The first session of “Read like a Writer | Write like a Reader” was inspiring and generative, using the crisp and creepy, dystopian, short story “Cold Snap” by Robin McLean as our source reading.
Instead of separating plot, story, narrative, etc. in the usual MFA fashion, we played with Denis Johnson’s statement from Already Dead, “I make the road. I draw the map. Nothing just happens to me… I’m the one happening.”
Then, writing within a cascading set of prompts–including getting out of our comfort zones by changing points of view–we traveled down the roads of our own stories and wound them into the map of characters, descriptions, landscapes, etc.. Finally, we wrote the killer opening paragraph and read some out loud. What emerged was a different kind of experience than critiques: more of a generative, communal energy that helped to remove us from the sometimes limited constraints of our own egos, our “selves.”
In the next episode of this workshop series (Saturday, April 20 at 10:30 am in Burlington) we will read and discuss “Mother’s Day” by George Saunders.
We’ll focus on the author’s use of voice, language, dialogue, tone, style; once again, not separating these topics, but treating them as conjoined elements. The reading material is now posted online, along with a second file consisting of thirteen first paragraphs culled from a diversity of writers including: Steinbeck, Murakami, Elena Ferrante, George Eliot, and Delillo.
We’ll talk about indirect vs direct dialogue (even quotes? no quotes?) and whatever comes up spontaneously.
Then we’ll write, working from prompts. We’ll explore elements of our own works-in-progress or you are invited to generate something entirely new that may be inspired by the readings or most importantly, by discussion with each other.
Reading materials for this workshop:
Keep writing, readers…