Monday, April 26, 2010

Creative Writing Session #7

Our session this week was in a different location. We talked about how to reorganise with this in mind. No longer do we have a whiteboard. Perhaps an easel, if we need one. I was pleased that we had one man come back -he'd been absent for a few weeks. Another joined the group. I am up to 5 participants.

In the new room
How will we change? We worked out changing the times. With the late sunsets, it is not so bad driving home. I just have to be careful not to hit deer or moose on the way home in the dusk.

They are all counted at several times during my sessions, I tried working out my timing around this. We thought we would go later in the evening.

Describe your room
I asked them, first, to describe their rooms. This is interesting, as they are in an institution, and all the rooms are the same. One finished the assignment with 3 words: boring, beige...I forget the 3rd!  Of course, if they weren't incarcerated, this wouldn't happen, but I thought I might work this premise to determine how they each dealt with the assignment.

We persevered with this task, and I asked them to remember the 'S' words. Each man has uniquely placed his personality in the room by decorating it a certain way.

While they were writing, I brought out a little gift bag in which I had placed several items: keys, a small feather, a die, a medal, and so on. And I walked around the tables and had each man pull out an item, which he had to incorporate into his piece of writing. It was a hoot! It really called up some creativity from their writing.

One man's goal is to improve his narrative descriptions, his dialogues are fabulous. Another is wonderful at descriptions of surroundings, and wants to work on dialogues. We shall see!
I went around the participants, and asked for volunteers to read what they had written. As ever, unique. One began with self-depracating language, and I said it isn't a competition, that all are at different places in their writing, and that we valued all of them. 

Ways to develop character

This was a bit of a review/add on. We added some ideas: how important naming can be, as well as what we day or don't say. Point of view.


—DASH, comma, where to place "quotation marks", and the handout included some info, as well as a brief worksheet.  (See handouts, lessons 71 - dialogue, Atwell)

The really bad words

SO, absolutely, yeah, just, kind of, all, sort of, big, little, totally, completely, quite, very, definitely, really, would.... I dictated the list, and suggested that they refrain from all of these words!
Sometimes, one man pointed out, it fits for a character, but he admitted that he often finds he has used one word over and over in the course of a first draft!

Lesson 20 - Atwell

 This generated a bit of a discussion around writing with a dictionary beside you. Most do not have regular access to a word processor/computer, they must bargain with other inmates who are playing solitaire on a computer. We suggested that one writes more quickly, and the ideas flow more smoothly if you give yourself permission to do a first draft with no monkey mind controlling thoughts about the quality of the work. I prefer doing a first draft on paper, with a pen. You have to figure out what works for you, incorporating music, writing alone, writing in a group, using prompts.

I realised that not all had read their quick piece of writing and I determined to figure out how to fairly honour their wishes NOT to read their work, while pushing it as an expection. I came up with a great idea, and bought a talking feather at one of the Wahta stores. I will use it go make the passing of the sharing flow smoothly around the table, with a simple act. While I was out walking I found a red tailed hawk feather, which I added to my talking stick. How serendipitous.

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