Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Wild Writers Literary Festival Series – Writing Narrative: From Concept to Creation

Here's the fifth installment of the Wild Writers Literary Festival.  Missed the previous one?  No problem, you can read them here #1, #2, #3, #4.  

 This workshop, led by Helen Humphreys (poetry, novel and creative non-fiction author,) was an exploration of the process of moving an idea forward using practical ste^-by-step approach.  I have to say it was one of my favourite craft class.

Humphreys talk was structured around the different questions you should ask yourself when writing.

Are you obsessed by your idea?
If you can't stop thinking about your idea, chances are it's a good one.  Don't let it go.
What is the interesting story you can make out of the idea?
Try to look past the first idea that comes to mind.  Dig deeper than the easy answer. Ask yourself if there's a better way to tell the story.  Brainstorm.  Create an independant notebook or file for each projet.  Use it to hold your thoughts.

Whose story is it?  Which character is the main character?  What perspective are you telling the story from? 
Asking those questions over and over will help you tell the story is the best way possible.

What is the motivation of your main character?  What do they want?  What do they end up getting?
By answering these questions you'll be able to know if your story is one of glory or of tragedy.

Where does the story take place?
Make sure you know how much the setting is important to the story.  Ask yourself what is private and/or public about that place.

What is the beginning of the story?  What is the ending?
Make sure you ask yourself these two questions frequently as you may find out that it has changed as the story progresses.

What is your process?
Learn to know what works and doesn't work for you.  Don't think too much and follow what feels right initially.

In passing, Humphreys added that there are two main narrative types: a stranger comes to town or someone goes on a journey.  In either case, when plotting the story, start by placing the main events on a timeline then fill the spaces between.

What is the hardest thing for you to say?
Asking yourself this should get the ball rolling and allow you to start writing.  Chances are that if it's difficult for you, you're not the only one.


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