WRITERS WORKSHOP

Discussion in 'Online Classes - Be a Teacher!' started by Alkebulan, Jun 3, 2007.

  1. Alkebulan

    Alkebulan Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    for now, this will serve as the place to locate all materials & discussions pertaining 2 the writers workshop

    topic 4 sun june 3 : premise - what is it & how is it used n a novel?

    please join us n voice chat.

     
  2. Alkebulan

    Alkebulan Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    summary of Premise discussion

    PREMISE - it's the reason u r writing what u r writing.

    it's the core, heart, soul of what u r writing. real life can b, @ various times, frustrating, chaotic, illogical, fantastic, & sometimes apparently meaningless; or, @ even worse times, full of useless suffering, pain, & even tragedy. and yet, we, most of us anyway, crave order, logic, & a rationale basis 4 events. ur premise is what sometimes separates gr8 fiction from real life. most of real life doesn't deliver a clear cut messege of meaning n each segment.

    we went over som examples: the godfather; the old man & the sea; a christmas carol; the spy who came in from the cold;

    the premise of ur story is primarily a statement of what happens to ur characters as a direct result of the core confict in which u hv placed them.

    avoiding the overused, overgeneralized premise:

    -strangers r not trustworthy
    -poverty is bad
    -wars kills people
    -life is good
    -existance leads 2 death
    -life is too short

    the 3 C's of premise:

    character; conflict; conclusion - all must b present & harmonious as an integral part of the premise. a gr8 premise contains an element of character, which thru conflict, leads 2 a conclusion. ex: a coward goes 2 war & becomes a hero; a brave man goes 2 war & is shown 2b a coward. so what we hv is a dramatic story, n which there is this transformation of ur character via this crisis; the premise is a succicnt statement of that transformation.

    we also discussed 4 characteristics of gr8 novels

    1 Immersion
    2 larger than life characters
    3 altered perceptions
    4 powerful stances


    in our next writers workshop, we will discuss plot

    hope 2 c every1 there



     
  3. Alkebulan

    Alkebulan Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    assignment #1

    as promised, here is the 1st assignment 4 writers workshop. it should b completed & ready 4 discussion on sunday, june 17.

    please read each of the following paragraphs carefully. they r all opening paragraphs from either short stories or novels. which ones do u feel hv the best opening hook? please rank them from best (@ the top of ur list) to worst (@ the bottom of ur list) & com prepared 2 explain y u placed each n the position u did.


    Here I am flicking through one hundred and fifty channels, in search of something entertaining to watch. That was a common ritual with me, since cable television came on the scene. The discovery channel . . . one of my favorite stations. "The Cotton Gin" a documentary premiers tonight at eight o'clock. Hmmm, that should be interesting. I remember when I was a child my daddy told me about the cotton gin . . .


    She sat still in her cell with a blank expression after being asked whether she felt any remorse for her crime. Her lawyer advised her to answer positively in front of the judge in order to receive leniency. Taniqua’s expression remained unchanged. The corrections officers arrived at thirteen hundred hours to escort her to the courthouse. Her lawyer departed with a smile and gesture of endearment and told her he’d see her again in the courtroom.


    Like ta tell a story if I might. That is, if you’ll humor an old man fer a minute. See, near everybody’s got somethin’ ta tell. Some folks blab it right out **** near soon as it passes through their ears. Others hold it tight til they’re right fit ta bust. Well, I ain’t held mine quite so long and I’ve let bits n’ pieces float off now n’ again. But as I’m gettin’ on in my years, I think I should tell bout what I learnt. Somebody other’n me outghta know.


    When I was a child of no more than four years old, I remember living in the basement of my grandfather's house. We lived in a small midwestern town and the part of town my grandfather lived in is called "mexico". Why it is called Mexico, I do not know. Mexico is a predominantly black area and was known for all kinds of trouble, from gangs to whorehouses. There were two black owned bars there, where adult blacks throughout the city would come to party, drink and have fun. After I got older, I would be afraid of walking through Mexico.


    The bullet in Art's chest, just under his collarbone, reminded him that he was still alive. It hurt like hell. He had been shot in the face and chest had lost a lot of blood, but he still had feeling in his limbs. As a former scientist, he knew this was a good sign. If he could just stop the bleeding, he might - just might - survive. His eyes tried to focus on MediSup sign, flickering for dear life after sustaining its own barrage of gunshots. Steady, Art. Concentrate. Stay alive.


    I remember sitting there, watching him. I sat on the edge of the bed with my legs pressed against my chest and my chin resting on my knees. He always laughed at me when I did this, said that it made me look so adorable. He made me feel like an innocent little girl all over again, and I loved him for it.


    Sam leaned back from her keyboard with a sigh. She ran her hands through her hair and looked at the screen. It doesn’t make sense, she thought. There’s something I keep missing but I wish I knew what it was.


    They had gotten in a fight. They had never gotten in a fight before. They were soul mates after all, she and he. They had been together since the beginning of middle school, and they were just now reaching their senior year in high school. Seven years of being together, sharing experiences, and knowing one another more intimately than if they were just friends. They had never gotten in a fight in all that time, but this once almost turned violent. Such was the viciousness of the dispute. The girl lay down on her bed hugging her favorite teddy bear, sobbing gently into his soft fur.


    The past is forever with me and I remember it all. I now move back in time and space to a hot summer's night in July 1966, to the study of my old home in Shanghai. My daughter was asleep in her bedroom, the servants had gone to their quarters, and I was alone in my study. I hear again the slow whirling of the ceiling fan overhead; I see the white carnations drooping in the heat in the white vase on my desk.


    Somewhere between June Cleaver and Hillary Clinton, I seem to have lost my way. Divorced for twenty-three years now, a single mother since what seems like before dirt, last night I woke up alone. I stumble reluctantly from my threadbare, hand-me-down past and out of bed, to take my final bow as Queen of the Damned. I have been consumed. I look like Arnold Schwarzenegger as this war-weathered, cigar-choking Leatherneck choppers me out of what's left of the steel-gray nuclear jungle in Predator. My head throbbing with the acid spin-cycle rhythm of the chopper blades. The years swallowed up, no roses thrown at my feet.


    Erik Barnes hated math tests and just like every other year, his teachers all felt like they had to give tests right before the Christmas break. Until recent events took first place, nothing struck fear in his heart as much as a math test. He did not hate the tests exactly, but how his performance on them disappointed his father and his teacher that really got to him. Mrs. Jenkins was a nice teacher, and he truly tried to do the work, but it never seemed to come out right. His failure was now her failure and she seemed to take his failed efforts worse that he did.


    Many years ago the people of the planet Earth set out to conquer the stars and in their flight they discovered many planets to live on but they never once found any evidence they weren’t alone in the universe until they found the planet they called Home, a beautiful welcoming planet which contained the ruins of an ancient civilisation and the promises of mysteries for those brave enough to take up the challenge of settling on a new world.


    Emma gazed out the window of the small, "regional service", twin-engine turboprop. It was a high-winged plane, and from her seat near the back, she could barely see the engine and the blur of the propeller. _Just like me,_ she thought, _running in circles so fast that I've become invisible. Maybe that was the problem. I was just too busy..._ This morning, a mere seven hours ago, her unremarkable life fell apart in spectacular fashion.


    Derek Tanner closed the screen door quietly so he wouldn't wake either Mom or Nate. Mom had kept him busy until after dark last night, unloading the car and the U-Haul. Now that she wasn't telling him what to do, Derek wanted to see if any kids lived next door.


    Had my first spell on a weekend. That first spell, as we used to call them, happened just as I come into my teenage years. When I told mama about it she said if I kept having them I would have to go to the doctor, so I stopped telling her. When I told uncle Richard, who lived only two houses away from us but was almost never home, had a good job with the railroad but always seemed broke, he stopped his whittling and looked at me in a way I'd never seen before. He told me a story about a West Indian woman who practiced the voodoo and had been a rival of my mama's for my daddy's attention.


    keep n mind, 4 this assignment, there r NO wrong answers. :)


     
  4. Alkebulan

    Alkebulan Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    reminder

    now that we hv our own thread - thanx 2 sistah DESTEE (thanx again sistah Desteee), i jus wanted 2 remind folks that the opening hook assignments are NOT due 4 this sundays class, but the following sunday.

    also, our topic 4 this sunday is: PLOT - what is it & how can we improve it n our writing.

    hope 2 c u all there. :coffee:

     
  5. Alkebulan

    Alkebulan Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    "good morning", he said, sleepily
    "good morning", she said
    "breakfast ready?"
    "no, what would u like?"
    he considered. "how about som ham & eggs?"
    "okay", she said agreeably. "how do u want ur eggs?"
    "sunny side up"
    "okey-dokey. toast? i've got som honey wheat bread. makes wonderful toast"
    "i'll give it a try"
    "okey-dokey. how do u like ur toast?"
    "golden brown"
    "butter"
    "hmmmmmm, o k"
    "jam?"
    "fine"
    he sat down & read the paper while she made the breakfast.
    "anything n the paper?" she asked as she worked.
    "the red sox lost a double header last nite"
    "too bad"
    "now they're 8 games out of 1st place"
    "terrible. what r u going 2 do today?"
    "i don't kno, i haven't thot about it. how about u?"
    "the grass needs cutting"
    "i'll do it"
    "after u cut the grass, lets go to the park & have a picnic lunch"
    "okay"
     
  6. Alkebulan

    Alkebulan Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    character development

    our topic 4 this sunday will b character development.

    we will select a genre & construct a character from scratch & watch as he takes shape on paper.

    we will discuss how 2 develop a well rounded character & what it means 4 a character 2b "3 dimensional"; y is that important? (f it is)

    "it is the character's motivations that produce conflicts & generate the narrative tension ur novel must hv f it is 2 succeed n holding the readers attention"

    is that tru?

    join us n class sunday @ 6pm (eastern) 2 discuss this aspect of fiction writing.

     
  7. Alkebulan

    Alkebulan Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    workshop 6/24 material

    'twain has a difficult time meeting as many females as he would like b/c of his work schedule, but b/c he is a recent hire, is forced 2 work the least desirable shift. eventually, n spite of his mothers encouragement 2 "find a nice colored girl", he falls 4 a puerto rican woman, elena, a waitress at a cafe near where he works. his longing 4 her is intense, but even when he manages 2 meet her & has regular amicable discussions w her, she is reluctant 2 go out w him b/c of her familys objections. '

    twain is desirous of impressing her with gifts & wants to upgrade his car 4 the same reason. his mother, patricia, feeling almost desperate 4 $ b/c she just paid 4 her middle daughters, alice, overly expensive wedding, begins playing the # s regularly & asks 'twain 2 place her wager 4 her, so she can avoid her hairdresser (flo), who ribs her about not coming n more often 2 hv her hair done. flo, 37, has the hots 4 twain, 22, & her gr8 legs combined w his sexual frustration at not being able 2 get w elena, lead 2 him bedding flo, his mothers hairdresser. flo convinces twain he cld make some ez $ by taking a 'route', i.e.: become a bag man or runner 4 the # s. all he has 2 do is keep her satisfied & go around collecting the accumulated bets from 'a few' drop off spots & take it downtown.

     
  8. Alkebulan

    Alkebulan Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    character development - continued

    i'm spending a 2nd wk discussing characters b/c i believe thats what makes a work of fiction most memorable n the minds of most readers. a hi octane plot is diminished precipitously w/o credible, larger than life highly developed & rounded players 2 make it meaningful. n short, gr8 c's r the key 2 gr8 fiction.

    we talked about that whole 'larger than life' aspect last wk, but, as a reminder, basically, when a fictional C exhibits qualities that r out of the ordinary, we say that they r larger than life. the C's n ur story will not engross readers unless they r out of the ordinary. f u think about it, how cld it b otherwise? n real life, ordinary ppl do ordinary things every day. how much of that do we remember? on the other hand, n life, as n fiction, when ppl act n ways that r unusual, unexpected, dramatic, decisive, full of consequences, & irreversible, we remember & talk about them 4 yrs. here's something 2 keep n mind: most ppl read fiction, not jus 2 c themselves, but 2 imagine themselves as they might b.

    when we recognize ourselves n a novel we feel gratified. we crave stories especially the intensely intimate form of story called the novel, b/c a novel, uniquely amoung art forms, presents powerful points of view, strong conflicts, & possibly a helping of human life that affirms a higher truth. C's n gr8 fiction may seem realistic, appear average even, but n almost every case, they will b bigger than the adverse circumstances they face. they refuse 2 simply suffer n silence, they strive 2 overcome. they do not practice interminable patience - they act. they don't merely survive - they thrive!

     
  9. Alkebulan

    Alkebulan Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    w fiction writing, struggle is far mor compelling than satisfaction. conflict is still the 1st principle of plot construction &, implemented correctly, it will b an immense aid 2 u n developing gr8, memorable C's. and, as u construct those nearly insurmountable forces aligned against ur protagonist, remember 2 include a generous amount of inner conflict as well. mix both of those n2 a tangled web which will leave ur readers wondering which, f any, of the mounting problems facing ur protagonist can b delt w successfully, & n what order. this brings me 2 another important aspect of creating ur conflict, referred 2 n literary circles as: the bonding principle, or, keeping ur C's n the cricible. i want 2 pause here & ask f any1 is familiar w this principle, or, heard of it b4?

    well, according 2 "the science of playwriting", by moses malevinsky - published way back n 1925 (when i was only 10), the crucible is the pot or the furnace n which the drama is boiled or stewed. it is, he writes, "1 of the most important aspects of the drama's organic structure". all he's saying w that statement is, think of the crucible as the container that holds the C's 2gether as things heat up. the crucible is the bond that keeps them n conflict w 1 another. C's that r bonded 2gether n som manner won't simply suddenly make a truce n the middle of ur story & call it quits. they can't quit. usually, w exceptional writing, it is the motivations or ur C's which form the bonds of the crucible. w/o a crucible 2 contain ur C's, there can b no lasting conflict; absent any lasting conflict, there is little drama.

    wheneva u place ur C's n a crucible, ur protagonist & antagonist, each 4 their separate reasons, r committed 2 continuing the conflict till there is a final resolution: they finally get married - or divorced; the war ends, @ least 4 ur character; their long journey ends, etc. lets look @ an example, from a submission i was given 2 edit & critique.

     
  10. Alkebulan

    Alkebulan Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    cancelllation

    un4tunately, at the present time, i am unable to stay n the chat room for any length of time b4 my screen locks up & my keyboard freezes. i will b unable to conduct writers workshop till i get these issues resolved.

    i'm working on resolving this problem - but 4 now, till i get som stability n the chat room - i must regretfully, cancel writers workshop 4 sunday, 7/1/07 :SuN026:
     
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