Friday, January 28, 2011

Creativity Exercises to Keep the Inspiration Going

Inspiration is never as abundant as we'd like.  Here are some exercises to help you find inspiration when you don't exactly feel like writing.

Day 8 - We Can All Be Writers

As writers, you've each progressed in setting up real conflict for your characters and building the tension in your stories.  For our wrap-up day, we'll focus on the longer-short-story workshop and some techniques to keep the writing going long after you finish the course.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Day 7 - Character, Narrative, and Plotting

The interplay of character and conflict is crucial for the development of tension and plot.  Today we talk about the different types of protagonists and how they determine the direction of the plot.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Day 6 - Writing the Coherent Narrative

Plots - be they linear or nonlinear - must still be coherent.  Regardless of how strange or outlandish our stories may become, we still want our readers to understand what's going on and why.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Day 5 - Short Story Workshop

Effective stories come out through the interplay of conflict, character, and details.  Here are some areas to look for in the stories you'll workshop today.

Day 5: Short Story Workshop

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Overcoming Adversity: Breaking Hands and Mending Stories

I didn't always relate typing versus handwriting as a question of code-switching and language learning. Here's a bit about my personal journey from Palmer-Method scribbler to dedicated touch typist.

The Neurology of Writing: Training the Hands

Neurons aren't science fiction: they are the metabolic fact of our consciousness.  And the ways we use them help determine our progress as writers.

Day 4 Lesson  /  Learning to Write:

Writing and Language: Training Yourself to Write Better

As a writer, you want to make yourself "ready" to write.  And this is no different from mastering a foreign language - just as you'd want to be ready to communicate with a visitor from abroad, you'll need to ready to share your story on the page.

Day 4 Lesson  /  Learning to Write:

Reading to Absorb the Language of Writing

For writers, reading extensively provides more than just knowledge and perspective - it's part of mastering the language of the written word.

<--Day 3   Day 4 Lesson - Writing Plot - Day 5-->
Bradbury's Important Habits: Writing and Reading

Monday, January 17, 2011

Day 4 - Writing: Conscious of Myself and Others

This week we kick off with Solaris to get us in the mindset for considering consciousness.

<--Day 3   Day 4 Lesson - Workshopping Plot - Writing Habits - Day 5-->

Ray Bradbury on Writing Persistently

Ray Bradbury discusses the persistence which led him to write stories rich with personal meaning.

Day 4 Lesson  /  Learning to Write:

The Short Story Workshop - Writing Your People

The short story workshop is your opportunity to write whichever story you wish to share.  Be it science fiction or childhood, a ghost story or a mystery, write the kind of story you've always wanted to write.  Read on for guidelines and tips.

Please Note: the Deadline for this assignment will be 9pm on Wednesday.  This is a hard deadline - this is to allow your classmates enough time to read and comment.  I recommend posting your story earlier if it's ready.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Hard and Soft SF - What's the Nature of Your Change?

We like to differentiate between science fiction and fantasy, yes, but then we carry the differentiation still further into "hard" versus "soft" SF.  Does the story depend upon the "hard" sciences of math and engineering?  Or does the story instead examine the more psychological aspect of the human condition?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Day 3 - Science Fiction: Introducing the Magic

Yes, here it is, the day you've all been waiting for: turning these stories about human beings into wild tales of rampant adventure.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Memory, Action, and Plot

Memories provide more than just information - they change our characters.  We are the product of our memories.  And in well-written, character-driven fiction, those memories will change the ways our characters behave.  And this, in turn, makes them critical in the development of your plot.

Memory and Investigation

Part of today's focus is on using memory as part of the process of discovery.  In fiction, our characters will often need to learn and present "new" information to the reader, but there are many different ways one can bring these memories to light.

Day 2 - Plunging Into the Past

Today's focus is on using past events to change the way our characters behave.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Day 1 - Science Fiction and You

Our First Day is focused on introductions, distributing the syllabus, a general course overview, and writing exercises to put us in the right frame of mind for Writing The Human.  I cannot, however, promise the absence of bloodthirsty velociraptors from the classroom setting.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Telling the Story: Point of View

In fiction, we have several choices of narrator, and you should decide which narrative voice to use based on the needs of your story.

Point of View - Choosing Your Narrative Perspective and Scope

In science fiction, the point of view (POV) of your narrator determines a great deal about how you convey facts and events to the reader.

Story versus Plot

If you've ever written a flashback or a distant memory into a story, then you've already experienced the difference between Story and Plot.  As you write, you'll use plot as a tool for telling the events of the story, and it's important to note this distinction during our discussions...

Memory and Information Control

Memory: the facts of the past colored by present perspective.  In fiction, the memories of our characters not only reveal their backgrounds, but also the ways their personalities have evolved over time.  Yet we must take care in the timing of memories in the narrative.  By controlling when individual memories appear in the narrative, we directly affect how our readers perceive the course of a story.

Solving the Plot versus Exploring the Soul

Fiction is a delicate art.  "Pure" fiction - the kind of literary works that focus entirely on the exploration of human nature - is by nature unpredictable.  Genre fiction, in contrast, is sometimes seen as a kind of mechanical stepchild.  This perception is due to the somewhat artificial rules of the genre writing - just as mysteries require criminals and romance novels demand lovers, science fiction lives on robots and aliens while fantasy is carried on the backs of dragons.

When writing stories set in the alternative realities of speculative fiction, we must be careful that the so-called "rules of engagement" genre don't blind us to the primary goal of quality fiction: revealing a deeper understanding of the human experience.