Writers conferences and the like

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Thu Oct 2 17:44:17 EDT 2003

Melissa asked:

>>I'm pulling together some sessions for a local writers conference and I need
>>some session ideas.  Basically I am going to post an open request for
>>presenters, but want to include concrete session titles and ideas.  Any of
>>you writers have favorite subjects you like to hear about, or think are
>>useful to beginning writers?

and Robyn suggested:

>I used to teach a creative writing workshop in summer that had as its focus
>exercises for idea generation - that is, things to do to help you get the
>first words on the page. It was always a very popular workshop, because
>people left with a bunch of little beginnings of things they could then
>work on and develop. A session on starters might be fruitful.

To which the poor benighted reader might add that it would be great if
people were helped to find out how to *end* stories in a way that was
satisfactory!  It's all very well leaving things totally inconclusive on
purpose, but it's not so good to do it by accident or because you simply
can't think how or where or when to stop.

I seem to remember someone once saying in some quotable way that the first
and last sentences of a story are the most important, but I can't now
remember who it was, so it may have been some old unregenerate storyteller
and no longer relevant or cutting-edge.  Something about winding up a yarn
after one has spun it.

I'm still resenting stories from childhood that ended with words to the
effect "and then s/he woke up and it had all been a dream" (Masefield's
*Box of Delights* particularly), not to mention the wizard kindly taking
away everyone's memories of what had happened so that they wouldn't be
upset by it in later life -- I always wanted to know how, in that case,
anyone had known the story to write it down.

obDWJ: she got round that one very neatly in *Deep Secret*, I felt, with
Nick refusing to allow his memory to be removed and leaving disks all over
the place to make sure it couldn't be done to him.


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