Taking the plunge into story-writing

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I went to my third short story writing class last night. My second one, last week, was spent mostly with people reading out their work and then discussing it. I didn’t have any work to read as I missed the previous week, and I hadn’t even written a story from the first class. So I was in the luxurious position of listening to everyone else put themselves out there, and actually, it was really interesting and inspiring to see others’ writings and hear the feedback. I felt emboldened to give it a go for this week.

The assignment involved choosing from a selection of character roles, places and problems, and constructing a 500-word story. I managed to choose from the selection with no difficulty, to create a situation I could readily write about. The only problem was coming up with a plot. In the end I didn’t really have one; it was just a description of a situation, and thoughts, which included a recounting of past events leading up to it. Nothing actually “happened”. Lacking a plot idea kept me stuck to begin with, but then I settled on a lousy idea for something to happen at the end and just got on with it. But I liked what came out and actually forgot about the lousy ending, leaving it in suspense instead.

I was very keen on reading it and getting feedback, because I wondered whether my writing would move anyone or not. I was genuinely curious. But also, since I had written almost autobiographically, I was interested in people’s reactions to the character (very narcissistic of me, I know) – would they like her? What would they think of her approach to the situation?

Regarding the character likeability, some people had mixed feelings, one person said he was rooting for her, and a couple of people commented on a descent into stark negativity in the thinking, which I hadn’t even really intended. That was so interesting. And very odd, I must say, to have people discussing me without knowing it was me.

It sounds like I succeeded with the character portrayal – people said they felt she was very real, different to all the other stories which were more about events. Someone even said he could completely relate to the experience, and asked me point blank if it was based on a real person. I said, “there’s a lot of me in it,” and I got the feeling that surprised no-one! One kind person said she wanted to read more, to see the character experience what was coming next.

There is a lot more I want to explore – plot, dialogue, other types of characters, imagery and scenes… some of which will be harder I’m sure. I think doing this class was a good idea after all.

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