Saturday, 5 June 2010

Slowly getting there!

I have a short story that I have been developing for three years. That's a hundred and fifty odd weeks, a ridiculous number of times I've gone back to the same two characters and asked, why doesn't this (quite) work? So I paid my money and sent it off to Writer's Forum, to see what's fundamentally missing. I also sent it off to my OU tutor, who gave it a good mark but wondered if it might be better for a stronger, more dramatic opening.

Anyway, the reviewer liked the story and used lots of lovely phrases like: Very good - you drew me in from the first word (about the title and opening). Excellent dialogue, you know exactly how to use dialogue to move the story along and add to character development. And my personal favourite - An emotional story dealing with big issues. I liked it very much and it gripped me completely. You write well with flow and style, Your use of dialogue is effortless (all those thousands of hours as a counsellor, listening to people!) BUT the viewpoint character was not well drawn and she felt that she could react/explore more - to make her viewpoint worthwhile. It's just the issue of Ellen that keeps this story of the short list. So a new angle to work on!

Meanwhile - A363 is gently starting to roll forward. It occurs to me, when I'm torn between working on poems or short stories for competitions, or publication, I go back to my studies to jump start the process again. I'm going to miss having the OU's amazingly helpful starting points for work! Sometimes, the activities are so challenging writing for competitions feels easier. Anyway, I looked at activity 1.7, looking at the story 'A Real Durwan' by Jhumpa Lahiri,a nd was immediately drawn to film. All those Indian backgrounds and accents and a great older actor to play the lead Boori Ma! Maybe drama will come more naturally than I thought...Dramatising it in radio would lose a lot of the place, the setting which is crucial to the story. So much of the background would need to be either narrated or written in, though. Still, making me think about it.

Activity 2.2 is about conflict and contract using simple source material that lacks tension. I looked at the entries of a fellow blogger, My Uncle Fred which are authentic entries from a 1940's London resident. Taking even an apparently mundane entry, one can weave a quite dramatic story around the entries. I would put a quote in but I haven't asked the blogger concerned. BUT Fred talks about people in such warm terms, you can imagine a story there someowhere with all these other players. I recommend the blog by the way - fascinating. I'm now working on a short story based on one of the entries.

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