Daily Writing Tip 15 of 100, Write A Values Listing

For one hundred days, I’m going to post a writing tip each day. I have a whole bookshelf full of writing books and I want to do some reading and increased studying of this valuable resource. This will help me keep track of anything I’ve learned, and help motivate me to keep going. If anyone has a favorite tip of their own to add, contact me. I’d love to put it up here.

Today’s tip – Write A Values Listing

Source – The Passionate, Accurate Story by Carol Bly

I prefer listing one”s values to listing just words because values are by definition emotional: they are how we feel about the given subject. It helps our always-mangy memory, in any case to list the qualities of people or of life which we hold dear or which we deplore. A values listing keeps us conscious of large virtues when we can so easily get lost in small virtues.

Values Listing: Examples

1. Two goals or values which make life good or bearable or would if they were in operation.
2. Two goals or values which cause injustice and suffering or lessening of joy.
3. Two missing goals or behaviors.
4. Two injustices which you see about you and should keep on eye on, even on your wedding day.

I was introduced to Carol Bly and her book, The Passionate, Accurate Story years ago in a fiction writing class taught by David Haynes. He introduced the idea of making a values listing – and I’ll have to admit, at first I didn’t understand how important it was. It took a while and some practice to get it to sink in. You can get so wound around the spindle of plot, character, setting and the other mechanical elements of telling a story it is easy to forget why you are going to all this work.

We all have read wonderfully written literature that feels hollow. They are all skill and no heart.

A value listing is a start at regaining the memory of why you wanted to do this in the first place. Fiction is a big lie that is the only way to tell a bigger truth.

I consider Carol Bly’s book to be an irreplaceable guidebook to finding that bigger truth.