Tag Archives: Gotham Writers’ Workshop

Character: Casting Shadows #3

First and foremost, I must apologize for not writing much this past week or so. I took a final trip home to wrap up the summer and bring my puppy {who isn’t a puppy anymore at almost 8-years-old} back with me to my apartment. My father has been dog-sitting for the past four years. Once I got back, I started school and work and blah blah blah still no excuse for not keeping up with everything. But here I am & ready to write.

We’ve already determined a character needs to have a driving force–a desire. They must also be able to come across as relatable and multidimensional. Now we are focusing on a character’s ability to change. As Reissenweber points out, it is almost essential that the main character have the ability to change and evolve.

“Just as the desire of a main character drives the story, the character’s change is often the story’s culmination. While a main character usually does change to some degree, either dramatically or in the more gentle form of a realization, this does not mean your character actually has to make a change at the end of thee story or that the change has to be whole and complete.”

The reader should be able to feel the character has the ability to undergo change, however. You don’t want the character to feel predictable.

Your Turn:
Return to the character for whom you have created a desire and contrasting traits. Time to bring this person to life. Write a passage where this character is pursuing his or her desire in some way. For example, perhaps the actress is traveling to an audition to which she was not invited. (Oh, yes, it’ll help tremendously if you put some obstacles in the character’s path.) You don’t have to bring this “quest” to a conclusion, but have something happen that allows both contrasting traits to emerge and also try to include some hint that the character is capable of change. That’s a lot of juggling, so don’t worry if it comes out  a little clumsy. 

You’ll have to wait for the next post to read my passage {is it killing you?!}!

Write a passage with me!

What obstacles will your character face that show them to be dimensional with the ability to change?

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& so it begins…

I’ve decided to go ahead with the write-my-way-through-a-creative-writing-book idea.

The book:

Gotham Writers’ Workshop

Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide From New York’s Acclaimed Creative Writing School

Last night, I got re-acquainted with the book {I’ve had it since high school}. I read the “From Gotham Writers’ Workshop Founders” first. I learned that the workshop has turned into a large operation with hundreds of instructors and thousands of students each year.

When I discussed my idea I met some heavy criticism, which I wasn’t expecting. I was told “you can’t teach talent. You can either write or you can’t,” and another said “The only way to write well is to read.”  I was thoroughly  shocked at both of these responses. Yes, you indeed can’t teach raw talent, but you can certainly foster, refine and improve your skills. Then, of course, reading absolutely makes you a stronger writer, however, I’ll have to argue that reading is the only way to be a good writer {calling BS on this one}. Though these responses to my {what I considered brilliant} idea were unexpected, they did make me realize these people were completely unfounded in their criticisms and just wanted to discourage me for some reason or another. Mission incomplete. Discourage me and I will do anything to prove you wrong {I’d like to thank those who didn’t believe in me or my idea. You were a marvelous inspiration and I couldn’t have done it without you}.

To my surprise the book agreed with me:

“Simply put, we believe anyone can write. We believe writing is a craft that can be taught. True, talent cannot be taught, only nurtured, but the craft of writing can be taught. We’re devoted to teaching the craft in a way that is so clear, direct, and applicable that our students begin growing as writers during their very first class.”
 

From “How to Use this Book”:

“You shouldn’t just read your way through this book, but write your way through it as well. After all, you’re reading this book because you want to write….You shouldn’t worry about turning these exercises into brilliant works of fiction. Rather you should simply focus on experimenting and having fun with the task at hand.”

{That I will!}

Now that I am confident my idea/experiment is on key and in harmony with the purpose of the book, I was ready to get started. Not so fast. Before diving into chapter one, I first had to read the short story Cathedral by Raymond Carver. The book references this short story quite often.

Cathedral is a great short story. As it turned out, I liked it a great deal. I won’t go into great detail in case you’re interested in checking it out yourself {recommended}. But, it is about a man who is visited by his wife’s blind friend. He is horribly uncomfortable with the idea and doesn’t know how to go about interacting with someone with a disability. You almost hate the guy from the beginning because he is so ignorant. As the story progresses, his point of view becomes more and more enlightened as he learns about the blind man’s abilities. The shift in the way you feel about the almost ignorant man is incredible. That is what I would like to achieve with my writing.

I’ll jump into chapter one as soon as possible.

Excited to move forward!

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