Madelaine Shaw-Wong



My writing journey, stories and poems. Click on the category to the right or scroll for newest entry.

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I started a Youtube channel

Posted on June 21, 2018 at 9:05 PM Comments comments (1)

Exciting news! I started a Youtube channel!

Writing Powerful Stories

With my daughter, Emily, we will post weekly mini writing lessons.

So far we have covered the topics, Creating Powerful Protagonists and Conquering Writers' Block.

Stay tuned for more episodes.

Creating a Protagonist, the Interview

Posted on June 14, 2018 at 12:20 PM Comments comments (0)

I have learned that in order to build well-rounded and believable characters, it's important to know everything you can about them.

I Imagine myself sitting across the table from my characters while they answer questions like these:

Questions to Ask your Characters :/

This questionnaire was (supposedly) invented by the French author Marcel Proust:

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
What is your current state of mind?
What is your favorite occupation?
What is your most treasured possession?
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
What is your favorite journey?
What is your most marked characteristic?
When and where were you the happiest?
What is it that you most dislike?
What is your greatest fear?
What is your greatest extravagance?
Which living person do you most despise?
What is your greatest regret?
Which talent would you most like to have?
Where would you like to live?
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
What is the quality you most like in a man?
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? What is the trait you most deplore in others?
What do you most value in your friends?
Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Who are your heroes in real life?
Which living person do you most admire?
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
On what occasions do you lie?
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
What are your favorite names?
How would you like to die?
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
What is your motto?

Other questions:

Who do you live with? Describe your neighbourhood.
Who’s your best friend? How long have you known each other?
Tell me about a proud moment.
What is your first memory? Why is this important?
What is a secret you’ve never told anyone?
What makes you proud?
Name your best and worst physical quality.
What do you most desire?
Tell me about your favourite toy you played with as a child.
In what way do people misunderstand you?
If you could fight for a cause, what would it be?

When Writing is Hard

Posted on January 24, 2018 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Should I give up on writing? When writing is difficult it is certainly a temptation. Why should I waste hours fussing over a paragraph, or scene, or a bit of dialogue? I could spend the time in other pursuits – exercising, or reading great literature, or catching up my favourite television series. Instead, I am parked in front of my computer screen, obsessing over words.

I think of Paul Simon’s lyrics from Kathy’s Song, when I become discouraged by writing:

“I don't know why I spend my time

Writing songs I can't believe

With words that tear and strain to rhyme.”

I am not a poet, but I understand the frustration and struggle involved in finding just the right words and phrasing needed to express myself. Words are inadequate tools when trying to describe complex thoughts and feelings. Some analogies come to mind:  Imagine the effort involved in digging a hole with a plastic spoon. Try pushing a cart with a wobbly wheel, or sweeping a floor with a worn-out broom.

Writing is hard. No, writing is painful. As Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit at a typewriter and bleed.”

Why do I struggle to put words on a page? I know, without a doubt, some people won’t like what I’ve written. They will object to my theme, my point of view, or how I express myself. I set myself up for criticism every time I publish a piece of writing. I wonder if this is a masochistic tendency, or perhaps it is my ego, though I have never been one to crave attention.

Sometimes, I feel that worse than criticism or unwanted attention is deafening silence, when no one seems to listen or care.

Most writers I know are sensitive people. That’s what enables us to do what we do. The irony is: being sensitive makes us vulnerable to unkind comments. Most writers I know are shy, and yet, we are in a profession where if we want to be successful we must be in the limelight. Why do we do it? Why do we expose ourselves to criticism?

There must be something deeper, an innate urge to produce something meaningful, something that we hope will last for generations. This is not for our own benefit, for why should we care what people think of us in a hundred or two hundred years? I, for one, want to make a positive impact on the world, or at least my little corner of the world.

When one creates something beautiful, it is beyond satisfying. A deep need is fulfilled. A beautiful story, a piece of music, a painting, or dance, “speaks” to something in the human soul, an essential part of the human experience. For me, the option of not writing is a terrible one. Life would be less meaningful.

A fellow blogger had this to say: “We need art because it makes us complete human beings… We need to understand our individual and shared history.”

Even if I want to quit writing, I can’t. I am compelled to continue until I can no longer sit at a keyboard or hold a pen. Quitting is out of the question.

Review of Quietus with BeatRoute Magazine

Posted on November 8, 2017 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (0)

I am so pleased that Quietus was reviewed by BeatRoute Magazine.

To read it go here:


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