Thursday, May 19, 2011

A writing exercise and how it worked.

The first class of my new session was last night. I had so much fun! One of the things we did was use this blog post from Kidlit.com - specifically Melissa Koosmann's take on Harry Potter: good telling and how that complements showing. The exercise: we pick a word out of my trusty bag, take a moment to daydream the image to describe. Then we come up with a telling sentence. This can be bland and boring. Contrast it with the showing if possible. Then detail the image. Timed: 10 minutes

It was more prescriptive writing than we normally do in class and was a little hard to grasp at first. Here's how it worked for me: My word was "coughing." My sentence about it threw me right into a voice and I spent too long telling, but once I realized, I got to showing. It was cliched but interesting for me to approach a beat like that, setting up the purpose before choosing the details. Afterward we all read and discussed. I learned as much from examining others' attempts as making my own. Ryan's topic sentence worked really well. His word was "nighttime." A bland sentence about a job. Followed by details of nighttime and secrecy. It gave his showing immediate meaning and drama. His paragraph described a robbery.

Another purpose a style like this might serve is to plot scenes. Could a series of these "topic sentences" provide a framework to the whole emotional arc of a character or reader to which I can apply the showing details after? I want to try.

I learn so much from my class. :)