Sunday, March 27, 2011

York Talk 2011 - oh but I forgot ... that workshop

That last post refers to this morning (Sunday) but somehow I forgot some of the most crucial things that happened yesterday.

For starters, there was my Breaking the Rules workshop.  I was a bit anxious about how much there was to get through and also that there were no gimmicks; all they were going to get was me talking at them non-stop for an hour.  In the event, it seemed to go down better than any other single workshop or course I've run.  I guess people just love breaking rules ... and the anarchist in me loves them for it.

I selected the rules that people had told me in advance were the ones they most found problematic:  POV, show not tell, linear chronological structure, prologues, adverbs and adjectives and (briefly) speech tags, dreams, mixing tenses, mixing 1st and 3rd person ... You can see what I mean about how much there was to get through.

With each one, I defined the rule and explained why it mattered and  what the consequences of breaking it are.  I emphasised the need to check if breaking it really is the best way to tell the story, because you do need to have a compelling reason.  And then I gave examples of the ways in which it can broken effectively.

The advantage of doing it in this way was that the workshop provided a good grounding on what the 'rules' are in the first place for those who are unsure, as well as providing techniques for those who feel that their book justifies a different approach. 

Anyway, it must have been useful as I've never received such a positive response (the applause seemed to go on for an embarassingly long time).  One participant even said he had learned more about creative writing in that one hour than he had in the previous 3 years. 

I am going to post my notes on the Festival website at some point in the coming week.


Claire King said...

Your talk sounds very well structured. Glad it went well!

Debi said...

I mentioned your post and Vanessa's, Claire, and there are links to both in my notes which will be posted on the Festie site at some point. It was great to be in a whole room of rule breakers!

Tony said...

I'm sure you'll give us the heads-up on WordCloud when you have posted your notes, Debi? They should be very helpful.

Debi said...

I emailed the notes to WW yesterday. It's in their hands but I'm sure they're snowed under with post Festive stuff to do. I'll certainly let people know when they appear on the site.