Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Creative Writing Course - Stage 2 - Module 2

Module 2 of the Creative Writing Course (Stage 2) with the Sydney Writers' Centre was about narration: how close is the main character to the narrator. where is the narrator positioned in the story timeline, and what tense will the narrator use?

The assignment was then to write the opening 200 words to our story, based on the character we had developed in the previous module. Here is my assignment:

by Jacqui
I long for peace. Little do we know during life, what death will hold for us. I am bound, heart and soul, to this Valley. The Valley that initially entranced me, that has been the centre of so much suffering, that has also been the place of some unbridled joy, and where I finally found the meaning of unconditional love. My love could not be returned, because he could not know that I existed. He was born after I had already died, but I knew him completely, and I loved what I knew. When his life was taken, I mourned for him, but also yearned that we could finally meet. His after life was elsewhere, though, and I am destined to remain in the Valley forever. At least with the passage of time, I have found some acceptance. But all stories have a beginning, and that is where I must start.

Here are the comments from the tutor:

To Jacqui
Jacqui, I understand why you have started the story like this – you want to establish a frame story where the storyteller in the ‘story present’ looks back and narrates.  Unless there is also something happening in the story present, however, this is a static approach – we already know what happens, in a sense, so why should we bother to read it?  Ideally, the frame story character will also have a ‘character’s journey’ to follow in the frame story, a journey which will change our (and possibly his/her) perception of what has happened in the past.  Otherwise, the frame becomes a weight on the story, like an overly ornate frame on a picture.

I suspect you will find, as you go further with this story, that while you have needed to write the frame, the reader may not need to read it.  

If you do keep the frame, I wouldn’t give quite so much of the story away in the first paragraph!

The emotions are strong and the ideas complex and interesting, so be prepared to dole them out to the reader – don’t give it all away at the beginning.

I can see exactly the tutor's point. Why bother reading the story? The problem is that I'm writing a story based on real historic events, so the story is already known for any who want to look it up on Wikipedia! My other problem is that I'm not sure who should narrate the story, because no one lives long enough! Perhaps I need to just stick to the third person, take a different approach from what I originally intended, and rewrite the opening.

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