Thursday, June 22, 2006

Homework for Your Story

(Part one)
By Nichole Giles

I spent all of this week attending a writing workshop at BYU. In the coming blogs, I am quite certain much of the information I am trying to take in will process, and I will be able to share some of what I’ve learned.

I have been in a rigorous daily workshop with author Martine Leavitt, who has taught me a great deal. She has also been giving us nightly homework. When I first learned this, I was a bit taken aback. Homework? What about all the work we’re already doing? What about the work we’ve already done?

It only took one day for me to learn the value of these exercises. Completing them has given me, and my classmates—who are also my critiquers—a better glimpse into my story. I’ve learned so much; I have decided to share these assignments with you.

Remember to consider this project as important as those you were assigned in high school or college, because it could make a difference in the outcome of your story.

Assignment one: Take a setting from your book and describe it. Make clear the time period and the world, describe the mood of the person in the setting. This should be done through the character’s own eyes.

The trick? You get a maximum of two short paragraphs. No more.

What does this tell you about your story? How do you feel about this description? Would it make a good beginning? If so, go ahead and use it. A good beginning is essential, not only to getting published, but also to grabbing your reader’s attention. If the scene you chose is further into the story, that’s okay too. Ask yourself what you have learned by this piece of writing.

I may be only a lowly author-waiting-for-my-big-break, but in passing on what I’m learning while it’s fresh, maybe you can learn something too. Then we can all be better writers.

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