Not only is Richard Gilbert an accomplished writer (author of Shepherd: a memoir) and a writing instructor (at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio), he also publishes a blog which can help you learn to write better.
Intermediate and advanced writers of creative non-fiction can learn to write more engaging, thoughtful, readable prose by subscribing to, Richard’s instructive blog for writers (Draft No. 4).
Here’s how to engage with Richard Gilbert’s blog (like you’re auditing a University-level writing class):
- Read the posts;
- think about his posts and the comments, and thoughtfully enter the conversation going on there;
- do the writing prompts and exercises he mentions;
- and read the books he discusses.
Richard’s writing and teaching style are accessible, not avant-garde, and not intellectually arrogant. He’s a writer who crosses the borders between the two literary cultures in America, academic and New York. His writing is thought-provoking; he also knows how to tell a good story.
One of the best ways to learn to write better is to studiously read a well-written book in the genre you hope to publish. Therefore I encourage writers on a track toward publication to invest time in Richard Gilbert’s memoir; give it close, studious, multiple readings.
Click here to read my 5-star review of Shepherd: a Memoir on Goodreads, to learn why I admire his writing.
If you want to write a memoir, study Shepherd: a memoir, in the following manner.
- Read it, just for the story and its insights. I think you’ll enjoy it (I happened to love it). It’s a good book.
- Read Shirley Hershey Showalter’s insightful review of Shepherd, and then re-read Shepherd, paying special attention to the quest themes and the braided structure of the book.
- Think about your own story in light of a quest (what was your dream; how did you pursue it, what got in the way and how did you react to the challenges).
- Map out a possible structure (in outline form) for telling your adventure.
- Write your story, episode by episode.
- Read the prologue and a few of your favorite chapters of Shepherd again, paying particular attention to the way Richard uses imagery, sensory details, particularities of place, and dialogue to bring his story to life.
- Look at your own story, and improve it by applying what you’ve learned from Richard.
- And write him a letter of appreciation.
Generous writers and teachers work their hearts out to give their best to the world. They deserve to know that they’ve succeeded, that they’ve enriched our lives.
Thank you, Richard Gilbert, for being the best kind of writer and writing instructor.
From whose books (and/or blogs) have you learned how to write better?