Saturday, August 4, 2012

Creative Writing Workshop - Week 1 and 2

Week 1 and 2 of the 6 week Creative Writing workshop at Oakridge (Future Author's workshop) are done and for those who wish to look in and perhaps get a feel of what has happened, here's a snapshot.

Week 1
The rules were that there were no rules. Participants would write and express themselves without fearing about the correctness of grammar and spelling - one of the main reasons why people don't write or express themselves is because of the ridicule or the feeling of 'being wrong'. Secondly, the workshop would lead them through the process of constructing a short story, so they understand the  mechanics of the story writing process.
The outcomes I look at from the six sessions are that of making them understand and use structure, laws of construction, sharing the process, making them write more and more fearlessly so they enjoy writing.

The participants were asked to do a free writing exercise about anything that came to their mind as to why they were doing this workshop.

After that the participants shared about their writing process, their reading habits, favorite books and authors. They wrote down their expectations from the workshop and their dreams and aspirations and dreams with writing. 

The purpose of why one is writing.
We discussed the purpose of why we write. To express. But it can also help to write well when we want to inform. What do you like doing best? Career options. Writers. Novelists. Journalists. Script writers. Screenplay writers.
Also how writing is a form of communication and how good writing helps in good communication. Basic tenets of communication. 

Understanding the basic tools of writing. 
Language. Grammar. Spelling. Imagination.
Words. Sentences. Paragraphs. Chapters. Sections. Books.
Creative writing 
Creative writing is anything where one expresses thoughts, feelings and emotions rather than simply convey information.
Fiction. Poetry. Biography. Creative non-fiction. We decided to create stories here.

The participants wrote about the story that impressed them the most. They shared and then they wrote it down in a few paras. After they did that they were asked to write about it in two lines. The gist of the story came down to two lines. 

Can we all create?
We all can. We create all the time. We create better if we create more. Honesty, courage, imagination, passion required. Most importantly clarity. Good writing is all about the organization of your thoughts. Writing is hard work. But satisfying. It is challenging, but fun.
Have you created anything yet? Would you like to create something? How often do you write? Participants shared their journey.
A novel or short story has its own laws of construction that one can learn. Knowing the laws can help write a good story and easier. Start small. (Not trilogies). A short story. A novella. Just get going, without worrying about the quality of the work you produce.

Step 1. Organisation of thought.
The process of - Prewriting (Topic, Main idea, Order), Writing and Editing

Step 2: Generation of ideas.
What are you going to write about? What can you write about the best? Write down all the possible ideas you think you can write on.
Possible segments to explore: Your interests. Things you know well. Things you feel strongly about. Things that bother you. Things you want to express.
Sit and write about which one attracts you the most. Can you write easily, will your pen flow? Can you write credibly, convincingly? Do you feel like you know that story and characters well? Get going on that. Don’t try to impress. Be honest. Write about stuff that makes you happy. Or that bothers you. Create the life, the endings you want. Write about fun things, about funny things, about dramatic things, about daily stuff. Me and my experiences. Stuff I feel strongly about. Need to get it out of my system.
Once you identify the idea on which you wish to write about we now move into the sharpening of the core idea.
Understanding the importance of the hook – the core idea.
The hook or core idea: What is your story about?

Tips for writers:
  • Write every day for ten minutes at least.
  • Carry a small notebook for ideas, NEW WORDS. Conversations, visuals, people, situations etc.
  • Find the best time to write
  • Don’t worry about getting it right. (Write first, edit and polish next, ask fellow writers to give feedback.)
  • Keep writing - small and big.

Week 2
Expanding the hook. Structuring the work. Developing the plot. Understanding the beginning-middle-end. Making broad sections and breaking them down. Development of characters. Importance of research and background information.

Recap what we did last week. Evaluating the work. Break the class into age groups of 10-12 and 13-16. 

Core idea
We re examined the core idea and discussed in groups of 5 which kind of a story was best suited for the story. Ideally stories one knows well, coming from experience were suggested as they were simpler. The groups discussed their hooks and see they were clear about the ideas presented.
For more difficult ideas, the importance of research and background information on characters and setting was discussed.
The core ideas were sharpened some more.
Structuring the work. 
Making broad sections. (one para each)
Beginning. (introduce main characters, their goals, the setting and the conflict (or what happens to challenge them and their dreams)
Middle. (Events of complications that arise in the path, characters deal with the challenge and change and grow, head towards the big conflict etc)
End. (The big conflict is resolved, loose ends tied up, end resolves and the cycle is completed).
Assignment: To write everyday for 10 minutes. To start with writing about humour.


Anonymous said...

Hello Sir,
Are there any plans for a similar workshop this year for young writers, kindly inform.

Harimohan said...

Dear Usha,
I am planning one soon. Could you mail me at and let me know more details.