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Roland's Creative Writing Blog
Inspiration, tools and techniques to develop your creative writing.
The Power of Having a Process When Writing Your Novel or Screenplay
Over lunch on Sunday during the second day of our Weekend Intensive for the live Ten Month Novel & Script First Draft Writing Course, one of the writers, a professional journalist, asked a key question:
“How on earth could anyone possibly write a novel or screenplay without a process like this? I had no idea what was involved.”
Katherine hit on a key point about writing a novel or screenplay.
You need a process that allows you to access the power of your imagination while grounding your story in solid structure.
As Dwight Swain said in the Techniques of the Selling Writer. “Four boys in Fred Friggenhelmer's town last night stole a chalice from a church. Caught, they reveal they've been reading up on Satan and want to evoke Satan. Fred reads about the incident in his morning paper. It intrigues him. "Here," he tells himself excitedly, "is a story!"
Fred is wrong. The theft is an incident. With skilled handling and the development of point of view and dynamic character and complications and climax and resolution, it may quite possibly build into a story. But for now it remains an incident and nothing more.
A story is a complex thing. Its material demands skill in their manipulation.”
According to Dwight Swain, all writers need a process. This is the key to combining both parts of your brain.
"As Pasteur once observed, chance favours the trained mind.
Feelings tell you what to say. Technique gives you tools with which to say it.
Faculty lies in knowing what to do next.
To know what to do next, you must master process ...an ordered step-by-step presentation of materials that presses emotional buttons in your reader, so he feels the way you want him to feel."
To write the best story you are capable of writing and to enjoy the experience, you need a process to guide you every step of the way.
Having a process helps you connect with the power of your imagination while writing fiction that takes you, your characters and ultimately your readers on a profound journey.
Here are some of the writer's experiences from the weekend intensive:
"Yesterday morning I came with a character - I didn't know much about her, and although I hoped something more would emerge through the weekend I wasn't sure if it would happen. But through group feedback, and brainstorming with others, she is being taken on a journey that I didn't know she could - or would - go on.
I'm sure there might be many more twists and turns for her that I still don't know about, but I'm excited to let that happen for her. The process and the structure we're being encouraged to write to is allowing me to push my character more than I ever thought possible. I don't know how I could write this without that guidance."
"I came to this session feeling quite anxious. I'd found the homework tough as I didn't have a good sense of the story I wanted to tell. I walked away feeling really excited and positive - I seriously can't wait to look into the exploratory exercises and keep digging.
My story has been changing with every exercise, every piece of feedback from my wonderful, generous, wise colleagues. I've learned to stay open and not worry anymore about what sort of story I'm telling, but just to fasten myself on for the ride."
"The last two days have been revealing. I've had a ton of new ideas, both from myself and others. I've learnt more and more about structure and I'm not freaking out about it anymore. I've also gotten more in depth with my characters, their flaws, their motivations, their hopes and dreams. They have ceased being names on a page or thoughts in my head, instead becoming real flesh and blood people in a real, moving, living world. It's been almost been like magic, which I find ironic since I'm writing fantasy."
"I am going to write one scene a day every day until we meet again. I don't care if the writing is piss-poor, I am going to write scenes and let my imagination run wild. I am going to put words on the page and I'm going to discover what my characters want to say, do, wear, eat, act out.
This weekend has moved me further along my screenplay path than I thought possible, and it's been an enriching collaboration. I am inspired anew, rejuvenated , excited, apprehensive and bubbling with creative juices!"