March 22, 2010

Reflection

A week has passed since I handed in my last story for my Sexy on the Page erotica workshop. I meant to write about the experience last week, but dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic accident got in my way. I am doing better, slowly but surely. Still lots of medical and logistical stuff (insurance companies, not having my own vehicle), and I'm behind in my freelance work, but things are improving. Anyway, now it's time for me to write about this experience.

I had a great time working with Shanna and my fellow classmates. Everyone was really supportive and enthusiastic, and was able to write well-rounded critiques (which talked about the good as well as the bad in a piece of writing). I was also impressed that Shanna gave commentary on every piece we sent in. Even in small writing workshops I took in college, the instructor would critique half the class one week and half the class the next week. So it was great that she was able to give us so much personal attention. And her turnaround time on getting stories back to us was amazing, too! She usually had stories back within 48 hours.

I learned that I'm good at writing convincing sex scenes, and that I'm good at creating tension between characters. A friend who took the class with me pointed out that my characters don't back down or give in to fit the plot I've set out. They're stubborn, just like me!

I also learned that I have a tendency towards too much detail or backstory. This isn't exactly a surprise; it's something I've struggled with ever since I became a writer. But while I realize it's still a problem, I also know that I've improved a lot since my early days. I can see progress over the years, and definitely over the course of the workshop. For the last week of class, our challenge was to write a piece that contained no backstory, and I was really proud of what I turned in. I just need to keep practicing at it.

I also learned that sometimes, I have scenes in which a character's dialogue or actions seems false or disingenous. In my head, it makes perfect sense why they're doing what they do, but on paper, it seems strange and out of place. Because I've been focusing on cutting out unnecessary details, I think I've been overcompensating a bit. Rewriting those problematic scenes, I've had a pretty easy time slipping in more detail to make motivations and actions make sense. It's all about striking a balance. I'm still working on that, but I'll get there.

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