Friday, 26 April 2013

Character Running Out of Steam?

I had the pleasure of working with dramaturg Michelle Temperley, who helped me with script development. One of the characters in the piece I was working on was stuck somehow and a bit two dimensional. She suggested, in order to bring the character to life, I imagined what they were doing during the half hour before the scene they were in. That was it for me. The character filled out, got busy again and was off.

Not only did that exercise help with what I was doing then, it has helped since.

Any time you're stuck with your writing, think of what was going on before, in a character's life. I use the idea in classes too. The newspapers are full of reported local and national incidents. Imagine some of the people whose faces end up looking at you from a page, the houses, the bombed areas, the charity functions and winning goals. Try placing the key people in these scenes in the private and unreported parts of their lives, in the half hour before the events they were involved in,  to better understand their character and motivation.

Have a go. Just jot down a few notes at first and see what you get.

Thanks Michelle. Lovely memories of Oldham Coliseum play-writing workshops.

What do you do when you're writing and you run out of ideas?

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

womagwriter's blog: Good blogs

Good blogs: A few links for you today - firstly a couple of blogs whose owners have been kind enough to host me while I wibble on about Ghost Stories an...

Inspiring Short Stories - Once, in Golders Green... Rohan Kriwaczek.

Introductions can be difficult for people. When I begin a creative writing course with new learners I ask them to give their name and a few details about what they're reading. This keeps the introduction session brief but informative and doesn't leave anyone feeling exposed. It also gives me an idea of who reads and who doesn't. Most of the people I come into contact with are reading at least one book; some have a stack by their bed. Any non readers get an instant book recommendation list, and sometimes generous group members loan or give books.

I don't believe good and regular writing can happen without good and regular reading and I'm ready for anyone who laments that they don't have time. Time is precious. This is where the short story comes in. An anthology should have a variety of styles and perspectives, possibly around one subject. A single author collection might have a range of stuff from one marvelous mind. And a short story can be read in a lunch break, on public transport, in a coffee shop...

My reading is done in bed. I'm usually tired and nodding and it's not unusual to wake up with my face squashed into a book but the point is that a short story is a manageable chunk of reading. Do as I do and go to the library and try a few collections. On line you can get hold of three story collections by established and brand new writers. Pocket novels give you a good read with less commitment than a novel.

My latest bed-buster collection was Once, in Golders Green... short stories by Rohan Kriwaczek. A series of stories, some linked, that give an insight into the lives of modern Jewish individuals. Funny, insightful, informative...just a few words to be going on with. It did what books do and let me into a world I have no connection with and people I wouldn't have otherwise met. I stayed awake for all of them!

Do you know of any other collections of stories set in one area?