Writing in Paradise: Day 4

The dining table @ Daku

This is a summary of Day 4 of the Draft Busting Writing Retreat with Jan Cornall @ Daku, Fiji, I attended in March 2013.
(The week long writers retreat saw us doing a writing workshop every morning, 10am-1pm, then in the afternoon we were free to do our own writing or other activity. We met in the bar in the evenings to read some of our work out loud before having a delicious meal as a family at a communal table.)

Today’s workshop focus was writing from a place of emotional truth. We also looked at editing and raising the stakes in story. We began by writing down pet hates in other writers, which turned up a list that was somewhat contradictory. eg some people didn’t like reading lots of description while others relished this. However, there was some common ground that turned readers off – clich├ęs (unconsciously used), non-deliberate use of repetition, overuse of adverbs, disappointing endings/rushed endings &  monotonous sentence structure. We also talked about the importance of reading aloud for rhythm and pace; and of listening to the inner rhythm – the momentum that carries the piece along. Maybe it’s my theatre background, but I’ve been a big fan of reading work out loud for as long as I can remember. I also think it good to have other people read your work (only when it’s reasonably well developed). That way you can hear how it reads to other people and you can also be a bit more objective (only a little bit!) about your own work. This is where knowing actors can be particularly helpful. (see: Spineless Wonders Presents)

In the second half of the workshop we focussed on raising the stakes in story. We thought about where our story needed this and wrote that scene. I had a think about my second version of the ‘Triangles’ and wrote out a scene where two characters meet. On reflection I did well in creating a certain tension in the mood but I felt I was putting something onto the scene that didn’t fit, so ended up both pleased and dissatisfied with my efforts here. Jan reminded us not to get caught up in the worry of whether our writing was good or bad and to have some trust in the writing. Good advice, as everything can always be rewritten.

That afternoon I spent most of my time reworking ‘All this Movement’, editing and rewriting. For years now I’ve done this process on the computer, so it was enormously satisfying to tackle it with paper and pen (see Day 3 - temperament computer). I got lost in time. As I walked over to the bar to listen to other people's stories I had that flutter of excitement in my belly when I know I'm on the right track. My story was almost done. All I had to worry about was which cocktail I would drink as I listened to other lovely people read to me. Writing in Paradiese? Indeed.

Caroline x