Writing Road Trip

Lisa Bullard


I was plan­ning a road trip to North­ern Min­neso­ta to teach at a Young Author’s Con­fer­ence and decid­ed to include a small detour to my past: the town of Bemid­ji, where we lived when I was in 2nd through 5th grades. So after the con­fer­ence wrapped, I spent a cou­ple of hap­py days trav­el­ing down mem­o­ry lane. I was warm­ly wel­comed at

Lisa Bullard

Adjust Your Mirrors 

You get a dif­fer­ent view of the road behind you depend­ing on which of your car’s mir­rors you look into. And writ­ers can direct read­ers to a dif­fer­ent out­look on their sto­ry depend­ing on which point of view they use as the “mir­ror” for the events that take place. I’ve found that point of view is a tricky thing for

Lisa Bullard

Hands on the Wheel 

A few years ago, I remem­ber Teenage Nephew 2 point­ed out (from his new­ly gath­ered store­house of driver’s ed wis­dom) that I put my hands in the wrong posi­tions on the steer­ing wheel. The new place­ment, he told me, is either 9 and 3 or 8 and 4 on the clock face, to avoid break­ing your arms if the airbag deploys. It’s

Lisa Bullard

Traveling Further In-Word 

As a fol­low-up to my last post, I want­ed to offer you a down­load­able ver­sion of one of the activ­i­ties I cre­at­ed for my day in the Alpha­bet For­est: ”Make Your Own ‘Sto­ry Wheel.’” The Sto­ry Wheel I brought for my day fea­tured State Fair ele­ments to fit my usu­al sug­gest­ed sto­ry-starter mix of char­ac­ters, set­tings, and con­flicts. But as the

Lisa Bullard

Traveling In-Word 

Giv­ing kids the gift of words and sto­ry is like hand­ing them the mag­ic key to life.

Lisa Bullard

Green for Go 

Traf­fic sig­nals don’t require a sin­gle word to send a clear mes­sage. Even small chil­dren can learn how to “read” them. Red reads “stop.” Green reads “go.” Yel­low reads either “slow down” or “speed up,” depend­ing on the “char­ac­ter” of the dri­ver. Even young stu­dents can also “read” word­less pic­ture books. Because the art­work reveals its own

Lisa Bullard

License Plate 007 

Sto­ry dia­logue is charged with the large task of help­ing to tell the sto­ry: it reveals char­ac­ter­i­za­tion, advances the plot, and pro­vides action.

Lisa Bullard

Next Exit: Adventure 

Some­times just a town’s name is enough to entice you. Who could dri­ve past the exit for Last Chance, Ida­ho — or Hell, Michi­gan — or Hap­py­land, Okla­homa — with­out at least con­tem­plat­ing how your life might be changed if you took that unex­pect­ed detour? All on their own, names tell a sto­ry. That’s why I often do an online search to learn as

Lisa Bullard

Swerving Over the Line 

Dur­ing one of my vis­its to see my Alaba­ma brother’s fam­i­ly, we took a road trip to the Ave Maria Grot­to. That’s where a Bene­dic­tine Monk named Broth­er Joseph Zoet­tl built over 125 Mini-Me ver­sions of some of the great­est build­ings of the world. Artists are often inspired by some­one else’s mas­ter­pieces.  But in work­ing with young writers,

Lisa Bullard

Watch Where You’re Going 

Rid­ing along with my dad was like going on a Mid­west­ern safari. Even while dri­ving, he had an amaz­ing knack for spot­ting crit­ters as they peeked out from behind trees, perched on phone poles, or slid along the road­side. He didn’t seem to pay any atten­tion to the makes of oth­er cars, or bill­board mes­sages, or

Lisa Bullard

Driving in the Dark 

A while back I was at my par­ents’ lake cab­in with my extend­ed fam­i­ly. My brother’s teenagers had all brought along friends, and on Sat­ur­day we packed every­one who fell into the “thir­teen to fif­teen” age range off to the late movie. As the res­i­dent night owl, I vol­un­teered to pick up the kids when the movie

Lisa Bullard

Tunnel Vision 

Dri­ving through a tun­nel effec­tive­ly nar­rows our field of vision. The walls and ceil­ing restrict our view to only that which is inside the tun­nel. It doesn’t mat­ter if there’s a moun­tain parked on top of the roof, or an ocean of water being held back by the walls: when we’re inside the tun­nel, those things are

Lisa Bullard

Just Another Roadside Abstraction 

For this week’s writ­ing road trip, I offer you tex­ture. I aim for an abstract ele­ment of a real­is­tic sub­ject and use tex­ture to add inter­est and sug­gest depth. —a quote that to the best of my research abil­i­ties I find attrib­ut­able to artist Mar­garet Rose­man. I liked the way the above quote spoke to how tex­ture can be

Lisa Bullard

Racing to Catch a Plane 

Some­times very young writ­ers I work with lit­er­al­ly stop the sto­ry mid-thought and write “The End.”

Lisa Bullard


What ‘audi­ence des­ti­na­tion’ does the nar­ra­tor intend? Who do you imag­ine will read your story?

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