All good quests need a map, and so do you. Not just any map, either – a treasure map, which will hide the plot secrets, lay the clues, and guide your reader through the dangers and dramas of their journey to a wealth of satisfaction at the end.
One of the first things you may have taken on board, as a new creative writing student, is that it’s not only poets who needs to pay attention to a beat or metre: all prose must have a rhythm – the rhythm of the words, sentences and paragraphs. During Part Three of Writing Skills, we look at speech– the spoken monologue, the interior monologue, dialogue within prose and dialogue as script.
A day in the sun at Hay…it’s one of the selling points of the Hay Festival – photos on the website are focused on people under sun umbrellas reading their latest purchase and drinking cool lager. This is a risky ploy for a Welsh summer event, but it paid off for the OCA posse that arrived at the festival grounds on bank holiday Saturday. We’d come for the culture, of course we had. We’d come for the literature, naturally, for the heightened conversation we’d enjoy with each other after sharing events. But the fact the sun was out certainly helped.
The concept of mind mapping may have evolved from the mathematical spider diagram, but, not being a mathematician, I wouldn’t know about that. What I do know is that by placing a single concept, in the shape of a word, phrase, or image, in the centre of a piece of paper, and using word representations, associations and memories to expand outwards, answers fall into place. This technique prevents you from losing those tiny peripheral thoughts that may be the nub of creativity, and encourages new ideas to drop from the muses.
You want your readers to be driven by emotion as they read, and in fiction it’s the characters who engage that emotion. For this to happen, the reader has to be trapped in a sort of magic…temporarily, he must believe the character is real. So how do you acquaint yourself well enough with your characters to fool your reader into believing they are authentic people?
In this monthly series of blogposts on Writing Skills (both the course and the subject) we’ve been concentrating on various aspects of Part One, making the most of early strategies such as employing speedwriting, using notebooks, compiling a commonplace book and learning how to ‘zone in’ when describing. It’s time to move onto Part Two of Writing Skills, which is all about character.