Never say never, someone recently said to me. I had just finished introducing myself as a former writing teacher who would never teach writing again. I am now eating those words. (Purely vegan, I should point out.)
This road trip I have met so many people and heard so many stories. I have also talked about my Scags Series and been asked great questions.
I realized a course I taught to those in the non-profit world to help them find their goals as well as this course for fiction writers and memoirists was ideally suited to help lots of people and that I was eager to teach it again. Don’t ask why, Suzanne, my wife, often says, just follow through.
Here in a brief statement is the course. Many of my former students who read this blog will shake their heads in recognition of it.
The basic premise of good storytelling is to have a good plot–the structure of your story that will give you the architecture you need for your protagonist to fulfill her goal. There are 3 main plot lines. (see next blog post for that information)
But you need a great character to make most stories come alive. Very rarely you have a narrator who keeps the reader interested. How do you find, create, shape, imagine this character? Whether this is fiction or non-fiction, we are all filled with the myths, legends, fables we live with daily in our culture.
When I worked on Scags at 7, I knew despite her being a young girl, that her destiny was going to unfold in a series of Awakenings. These Awakenings would be based on how Scags was imagined from the start, the linkage I could make between my imaginative character and some other fabled types. That that linkage would also determine in many ways what the story would be about and how the subsequent awakenings in Scags’ life would play out.
This way of thinking does require both discipline and study. Once you have discovered who your character is, what story lines she followed, you must determine the ways in which you will add to that storyline by the ways you will order it, the changes you will make to it and what the consequences of those alterations will lead to. What will you gain from it. What will you lose?
There is no way to write without reading. When I am asked what were the major influences on the Scags Series, I point to these three books that helped me discover Scags for her first volume–Toni Morrison’s first novel, The Bluest Eye; Sandra Cisneros’ story about a young girl in Chicago, House on Mango Street; and Bruno Schultz’s incendiary stories about a young Polish boy, The Street of Crocodiles. All three books were written by adults in a child’s voice. All 3 writers created these characters within cauldrons of pain and longing yet none of them is a victim. That’s my Scags too.
Stay tuned for more posts about the Awakenings course and the Scags Series.