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Saturday, 11 February 2017

HANDOUTS FOR OMEGA CREATIVE WRITING COURSE SPRING 2007






Theme for this Term:    Realizing


This is an important theme because it is ALSO a way of thinking about the overall form of a piece of writing.   A story or a poem very often ends with a moment of surprise when the reader, or a character.    In a popular story, or in a detective novel, the reader is kept from knowing how things are going to end, who the guilty person is,  until the end.   The cunning writing can even lead the reader down the garden path a bit by giving him the idea that it’s Christina who’s the vampire, when it fact’s cunning Mark.    In other kinds of writing you find that often the writer him/herself suddenly realise them thing as they write:  that’s why I’m fascinated with goldfish!    Or the writer may make a character look into the complicated mesh of branches against the sky and lead us to think, yes, problems can be like that.  

If you remember the narrative structure diagram I gave you (version of it below), the last part of it is the ‘resolution’ and it’s this that presents the ‘realization’,  which needs to be a surprise of some sort because the story otherwise would be boring;  we’d have guessed what was going to happen.

Often, of course, realization works at a more personal level when we, or the character we are writing through, realizing something about him or herself.     This is what we mean when we say that writing is a kind of learning.   And it’s the best kind of learning because we have done it ourselves.  

The story structure was created by Labov, originally, to describe oral narratives, but has been used for written work as well.  We also need to bear in mind that it applies to non-narrative texts too, of you alter 'situation' to something like 'thought' or 'feeling'


STORY STRUCTURE

An ordinary situation
husband and wife having supper at home

The ordinary situation is upset in some way
She tells him she's got a lover.   They are about to run away together.

The upset creates a problem
What will be do?   Not only is he heartbroken, but his wife is very rich.

The main character tries to deal with the problem
Next evening at supper he tells his wife he has murdered the lover   

The problem is resolved (not necessarily solved)*
The wife rushes to the lover's house and finds him dead and rings the police.
The husband has resolved his problem.   However:.

The resolution is not what we expected
 We realize and she realizes that she has fallen into a trap left by the husband that will lead 
to her being accused of the murder.




*The attempt to deal with the problem can lead to further problems which have to be dealt with, thus lengthening and complicating the story


















A child 
       realizes. . .
T
Write something in which a child realises something.  Something about nature, Mummy, adults, caterpillars, him/herself

In The Wizard of Oz Dorothy realizes that the wizard is in fact a fake.     In The Ugly Duckly, the duckling realises he’s a swan.






Week Two One

Realising they’re human.


Write something in which
someone who’s always seemed

very cold and distant shows that

they have feelings, which you
hadn’t suspected.

People are sometimes brought up ‘not to show their feelings’ or they may be insecure and fear to ‘let their guard down’,  and they may be trying to conceal their feelings from you for some reason.   Inability to show feelings is often seen as a male characteristic because ‘boys don’t cry’.   But that doesn’t always hold.  

Scrooge – has a change of heart





Week Three

Realizing they’re not so stupid, or weak after all. . .



Write something about a person  who  seems in some way ‘inferior’.   But then something happens that shows  different

The elephant has no time at all for the stupid scuttling little mouse until one day something gets caught in the elephant’s trunk and he needs someone delicate and small to get it out.

The old woman insists on sleeping in the garden shed.   One night the house burns down.


The posh schoolboy jeers at the garden boy every time he goes past but one day finds the boy was become famous for his roses.

Wife grows tired of her boring stay-at-home husband, and when she’s out enjoying herself and gets kidnapped, who ends up as the hero of her rescue?

Or David makes us realize that with God's help and some cunning the small can defeat the big



                      




 

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Baby: creative writing, Omega Centre




A Baby





Write about a baby.    A baby being born, or a baby just born - yours or someone else’s.   Or imagine the experience from the point of view of the baby.
Or write about caring for a new baby, or watching someone care for him/her.

Think about:  the sounds,  what the sounds are like.  The wrinkles, the angles of arms and legs, the inside of the mouth, movements against you, fearsome vulnerability, toes, 

Saturday, 5 November 2016



A CHILD'S VIEW OF LOSS




Children experience loss in many different ways and at  hugely different levels.    He or she may lose a doll, a friend, a home, a parent,  innocence, a place at college, respect, ability to do things, health.

The ugly duckling, like many folktales popular with children, dramatises different losses.  Loss of parent’s love, of sibling love, loss of respect, loss of self-confidence, self-esteem.
Yes there is a seemingly ‘happy’ ending.  He finds that he is not a failure, but a different kind of success.  

So that’s okay then, is it?   Mum and Dad love him then because?  It would be interesting to write a story or poem about the Ugly Duckling reflecting on his life when old.  What does he think of his treatment as the misfit, the ‘other’,  the runt,  the ‘different’ one?   Has he ever recovered ‘inside’? 


Or the story could be a meeting between the Swan as he is now, and one of his aging, perhaps dying, parents.   


Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Omega Group Summer 2016

Overall Voice       







 


Think of a person under the pressure of some emotion.   This is to give overall atmosphere and tone of voice to the whole piece you are going to write.  It could be a short speech, poem, story, letter, prayer.


Decide what the speaker is upset about, scare of, worried about, pleased about, etc.   Describe the situation as he or she sees it, but make the language match the feeling.  Don’t just describe or narrate ‘what happened’ or ‘what’s wrong’,  express it through the person’s feelings.   The speaker could be you, a memory.  But you might find it more useful to adopt a role,  imagine yourself into a character’s character and attitudes, and make him/her speak as if you were an actor but writing.



Thursday, 3 March 2016

Hiding from Danger

A child being chased by a weirdo in the woods

A wife hiding from a drunk husband
A husband hiding from a drunk wife






Hiding a secret to avoid being caught and sacked, or hurt.

Hiding from invading soldiers

Friday, 22 January 2016

January 22 2016




Discovering something
about a Loved One


An obvious way of doing this would be to go in for some ‘guilty secret’, but of course it the secret could be something they’d kept out of modesty, or because of the pain talking about it causes them.   Or it could be just talking to someone and finding the joy of intimacy with them, confiding things, being trusted with their thoughts.

Suppose you found that your mother had once worked as a trapeze artist in the circus?    Or your father had a medal for bravery?   Or at last you’ve found someone whom you can tell about a really terribly embarrassing experience in your youth?

Sometimes we find out things about loved ones after they are dead, perhaps going through their things.  We might find some simple thing like a cheap present you bought for them one day the seaside, but kept ‘for ever’.  

There are awful things too, of course, a letter from a friend, never sent, but confessing  they had never really loved you, but stayed out of ‘friendship’ or duty.    You could build a story out of this, going through the celebration of an anniversary/funeral,  friends, speeches, gifts, and then this discovery right at the end.



Monday, 18 January 2016

CHILD DISCOVERING GARDEN

Spring 2016



This terms' work is on Hiding, Finding, Discovering.  We take these literally but also metaphorically.  We find an old wedding ring in the mud even when we were not looking for it. We search for a lost wedding ring very deliberately and never find it, but we discover something.

We hiding ourselves.  We find ourselves,  or somebody else.    A story always has something hiding in it.  And then the author leaves us to discover what it is at the end.   A poem has a truth which we find as we write it.  

Think of this them, a young child exploring a garden or a wood.  They have never seen a stag beetle before, or an earth worm, or a mole hill, let alone a mole.    All these things are as new to the child as they must have seemed to Adam and Eve.   One of the skills in writing is to make what seems ordinary no longer ordinary.  To make it suddenly fascinating and strange.




Child Discovering the Garden



Write what it’s like for a child to discover things in the garden or some other  outdoor place.
You need to describe the strangeness of what the child finds, becauset o him/her it’s  as if they’ve just be created

This is an exercise in observation, noticing, and hence

FINDING