I'd only been there five minutes and already knew I wasn't as well educated or as well read as anyone else there.
Didn't bother me, I was there to learn. The teacher herself is a published author, and has been teaching this class and others for fifteen years. Hopefully she can impart some of her knowledge to me, even more hopefully the knowledge will stick in my mind instead of just passing through, which is what usually happens.
You all know people who read books and can then tell you the story from beginning to end?
That's not me, can't do it.
I could give you a vague condensed version....then there are people who can discuss, dissect, offer different interpretations and all that other highbrow stuff.
Again, not me.
I read the book, enjoy the story, finish it, the end. Next book please.
Which all leads (again) to the fact that I don't assimilate(?) knowledge easily.
I understand a lot of things purely on instinct.
If I'm asked to explain them, I'm a fish out of water.
Because I don't know how I know these things.
Sheldon Cooper I'm not.
And all around me were people discussing and offering their interpretations on the short pieces we'd been given to read. I had a different opinion, we all had differing opinions, but I actually managed to say so, which is a big plus for me. I'm usually the quiet one in the corner.
So here is a bit of what I learned>>>>>>
Writing can be broken down into poetry and prose.
We all know what poetry is, rhyming and verse, although there are more complicated styles out there and we will learn a bit about those too.
Prose, on the other hand is what we are all more familiar with. This is the writing that we read in books, magazines, newspapers. Prose is further broken down into fiction and non-fiction.
We haven't yet covered the non-fiction part.
Fiction is then again broken down into story and non-story. Which confused me until she explained.
Non-story breaks down into character sketches, setting sketches, (also called vignettes), a moment in time, a slice of life. The minute she wrote those on the board I had a lightbulb moment.
The pieces I write on Fridays (Wednesdays Words on a Friday) aren't actually short stories, although I will continue to call them that.
They are mostly "moments in time", some are "slices of life".
A descriptive passage that is or can be part of a whole story.
I sort of already knew this, as a few of you have sometimes commented, "write more, I want to know what happened", and this is good. It's encouraging.
But, (there's always a butt and I'm usually sitting on it), this is where I get stuck. I have no idea how to expand these pieces into a full story. This is why I am taking a class in creative writing.
So when the teacher started explaining what a short story actually is, I paid attention. And took notes.
A complete story encompasses characters, preferably strong and consistent throughout the story; a plot; some type of conflict; a resolution of that conflict. This is where I fall flat on my face. There hasn't been any conflict in my life, or if there has, I simply haven't noticed it.
I'm the quiet one over in the corner, remember? With my nose in a book so the outside world doesn't get in.
This means I have no idea, or not much, of what conflict is, nor how to introduce one into a story.
Resolution? That's easy, everyone apologise and live happily ever after right?
A plot? Hmmm, isn't plotting something governments do when planning wars?
You might think that with reading so much, I'd have a better handle on all this, but like I said before, my mind doesn't take in information easily and it is even harder for me to explain what I've read/learned.
So now I need to pay more attention to what I am reading and how the writer has structured the story. Instead of just enjoying the book. Sigh.
Getting back to what a short story is.....we start by learning that there is such a thing as a short short story, often called flash fiction, which carries 750 to 1500 words.
Already I'm in trouble. My longest piece has 634 words and is still only a "moment in time".
Then we have the short story, minimum 2000 words and going up to 5000 words.
The long short story covers 5000 to 9000 words and here we are getting into novella territory. I've read a few of those, they take a couple of hours to read and then you're done.
After that you get into book territory. 50,000 words is a small book, for instance the short Mills and Boon romances so favoured by most of our mothers.
A decent sized novel is anywhere from 80,000 to 100,000 words, roughly 400 pages.
My preferred size.
(One of the students has already written a book and is currently editing his third draft, wonder why he is there?)
We were advised that if we wanted to work towards writing and being published, we shouldn't be showing our first drafts to anyone, at which point I mentioned that my stuff is all over the internet. This is when I learned that since my pieces aren't complete stories, they're okay "out there".
It was mentioned that writing under a psuedonym was a good idea, so I lost track of what was being said for a moment (or ten) while I tried to think of one.
Another thing we learned is that readers will identify themselves with the character or the author and this is why many authors publish under initials rather than full names, thus remaining gender neutral.
The most important thing to remember is that every single person who reads your book or short story will have their own interpretation of what you've put down on paper. So you need to write with them in mind, not just for yourself. There is no point in writing something you love and understand if no one else can understand the meaning behind your words.
All up, quite a lot for a first night. And homework too. We'd read a couple of short monologues and decided whether they were stories or non-stories. (Non)
Our homework is to try and write a monologue.
It's optional, doesn't have to be handed in and won't be read out in class. When writing a monologue, we must try to envision the listener too.
Next week should be interesting.
Anybody know where I can buy a thinking cap?
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