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14 Apr

USING PHOTOGRAPHS

Your assignment this week will help you start to think about character and point-of-view.  First, find a photograph with at least two people in it.  They may not be famous people, or people you know, so no family vacation photos and no Benedict Cumberbatch.  You can rip something out of a magazine, or print something from online, […]

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02 Mar

TRAPPED!

We talk a lot about how problems and conflict make a story more exciting.  For this week’s assignment, I want you to trap your protagonist in a confining space.  Depending on your taste or your story, it could be a refrigerator, a closet, a trunk, a jail cell, a car trunk, an elevator, a port-a-potty, […]

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02 Mar

CLIMAX

Hi folks, Most of you are heading towards the end of your stories (or at least can see the ending in the distance), so it’s time to talk about writing the climax. The climax is the top of that plot mountain teachers are always talking about, the final battle, the answer to the mystery, the […]

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25 Jan

INTERIORITY

Each person sees the world in a different way, and so does each character.  Point of view doesn’t just mean first-person or third-person, it’s the his unique, perspective of the protagonist, the strange blend of what he or she sees, hears, feels, smells, tastes, remembers, dreams about, worries about, wants, wonders, fears, or, to put […]

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07 Oct

DESIRES AND OBSTACLES

As Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, “Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.”  This is excellent advice, as characters who don’t want anything, who are bored, complacent, or satisfied with their lives, make for dull stories. But what if that thirsty character simply goes over to the sink and fills […]

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30 Sep

TELLING YOUR STORY THROUGH DIALOGUE

Of all the tools and tricks a writer employs, I think dialogue may be the most important.  Not only does dialogue bring your characters to life, it can also reveal their personalities, it can advance the plot, and it can build tension.   It’s also really fun to read. For this week’s assignment, I want […]

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24 Sep

CHARACTER-BUILDING QUESTIONS

Answer the following questions in your notebook or on a separate sheet of paper.  You do not need to write in full sentences.  If you don’t know, skip it and come back, but don’t skip too many– just go with your instincts. What color is your hair? What color are your eyes? You have a […]

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20 Sep

ONE DAY

This week in writing workshop, you did a lot of thinking and dreaming about your story.  Hopefully, you now have a fledgling idea for character and a story, or maybe you feel sure of what you want to write about.  Whatever your state of mind, you still have the same problem.  How do you begin? […]

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02 Jun

FILL IT UP WITH YOURSELF

This week, in class, I asked you to: 1) Identify the emotion the protagonist was feeling in your story’s next scene. 2) Write about a real moment from your own life when you felt that same emotion. 3) Write your story’s next scene using some of the your own real feelings, thoughts, visceral details from […]

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04 Apr

INTERVIEWING YOUR PROTAGONIST

“It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.” – William Faulkner This week in workshop, I asked […]

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