Sunday, January 23, 2011
Work Shopping Your Writing
There are lots of techniques out there for improving your writing, but I have found none to be as helpful across the board than work shopping.
Actually I learned this from screenwriting where it is ESSENTIAL your dialogue crackles and your plot holds together (since you only get 100 pages to get it right).
I also went to a few prose writer's groups that did something very similar.
Trust me, hearing your words read aloud can either be the equivalent to angels singing in your ear, or finger nails on a chalk board.
Big gaps or slight imperfections are brought to light.
Now the only problem with work shopping is the caliber of the people you have in your group. Because let's face it, in most writing groups there are those people you just don't respect but they do great line edits so you let it pass.
Work shopping is a bit different. There needs to be a little bit higher level of trust. You have to really respect the other writers opinions to get the most value out of the experience.
Then it comes to who is going to read it.
Do YOU read it aloud? I usually don't recommend that since you know the work fairly well and many times, without you even knowing about it, you fix grammar, spelling, and word choice as you read along.
No, it is always better for someone else who is unfamiliar with the work to read it. But let's face it we are writers, seldom talkers. To get the best effect of a work shop, it truly is best to have a trained actor read your stuff.
Actors have great instinct about character and story and if you find them consistently 'not getting' your style, that is a good indication that you take a look at 'your style.' :-)
Again, this is one of those things where the caliber of actor you get is going to influence the how much benefit you get from the work shop.
Even outside the major metropolitan areas there are great actors. Look on-line for them. Post a Craigslist ad. A meetup group. Go to the local college or even high school.
Actors are always looking for new and different ways to perform and are usually eager to jump in. I can't tell you how much my own experience with actors (thank you Ben, @actingnodrama) has vastly improved my writing.
Work shopping (even more so than a writer's group) also has the side effect of being incredibly motivational (which of course you need if you are going to fulfill your "Absolutely No Excuse" campaign pledge to finish a book and publish it this year). There is a thrill like none other when you hear your words read and they work #trustme
Don't believe me? Tune into my BlogTalkRadio show every Saturday at 2pm PST where we talk craft, craft, and more craft! But this week we will be focusing on work shopping to improve your craft!
Tune in and listen LIVE or better yet call in and ask your questions live. If you aren't available on Saturdays at 2pm PST, no worries, you can subscribe via iTunes and listen to the archive! Listen right now!
If you would like to have your work read-on air, please email me at writingnodrama (at) aol (dot) com. Also if you would like to join on-line classes where we do a lot of work shopping, also just drop me a line or DM or @ me on the @writingnodrama stream!
Until next week! #keepwriting