Sometimes a writer skates on the surface of a story, or tiptoes around its edges, hesitant to dig into its depths. Or maybe she doesn’t recognize the markings of a vein, rich with possibilities. Another writer may know exactly where he’s going, but he’s in such hurry to get there he doesn’t take the time to slow down and look around. His story may move from plot point to plot point, but the piece doesn’t hold any surprises, for him or for the reader.
When we go into the deep, we are spelunkers exploring with pick-ax and headlamp, mining for treasure held inside every story. Going into the deep means getting beneath the surface of a character and a story (and a reader), texturing and layering through the use of rich description, employing narrative strategies, creating scenes and mini-scenes for dramatic effective and much more. This eight-session track is for writers of all stripes—fiction and nonfiction, crafters of novels and memoir, creators of stories and personal narratives. Each session will include exercises that invite participants to use their work-in-progress or to go free-form with ideas for character or story. There’ll be opportunities to read your work aloud and ample time for questions. Handouts will expand on the work we do together.
In the Deep: Mining Substance and Shaping Narrative consists of the following sessions:
- Deepening Character: Mining the three aspects of character; the when and how of character descriptions; the necessity of desire, yearning and motivation; how relationships affect character
- Deepening Story: Explorations of narrative strategies including POV, modular design, complications, suspense and curiosity
- Deepening Setting: How setting can create atmosphere and mood; the use of setting to ground the story and characters in place
- Deepening through Time: How to use flashbacks and backstory while keeping the forward motion of the story; pacing—when to slow down and when to leap
- Deepening Through Scene: When to use scene and when to use summary and how to get from one to the other; the value of exposition and the power of emotion
- Deepening through Description: How to “show, don’t tell” (and when to “tell”); eliminating the clichéd and creating the fresh and unique; writing descriptions that move (motion pictures vs. studio portraits and painted landscapes)
- Deepening through Details: Little things mean a lot; the use sensory details to bring place and characters alive; writing the concrete, not the abstract; how details arouse emotion
- Deepening through Language: How your make your sentences is how you tell your story; creating voice through diction and dialogue; the effects of imagery, metaphor and simile
Staffed by Judy Reeves
Judy is a writer and educator with more than 20 years of experience as a workshop leader. She is the author of four books on writing, including A Writer’s Book of Days, named a “hottest book for writers” by Writer’s Digest magazine. The other books are Writing Alone, Writing Together, A Creative Writer’s Kit, The Writer’s Retreat Kit, and The Lively Muse Daily Appointment Calendar For Writers. She teaches creative writing at UCSD Extension, holds private workshops, and speaks at writing conferences internationally. In addition to her work as a writer and writing provocateur, Judy co-founded The Writing Center, a nonprofit literary arts organization and San Diego Writers, Ink. Her latest, Wild Women, Wild Voices, will be published April, 2015 by New World Library.