Over the weekend I attended a workshop on short fiction. Instead of a lot of talking at us, the instructor had us do a lot of writing.
I knew that before going and had a gnawing fear in my gut. Although I normally write in the mornings, could I perform under pressure with expectations from others that I produce something?
I told myself to get over it, and besides I had to return Save the Cat to the friend who loaned it to me [the copy I ordered arrived! Yay!] Yeah, I know I’ve been talking about this book a lot lately. But it was like a revelation to me. I’m now planning my books more than I ever have. This book spoke to me on a level that made sense. I think maybe it just helped me crystallize what I had been doing and make it better and stronger, so that it’s not so haphazard, so that I understand what I’m doing.
Anyway, that’s how we keep an infusion of inspiration and growth — keep an open mind and keep learning.
The workshop began with a handout of Kurt Vonnegut’s eight basics of Creative Writing 101. Anyone who is a Vonnegut fan gets bonus points with me, and he served as inspiration when I had to think of an anecdote from my life to write about. I stood behind him in line at a news stand once in NYC. Fan girl squeal! And it had me thinking about when I first moved to NYC. From there the thoughts and words poured out.
As if it happened yesterday, I sat on the number 7 train on my way to my first Manhattan job interview. Although it was spring, it was snowing and lots more happened… but that’ll be in the story.
Also as clear as yesterday, I sat with my friend Nikki in the garden of our favorite restaurant in the West Village, sipping frosty mugs of Molson Golden, talking about writing. Quintessential New York. Memories and experiences I treasure and draw from again and again.
Back to class! We took our anecdotes and worked on how to fictionalize moments from our lives. Who is the character? What does the character want? Change either one of those and you can rewrite any bit of inspiration in a myriad ways.
It was a different way of using real life in fiction for me, so it was fun. I enjoyed getting back to writing about reality.
I have to laugh at that last sentence. Most of my life I jonesed to get to writing about things wildly creative and not at all real. A change very welcome in my reality, and it puts a wistful smile in my heart…
Back to class! For the next exercise we wrote down two secrets, threw them in a hat, then drew one. We had to write from that character’s perspective. Fate gave me a great sci-fi/fantasy prompt. Yeah, that’s another budding piece of short fiction.
After that, we had to take our first anecdote and write the story from another character’s perspective. The only other person in my anecdote was Kurt, so I became Kurt Vonnegut. Awesome!
My point in all this, never say no to an opportunity to see the world and your writing differently. Never fear freshening up. Welcome it with open notebooks and a fresh pen.
Jewel of Shaylar
Laura Eno’s latest fantasy is now out!
Archaeologist David Alexander investigates the cave where his father disappeared and hurtles into another world, one filled with magic and bizarre creatures. The mad ravings in his father’s journals of icemen and dragons may not be fantasies after all.
Convinced his father may still be alive, David begins a treacherous journey to find him and discover a way home. Along the way, he encounters a few unlikely friends. A Dreean warrior, a beautiful thief and a satyr join him as he searches.
David’s arrival into this new world sets off an explosive chain reaction of events. Faced with powerful adversaries and few clues, he may not get the chance to rescue his father before disaster strikes, condemning both of them to death. Or worse.
Today is the Last Chance to Enter May’s giveaway