Thursday, 12 November 2009

Using the course

I'm amazed at how much I'm using the course even with kids. 'Show not tell' is becoming the mantra for me when writing with them. I'm using the poetry all the time: not only did I write about 50 lines of full rhyming iambic pentameter for one of the plays but I'm working on lyrics for a song in dactyls. (That's Tum ta ta, Tum ta ta for anyone who hasn't done the Fry book!) Meanwhile, I've written about six or seven short stories but none of them are suitable for TMA02. So I analysed them and found - because I've been writing to 1200-1500 words for so long, I'm stuck with what to do with the extra words. They start to look like padding when I take my plot and stretch it to 2,200 words. Basically, 1200 or 1500 words isn't enough to go beyond one story arc (although I squeezed one into 750 words for TMA01) and 2,200 seems a bit short for subplots. So I need bigger plots in the first place - big juicy three handers, perhaps, rather than two handers, or two or three scenes. So, I'm looking at drawing on a draft of a plot I sketched out as an exercise for plotting novels (I really don't plot; I find characters and they lead me into a story). Basically, the first chapter of a novel, but taking out the big story arc and leave the subplot that starts in chapter one. Then somehow finding a resolution for it.

Two years ago I wrote a novel about a woman coming back from a life threatening assault, trying to find herself in the story of the attack, which had become bigger than she was, just when she had felt diminished by being ill and weak for a time. I could have some fun with this perhaps, reconnecting her with her own autonomy, which tends to drift away in hospital. Perhaps her defiance can be her resolution, as she works on her own agenda, not the therapist's. I like to see clients starting to disagree with you, as a therapist, finding their feet again.

The OCA assignment is due in the end of November, so I need to get on with that. The idea from my TMA01 would make a great radio play, and that's where my tutor and I were going. Today, we discussed filming (and me writing a screenplay) in the Chaucer, so working on dramatic media is very timely. I have the A363 book to work from as well, and my colleague and I will have to storyboard the thing. Fortunately, she is very visual and kinetic with her imagination, I'm wordy and practical, so hopefully, we will work it out! All this hard work feels like the NaNoWriMo that I didn't think I had time for - and which would have been less words! I wrote 8000 words in the last three days... Oh, and I did I mention, if you are considering doing A215, that Stephen Fry's book is a brilliant start to debunk all the scary structures, rhyming and metred poetry? An Ode Less Followed. Seriously builds confidence in non-poets. Section 3 on the course is great for creativity, but leaves you a bit unsure about where to go next... Fry makes you listen to the music of poems. If you still resist the book (and yes, there's not a lot of contemporary poets in it), take one piece of advice from it: read out loud, really slowly. If you can't hear any kind of rhythm or sense - read it again, out loud, even slower. It works. For those people who are addicted to new poetry, look again - lots of poets write in metres of some sort, even if not completely. And as for archaic forms: villanelles are everywhere.

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