Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Writing Excersies

The last six of weeks, I traded photography prompts with a friend.  She would post a photo prompt, and I would post some prose.  A week later we came back with a story to go with the posted photo, and a photo to go with the posted story.  

The theory was this would be a good way to get me to write more quickly and to write to spec (mostly).  It didn't quite work out that way for me, as I ended up posting not-quite-finished first drafts.

Coincidentally to thinking about this project, Cat Rambo wrote this piece about writing outside one's comfort zone.  What's been valuable to me is the re-discovery that when I'm having a negative emotional reaction to a prompt, I avoid processing the emotion (by having my characters do so) and instead focus on cool descriptions of eye candy.  In general, I need to focus on the emotional arc of my characters more to give readers a clear emotional hook.

The exercise has been good for generating rough drafts and vignettes.  At the beginning of the run, I was approaching the project with the idea that a short anthology would be the result (product! product! product!).  But after the second or third week (mostly of me posting rough drafts) we decided to approach it from the standpoint of a fun project and not a stress-inducing one.  (Remember, writing is work, but you're supposed to enjoy doing it.)

The one draft I was really happy with got thoroughly trashed at a particularly annoyed Wordos table, which surprised me.  In retrospect, I'd managed to put the tone of the photograph into the piece, but the characters' emotional calculus was off, and the plot had some unaddressed issues (Was this the first time the POV had discovered a strange shoe on the path? Why was the boyfriend suddenly a jerk? What happened in her past...?)

Looking at the drafts I produced, I kept returning to the theme of living in two worlds, some of which was prompted by the photos, but not completely.  Looms and weaving came in second.

On the picture side, it's always interesting to me when an illustrator or a photographer uses my stories as a jumping off point for an image.  

My friend's pictures are really cool.  She said that she produced a lot of material which didn't make the final cuts, but which provided images for other projects.

The image I liked the best was from the short story, "Before the Last Bloom Falls."  Another image I liked was from a science fiction and fairytale mashup.    

We decided that we'll continue to trade prompts, but we're dropping back from weekly to monthly.  Which means, Yeek!  I've got to get writing!

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