This was a departure from the normal Writers’ Circle meeting. It was an all day event – 10am to 5pm. There were 19 attendees. The material I had prepared applied to short or novel-length fiction.
I began with character, offering a few ideas on creating the character, the description and backstory. Interestingly, while devising the various character backstories, several relationships will crop up to strengthen the storyline and possibly create sub-plots. This was followed by a writing exercise where everyone had to write about or describe a character. They were a varied bunch and many came alive so much that we wanted to know more about their stories! Then it was time to discuss plot and theme. Some stories are plot-driven and others are character-driven but we all agreed that without conflict, the plot and story would be flat.
A number of attendees read out their previously prepared stories. A few needed to pay more attention to showing rather than telling the story, but without exception all involved the listeners and several definitely need to polish and submit.
The lunch break stretched, doubtless due to the availability of wine… We then discussed scene setting and how to use a scene to increase the dramatic elements. Then it was time for dialogue. A dialogue writing exercise followed and everyone seemed to handle this very well – which was very heartening as often new writers find that dialogue is the hardest aspect of fiction to master.
I emphasised that narrative flow is very important and will help the reader and suggested ways to achieve this. (For example, start every new paragraph with a different word, as above…) I covered Point of View and closed with Beginnings – since the beginning of a short story or novel may alter once the piece is finished. Beginnings are important, obviously, as they are designed to hook the reader.
Perhaps more time could have been devoted to writing exercises, but reading the resulting prose would have eaten into the day’s schedule too. On the face of it, this should have been a long day – but I felt that it tended to fly by and everyone appeared to enjoy the experience.