Hello Hello Dear Writers!
There is something brewing here in Oakland…
Monday, March 7th is right around the corner! Please join us for a weekly FREE drop-in creative writing group, from 3:30pm-5pm at Hive, the place to bee. And, in early April and June, come to our gorgeous San Francisco Escapery headquarters, for Kathryn Kruse’s fabulous workshop CROSSROADS: A WRITING JOURNEY THROUGH OTHER ART FORMS, and the brilliant Carson Beker’s WRITING FEAR!!!
For this week, a writing exercise to try:
During revision, the one question that I always ask myself is, What does my character want? Janet Burroway states that “The thing that the character wants need not be violent or spectacular; it is the intensity of the wanting that counts.” Earlier this month, there was a flash fiction story that I’d been working on (it might have been the twentieth revision!), when I realized that I still did not have an answer for this question! What did my character want? Why was this so hard for me to find an answer for? And then it hit me…
I’d decided before embarking on writing this story, that I was going to write a flash fiction piece (for me, this means 1000 words or less). What I learned, however, was that the form was confining this particular story, keeping it from developing to its fullest. Don’t get me wrong…I LOVE flash fiction. It is my deepest and truest Love and art form in story writing. But, for this particular story, I learned that by deciding in advance what it was going to Be before actually writing it was keeping me from reaching in to the heart of the story!
So, for this week, I thought that a neat writing exercise that I might try (borrowed with gratitude from playwright and teacher extraordinaire, Michelle Carter) is to take this story and write it as a SONG. Pull apart the plot, dismantle the scaffolding, remove every speck of exposition, and leave just the heart of the story in the hopes that in doing so I might be able to identify what my protagonist truly wants.
(If you are doing this for the first time, perhaps aim for a three or four-minute song to really push yourself to pare down your story. If you’re not sure what a four-minute song looks like on paper, look at the lyrics of one of your favorite songs, and do a word count.)
After you’ve deconstructed your story, sing it to yourself! Put it to music! If you are like me and are a little tone deaf, use your words and sing it using the melody of one of your favorite songs.
Then, take a look at what you have–the crucial, burning parts of your story and character (on paper, this might now resemble a poem or prose poem!)–and rebuild this back into story.