Hey psst. Your friendly neighborhood @tanglebranch here, with an exciting report on the goings on at The Writer's Block.
We have been having SO MUCH FUN lately.
Doing what, you may ask? Why work(shop)ing our butts off, of course!
This past week was our first following the new Writer's Workshop schedule. Our meet-ups were perhaps a little on the small side in attendance, but they were big on accomplishment.
This week's topic was show vs. tell. Workshop attendees brought short pieces of fiction they had written and we discussed how we, as authors, can tell a really powerful story without "telling" anything at all! Here's an example from the workshop of the kind of stuff I'm talking about, masterfully provided by @caleblailmusik:
Druzy let her eyes follow the path of the rain, down the window pane, trying to make sense of the patterns, of natural acts, like gravity, or falling, or pulling.
Her palms stared up at her from her lap and she mutely asked them “Why?” but they gave no response. She clenched her fingers and then held them to her stomach.
Her mom was driving, her knuckles white against the black rubber of the steering wheel. Her mother had always called life beautiful, but as it was forming in Druzy’s gut, a nebula of tissue and blood, a torrent of guilt and innocence, Druzy could not feel beauty.
Her pale mother did not say “Beautiful” when the doctor confirmed what the strip of plastic had confessed.
The doctor did not say congratulations.
What do you know about this character now? How much of that was stated explicitly? That is what show vs. tell is all about.
(By the way, @caleblailmusik is awesome, jus’ sayin’)
This week at Freshman Friday we talked sentence structure. Not so much how to build sentences per se, but how varying the ways we build our sentences improves the readability and flow of our fiction. If every sentence is the same, things get repetitive and dull, and makes it very easy for a reader to put down the book, click away to a different page, or toss your manuscript on the slush pile.
I had given a non-mandatory prompt of writing a scene that included a magazine, a dishwasher, and an unhappy child. Several attendees brought fantastic samples of fiction that gave us plenty of fodder for discussion.
Other things we learned during this workout? That @jayna quite possibly had a clone helping her bake cookies, and @tanglebranch (that's me!) has a fairly flexible reading voice. So if you felt a disturbance in the Force last Friday night, never fear! It was probably just us laughing our butts off!
We took sentence structure and flow to the next level in Saturday's workshop. We talked about author voice, that is, what a particular author “sounds” like. We brought examples of established authors we enjoyed or did not enjoy reading, and unpacked a little on why we felt that way. Every reader has different tastes to be sure, but after reading some of our “dislike” examples, we could all take home some idea of what NOT to do to make our words appealing to others.
So What's Next?
Here's this week's topics!
Workout Wednesday 12/12/2018 at 15:00 EST/20:00 UTC (voice meeting, text-based feedback available anytime!) - Choose Your Ending! Write a 250-word (or less) conclusion to the following opener:
Dawson held his breath. The speedometer climbed steadily: eighty, ninety, a hundred, one-ten. The car screamed across the pavement, an electric blur in a midnight landscape.
Freshman Friday 12/14/2018 @ 09:00 EST/14:00 UTC and 21:00EST/02:00 UTC (next day)- Let's talk Point Of View. This is so important to get right in our writing, so how's about some practice? Bring a scene written in first person to share. 250 words or less, and be sure to include at least two characters interacting in some way.
Sophomore Saturday 12/15/2018 @ 15:00 EST/20:00 UTC- Plot or Pants? Which is your preferred method of creating a storyline? Let's chat about what works (or doesn't) for you.
I hope to see you there this time around, we'd love to have you. If you want to join in or even just say hi, feel free to pop into our Discord server (click the link below) and track me down, I'd love to hang out.
Until next week, this is @tanglebranch, signing off!