Archive for the 'Writing' Category

Sketch Writing Workshop

Friday, September 1st, 2017

Last night I attended a 3 hour sketch writing workshop,  run by DUVAL, an improv and sketch comedy duo made up of Bex Marsh and Eddie Mujica. It’s been a long time since I have written a sketch, but I am interested in using improv to improve my writing.  We started the workshop with some simple “yes, and…” improv games to get us used to agreeing with suggestions and extending them.  It’s incredibly easy to have self-doubt when writing and to spend so much time editing yourself that nothing ever gets written.  Using these exercises we just went with whatever idea we came up with and saw how far we could run with it.

We spent time discussing sources for ideas, identifying the premise and game of a scene, and ways in which to heighten the game.  We also discussed pitfalls such as not being able to start, cliches, low-hanging fruit, and imitating others.

I’m glad I was able to attend.  I have so many evening and weekends rehearsals that it’s become difficult for me to attend workshops.  I’m enjoying my rehearsals, but it’s nice to get the chance to do something a little different.


Creative Frenzy

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

I got email this morning reminding me that Script Frenzy starts in April.  The challenge is to write a 100 page script in a month.  This doesn’t interest me as much as the novel writing challenge NaNoWriMo did.  I’ve no idea what I would do with a script if I wrote one.  Mind you that’s not a particularly good reason not to try; after all it’s not like I let anyone read the novel I wrote in November.  I then thought that it might not interest me because I’ve never written a script before.  But the more I thought about it the more scripts I remembered writing.

I wrote my first script for a play when I was 10 years old.  I have no idea what it was about but I can remember the rehearsals with the members of my primary school class.  After that I wrote sketches for the drama team I was part of, and I can remember quite a few of those.  I continued to do this until around my third year as an undergraduate.   I realise now that I stopped doing quite a few creative things at that point.  I stopped sewing clothes, knitting, playing the clarinet, and writing.  I suppose I had to focus on my science degree and getting qualifications so that I could find a job.  Or maybe I just changed the focus of my creative energy, as it was at that time I started to learn to program.  I did continue to compose music until my mid-twenties but at some point I stopped doing that as well.

In the past year my desire to be creative has led me to knit, sew, write, sing, and play.   The odd thing has been the reactions of other people.  When I told one friend that I liked to knit in the evenings they started to talk about how I could maybe sell the things I make.  When I said I wanted to write I was asked if I wanted to get a book published.  When I sing I’m asked if I want to get a job singing somewhere, or heaven forfend, if I want to audition for something like the X-factor. And last week when I was altering clothes I was asked if I was considering becoming a clothes designer!

Is there only value if there is money involved?  Why can’t I write for the sheer pleasure of seeing words form on the page.  Or knit so I can admire the material and the patterns I can make?

Finished NaNoWriMo

Monday, November 30th, 2009

I managed to write the required 50,000 words to complete NaNoWriMo.  I didn’t find this easy to do but I did do it in 17 days.  The story may have been better if I had taken more time but I knew that once I started travelling that there was no way that I would find time to write.

I found writing strangely addictive.  There were parts of the story that unfolded as quickly as I could type.  I also started to dream about the characters. I hadn’t expected writing to feel so like reading.  (I’m not sure if that sentence makes a lot of sense but whilst I was writing I stopped reading fiction, as if the writing I was doing removed my need to do this.)

The story isn’t finished yet but I’m going to wait until the New Year and then go back to it.

NaNoWriMo Day 4

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Writing fiction is hard.  So far I have managed to write the target amount of words but I fear that I am writing myself in circles.  I think I’ve made a mistake.  I started writing in the first person.  This wasn’t planned, it just happened.  Now, I am trying to find ways to tell the story when I can only provide information seen through the eyes of one person, or at least one person at a time.

It also seems to be forcing me to write as if the story is unfolding in real time.  Now I know why so many people put headings in their novels like “one month later”.  Whatever happens it’s certainly going to be an interesting learning experience.

NaNoWriMo Day 2

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

I feel exhausted today.  I had mostly given up on the day by 3 o’clock when I hadn’t managed to do anything constructive.  At that point I decided to sit down and try to write.  I had sent a message to one of my writing buddies last night to congratulate them on their word count.  They had managed to write more than 5,000 words in one day.  I did try to write yesterday but my mind was a bit like a blank page.  She wrote back and suggested I start with “it was a dark and stormy night” and twist it a little.

Not having much luck with just looking at the screen I decided to give it a try.  I started with “It was a beautiful day” and then went on to rant about how it should have been dark and stormy to match my feelings.  And somehow I have ended up with 1,975 words, two main characters, and a whole new world.  I didn’t want to write fantasy but it seems to be writing itself.  Since this appears to be an exercise in producing 50,000 words of fiction I’m not going to fight the fantasy thing.  I’m having enough trouble writing without throwing obstacles like “I’d rather write horror” in my way.

NaNoWriMo Day 1

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

At some point in October I signed up for the NaNoWriMo writing challenge.   Today, to help me get into the right frame of mind, I went to the Tokyo Meet-up.  I met four other people who are also trying to write a novel in a month.

The afternoon started off with an adventure.  We were supposed to be meeting at Tokyo Hacker Space but either we didn’t manage to find it or we did find it and it wasn’t open.  We eventually gave up and went and found a coffee shop.

I have no idea how to write a novel and it was interesting listening to the others talk about their ideas.  I was also amused by their combined hatred of Twilight.  I don’t really understand why people feel the need to mock popular fiction.  When I suggested that the story was interesting I was told that people shouldn’t sacrifice their integrity to write popular fiction.  Ah, to be young and idealistic.  To think that success is a sure sign that you aren’t enough of a tortured genius for your work to be any good.

I’m not convinced that I’ll be able to write anything that’s close to any definition of good.  But it will amuse me trying.

Writing Tips

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

I would like to be able to write better.  This leads me to read various articles about the art of writing.  Today I read Russell’s article “How I Write“.  There are some things that worked for him that would never work for me.  He would think about a topic for a long period of time, let it simmer in his sub-conscious,  until he got to the stage where revelation hit.  And then he was able to dictate his whole essay or book.  I certainly need time to think but I prefer a cycle of writing and editing.

He gives three maxims to improve writing:

  1. Never use a long word if a short word will do.
  2. If you want to make a statement with a great many qualifications, put some of the qualifications in separate sentences.
  3. Do not let the beginning of your sentence lead the reader to an expectation which is contradicted by the end.

My favourite piece of advice is directed at professors but would be useful to anyone who writes in a field filled with jargon:

I am allowed to use plain English because everybody knows that I could use mathematical logic if I chose. … I suggest to young professors that their first work should be written in a jargon only to be understood by the erudite few. With that behind them, they can ever after say what they have to say in a language “understanded of the people”.