Sometimes on the way to your dream,

you get lost and find a better one.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Creative Writing Class part two


This time we learned that stories can be written from different points of view.

There is the singular "I" point of view, (POV) where the writer stays continually in the head of his main character. 
Throughout your story, you must keep your character constant. 

If he/she begins as a strong, take charge kind of person, then you can't have them suddenly being wishy-washy and afraid of their own shadow somewhere in chapter six.

Then we have the multiple "I" POV, where there are two or more main characters, but when writing this way, you must be sure to disengage from the first "I" before writing as the second "I"

A scene or setting break which leads to the second character works well for this, for instance: 
the first "I" could say something another character doesn't agree with and the second character could storm out in a huff. Then the story could continue in a new location/setting/scene (wherever the character has stormed off to) with that second character's POV.

Miss (Mrs?) T took us through an external narrator POV, called a camera angle, which is neutral, focuses more on an object; it creates an emotional distance, being removed from a character, and is useful in setting a scene. 

When writing, a camera angle can be used to open chapters or set the next scene, but because there is no character involvement these sections are not strong and should be kept short so as to remain powerful and focused on the senses, not overly long which will bore your reader. 
Recommended length is no more than two pages at most. Less is good. 
It is important to never end your story in camera angle. You want your story to end with feeling and strength, a camera angle cannot do this. Neutrality has no strength.

Another main point to consider is author intrusion. This is where the author inadvertently "tells" his reader what to think, for instance if a character is being sarcastic, this should be obvious to the reader from his dialogue. Therefore you can write...(sarcastic comment)..."he said".  But you cannot write...(sarcastic comment)..."he said sarcastically." 
If the sarcasm is not immediately obvious to the reader, then the author needs to rewrite that sentence. 
The same goes for many of the "ly" ending words, as these are descriptive and "tell you" what is happening. If your writing is good enough, your reader will know what is happening without being "told". You must be careful to "show", don't "tell".
Author intrusion occurs a lot in literature, but should never appear in popular fiction, although it does happen. If you find yourself "skimmimg" instead of reading, go back and figure out why
Perhaps the author has intruded into the story and removed focus from a character or from the plot.

Shifting from an "I" POV to a he/she POV can cause the writer to fall out of character so there's another thing to be aware of. 
Researching your character type is important if you want to write about a character who is vastly different from the person you are.  For new writers our teacher recommended keeping your character fairly close to the person you know best, yourself. When writing a character who is so far distant from yourself it is easy for new writers to gradually slip out of character and write from their own personal POV instead. This will confuse the reader who will then put away the book and quite possibly never buy another book by the same author.

We also read some poetry, but not the long-winded, incomprehensible, rhyme on every line, stuff we tried to learn in school. No no no.
This was short, free verse; and as we read we learned how this type of poetry can set a scene in the reader's mind, similar to setting a scene for your short story. Or book. 
The difference with short free verse is there is often a twist at the end.  For instance:

Sunset        by Tu Fu


Sunset glitters on the beads
Of curtains. Spring flowers
Bloom in the valley. The gardens
Along the river are filled
With perfume. Smoke of cooking
Fires drifts over the slow barges.
Sparrows hop and tumble in
The branches. Whirling insects
Swarm in the air. Who discovered
That one cup of thick wine
Will dispel a thousand cares?


We also read Summer Night by Antonio Machado; Snow by Vladimir Holan; 
and Happiness by Raymond Carver; all of which I quite liked. 
Impressive when I've stated previously that I hated poetry in school and probably would always hate poetry. 
The fifth poem we read was Rain In Ivy by Chase Twichell. 

This is more like the kind of poetry I don't understand, it confuses the heck out of me and I don't like that, so I didn't like this.

Near the end of class I asked if I could bring in one of my short "moments in time" and have her tell me what might be wrong with it and why. The answer was yes, so of course I spent the whole of the next day thinking about which piece to take in....I've narrowed it down to three and I think I'll take them all. None are longer than a paragraph so it shouldn't take too long to "rip them apart."
I'll let you know what she says next week.


Here is something to think about:


If you find you can't read a particular book because the story seems bad, analyse why the story seems bad, then make sure you don't do that yourself in your writing.

8 comments:

  1. Thank you River. I am learning with you - and have a heap to learn, so it is very welcome.
    And your vignettes have immense charm - which I hope she sees as well as the many readers here.

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  2. So many points of view for the story...so confusing.

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  3. I'm a bad writer and I can't spell so if I don't know how to spell a word and can't find the dictionary I put in a different word so sometimes it's not as good and that's just a start. It's fun to learn how to do it all these things I wouldn't even think of but I do know if my characters had names that are simular I get everyone confused.
    Merle..............

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  4. Elephant's Child; I'm hoping she sees the charm too, but more than that, if there is something wrong with the style, or POV, anything else, I'd like to be told what and why, so I can do better.

    Delores; and that's only a couple. There are so many different types of POV a person can write from.

    Merlesworld; spelling and dictionaries don't always go together. Dictionaries are more for definition. If a person can't spell, how will they find the word in a dictionary? If you have a basic idea of the word but are unsure of the correct letters, then a dictionary can help. For instance I might know how to spell hippopotamus, but I might be unsure if it has one t or two. So I'd check. (I already know it has one). I think you do very well.

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  5. Need to learn more things from you. Words about sunset blossom flowers are good.

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  6. All too much for this old brain to take in I'm afraid. Athough I did well in Leaving English about 35 years ago I just couldn't handle all this now.
    I absolutely loved that poem. In an instant I was there in that place and enjoying that cup of wine. I thought it brilliant. Like you though I detest poetry which I just cannot understand. I often wonder if some poets write like that just to make you think. I can't be bothered thinking that seriously.
    I feel you are understanding all of what your tutor is saying and will benefit greatly from the classes.

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  7. How wonderful that you are taking a creative writing course! And even better that you are sharing it with us. While I've done a lot of writing with my work, most of that was complex case material (read: dry, convoluted legalese - author intrusion, I know, I know...) and I've never tried creative writing at all, although I am an avid reader and do enjoy a wide range of fiction.

    Some of your lesson reminds me of the exercises we used to do in some of our uni classes, where we were taught to dissect documents, including narrative mode. It's so interesting to read the "science" behind our reading comprehension.

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  8. Mimsie; that poem is a gem isn't it?
    I did well in English too, although only getting as far as year 9. A lot of the incomprehensible poetry is literature, something I've never been able to understand. Give me popular fiction anyday.

    Marie; "dry, convoluted legalese" has me tearing my hair out. Forms for this and that which nobody can understand without first getting a law degree. Why the heck they can't be plain person-on-the-street English I'll never know.
    I never got to the stage of having to dissect documents, or even stories or poems and I'm rather glad, it seems way too complicated. My kids hated that part of school too. The teacher would read something long and dry and then ask the kids, "what do you think the author is trying to say, why is he saying these things?" and then ask them to write the same thing, but in today's English. To the first question, my younger daughter once told her teacher who cares? which didn't go down well, although I'm told the rest of the class laughed.

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