I guess all good writing like all successful visual art has to start with observation. Maybe, that’s too sweeping because sometimes we might start with imagination. But I would still maintain that imagination has to feed on observation.
Getting the child’s voice right in writing for children is easier than using a child narrator, or child’s eye view in free indirect discourse when writing for adults. If you have a child narrator in adult fiction, you have to decide if the narrator is looking back with hindsight or whether they are pretending to still be the child they were. There are plenty of examples of both of these approaches and some narratives that fall between the two extremes.
Join OCA tutor Liz Cashdan on the 19 November in Bristol.
“Online teaching gives the tutor time to read and think deeply about the student’s assignment, none of which is possible in a workshop.”
In the news recently, Anthony Horowitz reveals that his editor has warned him off writing a black character into his next book. As he comments, that would be a pity, because if he only wrote characters that he represented himself, he would be restricted to 62 year-old white, male, Jewish men living in London!
A good many students look upon the Reflective Commentary as a nasty trap set by module writers and tutors to catch writing students unawares….
How far should our writing be political, social, polemical? That’s a tough question for all creative writers whatever their genre. If we’re writing about people, places, events we can’t really avoid any of these even if they are not among our prime intentions.
Whatever our specialisms, as writers, visual artists and musicians, we should all be indebted to John Berger for his strong and thought-provoking ideas. I particularly like the way he called himself a listener and a storyteller.
Many students in their commentaries explain that they changed some word or omitted a phrase “so that my writing would flow better.” And as tutor, my comment is usually: “What do you mean by flow?” I think it’s a dangerous word.
As I left the exhibition I passed an advert screen headed Mindfulness suggesting viewers should attend evening sessions to find out how art can “calm body and mind.” What! I want art, whether it’s visual or written to stimulate body and mind, not calm it.
I’m always amazed when students who have probably mostly grown up with the rhythms of pop music in their ears, say they can’t detect strict rhythms in the poems they read, or reproduce those rhythms in the poems they write. But perhaps if we don’t get used to rhythms through hearing and reciting a lot of nursery rhymes from day one, then it’s harder to recognise and reproduce strict metre when we come to write metric poetry later in life. Without continuous practice from birth onwards we may well lose our sense of perfect pitch and our sense of rhythm.
So often students write in their commentaries that they switch from third person to first person so they can really be inside the head of their character. But that is not altogether a wise position to take up as an author.