Sunday Style: Idea for a book?

1159418_key_x_from_vintage_typewriterWelcome to a new feature of Motherlogue: Sunday Style. I enjoy reading about the craft and style of writing, but find that I don’t often do anything with the information I gather. As a way to keep track of these nuggets o’ knowledge, and as a way to share what I find with Motherlogue readers, I’m starting Sunday Style. Read on for the inaugural installment!

I am guilty of saying, or at least thinking in my head, “I have an idea for a book” but I don’t take action on those thoughts. Sometimes it’s because after a few days, the story falls flat, or because I just don’t take the time to put the words on the page. After reading an article by Heather Sellers in Writer’s Digest magazine, I am once again inspired to put my “I have an idea” thoughts into action.

Sellers suggests using a technique she calls “braiding,” to ensure that writers don’t write a flat story, essay or novel. One way to avoid flat writing, she argues, is to make sure that your novel, essay, story isn’t about just one thing.

That’s where braiding comes in. Like braiding hair, Sellers suggests using three things, or themes, to make a story interesting. She also talks about how these braids can teach the writer as she writes, and can help the writing from seeming pedantic.

The example she used from her own writing involves her memoir and the three themes she selected to braid her tale onto the page:  coming of age, an illness, a marriage. She used these storylines to not only tell the story, but at the same time discover it for herself.

Her approach appeals to me, so I checked out the additional excerpt on WrtiersDigest. She included this anecdote about writers, and those who aspire to write, which I found hilarious:

Never again say, “I have an idea for a book.” Don’t be like the man I met in a hotel hot tub in Florida when I was speaking at a writing conference. He said, “I have ideas for five books. Do you know what software I should get?”

The article in Writer’s Digest is an excerpt from Sellers’ book, Chapter After Chapter, which “puts the emphasis on action, and an invigorating system for getting words on the page” according to the information on

I am one who can go out and purchase a book on writing without thinking twice. (It’s kind of like buying software so that my novel will write itself.) This time, though, I’m going to take what I gathered and work on getting my words braided on the page.

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4 Responses to Sunday Style: Idea for a book?

  1. sarah says:

    Hi Liz, will your novel be about Maddy? I’d love to read more about her.

  2. jesakalong says:

    Fantastic idea, Liz! Thanks for sharing this tip – and your own experience with ideas that don’t quite make it to the page. I always have a small notepad with me to write down ideas for blog posts, essays and other works. But it’s clear I need to put more energy towards the actually writing of these fragments!

  3. Liz says:

    Thanks! Sarah, yes, you guessed it! Maddy is indeed at the root of the novel that I toss around in my head. Jesaka, I have a notepad, too, and have started to regularly check it in a lull or when I’m at the computer and that has really helped me.

  4. I love this, Liz, and look forward to more of your Sunday installments. The hot tub guy is cracking me up.

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