Storyarts six week on-line writing workshop. Page 3
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Choice of material
Fiction is that which does not expect to be taken as the literal truth. As obvious as this seems, not everybody quite gets it. For some, fiction means colorful characters, dramatic situations, exotic settings, and above all complicated plots. The flow of everyday life, some believe, is too tame and uneventful for fiction. Consequently a good deal of valuable time is wasted trying to write what ought not have been written in the first place. For this reason, we begin with simple autobiographical material.
1. An object that was found.
How to do it. You may use an object that was found recently, or long ago. It can be an object found by yourself, or by someone you know. You will probably be writing this in the first person. Example. "Last summer I found a twenty dollar bill on the sidewalk. I almost walked right by it, but when I saw what it was, I stopped, picked it up, and continued on my way as if nothing at all had happened."
The coaching prompts. In Chicago workshop a telling was always coached by the director. Here you will have to imagine that I am coaching you. Typical coaching prompts might be, "See it," meaning see the twenty dollar bill, is it crisp and new, crumpled and old, did you at first mistake it for something else? "See it" also applies to the place, the time of day, the surroundings. It certainly applies to any other people who might be present.
Other coaching prompts. Another common coaching prompt might be "hear it," not the twenty dollar bill, of course but the sounds around you at the moment, Smell it, taste it, and touch it, not all of which are always applicable--although you never know!
With coaching we might discover the twenty was found outside the subway station on a rainy day, that people were hurrying by with their heads covered by newspapers, that a small boy saw you pick up the bill but was hastened along by his mother, that you stuffed the wet bill into your pocket and did not look at it again until you were safely out of sight of that small boy.
With coaching the image becomes a vignette.
The complete sequence. Each prompt that follows is to be done as an individual image, unrelated to the one that preceded it, unrelated to the one that follows is. The images should all be coached. Each should be written separately. They may be titled if you wish.
An object that was lost. (by you or someone you know, recently or long ago.
An object that was burned. (same as above)
The oldest object in your home.
An object you are planning to get rid of.
An object that belonged to your mother.
An object that belonged to your father. (If you have no mother or father, make the appropriate substitutions)
What to avoid. Do not try to establish a "plot." Do not play the "guess what I am writing about" game, not here or anywhere else. Identify your object as soon as possible. "Last summer I lost a library book." "My mother owned a pearl necklace . . ." Be sure you let us "see" the library book, or the necklace. Do not get so involved with the circumstances that you forget to describe the original object.
What to expect. If you do the above as I hope you will, writing complete paragraphs instead of "answers," coaching yourself as you go along, you will discover that the writing techniques you will be required to use may vary according to the opening prompts. Don't be alarmed. The prompts are designed to do this.
example of completed exercise by Stacey A. Wolfe
example of completed exercise by Ashley Cox
example of completed exercise by Hedda Waldenstrom
example of completed exercise by Susan
All above examples are copyrighted and may not be republished without permission of the authors.
Optional. Take one of the image/vignettes you have written and expand it into several pages. Allow yourself to wander as much as you wish.
How to submit. Type each exercise separately into your word processor (Ms Word, Word Perfect, etc.) Save as plain generic text. (asci. check the pull down menu of your word processer). Cut and paste into an email message addressed to Storyarts.
You may also submit directly to the workshop feedback group. You must subscribe first (very simple, no cost, no obligation). See the box below.
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