Monday, 3 January 2011

How to catch small stones

(if you're new here it's not too late to join us... read more here)

I'm a teensy bit frazzled. There have been lots of lovely people joining us and I've been adding them to the blogroll and dealing with little technical hitches all day. I'm very pleased to be so busy. If you've emailed or left a message here we'll get to you as soon as we can (email is easier if you can...)

This lovely photo was taken in Wells-next-to-the-sea Debs, who is taking one every day as her small stone. Thanks Debs.

I was going to share a few small stones with you this morning, but there are so many wonderful ones and I don't want to play favourites... you'll have to get out there and find your favourites for yourself (use the blogroll on the right or the River on the top left). Do leave supportive comments for each other. We're all in this together.

And here's an extract of something I wrote a while ago about how to write small stones - hope it's helpful. Keep observing!


Where will I find small stones? 
Small stones are everywhere, all of the time.  All you have to do is pause and let them appear.  You’ll know when you see one, because it will set off a small burst of feeling inside you.  It might be that you really notice the ugliness of a piece of chewed gum on the pavement, or the beauty of a pigeon, or vice versa.  An overheard snippet of conversation might strike you as amusing, or strange.  Whatever you notice, you will be noticing it with fresh eyes.  

How do I pick up my small stones?
The best way is to catch them as they occur, by carrying a note-book around with you and jotting down some notes straight away.  If you don’t have any paper, the back of your hand will do.  If you don’t have a pen, play around with some words in your head and hold onto them until you can catch them on paper.  You might want to write a lot down to start with - let your imagination off the leash.  When you’ve written down everything you can think of, you can go through what you’ve got and choose the words that seem to get you close to what you originally noticed.  There - a small stone!

How do I polish up my stones?
The following check-list will help you to polish your stone up until it is as perfect as you can make it:
* Have you used precise words?
Was the berry red or was it scarlet? 
* Is every single word necessary?
In a short piece of writing, every word must earn its keep. If it doesn’t add anything, take it out!
* Have you shown us something or told us something?
It is usually more effective to describe something and let the reader draw their own conclusions, than to ‘spell it out’.  Rather than writing ‘the sky was beautiful’, show us the sky.     
* How does it look on the page?
Do you want to use a title?  How do you want to use capital letters and punctuation?  Do you want to break up your sentence into shorter pieces and put them underneath each other?  Fiddle about until it looks right. 
* What does it sound like when you read it out loud?
Does the rhythm please you?  Do you stumble at the same point every time?  How do the words sound next to each other?  Fiddle about until it sounds right.

There are no right or wrong answers to any of these questions – part of being a writer is discovering your own unique ‘way with words’.  The important thing is that you take time to consider them, and do some tinkering.  This tinkering should be fun – be playful.


  1. I know whose picture it is, how strange because it was her picture that led me to A River Of Stones in the 1st place. I love these connections and happy to close the loop. Will send D a message and let her know...

  2. I can sympathise with technical hitches. My internet connection seems to have got flu. I'm now on my friend's computer but not sure when I'll next get access to web. I've managed to post two small stones on my blog just now but they probably need more polishing. While I'm off the net I shall keep writing and I've made a special journal to keep my small stones in.

    Hope to be able to visit everyone's blogs soon and enjoy their small stones. Meanwhile I'm with you all in spirit and hope to get my web problems fixed very soon.

    Kat X

  3. I'm going to try to keep a little journal and post them weekly. Is that ok?

  4. Hi,

    However you want to record them is fine, lots of people are blogging, as you can see from the list on the right, but we also know of people who are keeping notebooks and journals who aren't going to post anything online.

    The important thing is for you to notice, and to write :)

  5. I have been participating, but don't see my blog on your list. Here it is:

  6. Sorry Laurie, you're right, it slipped through the net. It's on there now!

  7. Thanks... I can't even begin to tell you how much I have enjoyed this!