Nora Ephron On Using Lists As Inspiration

Nora Ephron On Using Lists As Inspiration

In this post, we suggest that writers make lists of what they will miss as inspiration – just as Nora Ephron did before she died.

When we teach our creative writing course, Writers Write, we always include exercises where we ask delegates to make lists for the characters they create. These could be shopping lists, bucket lists, to-do lists, or 10 things they would do if they won the lottery.

These lists are used as prompts to get writers to think about their characters in different ways. When we saw this on Letters of Note, we wanted to share it with you.

What Will You Miss?

Nora Ephron On Using Lists As Inspiration

Writer, Nora Ephron (born 19 May 1941) died on 26 June 2012 after a long battle with leukaemia.

The American author, playwright, screenwriter, and film director was known for her romantic comedies featuring strong female characters. She earned three nominations the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally…, and Sleepless in Seattle.

She wrote these lists in 2010 to end her book, I Remember Nothing: and Other Reflections, which is a hilarious look at the past, the present, and the future. She lists the things she will, and won’t, miss from her life.

  1. Dry skin
  2. Bad dinners like the one we went to last night
  3. E-mail
  4. Technology in general
  5. My closet
  6. Washing my hair
  7. Bras
  8. Funerals
  9. Illness everywhere
  10. Polls that show that 32 percent of the American people believe in creationism
  11. Polls
  12. Fox TV
  13. The collapse of the dollar
  14. Bar mitzvahs
  15. Mammograms
  16. Dead flowers
  17. The sound of the vacuum cleaner
  18. Bills
  19. E-mail. I know I already said it, but I want to emphasize it.
  20. Small print
  21. Panels on Women in Film
  22. Taking off makeup every night
  1. My kids
  2. Nick
  3. Spring
  4. Fall
  5. Waffles
  6. The concept of waffles
  7. Bacon
  8. A walk in the park
  9. The idea of a walk in the park
  10. The park
  11. Shakespeare in the Park
  12. The bed
  13. Reading in bed
  14. Fireworks
  15. Laughs
  16. The view out the window
  17. Twinkle lights
  18. Butter
  19. Dinner at home just the two of us
  20. Dinner with friends
  21. Dinner with friends in cities where none of us lives
  22. Paris
  23. Next year in Istanbul
  24. Pride and Prejudice
  25. The Christmas tree
  26. Thanksgiving dinner
  27. One for the table
  28. The dogwood
  29. Taking a bath
  30. Coming over the bridge to Manhattan
  31. Pie

Writing Tip: We think this is an excellent writing exercise. Why don’t you compile three lists like this, one for yourself, one for your protagonist, and another for your antagonist?

Source for lists: Lists of Note
Source for Image: Nora Ephron Dies

by Amanda Patterson

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TIP: If you want help writing a book, buy The Novel Writing Exercises Workbook.

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Posted on: 2nd February 2014