Six pack. What was I supposed to do with that? It was prompt given to us in a monologue writing class that I attended Saturday. I was at the Intensive Day Workshop offered by the Rock Hill Chapter of SCWW (South Carolina Writers’ Workshop), an annual event that offers instruction, fun, food, and exposure to other writers and their ideas. I also learned about Sunscribe Publishers, a new publisher in South Carolina.
Nick, a member of the Camden chapter, and I arrived about 8:30, and after registering we pored over the program, marveling at the myriad of choices available and wondering which sessions to attend. After much deliberation, we decided on Create and Organize Your Story for Dramatic Effect; Using the Semiconscious Mind to Spur Creative Thought; How to Make Your Dialogue Snap, Crackle, and Pop; and The Art of Monologue.
Between morning and afternoon sessions, we ate boxed lunches from McAlister’s and listened to several authors read their work. While polishing off his chocolate chip cookie, Nick spotted a woman whose work he had admired last year. At last spring’s conference, she had read a fictitious story about a woman coming home to find a dead man in her bathtub. From the discovery to the solution, the tale was entertaining and “fun.” After lunch, Nick introduced himself to the author and bought her book.
As an aside, I deliberately added “fictitious” to the above because when Nick was telling one of our table mates about the story, someone asked, “OMG, what did she do??”
It would be impossible to recount all of the many things I learned at the Rock Hill workshop, so I’m going to list just a few of my notes:
- After you’ve written your story, go over it again and add more details. Do it again.
- It’s a moment in time for your character and you have to become that person. What does she see, smell? What kind of furniture does she have? What’s her favorite food? What does she do on a Saturday night? Does she have friends?
- Look at novels and see how they’re organized.
- You’ll need to interweave the character’s past and present.
- We don’t want the reader to ever be confused.
- The verb is the most important word in the sentence.
- What goes into your story must be important enough to be included.
- Metaphors pull your story up to a higher level.
- Dialogue reveals character, unveils attitudes, discloses personalities, and divulges thoughts.
- Use dialogue to drive your plot.
In our last session, Nick and I learned about the art of monologue. After reading several examples and teaching us what a monologue was, our instructor, Barbara Lawing, gave us some prompts to work with. I was crummy at this exercise, but some of my session-mates produced some amazingly good monologues using “six pack” as the prompt. Anxious to learn more about this type of writing, I ordered Jane Martin: Collected Plays from Amazon as soon as I got home.
Saturday was a day well-spent. We learned and laughed and rubbed shoulders with people who were trying to learn more about writing. I came home with a number of good ideas and a wealth of information and inspiration.