Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Storyboard and writers' chat

So last week was the third Hero's Journey/Writer's Journey class, and this coming week it is The End -- shockingly soon, especially because I am used to teaching it as five weeks.

As mentioned earlier, I had to choose the best-of-the-best to squeeze 5 into 4. The new combinations seem to work. Where I used to have The Mentor's Gift (see earlier blog on this using the labels list) in session two, I moved it to session three, so as to get early to the character and plot enrichment of The Shadow (see last week).

This made session three combine the always fun writing-from-an-object Serendipity Bag with a scene writing session and more. I tried something new, and introduced the Scene Storyboard (thank you Robert J Ray and your Weekend Novelist book) AFTER they had written an Approaching the Inmost Cave (Ordeal or Crisis) scene. Again this was because of my time squeeze.

Normally I give the storyboard format as a handout, explain, have them fill in the prompts, and then write a scene. This takes time, so it was a question of skipping storyboard altogether or... following my recognition that actually most people instinctively know what a scene is and how to write it. Or at least they have a good go, which is enough to get started (after all, everything can be improved, and writing is re-writing anyway).

So now (here's the new genius part), using storyboard handout and their own PRE-WRITTEN scene I asked individuals at random, 'What was the place and time of day of your setting?' 'What objects and images were in the scene?' 'What were the large actions?' What could be small actions?' and so on. This made each writer answer from her/his own writing, providing a perfect illustration and discussion point for the lecture-y bits about storyboarding. They were all too shy to read out their scenes, by the way, so this was also a good method to let them show their writing without having to totally expose themselves.

Finally in this session I was able to leave a good 20-30 minutes for writerly chat about overcoming obstacles to writing. This is the Writer's Journey part of the content, and rather than the paired chats and reflective writing we'd done on the writing life so far, by this week the class was warmed and ready for friendly, supportive, open discussion about struggles and strategies for starting and keeping on writing.

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