Last month, I attended Felicia Schneiderhan’s “Advanced Fiction Writing” a/k/a “Gymnastics for Writers” workshop at the Midwest Writing Center‘s David R. Collins Writers’ Conference. The workshop used different techniques over the workshop’s three days to stretch the imagination and get the participants thinking about different ways to write their stories.
The first day, we played with point of view; Felicia first had us write a scene from our story in the 3rd person omniscient point of view. After a few minutes, we had to immediately switch to 3rd person limited, and then to first person, letter format, and finally to a bystander or unreliable narrator.
On day two, we discussed writing form and practiced with writing a scene in “regular” form and then we switched to a story within a story and dream, ending with a form of our choice. I chose the list form, which really helped me to get the scene’s facts down in a “down and dirty” way. This should will make it easier to write the full scene when I get to it.
On the third day, we played with time, writing different scenes at different times with a common thread between them. I chose to focus on surfaces that had been painted over several times. I had the most difficulty wrapping my mind around these ones. My first scene took place in a church at Alice’s (from Taming the Twisted) wedding; the second scene put Abigail (also from Taming) on an excursion boat with her husband, and the final scene took place in Abigail’s parlor when the truth becomes visible (don’t want to include any spoilers).
I enjoyed the workshop and benefited from it immensely. It showed me that being a writer is more than just sitting down at my computer and tapping out my story. Honing the craft requires play and exercise. Do you have any favorite “gymnastic” moves you like to use to help you explore your characters and/or stories? If so, please share as a comment below.