The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Digging up Bones, pt. 3

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I was accepted into The Fictive Dream, a fiction writing workshop at Northwestern.  An MFA student wanted to run a workshop to fulfill some graduation requirements, so the word went out and interested parties were encouraged to send a work sample and vow that they’d be available for the eight weeks the workshop would be meeting.  Cool with me, I thought.  It’s a chance to be back on campus, another chance to work on my fiction writing chops, and it wasn’t going to cost me anything but my time and effort.  Plus maybe I’ll meet some more cool writers.  There are eight of us total, plus the workshop director, who is a published Chicago fiction writer.  Somebody had to sacrifice himself the first week of class, and I accepted.  I threw out “Anthropology,” which is what I’ve been writing about in this serial (and that which I have been working on since last spring).

The piece was definitely ready for workshop, and now it’s in that purgatory that exists for pieces you’ve sweated over quite a bit but that still need to be sweated over quite a bit.  Overall, I need to expand the story.  There are characters that need to appear, for one, but more importantly there are characters that need more screen time.  Motivations are unclear, and can only be made clear by showing the characters in action.  For me, this means dialogue.  My characters have to speak more.  The workshop coordinator has said several times that dialogue is the truest indicator, the best proof of what you need to show a character.  I’m not sure I agree 100%, though I do agree that it’s very important.  And I’m not surprised that I got that comment since I try to find ways around dialogue more often than not because creating it is one of my weaknesses.  But when you workshop a piece, you lay it naked in front of everybody.  They’re going to see the flab, the scars, the parts that you’ve neglected.  So no surprise there.  Working on some dialogue in two keys scenes in the story is also going to help me establish more conflict, which is another areas several writers found lacking, though I meant the piece to be more of a character study than anything and didn’t concern myself too much with conflict.

Regardless, I’m not going to ignore the feedback.  It’s all substantive and intended to help me craft the best piece possible.  That’s why workshop exists.

But how much time and effort do I want to put into this?  As evidenced by this serial, I run hot and cold with the piece.  The problem with that is that if I start running cold with it, then I might lost all the insights I have flying around in my head right now, or other things that might strengthen the story and stitch up a number of loose ends.  I see all kinds of things happening with the story right now, things that can build it into so much more.  But do I want to make all that effort?  I’ve been flipping that question around since Saturday when I spent several hours going over all my workshop feedback and taking notes (in addition to all the notes I took during workshop).  I suppose I’ll make all that effort and see what the hell happens.  If the story grows wheels, it’ll go somewhere.  If it doesn’t, then I’ll toss it on top of my Mount Everest of unfinished work and call it practice.  Either way, I can’t really lose.

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Written by seeker70

February 20, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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