October 25th, 2008

View from study (sunny)

Laying down the tracks

I drove up to Rhos-on-Sea today for the face-to-face tutorial for the creative writing course. We did the usual sort of exercises and it was interesting to see what worked for me and what didn't. A couple of activities just stopped me in my tracks and I couldn't really get any words at all -- and the few I did get down on paper were crap. Some exercises had me scribbling away furiously.

Thinks I have learned or re-discovered:

- I am totally unable to write about a character in a vacuum.
- I can't start with voice.
- Describing places comes naturally.
- Once I get some sort of situation or a character in a location, the writing takes off.
- First draft is often little more than dialogue and stage directions.
- Most academic creative writing course prompts are intended to get people writing lit fic, they are not at all inspiring for SF/fantasy.
- Things that work for one writer will not work for another. I love night as a starting word for a cluster. A couple of others couldn't do anything with it.

Possibly the most useful phrase learned was another way of describing a first draft as "laying down the tracks." It reminds me of this photo I took in the summer of the new railway line and very much describes my own process of trying to push through to get a bare but complete draft finished before I start layering in the details and cutting and polishing to shape.