Tales of a writer’s workshop

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Photo by João Silas on Unsplash

So, you may remember that I mentioned that I was going to organise a writing group in my area because one did not exist. We’ve been meeting monthly and discussing different people’s writing each time. It’s been fascinating, at times terrifying, but I have found a great bunch of people with similar senses of humour who have made it a lot easier than I imagined. To be perfectly honest, I kind of thought I’d end up doing one or two and then being too disheartened to carry on either from being told my writing wasn’t good enough or just feeling my usual social terror and hiding in a corner until it finally swallowed me up. But actually, I enjoy it! And I know it is majorly down to the people as we all seem to share ideas, fears, jokes and are at a similar place with our writing.

But this week we decided to have an extra meeting. An actual workshop where we wrote together and read out what we had done. Ummm. Read it out, myself? One thing I love about our sessions is that we send the material round ahead of time, so I don’t actually hear my words out loud. Fabulous. Today, I had to read them! I also had to come up with some activities for us to do!

In the end, although it was a small group, it worked brilliantly, and I don’t think I’ve laughed so much in a while. We did write stuff too. Honest! So, in the spirit of sharing the fun,here are the activities we did in case you fancy doing some yourself!

Random object time! We all brought some random objects, laid them on the table and had ten minutes to write something using as many of the objects as prompts as you wanted. We had tiny playing cards, a dragon bookmark, a compass and a Hellraiser Rubix cube. When the timer went at ten minutes, we added a couple more ahem. We all produced some wildly different things in completely different genres. I also realised that I really am stuck in the weird, creepy and vaguely science fiction/fantasy vein. It wasn’t until the others read theirs, I realised oh yeah, it didn’t have to have a monster! (I may post what I came up with fairly soon.)

Show not tell. We had a slip of paper and wrote an intention on the back. The intention was an emotion, situation etc that we wanted to show that our character had or was in. We then folded the slip over and wrote a sentence or two to try and give that sense without ever giving it away. We then read them out as a group and tried to guess the intention.

Here’s what I wrote: His eyes danced around the room desperate for someone to notice. He clutched the bag to his chest as he grinned, barely able to sit still. Try and guess what the intention was, the answer is at the bottom of the page.

25-word story. We used the #vss365 prompt word and all came up with a 25-word story. Again, we all interpreted the word veil in completely different ways. I of course went with a veil between worlds, others went for a hiding spell or the face covering.

Mystery story! This one caused the most hilarity. This will get the true nature of your writing group out in the open. Rip an A4 piece lengthways and give a strip to each member. Get them to write an opening at the top and fold it over so only the last couple of words are visible. Pass it round and add the next part. Repeat and continue until you run out of paper of can’t take any more laughing. Suffice to say some of the phrases we had hanging over for the next person could be interpreted in many ways!

Although mostly bizarre, it was interesting how we managed to take clues and have some semblance of sense in most stories (but not all). It showed what we inferred from the words even when there was little or no context and also what we picked up on like the presence or lack of gendered pronouns.

We all had a lot of fun. The only problem I have now is I think the group want to do it again so I might need to find some more games. Any ideas?

(The answer to my show not tell was – got an exciting secret.)

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