to link up the piece you write on your own blog.

RemembeRED - Forgiveness

Thank you to everyone who commented on Katie's post yesterday and for your patience dealing with our tech issues.

Just to clarify: Constructive criticism, aka concrit, is not supposed to be negative. It is not meant to be nitpicking or mean-spirited. It is supposed to be supportive and encouraging and absolutely not an attack on the writer or his or her words.

The purpose of The Red Dress Club is not to drive traffic to your blogs and get you a ton of comments. Now, if that is the outcome, we're beyond thrilled for you, of course. But our purpose is to make us all better writers. That is why we have prompts and linkups. If you are not interested in concrit or in growing your writing, perhaps this is not the place for you.

We understand the idea of concrit is frightening to many of you. We are truly honored you trust us - and this community - with your stories.

Also, if you link up with a post that has nothing to do with the prompt, it will be deleted.

And with that, it's time to link up!

Katie's post will for sure lighten to mood. Check out Repeated forgiveness for a good giggle.

How to: Reader response by Katie

The Red Dress Club is a virtual writer's society.  If you are recently new to what we do here, or if you have been following along, but haven't really "gotten" us, please take a minute to read the About Page.  No really, go read it.

Our vision here is to not only give you prompts to write to, but to help you become a better step outside your comfort wear your red dress.

In many ways, we are a writer's workshop.  We offer you ways to learn and grow.

Yes, I write up little "lessons" here from time to time about what makes good writing, but the real way to know if your writing is "good" is to ask your audience.

Comments are the single most important tool for you to become a better writer. 

I know we have talked at length during our Wednesday evening twitter chats about the importance of constructive criticism.  And through the comments many of you make, we have become concerned that some of you are more interested in getting a lot of comments out there onto blogs (and getting them in return), and are not so interested in the QUALITY of those comments.

When you write a piece for a workshop such as The Red Dress Club, you are not posting for blog traffic.  You are posting to get feedback on your writing.

This week we had to delete a number of linked up posts that had nothing to do with our prompt.

So how can you be sure your comments are helpful to the author?  Here are some do's and don't's of Reader Response in a Writing Workshop:

  1. Give your reaction to the piece as a whole.  What emotions did it stir in you?  What was your knee-jerk feeling toward the piece.
  2. Point out what you liked and be specific.  If you liked the imagery, give the author a line or two that you especially liked.  This will help the author to "do more of that" when they write next time.
  3. Let the author know if you related to the piece.  Again, be specific.  Which parts spoke to you?
  4. Point out anything that was confusing.  It is not just want to let the author know that too many words or too much description was distracting.  As authors, we do not want to distract from the good in our piece!  So we need to know what didn't work.
  5. Point out things that didn't flow.  Where there parts that seemed out of place?  Or maybe didn't seem necessary to the main message of the post?
  6. When in doubt, use the "comment sandwich" approach.  This works especially well with new commenters.  I have my writing classes start with this technique:  Mention a specific thing you loved; mention something that could use work; end with something else that was great.
  1. Be vague.  Saying "I liked this!"and nothing else is not helpful. It's Ok to start with "I like this!" but then tell WHY!  We link up to learn to be better and to learn our strengths.
  2. Patronize.  If you don't like ANYTHING about a post, and you don't know how to comment? Don't comment at all.  Move on to something else. 
  3. Ask them to visit yours unless it is incredibly similar and you would like their take.  Even then, that is better to do via twitter or email than in their comments.  The comments should be reserved to be about THEIR writing.  Not yours.
  4. Skim the reading and leave a quick comment.  Unfortunately we are seeing a lot of this.  People quick skim the post, leave a quick, "oh I hate rain!" comment, and then move on.  This borders on being rude. By doing this, you are telling the author that you did not take the time to pick up the nuances or the subtleties of his/her writing; you didn't take time to process or enjoy his/her words; you just looked at what it was "about" and quickly let them know you were there.
On the opposite side of this, we have seen some amazing writing and some very encouraging and helpful comments.

Your challenge this week is to go for quality over quantity in your comments.  Yes, we all love to get comments, but let's make them really worthwhile.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Weekend linkup

It's time to link up a favorite post. It's a great way to meet new bloggers and read some terrific writing.

Try to comment on as many as you can, or at least the one before and after you.

Red Writing Hood - Detour

This week's prompt asked you to write a piece - fiction or non-fiction - in which you or your character take a detour.

Nichole tells a wonderful secret ... Tucked Away

Katie tries to stay positive in a scary situation ... Deluge

Cheryl (finally) posts a continuation of a fiction piece ... Moving on

We're looking forward to seeing what you've written!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


This week's prompt is about forgiveness. Forgiving others, forgiving yourself. Write about a time of forgiveness.

Try to keep in mind all of Katie's tips for keeping your writing tight. Be sure to edit out any unnecessary words.

Your word limit for this prompt is 600 words.

Come back on Tuesday, March 22nd to link up.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cheryl's Pick

You guys make it tough. There are so many amazing writers who join us here. So many different styles. Fiction. Non-fiction. Memoir. It was tough to pick just one.

But this post stuck with me, both for the subject matter and the writing.

My pick is "Just a whisper" from Aimee of Goddess in The Machine

There was a lot I liked about this story. It made me feel. It made me stop and think. It made me want to know more. And the writing is truly remarkable. She is incredibly talented and her word choice makes her writing incredibly raw - but also vulnerable at the same time:

The disease had already taken what it wanted from her, eaten all it needed to satisfy whatever instinctual perpetuation of its own life bacteria may have. That day, the day before, that hour, the hour before, all a jumble of puzzle pieces tossed on the floor and kicked. The private waiting room we were given outside the intensive care unit of Birmingham Children’s Hospital held a family that bore no resemblance to the one I knew. Their bodies had been emptied of all that was trivial, all that was mundane, all that was comfortable, and were refilled with the ugliest and most terminal truth of what it means to be human. The souls behind each pair of glazed eyes in that room were retching- choking on a jagged edge of sick reality that is the death of a child. A child who, just 24 hours before, had been my sister, my mother’s baby child, a cousin, a granddaughter, an 11-year-old girl who dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. She complained of a headache, laid her head on a pillow to rest, pulled a blanket up to her little chin, and simply drifted away. That was 24 hours ago.

I would like to see this first paragraph broken up a bit. There is a LOT packed in there. Love the puzzle pieces, the choking on a jagged edge of sick reality that is the death of a child. And then showing who this child was.

And now, in this moment, in this room, one sentence had just been set loose like a bullet from a gun, a bullet that bounced from one wall to the next, never able to find a target or purpose. The words were there, but they refused to organize themselves into a coherent thought- they just bounced. “ The EEG is consistent with clinical brain death …”

The line about the bullet is so visual I could literally see it happening.

From within the decaying reverb, I saw nothing less than 50 years of life ripped from my mother’s 37-year-old face. All the soft lines of packing school lunches and hemming dresses were gone. The tiny wrinkles of smiling at dance recitals and cheering at karate tournaments disappeared. And were replaced by a withered and angry sucking of collagen and sweetness, contorting my mother’s face into a crumpled ball of paper at the bottom of a landfill. It terrified me, crushed me, ripped a black void in my stomach and lungs that took my breath away. I couldn’t fix this. I couldn’t take one for the team. I couldn’t march in there, rip the tubes and electrodes off of her body and promise her every single Nintendo game I owned if she’d just please..get.. up.

I saw her mother. I could picture this perfectly, and I thought of all I have done in parenting my child and how it could be erased by the death of the object of my parenting. And the heartbreaking helplessness of the child who is left. Aimee finds a unique way of showing us, using images we to which we can all relate. That is how a writer connects with the reader.

I could do nothing, nothing but walk beside my broken mother and catch her if she fell. I was just a child myself, only 15- the oldest, rebellious, angry, having turned my back on all of her maternal attempts at nursing my soul. But on this day, at this very second, walking with her as we snuck away from the fold of well-meaning relatives so that she could fall apart in private, I was jerked out of my angsty, black teenage gutter and back to the aching womb of the woman who gave me life. It was with a brand new set of eyes that I saw her there, sitting on the curb just outside the double doors at the back entrance of the hospital. Face in hands. Deluge of tears pouring from between her fingers. It was a kind of beauty I found myself completely unprepared to recognize, the raw and visceral ache of a mother for her dying child.

This scene is incredibly powerful, a 15 year-old watching her mother fall apart and truly getting what it means for a mother to lose a child. The only thing I might take out here is "brand new set of eyes." It's cliche and stood out in this decidedly uncliched account. She is already "jerked out.." She could just say "I saw her there.." because we already know she's seeing her anew.

She took her hands from her face just long enough to cut her eyes at me, and with an edge of pathetic sincerity, she said, “I’d really love to have a fucking cigarette right about now.”

This is interesting, because it gives us a glimpse into the mother, one we might not expect.

Finally. THIS I can fix.

So I said to her, “If you swear you won’t get mad at me, I’ll give you one of mine.”

And she smiled. It was slight, just a whisper. If I had blinked, I would have missed it. But a smile nonetheless. I reached in my purse for a Marlboro Light. Passed it to her. Passed the lighter. Her eyes still cutting, perhaps with a pretense of shame to cover her gratitude, as if to say, “You know you should be ashamed, but thank you.”

You’re welcome, Momma.

I love this. It is so 15. And it left me wondering how their relationship changed after this. Or if it did. I might have taken out "If I had blinked, I would have missed it." Again, cliche.

What do you think of Aimee's piece? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Monday, March 14, 2011

RemembeRED - Fruit/Veggie

Imagine you are a fruit...

Okay, wait. That wasn't the assignment. This week's prompt asked us to describe your favorite fruit or vegetable: the first time you tasted it, where it came from, where you were, what memories it brings.

Here is the prompt response from Katie, who writes about heat and blueberries and baseball ...Forced labor

And from Nichole, who writes about what she knew, even at age 5 ... For Berries

I write about sisterhood ... Detour

What did you write about? Time to link up! Remember to read as many as you can as we strive to build a community.

Red Writing Hood

This week's Red Writing Hood assignment is to write - fiction or non-fiction - about a time when you took a detour. Where had you intended to go and where did you end up?

Your word limit is 600.

Come back on Friday, March 18th, to link up your posts.

Be sure to stop by and chat with us during our Twitter party on Wednesday at 9pm EST, 6pm PST, where we'll be talking about this prompt, our RemembeRED posts, and other writing topics. Be sure to use the hashtag #trdc so that you don't miss any of the fun.

Keep It Short - from Katie

Recently I have gotten a barrage of tweets, DMs, and emails asking me how I always keep my posts for Red Writing Hood and remembeRED so short.

I think the interest has to do with our word limit, but I am going to pretend it's because everyone loves my writing so much that they want to be just like me.


So, the word limit.

Most of our word limits are around 600 words. For some of you, this is apparently worse than torture. For me? It's a non-issue. Very rarely do my posts hit even 400 words.

How in the world do I do this and still get my message across? Admittedly, I am not perfect at this. I rarely give myself the amount of time I would need to really get it right every time, but I try to follow these basic style rules:

1. Avoid redundancy. You'll hear some people tell you to avoid adverbs and adjectives in writing. I don't believe this is a hard and fast rule, but I do believe there is some truth in it. Many times we use adjectives ad nauseam. We add them in thinking they are making our writing all pretty, when in fact they are jamming up the gears.

Wait, you want examples?

"The long, narrow alley" - Aren't all alleys narrow? Isn't that the definition of alley? REDUNDANT! In fact, I would even take out long, but that is just me.

Another example? "Cold, hard concrete." - Concrete is cold and hard. That doesn't need to be stated.

My rule is never use two or more words when one will get the image out there to my audience. Alleys and concrete are universal images. People don't need the extra descriptors.

This is also true of describing actions.

Don't say, "she said loudly," when you can say, "she yelled".

Don't use "she ran quickly". Generally, running is quick. Now if your character is running slowly, that is worth describing, but normally, an audience will picture running as something that is done quickly.

2. Avoid Cliches. Some are obvious.

The straw that broke the camel's back.

The last straw.

Couldn't see the forest for the trees.

If it is a "saying"? That means it's a cliche, but some aren't as easy to spot. Sometimes it's a matter of just not using hackneyed sayings.

With that being said...

For what it's worth...

At the end of the day...

Without a doubt...

These phrases are old and tired and played out. Most of the time if you just cut them off the front of your sentence? You are good to go. People tack them on because they think they are making a nice little transition. In reality, they are just adding unnecessary words.

3. Unnecessary details and back story. I truly think this is the rule that makes my posts so short. I almost never give my reader back story. I assume A) you're familiar with my blog and my story or B) this post made you so interested, you want to go check the archives...or at least stick around and hope that I will post more.

The only hint of back story I will give is perhaps a link to a past post if I have given hints about this before.

But it's not the big picture I am concerned with you seeing. It's that small, particular moment.

Cheryl mentioned on twitter this weekend that she hates it when people use "I digress...", and I completely agree with her.

If you have to say you are digressing, that means you are off topic. It means you need to re-look at your post. Digression means editing. You need to cut.

Cheryl's note: I don't like it because it's like saying "I have told you about X, and now I will tell you about Y." It's unnecessary. And, frankly, lazy. Find a better, less cliched transition. And like Katie said, is the digression needed to move your story? If it is, digress all you want, but you don't have to point it out that you are, in fact, digressing. Unless you think your readers aren't very smart. ;)

Hopefully this little tutorial on style will help you better hit your word count tomorrow for remembeRED or Friday for Red Writing Hood.

Now if you will excuse me, I have a post about a fruit to write. Which you will all now be scrutinizing for style errors.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Weekend linkup

It's time to link up a favorite post of yours. It's a great way to meet new writers and find some terrific new blogs.

Try to comment at least on the linkup in front of you and behind you.

Red Writing Hood - Ugly/Beauty

This week we asked you to write a piece about something ugly - and finding the beauty in it.

Remember, I will be picking a post to showcase next Wednesday from either Tuesday's RemembeRED linky or today. So bring it - and don't be afraid to let me know if you want me to come visit.

So link up! I'm looking forward to reading some fantastic stuff and I know my choice will be tough!

Thursday, March 10, 2011


This week, we'd like for you to write about your favorite fresh fruit or vegetable.

Share a memory of when you first tasted it, where it came from, when you last had it, a favorite way to prepare it, and such.

As you write your piece this week, think of it as writing a scene. Be sure to engage our senses, make us feel, see, taste, hear, and smell. Pull us in with your description.

If you're new to RemembeRED or you'd like a refresher, here's our list on the basics of memoir writing.

Your word limit is 700 words.

The link up is Tuesday, March 15th.

Happy Remembering!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

New Feature - The Pick

We talk about showing not telling, describing enough but not too much, creating imagery - all the things that make a piece good.

We talk about concrit, and how we struggle with knowing what to say.

Katie, Nichole and I want to try something new and we hope you're as excited about it as we are. Our plan is, once a week, to take one of our favorite posts written by one of you the week before - either from RemembeRED or Red Writing Hood - and show you all why it worked.

We will post it here and highlight certain passages, word choices, anything we feel illustrates good writing. 

Next week, I will pick. So bring it. And if you think you've done a great piece and I don't get a chance to visit, don't be afraid to nudge me with a tweet (@mommy_pants) to let me know I need to take a look.

As always, we appreciate your comments on this.

Monday, March 7, 2011

RemembeRED - True self

This week's assignment was, when meeting someone for the first time, describing a scene from your life that would help show the person your true self.

Please visit as many linkups as you can - even if you didn't do the prompt. It helps continue to build this amazing community you've all created.

Link up!

Red Writing Hood

This week's assignment is to write a short piece, either fiction or non-fiction, about something ugly - and find the beauty in it.

Word limit is 600.

Link up your piece with us Friday.

Stop by our twitter party at 8 p.m EST, 5 p.m. PST on Wednesday, where we'll chat about this prompt and other writing topics. Use hashtag #TRDC.

write what you know...and what you don't

Once upon a time we had a twitter chat, and someone (or many someones) lamented about writer's block.

I piped up right away and said, "WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW!"

To which Cheryl added, "...and what you DON'T!"

While we both attempted to tweet what we meant by both of these statements, I think our sentiments deserve an entire blog post.

For the past decade I have had high school and college students whine to me, "but I don't know what to write about! Where should I even start?!?"

To which I have always, without a bat of my lashes, responded, "write what you know!"

While it is AWESOME to use your imagination, if you sit down at your laptop to pound out a short piece on the hardships of living in the ghetto, and you have never been out of Walnut Grove? And you do zero research? Your work is going to sound hollow and fake.

If however, you take your Walnut Grove experience and decide to write about fishing in the creek with Paw, your piece will probably have a richer sense of realness to it; it will have layers of showing that you can't do if you don't know that which you are writing about in an intimate way.

On the other hand, sometimes your imagination is the best place for new ideas.

So say you are Ms Walnut Grove and you want to write that realistic piece about the ghetto. Do your research. Find the small details that only someone who is from there would know. Add those to your writing.

Put yourself there as much as you can.

Because when you are IN your writing? Chances are, your readers will be too.


And now for some odds and ends....

We are getting TONS of new writers joining in our prompts/link-ups! In fact, Friday we had over 100 writers link up! Amazing! You ladies (and guys) ROCK!

So just a few reminders for our vets and some suggestions for our newbs:
  1. Please turn word verification OFF on your blog. This helps people comment. You want comments!
  2. Try to always use the same thumbnail for your link ups. It helps people remember you...that way they can find your blog back each time if they love you. And consistency builds loyalty.
  3. Comment, comment, comment! No, we do not expect you to get to every single post, but commenting builds community.
Do you have questions for us? Suggestions? We've been keeping a list, so feel free to mention them in the comments so we can add them to our list...and make a "Your Questions Answered" type post!

Lastly? THANK YOU!

Thank you for making The Red Dress Club what it is today! We are so excited with how this community is going and the exciting journey ahead to make it even BETTER!

And we couldn't be doing it without you!

Yes, it is making us busy. Yes, we wring our hands trying to think of new ways to push you and make this community better. Yes, it is overwhelming.

But it is AWESOME!

Thank you.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Weekend linkup

It's time to link up a favorite post from your own blog.

Please try to visit as many as you can, or at least the one in front of you and behind you. It's a great way to find amazing writers and new blogs to read.

Link up!


Imagine you are meeting someone for the first time. You want to tell them about yourself.

Instead of reciting a laundry list of what you do or where you're from, please give us a scene from your life that best illustrates your true self.

This is an exercise in showing, not telling. You need to show us why this particular moment defines you, or why you want someone to know this truth about you. Be descriptive without bogging us down in extraneous details.

Word limit is 600. This is to help you self-edit and to make it easier for us to read you.

Link up is Tuesday, March 8th.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Red Writing Hood - Water

It is time to link up your piece based on the prompt, "Water gives life. Water takes it away."

Just a friendly reminder word verification kills puppies. So turn it off. Because puppies are cute. Okay, it doesn't REALLY kill puppies, but it might kill some of your potential commenters. So please, please consider turning it off!

Also, we know the amount of linkups we get makes it overwhelming to try to read them all. Just do your best. Pick a row and go vertically. Pick a number and read all posts that have that number (3, 13, 23, 33, etc). Start at the last post and work backwards.

Some of our linkups have only received one or two comments. We need YOU to help us build this community - so please leave as much comment love as you can!

Okay. Link up!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Twitter Party Tonight!

We've been having a ton of fun at our Twitter parties, but many of you have been unable to attend because the timing has been problematic.

So, we are going to try to shift the time around so that everyone can attend at some point.

Tonight, our chat will begin at 6pm PST.

Be sure to use the #trdc hashtag and just jump in.

Many of us have been using Simply enter #trdc in the search box and join the discussion. Tweetchat adds the hashtag for you, which makes things a bit easier.

We look forward to seeing you all tonight.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Grab Your Partner

We are thrilled that so many of you are interested in working with a writing partner.

Cheryl, Katie, and I matched, to the best of our ability, those who we thought might work well together. Some of you we obviously know better than others, but we do hope you are all happy with the partner(s) we chose for you.

If you find your styles don't complement one another, we will keep a list of those who are interested in partners available for you to look through.

We expect that there will be some shuffling around, but we trust that you'll be able to find a perfect match.

If your name is not listed and you are interested in finding a partner, please leave your name, twitter handle, and blog name in the comments and we will match you with someone.

If you have changed your mind and do not want a partner after all, please let your partner and one of us know.

Lastly, if you could leave a quick comment to confirm that you've seen these pairings, we would truly appreciate it. Thanks!

Here goes...

@CrayonWrangler &
Amy (@MadsBlogginMom)

Evonne (@_Mamajules_) &
Jessica Anne (@Jessica_Anne_CA)

Kelly (@DancesWithChaos) &
Kir (@TheKirCorner)

Lydia (@Lydsquidmom) &
Kelly (@Kpugs)

CDG (@MoveOverMaryPoppins) &
Yuliya (@SheSuggests)

Mandy (@In_mandyland) &
Ash (@AshatShades)

Jennifer (@Jenrambles) &
Angela (@tiaras_trucks)

Brooke (@Brookelinville) &
Stacey (@Staceysmoments)

Tracie (@fromtracie) &
Emily (@emilyKND)

Kelly G ( &
Carrie (@Miss_Scarlett99)

Stephanie (@poopscoopinmama) &
Amanda (@mommylebron)

Jennifer Dillon &
Jennifer (@midwestmomments)
Sara (@sarafree)

Law Momma (@lawmomma77) &
Amy (@transplantedx3)

Stephanie (@schwandy) &
varunner (@varunner7)

Cmom (@ciaomom) &
Jackie Cross (@jackiecross)

Melanie (melanieb120) &
Miri (@lifeafterpush) &
Sara (@mothershideaway)

Life as a CEO (@cmacceo) &
MrsBear (@MrsBear0309)

Trish (@paysoncousin) &
Katie (@addingtonmom)

Nicole (@nicoleabdou) &
Courtney (@MrsMommyMatters)

NayLahKnee (@naylahknee) &
Tiffany (

The BMG (@The_BMG),
Belle’s Butterfly (@bellesbutterfly), &
Kayla (@MojoMamaBlog)

Jessica (@jessicatorres4) &
Alex (@alexcampbell11)

Mandy (@tempestbeauty) &
Karen (@Karen_C_Wilson)

Lori (@loriwrites) &
Amanda (@thoughtsfromher)

Cate (@reallifewkids),
Jill (@writefromjill), &
Leslie (@lesliedf)