Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

New Poem on Denney Blog

on June 29, 2011

The poem on the Denney Poetry blog today is Role Model.  It’s a poem about a young man who is trying to get out of gang life and wants his little brother and son to see him as a role model.  This poem jumped out at me today when I was sorting through the poems which have release forms and were written during the YA/Memoir Poetry Workshop in early June.  I often draw on what I hear in the poetry workshop and use it as inspiration for my writing.  Last year, I worked with a group of teens who were involved in a gang crime, and I became very interested in exploring gangs and gang life.

I did a lot of reading memoirs about gangs in which many were written by former gang leaders including:

Gang Leader for  Day by Sudhir Venkatesh (A story in which a Columbia University Professor follows a Chicago gang for seven years)

Always Running: La Vida Loca Gang Days in LA by Luis Rodriguez

Hearts and Hands: Creating Community in Violent Times by Luis Rodriguez

And then, as always happens, all of that reading and curiosity poured into a story. I’m currently drafting an upper-grade middle novel (for older elementary and middle school kids) which is about a twelve-year old who gets caught up in gang life, and finds out that although he has always idealized his toy inventor Grandfather, things are not always as they seem. I drafted an outline for this story last August, and wrote a draft in October. Then, as I always do with my drafts, I let it sit for awhile so that when I came back to it, I would be able to see things as they were written on the page–not as I thought I had written them.

So, now the time has arrived when I am jumping into revision, and I have a little help in the mornings to get me going! I have a new cocker spaniel puppy who gets me up when the sun comes up over the mountains–5 AM! And, instead of being grumpy about being awake at that hour, I’m spending my early mornings doing an inventory of the manuscript using Darcy Pattison’s book, Novel Metamorphosis

The inventory asks that I look at the plot and character’s emotional arc. In the exercise, I write a one summary sentence for each chapter of the main action of the plot, and then one sentence about the character’s main emotions. This is a similar the exercise that  Carolyn Coman‘s exercise, Storyboarding. which she presented at a Highlights Workshop (And if you’ve never been to the summer writing workshop at  Chautaqua or a Highlights Founders Workshop, I’d highly encourage you to go!).

After rereading the draft, and writing a one sentence summary for each chapter, there are questions to answer which help focus where the draft is to go next. If you don’t know Darcy Pattison’s book,Novel Metamorphosis, I’d say it is one of my “must have workbooks” for revision.

Happy revision!






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