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Monday, 19 March 2012

Friday, 16 March 2012

Course, Week 5 - nearly there

Some more excellent advice in the week's course notes, all taken to heart. Two very pleasing critiques received from fellow students, with one describing my half-finished work as 'monumentally creepy' - just what I was aiming for, fortunately! Submission this week was the finished story - not necessarily in its final form but showing how it all works out, and I did that, surprising myself with incorporating a death - and I've never used 'creepy' or death in a story before. So something is changing.
         Another task was to produce a shorter story from scratch in one go, which I have done. No idea where the story came from, apart from a memorable (for all the wrong reasons) moment in my mid-teens involving a spider. The story just, as they say, told itself. 
         Now both of these stories need some going over. I have emailed them to our gas fitter! He is a keen reader, especially creepy, and asked if he could see them.
         The final week will involve critiquing by and for each student - I expect everyone, like me, is bracing themselves. This is a good course, stirring up the waters and producing surprising results.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Short Story Writing Course - week four

All exercises duly completed, including providing feedback on two anonymous part-stories. One was difficult to visualise because the characters' physical positions in relation to one another were not clear. I could visualise the characters themselves, though, and there was a great twist at the end of the plot summary which I didn't see coming. The other posed a mystery from the start which hadn't been revealed in the text so far but which set me trying to guess; well written and the secondary character easy to visualise but the main character still mysterious. Don't yet know if we get to see the finished works.

A short story to be listened to online - very strange and dramatic, marked changes of pace - slow, then building to fast, and then dream-like slow pace allowing something frightful to be followed with dispassionate interest. Looking at characterisation, and how dialogue illustrates it, in this module, getting to know my characters more deeply and realising I haven't done this sufficiently in the past.

Definitely feel that I'm stepping back and looking at the short story in a completely different light, as well as realising the need for something a lot more intense than before. But beginning to think I could do this.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Week Three

So on to week three of this short story writing course. This looked at how to leave blanks in the narrative to allow the reader's imagination to work, another aspect I'd not really considered before.

There was also a short story from the tutor's own collection; chilling, but with a feast for the senses coupled with never actually mentioning the most important fact about the characters - this is worked out by the reader towards the end. Another example of the principle was in the link given to a prize-winning story, which again left me with a sense of satisfaction but wishful thinking about my own work.

The piece to submit was further work on the short story begun earlier. Having distilled the points from the two critiques, and absorbed the 'lesson' of this part of the course, I deleted some weak bits which didn't move the story forward or which told too much, tried to keep just the one point of view, and adjusted expressions which had tripped up the critics. By the time I'd done all the other exercises, I got round only to progressing the story a little further, and submitted it in the hope of more positive, less negative feedback this time.

I do get it, and realise how meandering and flat my earlier work has been. Spurred on by this, and by hearing that one of our Southampton Writing Buddies, Jacqueline Field, has just been shortlisted in the Writers' News competition (as well as another of her works being runner-up in one of their comps about 3 months ago), it's onwards and upwards at the half-way stage of the course.