Sunday, April 13, 2008

Writing needs a community

On Friday night I had the wonderful opportunity to get together with a writer's group that meets in my area. It is composed of young people, most of whom are interested in screenwriting. I had met them a year previously at a film camp, and one of my best friends remained connected with him. Having reached a point in my life where I actually need more social interaction, I finally made it to a gathering.

It was a really fun night. Besides talking about an upcoming film project (and Prince Caspian!) we also took the time to complete an exercise in description writing...it was really fun! The five of us all wrote a paragraph or two and then we read them outloud to each other and commented on them.

Then we started plotting out a story...it started with a person sitting in a tree...and grew a lot...I'm looking forwards to finding where it goes next!

Writer's groups, of course, are hardly new. We all know that the group "The Inklings" nutured the genius of such writers as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Charles Williams. But, sadly, I think a great many young authors these days either a) have no group or b) are too shy to share their works.

Feedback is important. I have one good friend (who is a very talented writer) who is very hesitant about revealing her work to others. However, she and I are both very comfortable with exchanging ideas, and both of our projects have benefited greatly from having an outsider's opinion.

Even if you don't have a writer's "group" (though it's easier to start one than you may think), I would still highly recommend having a trusted friend or family member look at your work. They may not be a good "critic" but they might be able to give you some good ideas about plot and character development. (some of us get ideas from younger siblings...they can be pretty sharp sometimes!)

Anyhow, I'll sign off with a my description from the other night, to give you all a brief taste of my narrative style.

NOTE: we weren't suppose to write the emotions, only show the situation. Usually I would say something like..."her face was sad..." or "her steps were heavy." The challange of this was to describe those feelings without telling them.


She walked along the shore, a few feet away from the breaking waves. She was avoiding the water, although she was barefoot and the day was warm. The sand beneath her feet was damp and hard, and her toes left no impression to remember her passing.

The sun was just past its peak- lunch hour, the hottest part of the day. A dozen half-completed sandcastles dotted the shore, waiting for their constructers to return when the air was cooler. One, in particular, rose imposingly over the deserted beach, clamoring to be completed.

The girl stopped and stared at the sand castle. It was tall, perhaps four or five feet in height. Scattered around it were milk jugs and plastic cups. There was also a large pile of drift wood, hinting at a structure beneath the immense mound of sand.

Curiously, the girl moved towards the castle. It was on the other side of the tidal line, a barrier indicated by dried seaweed and sharp brown shells the size of her hand. As she passed the line, she stooped to pick up one of the brown shells. She weighed it for a moment, still staring at the castle.

A laugh came from one of the distant condos. She shook suddenly and dropped the shell, her resolution gone. She returned to the waves, this time letting the water bury her feet.

2 comments:

Amanda said...

A writer's group sound's like a lot of fun. Unforunatley, at least among my friends, I am the only one who is considered to have any writing talent! *sigh* They have such low opinions of them selves. I like their writings! Hmm, maybe I could persuade them into something...

It sounds like you had a lot of fun!
I enjoyed the paragraphs you wrote, they piqued my interest, and left me wanting to know more about this girl.

Although, I don't think my siblings will want to give me critique, because when we do writing class together, they end up getting mad at me because of the sentances I write. (I like what they write, but they seem to think I am some great writer, so they dislike it. ???)

Elenatintil said...

Mmmm...you could try to convince your friends that a writing group would be a good way for them to grow their writing skills...I'm in a rather interesting predicament, since right now just about everyone I know is experiment with writing. It's kinda funny, actually...

My brother doesn't like to read my stuff either. I think it's a sibling thing. (Although my sister is a sweetie...)

Thanks! I'm glad the paragraph intrigued you! Hopefully my novel will as well when it gets finished...