Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Quart into pint pot challenge

Quarts into pints or litres into halfs, the challenge is to boil down or skim off a course-worth's material into a 45 minute class. I am substituting for a writer-tutor buddy who has asked me to tell her class about Hero's Journey/Writer's Journey.

Well, hmmm. I first devised the course as 6 one-day (10 am - 4 pm) workshops over an academic year. That is, first session class was on Hero, second entirely devoted to Thresholds, Guardians, Allies etc. It worked well and we had oceans (well, I am talking myth here) of time for writing and for discussion.

A couple of years later I re-jigged it as a course of five weeks, 2 hours per session. Less time to write and discuss in class, fewer readings out of material. But still, it works well -- that's the course I just finished teaching. To run again in November.

But in 45 minutes -- what to do? I don't want to drone (I mean lecture) on and on about the hero concept and its many parts. I am much happier -- that is I feel and see that I am reaching students with my teaching -- when they write and we interact. So I must work in one exercise -- which one? This class is pretty well established and most are engaged on a work in hand, so my standard Character Profile beginning does not feel right.

I think I have decided on Mentor, with my Serendipity Bag of odd items (some very odd indeed). It is a useful way for a writer to gain insights into a character she/he thinks they know already. It uses staged questions. I have done it with the class each time, and it has suprised and enriched me every time.

I met a mingling of two former Hero writing classes at the pub last week and sought the opinion of one writer-on-the-journey. She liked the postcard exercises most of all, but saw my reasoning and liked Mentor too.

I will let you know how it goes. Meanwhile, if you don't know what staged questions, character profile and serendipity bag are -- buy Creative Writing: the Matrix!

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