Take this year’s SnoValley Writes! writing class in the comfort of your home or local cafe’ courtesy of FVP Featured Author, Casondra Brewster.
This year I’m teaching a class called Level Up Your Writing through the writing organization I founded back in 2008, SnoValley Writes! in conjunction with King County Library System (Washington). These free classes take the adult student writers through much of the technical stuff any MFA candidate has to do — the whole deconstruction process as it applies to key components of writing and all the included literary devices any word crafter has in their collective tool box. In addition to understanding all those things, the students have to practice it in their own work.
When FreeValley Publishing asked me to contribute to their blog here, it seemed natural to provide another place where other writers could access the Level Up Your Writing learning track. So even if you don’t live in the Cascade Foothills where SnoValley Writes! is, you can take these lessons and do your own craft mastery workshops.
Level Up Your Writing – Lesson 1
The class starts with picking out a book by an author you admire and a story you love. Anyone who has gone through the MFA process may say this is cruel, but we’re taking a lighter approach than one may experience in a typical creative writing masters course. It’s certainly cheaper this way.
Of course you get out of it what you put into it. So start with re-reading your beloved classic and reading it as if you’re not only a writer but an editor.
Having a book that you own, and can reference as a text, is important to learning to read as a writer. As you read you can ask yourself questions like: How might you have written a scene differently? How might you have changed things up? Where is the writing strong? Where is it weak?
Next, examine the outside of the book. Do a writing exercise on why you picked up the book — introspection is the key to learning the whys of what you do and what that means about your person, in this case your writing life person. Answer these questions:
- What enticed you to pick up the book specifically?
- If the book was recommended, what appealed to you about the cover?
- What part of the book’s jacket copy appealed to you? Are there specific words that pull you in? What devices does the author employ to pull you in via the jacket?
- Before reading the book, what part of the story piqued your interest the most within what’s included in the text of the book jacket?
Next think about your own writing. If you have a particular body of work, say a novel, or a collection of poems, or even writings on one non-fiction subject, how would you do the same?
More next time in, Lesson 2: Continuing the DeConstruction Process – Reading like a Writer
Casondra Brewster – All Rights Reserved
In a mere 15 minutes the other day things went from a normal drive home to near chaos. Not much fun when commuting, but absolutely critical when writing. Creating conflict – putting your characters in peril or moral dilemmas or perhaps threatening their relationships – is key to keeping pages turning.
Miss Livingstone’s story has been entertaining to me as a writer as well as to readers partly because she seems good at getting herself into jams, and rather creative at getting herself out of them again. Many of my characters struggle with inner angst or subtle conflict, but her circumstances are dire, like suddenly finding herself on the deck of a dirigible, flying through the air, or so far back in time the sheer number of years incites terror.
The beauty of snowfall on trees is lovely in poetry, but for a story, give me a blizzard!
snow photos by Sheri J. Kennedy – All Rights Reserved
Describing a character can be a tricky business, especially if they are a main character and you want to get them just right. FVP Featured Author, Victoria Bastedo shares a tip:
I find my story from the inside out and I like to reveal my main character that way too. Exposing who the person is and how their life situation entwines their footsteps is more interesting to me than listing the minute details about their appearance right away. Imply what they look like as the story goes on. Drop a few hints here and there, they seem to be tall, or redheaded, since the other characters refer to them so. Finally let them look in a mirror and reveal the flash of their face- but in that glance in the glass also show their inner vulnerability and bring them back into their convoluted situation. Making them human is always more attractive than making them pretty. ~ Victoria Bastedo