Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Writing Workshop II - Week Four

I did NOT want to go to class Monday evening. My carpool buddy was not going to make it. I had a TON of work to do for my job, my client, my volunteer work, and the ever present housework. J made me go.

My homework was done. I got that banged out on Sunday. We went to see the sunrise at one of the Chicago beaches. It wasn't until I was there and J said he planned to stay for 4 hours that I realized I had no paper or pen. J suggested I use my iPhone to write. I did. 2,700 words. Then I emailed the short story to myself. I heart iPhones.

For those of you who are interested in writing, here is a really brief synopsis. Mary Anne is writing her own book on how to be a better writer so this is just a taste to make you go out and buy her book when it becomes available.

Class Notes
3 different types of conflict - Internal, External Verbal Conflict, External Physical Conflict

Exercise: Take 1 character and write a paragraph or two where they are struggling with internal conflict. Then do the same for the same character using external verbal conflict and then external physical conflict

Info Dumbs & As You Know Bob
It's hard to avoid info dumps - a bunch of info that you throw into a big bunch of prose. The challenge as a writer is to convey the information in a way that does not bore or lose the reader. Many times the writer will contrive a conversation that would never happen in real life. For example, if 2 computer geeks are talking, they would not say, "As you know Bob, the Internet was founded by Al Gore..."

Exercise: Write about something you know well (like your hobby) but try to make it interesting and not just an info dump.

Readers find pleasure in structure and patterns whether they notice it or not. children love structure in books and have no patience for bad stories (they start talking or walk away). Structure can be in the form of a pattern (Sixth Sense where red appears whenever a dead person is present), time frame (all in one day), location (Orient Express takes place on a train), etc.

Exercise: Brainstorm to come up with 2 different forms of structure you can use to constrain your story.

Homework Due August 23rd:
1. Re-read 6 of Mary Anne's stories and look for structure in them. Make notes.
2. Write a list about 10 things you can think about that you are obsessed with. i.e. What angers you, upsets, you, what do you love, what problems do you struggle with, what larger social issues concern you...?

Homework Due August 30th:
- Write a max 5,000 word short story to be sent to class by August 23rd for critique.

1 comment:

Betty said...

Nice article and class notes. I'll look forward to your book on being a better writer. I love to write also and have found a really unique thesaurus that helps me a lot when I get stuck on a thought or word. It's called "The Thinker's Thesaurus" by Peter E. Meltzer. It modifies the base word to add nuance or clarification which yields a more exact synonym. I'm loving it!