This is my reflection to our most recent experiment, PLAY 002 | NaNoWriMo and Other Challenges, in which I learn a lot about some of my previous outlining ideas. You can find an intro to our reflections over here, along with links to others’ experiences during November 2016.
Here’s an important fact about me: I stink at storytelling.
I don’t struggle to write. When I have an ongoing project, I write every day. Maybe not the NaNoWriMo-approved 1,667 words, and sometimes not even the Chuck Wendig-approved 350, but I get some words on the screen. I’ve worked hard to cultivate that “thinking comes later” attitude that Luke mentions in his comment on Madeline’s Play 002 post. Continue reading “It’s a Bit Formulaic, Wouldn’t You Say?”
Last month, I wrote a section of Charlotte’s Journey that is told from the perspective of our villain, Count Vilnius. When we eventually assemble the jigsaw puzzle and put all these sections in order, “A Vile View of Vilnius” should be the second chapter dealing with our big bad, but in draft format this section was the first time Luke and I had privileged access to Vilnius’ thoughts. It was also the first time I had a chance to write the character at all.
The constant refrain when writing Charlotte’s Journey has been “do something simple very well.” The simple part is so that Luke and I are working in a frame we’re familiar with. The very well part is there so we challenge ourselves in that frame. Although I’ve encountered a number of difficulties writing Charlotte’s Journey, writing Vilnius was perhaps the most difficult so far. As it result, it may also have been the most rewarding. Continue reading “Writing Wrongs: Doing Right by your Villain”
Although I would give Harry Potter and the Cursed Child a bit of a mixed review overall, I’d still say that I liked it. Perhaps my favourite part of the play has nothing at all to do with the actual content, though. From the release of The Prisoner of Azkaban on, I have had a Harry Potter tradition. After reading the new book in a single sitting (unless I had to sleep for a few hours), I would immediately turn to The Philosopher’s Stone and read the entire series through, including the new addition. I never expected to be able to preform this ritual another time, and I’m grateful Cursed Child exists simply because it gave me a great excuse to spend a couple weeks with my nose stuck in some of my favourite books. Continue reading “Harry Potter and the Perfectly Plotted Novel”
A few weeks back I posed myself a challenge: on a trip into Algonquin Park, I would spend my morning writing ritual doing so longhand and compare it to my usual experience writing by keyboard. It was an experiment in response to an (on-going) conversation James and I have about the skill, and it was quite eye-opening—just not in any of the ways I planned. Continue reading “Reflection | PLAY 001: Longhand Jam in the Woods”
There is an important piece of writer’s advice floating around out there. You’ve probably run across it before. It’s on most writer’s advice websites, written on blackboards of creative writing classes, it’s on the lips of writing instructors, shaved into stationary cats, and probably written in the stars themselves:
Show don’t tell.
I’m not fond of this advice. Sure, at its heart, it has a valuable message. In simplest terms, show don’t tell encourages a novice writer to do more than simply report a series of events. To show is to encourage the readers to have a visceral, emotional, and empathetic reaction to what they are reading. A writer of creative fiction should do more than just report what happened like a newspaper article. The trouble is that while creative writing instructors are busy carving the words show don’t tell onto every pebble on a beach, they have failed to notice that the novice writers have not learned the important part of the lesson. Continue reading “Abyssinia Henry: The Power of Telling”
“Writing is a dog’s life, but the only one worth living.”
— Gustave Flaubert
They descend upon the site, recalling last session’s twists and turns, some reenacting key moments, others content to smile like a conspirator before revealing their theories for tonight’s installment. They banter and question; probe and dissect. A tense excitement hangs in the air. Tonight promises to wrap up loose threads, and reveal the shadowy presence of the next arc. The group makes their way through the dark to the single glowing flame, barely more than a spark, that burns in the centre of the fire pit. Each has brought a log of wood, and the telling will only last as long as the wood burns—though its impact will linger on long into the night, the next day, and beyond.
As the group settles into the circle around the fire, the wood stacked within arms reach so as to not ruin the rhythm of the telling, the Storyteller appears silently from the darkness. There is no ruckus to proceed the Storyteller’s coming, no fanfare to follow. There is the fire; there is the circle. There is the Story. Continue reading “Why Does the Shaman Need the Fire?”