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Writing tips from Jean Craighead George

When I was writing my review for My Side of the Mountain (you’ll see it soon), I came across Jean Craighead George’s website.

The author’s website is still maintained, even since her death in 2012, and contains a tab along the top titled “On Writing.” It’s written more for children, I think, but still was fun to read. She gives some tips on writing (calling them “writing prods,”) and advises not to spend too much time thinking about the ending. The ending, she says, will write itself and often in a way that will be a surprise to you.

I enjoyed reading this page on writing, learning about the process of such an experienced author (she wrote more than 100 books!!) – hope you enjoy it as well.


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Creative writing: an excerpt

I pulled my car to the side of the road, fuming. How was I going to catch him now?

The officer took a long time behind my vehicle, then the door creaked open and he – no – she eased her way out of the car. I watched in the rear-view mirror. Younger than most. Fog tendrils crept up in the woods as she came up and stopped beside me.

“Good evening, sir,” she said. Calm tone, good. “If I could see your license, registration, and certificate of death, please.” That tone? Yep, that’s going to change.

I signed mentally and pulled open the glove box, thinking fast. I pretended to rifle through it, then rifled through it again. I pulled open my centre console and pulled out items – a waterstained roadmap of Idaho, a plastic spoon, a couple of old CDs.

“Shoot!” I said, as convincingly as possible. I turned back to her, then pulled open my wallet. “Here’s my license and registration. I must have left the certificate at home.”

“Sir.” Her tone was less agreeable but still calm. “You know it’s a felony to travel this area without one.”

“Yes, I know, and I’m sorry,” I said. What else? “I’m still new to all this.” As soon as the words were out of my mouth I knew I’d made a mistake. She stiffened to attention, and looked at me more closely.

“Please wait here for a few minutes, sir.”

I stared straight ahead, listening to her footsteps as she walked back to her car. The door opened and then shut. I shuffled my fingers on the steering wheel, despairing. He was long gone and not only was I trapped here, I was already in trouble with the law.

Slam. Out of time. Her car door had shut again and she was on her way back to the car.

“Thank you for your time, sir, these check out,” she said. She handed me my documents back and stood there, hand on her hip. “I just want to remind you that you must always travel with all documentation, and the next time it won’t just be a warning.”

“Yes, of course, officer,” I said. I turned on the charm and leaned out the window a little, peering up at her. I even forced a smile. “I won’t make that mistake again.”

As I started to lean back into the car, though, her hand came off that hip and her first finger hooked deftly under the rim of my sunglasses and off they came. My heart jumped into my throat and I stared up at her with my bright blue, fully alive eyes.


I wrote this piece for last Thursday’s creativity challenge. This is the majority of what I wrote. Not sure whether it’ll end up as part of a longer piece or if it’ll just be a stand-alone exercise as part of the challenge. Either way, I got to flex my imagination and that feels good.