Writer’s Log: 2158 Writer’s Workshop

In my desire to learn to write well, I’ve decided that I’ve reached a point where my limited skills can be shared. So, I announced that I will be offering a Writer’s Workshop at my place of work; a couple of hours, after 5:00 pm on a weeknight within our same building (so that people can leverage their commutes). Half a dozen folks have already signed up.

I’ve reviewed my various “Writer’s Log” posts here as well as the compendium of advice I’ve received from various others (all dumped into a big-ass GDocs file) and reduced my syllabus down to the following list you see below. This list is a teaser I printed on strips of paper to hand out. The actual syllabus is a slide-deck of this content with examples and illustrations.

I’d like to solicit opinions from the writers in this group as to what you’d care to teach a set of neophytes on the task of writing well. This specific list comes directly from my own stumbling blocks upon which I skinned my shins repeatedly.

WRITER’s WORKSHOP

POV
Point of View

TENSE
Past & present

DIALOG
People act while speaking

ACTIVE vs PASSIVE
Was & were

CONFLICT
Bad things happening to good people

STRUCTURE
Nested story, chapter, scene, paragraph, sentence

TIME
Sequential, episodic, flashbacks

PROCESS
How to write: Plan, wing-it, a blend

TOPICS
Genre, Theme, Story, Plot, Characters, Setting, POV, Tense, Dialogue, Scenes, Conflict, Pace, Active vs Passive, Narration, Description, Show vs tell, Protagonist, Antagonist, Tone, Mood, Style, Voice, Diction, Device, Allusions, Red Herrings, MacGuffins, Hooks, Climax, Conclusion, Denouement.

 

 


36 thoughts on “Writer’s Log: 2158 Writer’s Workshop

  1. There is so much here to leave alone.
    However, ignoring this and “going with your heart” is bullshit – So
    Given the vast repository of educational and “leisure” reading material available “technical writing,” as in “useful techniques,” abound. One should be aware of them if one gets stuck. Not as in “writer’s block,” but the proverbial writing oneself into a corner. Whether it’s a scene or chapter or global plot corner. At that point it is imperative to have a (self or otherwise taught) bag of awareness and editing skillsets to get out of the corner. The inability of many teachers, authors, experts to explain those invaluable assets and when to know you need one is a proverb awaiting MEME status.
    Find/get/use a resource book to go by unless educational clinics are your forte, and you have this shit down cold. Neither of which I would be inclined to believe. Because if you are “teaching” and leading and proofing and advising one of our brothers why did (their) latest open with two redundancies and a blatant antilogy? The beauty is our minds read through most of that shit. Editors and publishers do not. That could be chalked up to the old you can lead a horse to water thing, but…
    Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The “ground level” skills were those I lacked. And it showed. As I mentioned to Audrey, my exhaustive reading, prior to my writing start, did not prepare me at all for what skills I needed. Most of the books on writing don’t address those fundamental capabilities.
      Rest assured, I’ve got a number of your recommendations in my slide-deck. You realize though, most of yours are up-level type advice; post hour 1000 (min) type stuff. Sure you can instruct folks in those advanced guidelines, but most of it won’t stick until they get the muscle memory of ground-level writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Who do you think you are? Do you consider yourself better than me? Why would you even think that would be a good idea. All those people that signed up are in your head, right? OK, I realize that maybe you and I have not reached that level of intimacy. My apologies. I was trying to be funny.

    Like others have mentioned, I, too, would like you to record your lessons.Plenty to learn.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. *Claiming* interest and showing up are two, vastly different results. Those who’ve claimed they’ll participate may indeed all be a figment of my imagination. When I initially considered this enterprise I found myself conflicted. Have I surpassed my delusions and entered into my world-dominating maniacal phase? Alas, it may be so. The recording of such a calamity would be entertaining, certainly. But only for a few minutes until the reality of my failure became evident and the embarrassment overwhelm any viewer. Ye gads, the fool recorded his own coup d’état.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Perhaps. However, I read thousands of novels before I wrote my first and failed to link reading to writing. The mechanics, style, technique, and execution of writing never entered my mind — until — I intentionally thought about what I was reading was the result of a task I could understand and master.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I’d clarify my above statement and say that until one is ready to read critically, that reading itself won’t add to one’s understanding of good writing.
      However, after one has built a foundation of literary understanding, analysis of all writing becomes second nature. We’ve discussed this on your blog. And at that point of basic level acumen, reading excellent narrative can truly change how you, yourself write. I fully agree.

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      1. I think there’s a form of absorptive reading that isn’t really analytical. It’s more a matter of repeated reading of favourite books, purely for pleasure. Of course it doesn’t hurt to think about (analyze) what it is about those books that’s so captivating. And maybe people don’t re-read as much as we did in pre-internet times.

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    1. A rolling wrist, bowing waste acknowledgement of thanks for your vote of confidence. I’ve considered it. The logistics are sketchy, the audience—reticent.
      The company, at once an engineering & tech & manufacturing S&P500 enterprise, on “track” to “rail” against the coming economic crisis (geeze, when’s the next recession gonna show?).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Take the bows. I’m surprised that employees at tech companies poised to “change the world” are interested in old tech like writing. Passe, is it not? Anyway, “just discovered” that UTUBE has all sorts of interviews with famous writers talking about how to write, etc. Been listening Stephen King, and he describes himself as a big pantser. I’m no Stephen King, but the videos are great! All FYI. Good luck with the classes and whip out that iPhone for the video!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The workshop won’t occur until Feb 4th. I’m drawing up my slide-deck in the meanwhile. I watched the whole Brandon Sanderson series. All good stuff – but not really ground level — what I intend to communicate.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. That #3 of my intro:
      1) Writing is a skill, it can be learned.
      2) Your writer’s voice will become unique; follow advice for a while but gather the experience to strike out on your own.
      3) Grow a thick shell. Criticism is a love/hate relationship, you need tough love; false praise is worse than scathing critique.

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      1. #4) Be advised, progressing down the path of learning to write will alter your reading experience. At some level of prose expertise you will begin to critically analyze all that you read. Your tolerance for schlock will vaporize. What you could have been happy reading years ago will now seem drab, disorganized, rudimentary and you’ll slap the book closed. The man behind the curtain will be revealed and you will never be able to slide it shut.

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  3. Good idea! I find it difficult to give technical writing advice since everyone has a distinct style, but there is one thing I tell anyone who asks: be courageous, in both fiction and non-fiction. If a certain scene, line, character makes you uncomfortable to the point that you’re hesitant to include it, then that’s exactly what needs to be included — unfettered, honest and ideally, extremely, even humiliatingly personal. All of my favorite things I’ve ever written were chock full of very uncomfortable admissions — whether from me in the first person or through the voice of a character.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. When you say “technical writing” are you referring to actual technical writing? Or writing technique? I ask as true technical writing is one of those skills I’ve had to learn and excel at in my capacity as a software developer.

      Developing one’s own voice does indeed take courage. “Is this my voice or is this me writing like a noob?” Only hard work will allow you to answer that. Writing uncomfortable scenes, whether due to emotion, violence or ethics, truly is one of hardest parts of the process. Does it make you cry to read it? Angry? Sickened? Depressed? Good, you’ve done your job. (Of course, if you intended happiness when you delivered hatred, you may still have work to do.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was referring to writing technique. Another reason I’d find it difficult to teach such a thing is because if I do indeed adhere to one or more techniques, I’m usually unaware of what those are, beyond obvious, sweeping ones like “this is satire” or “this is horror”.

        Liked by 1 person

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