Monday, October 22, 2012

Course record

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Course Journal for Creative Writing

Since starting the Creative Writing Course on September rd 00, I feel my writing has improved in a number of ways. Within this course record are examples of how

1. My imagination has improved.

. My ability to scan, and seek out new material has improved.

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. My writing technique has improved.

4. My overall approach and direction to writing has improved.

In Block One Creativity and Imagination, we were given writing exercises in class, which lasted between ten and fifteen minutes. At first I struggled to put pen to paper at ‘the click of a finger’. Evidence of this is pretty hard to show, but over the last few weeks these particular exercises are now paying off. I have also been taught to carry a small notebook around with me. I tend to jot down most things from spotting an interesting looking person to an idea or line, which may come into my head. I have learnt to listen more and see more of the world that moves around me, and how to look at things in different ways and perspectives. One exercise was to sit for an hour and write down everything I noticed. I sat in a classroom and here are a few examples, taken from my notebook, of what I noticed

· Pencils being clicked in a pencil back.

· A student tapping on a desk with his finger.

· A student asking another student, “Was it good?”

· An old and dingy musky smell.

· A female student exposing her, ‘builder’s bum’ from behind.

· Zip bags being opened from all around the room.

· A group of girls cackling with muffled laughter.

· Some writing left on board from previous class.

These may seem like obvious things, when in fact I may not of noticed any of these things had I not been asked. But it is these sorts of sounds and smells that help to create atmosphere in a good story.

One of our early tasks was to write about a fictional character, mine was a security guard, and then create a dialogue with another character of my classmates choosing. I was paired with Gina, whose character was a Publisher. We communicated via email and met up to write a short story and dialogue regarding these two characters. This taught me the importance of different speech patterns and character behaviour. Through this particular exercise I have become aware of my speech patterns in writing about different characters. Here is an example

ANNE-MARIE

We have been communicating through e-mail. So, I have not actually met him. But the poetry he writes is absolutely wonderful. I’m here with a book deal.

Tell me, do you know if he is attached, or married even?

MARK

Erm.. no. No, he’s not married or anything. I believe his wife died about three years ago, and he has a little girl called Laura. She’s four.

I have highlighted some phrases that pick out a persons speech pattern. Anne-Marie will tend use phrases like, “We have”, rather then “We’ve”. Anne-Marie’s use of words, such as “Absolutely wonderful”, would not be something Mark would say.

Whereas, Mark may say, “He’s”, and not “He has”, “Little girl” rather than “Daughter”, is another example. These may seem subtle but extremely important. Observation of the smallest things can have the most significant results. ‘The Ultimate Choice’, a story I wrote, came from an idea I got from a magazine. It was a quote from Paul Merton about his wife who had just died of cancer. It made me wonder what would happen if we had more then one love in our lives who we promised to meet in heaven. Which love would we choose? Had I not been made aware of such insignificant quotes, headlines or any such other observations, then ‘The Ultimate Choice’ would not have been writing. Block One has made a huge impact on my perception of the world around me and can only be described as a success in its goal to awaken a writer’s creativity and imagination.

In Block Two Beginnings and Endings, we were taught about the construction of a story. I became a lot more aware of how a story develops and how to plot a good coarse from beginning to end. Being made aware of what seems the easiest aspect of a story, i.e. beginning, middle and end, is the foundation to any story. A good story may contain as little as 100 words or as much as 0,000, but both can have the same basic foundation. I have started to read and write a number of short stories in order to make this rule become second nature in my writing. ‘My Ordeal’ is a short story I wrote, which bears these elements in mind. A status quo, a disruption or conflict, and then a resolution, were the three things to bear in mind. The status quo of ‘My Ordeal’ was a man simple walking along a street. The conflict an argument he witnesses in front of him between two adults and a child. Within this characters own mind he has visions of being stabbed if he intervenes, that this man arguing is a vicious ex-convict.

He then decides to cross the road, in order to save himself, from a fate worse then death. The resolution his imagination has played tricks on him. The man was simply lost and asks him for directions in a very polite way. The woman and child are as safe as houses. Being made aware of this rule has made it easier for me to write with some direction. It was Aristotle who said, “Without conflict, there is no drama”. My stories in the past tended to lake conflict and direction. I shall be much more aware of it from now on.

In Block Three Building blocks in writing, we looked at different viewpoints of writing. In my journal I ended the one entrant by writing, “Looking forward to next week”. That’s how interesting I felt this section was. Once we have created an imagination and are able to find stories from all sorts of sources, we then have to obviously write them. Knowing from what point of view to write a story is probably the most important yet overlooked aspect of story telling. If we are not aware of the viewpoint or that one exists, it can be extremely difficult for the reader. Choosing a viewpoint, whether first, third, limited or omniscient, may be the hardest choice of all. In ‘My Ordeal’, I chose a limited viewpoint in order to stay inside the characters head. This will enable the reader to identify and empathise more easily with the character. Here is two extracts from a class exercise showing an example of first person and third person viewpoints

First Person A man in a funny hat lifted me up onto a shelf. He said he was a Policeman. He kept smiling at me, so I knew I hadn’t been a naughty boy. I told him I was three and a half and he put his funny hat on my head. It fell over my eyes and made me laugh.

This is the same story but told from third person viewpoint.

Third Person PC Collins lifted the small child onto a shelf in the police box. He kept smiling at the little lad, a trick he had learned to stop lost children from feeling nervous and scared. He asked the lad how old he was, in order to find out if the child had been reported missing. PC Collins could see the lad’s eyes start to well up, so placed his helmet on the lad’s head. It had the desired affect, the lad started to laugh when the helmet slipped over his eyes.

You can see how important it is to get the viewpoint right. I had never really given much thought to this process until I learned it in class. Since then I have experimented a lot with this process and found it to be very useful before I actually start to write.

CONCLUSION

Like learning to drive a car, I have found this coarse to consist of a lot more then meets the eye. I have realised just how many gears there are to writing and just about where they are situated. I now have to learn how to put all these elements together in order to have a smooth and successful ride. Like driving a car, I know it takes time to become an experienced driver. At the moment my L-plates are still on, but the experience of this first semester has been eye opening to say the least. I have been frustrated, inspired, baffled and then finally content, of what I feel I have learned over the last twelve weeks. I very much look forward to the second semester and struggling more with frustration and awkward bends in order to become a competent driver.

Bibliography

The Writer’s Workbook.

The Creative Writing Handbook.

The Roald Dahl Treasury. (Short Stories)

NOW! Magazine.

More Than Meets The Eye. Graeme Burton.

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