To display this page you need a browser with JavaScript support. Creative Writing Workshops - Sample Lessons

Author of The TrailFolk of Xunar-kun Series and Snailsworth, a slow little story.

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Lesson Excerpts From The Workshops
 


Excerpt from Level One, Holding It Together   Defining beginnings that grab, middles that involve, and perfect endings.

...The beginning, middle and end must make sense to the reader, and it must also feel “right” to the writer. Even if you don’t plan on making your writing public, don’t cheat yourself by writing incomplete stories. You want to enjoy the writing experience, and your readers will want a good read, if it's your desire to one day share your writing.

What does a beginning do? It sets a mood, introduces a character(s), describes a problem or event. Where does the story take place? What’s happening? These are some of the elements that give the story a beginning place.

Beginnings do not have to be long; middles are generally the “thickest” part of the story, and endings may be quick or drawn out. There are no concrete rules about length. Remember, we’re at the beginning of the writing process, and length does not concern us at this point.

Assignment   From your list of life experiences and memories, note the ones you are most passionate about, that are vivid in your memory or create an emotion in you. Now think of some possible beginnings and just write...


Excerpt from Level Two, Using The Right Words   Genre, time period, and character demand the correct use of words.

So why do the words you use matter? To answer that, let’s explore a bit of human psychology.

Whether they realize it or not, humans soak up whatever environment they are currently involved in. Our brains pick up millions of bits of data as we see, talk, touch, hear and feel our way through life. Because there is so much data taken in, we must organize it. In so doing, we stick the data into categories where our brain can easily retrieve it. In laymen’s terms, this can be called “pigeon-holing” or “stereotyping”. We all do it; it’s the only way we can make sense of our world.

We do the same thing with references to history, clothing style, culture, and so on. We categorize literally everything. If something is presented to us out of context – like boots being placed in our sweater drawer to use a simple analogy – our brains tell us that this is wrong. For example, Henry’s reaction will first be disbelief. Perhaps the words going through his head will be, “Now why did Mabel ever think that these boots – which are muddy, too – belong in the sweater drawer?” Disbelief turns to anger and an end to Henry’s otherwise peaceful day.

Writers, in much the same way, must be sure that the words fit the genre, time period, planet, character and every other aspect of our writing to keep the reader believing what we wrote. I have set books aside, which I never did pick up again, that assaulted my sense of believing; the wrong words ruined the fun of reading the story! The key is to keep your readers believing what you have written.  

Assignment   Practice how the following statements can be rewritten based on genre, character, time period and other conditions.


Excerpt from Level Three, Exposing Yourself    How to bravely reveal anything about yourself (or others) through storytelling.  

That’s a good question, isn’t it? How much should you reveal through your writing? Perhaps you have a really juicy situation or character you’d like to write about, and the thought of this won’t leave you alone. But you’re hesitant because you think that someone may think less of you for revealing it.

Having fear of saying too much is understandable; but let’s begin with a comforting thought: nobody but you knows how much “truth” there is to your fiction telling or how much is purely imagination. Of course, you must consider the audience you’re writing for. If you’re writing erotica, then titillation is what your readers are looking for. If you’re writing an article for a local newspaper, then…you’ll want to keep the juicy stuff to yourself!

Only you can be the judge of the appropriateness of a certain piece. You must, however, be aware of libel!

Assignment   What are some subjects you consider to be taboo and you would never consider making public?

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Page last updated on January 30, 2015                                     ©2008 Tina Field Howe. All Rights Reserved.