On Friday I attended the Woman’s Weekly Live Show. I decided to attend because of the opportunity to take part in fiction workshops run by their Fiction Editor, Gaynor, Agony Aunt for Writer’s Forum, Della and Jane Wenham-Jones, Agony Aunt for Writer’s Magazine.
I managed to sign up to a slot for some individual writing advice from Della who looked over some of my recent writing and helped me pin-point a few improvements I could concentrate on:
- Story openings with unattributed dialogue: Apparently this is a trap lots of people fall into, and while it can work on occasion, it seems that – certainly for short stories – it can often confuse the reader and fail to make an impact, so try to contextualise any immediate dialogue
- Consistent viewpoint: A bit of a no-brainer but an easy mistake to make. Stick to one character’s point of view in a short story so as not to irritate the reader who is trying to follow it
- A steady pace: It was suggested that I read my work out-loud before submitting it anywhere – a piece of advice I’ve often heard but never tried. However, it appears that this may identify areas in the story that don’t match with the pace of the narrative overall
- Simple vocabulary: Because I paid attention in school and took on the lesson to extend my vocabulary widely I tend to use this frequently in my writing. Sometimes the simplest word is the best, especially when it comes to maintaining good pace
- Identify the core issue: Don’t cram too much into one story. It seems I have a habit of upping the ante a little too high in order to intensify drama when, really, in a short story the character only needs to deal with one major problem at a time!
So – these are all things I can look out for in my writing from now on, and it gives me a chance to go back and edit my current stories with these points in mind.
I also attended the practical workshop on how to write an attention grabbing beginning – knowing that I tend to start my story smack bang in the middle and then have to go back and try and prefix some introduction in order to explain who, what, why and where! These are the ‘Do’s’ and ‘Don’ts’ we came up with in our group session:
We then tried to write our own beginnings based on these ‘guidelines’. Here is mine:
Catelyn slumped in her chair. The day had been a fabulous example of success. Everyone had loved her; they had celebrated her good fortune.
Except that one girl.
She could still feel those dark green eyes scorching a hole in her back. Each time she turned around the girl had scowled and dropped her head. Yet, she was always close by, always within her sights, always staring.
Catelyn tucked her chin to her chest and wrapped her arms around herself. Who was that girl?
All in all it was a great experience and I feel that I’ve come away from the workshops with new knowledge about my writing and how I can seek to improve on it. As the day was hosted in conjunction with Hobbycrafts I also managed to pick up a few fun craft tips and new materials to create future gifts for birthdays and Christmas. It was a day well worth the exhaustion I’m facing as a result!