muccamukk: Peggy holds a pencil between her teeth and studies a clipboard. (Cap: Preoccupied)
Mucca's Informal Writing Workshop
A couple months ago, I talked about running a super-informal Le Guin-inspired writing workshop. The idea is basically this: Once a week, I will make a post modelled after a chapter of Ursula K. Le Guin's Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator of the Mutinous Crew. Each chapter includes discussion (which I will summarise), examples (usually from classic lit, which I will gather in a master post and link to), and one or more writing exercises (which I will reproduce exactly).

Everyone else is then free to try the exercises, not try the exercises, post their work, or not, give and/or accept con crit, or not, talk about what they thought about the exercises, or not, chat about completely off topic things in comments, or lurk. You do not need to own the book; you do not need to participate in every week; you do not need to do the weeks when they're posted; you do not need to do the weeks in order. There is no 'need.'

Actually, you do need to be polite to everyone participating. That's going to be my one rule.


So what's in the book?
I quote Le Guin's intro:
The exercises are consciousness raisers: Their aim is to clarify and intensify your awareness of certain elements of prose writing and certain techniques and modes of storytelling.

Once we're keenly and clearly aware of these elements of our craft, we can use and practice them until – the point of all practice – we don't have to think about them consciously at all, because they have become a skill.

A skill is something you know how to do.

Skill in writing frees you to write what you want to write. It may also show you what you want to write. Craft enables art.

There's luck in art. There's the gift. You can't earn that. You can't deserve it. But you can learn skill, you can earn it. You can learn to deserve your gift.

This is, in short, intended to work on the building blocks of writing. Not plot arcs or character development, but the little bits that hold things together. A prose workshop that works on prose.

The topics covered are:
  • The sound of language

  • punctuation, syntax, the narrative sentence and paragraph

  • rhythm and repetition

  • adjectives and adverbs

  • tense and person of the verb

  • voice and point of view

  • implicit narration: imparting information

  • crowding, leaping, focus, and control


There are ten chapters; each has an exercise with one to five elements.


A few logistical notes
Several people who took the poll asked that this all be flocked. Since I'm reposting parts of a book under copyright, I think that's a good idea. If you are reading this and do not have access to my Dreamwidth, ask here and I'll grant it.

I'll post one chapter a week, hopefully on the weekend. This schedule is subject to real life plans.

No one has to post or not post anything at all, and if you do post, you don't have to do it on schedule with anyone else. However, it's probably best to keep exercises attached to the chapters they go with. So if you're doing Exercise #1, post it to Post #1. Tracking posts might be a good idea. Depending on how it goes, I may do some kind of weekly round up post, to bring attention to people doing exercises from previous weeks.

You do not have to accept con crit if you don't want to. Please indicate in your posts as to whether of not you would like comment on your work. There's zero shame in not wanting to give or accept con crit. However, if you say that you do want comment, you're obliged to listen to it. You are not obliged to agree, but please consider what others have to say. Please do not argue with people offering con crit, through asking for clarification is okay.

Mostly be polite. Seriously, that's my only hard and fast rule.

All posts will be tagged writing: workshop, so this is all easy to keep track of. I'll also make a master post at the end.

All questions, comments and suggestions are welcome in comments here, or by PM or e-mail. I want this to be as easy and fun for everyone as it can possibly be.
muccamukk: Sif waving and grinning hugely. (Thor: HI! HI! :D :D)
So some years ago (probably five), I got Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew by Ursula K. Le Guin, worked through the first few chapters, then wandered off and never looked at it again, even though I found it very good at the time.

The book is divided into an intro and ten chapters on technique, each of the later having a writing exercise. It advises that one chapter be worked through per week, and the resulting exercise put in a drawer and edited the following week.

I was thinking that, after fest season is over, I'd have another go at it. Does anyone else want to join in/witness/offer general comments? I could post the weekly exercise on my DW, and then anyone who liked could post their results (for comment or not) in comments the next week. Or just watch, pointing and laughing optional. Buying the book optional. Participating every week totally optional.

What say you?

Poll #14482 Potential Le Guin-Inspired Super-Informal Writing Workshop
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 13


Would you be interested in weekly writing exercises (probably starting in January)

View Answers

Yes, and I'd buy the book too
3 (23.1%)

Yes, but just your posts would be fine
3 (23.1%)

Maybe, I'll see what it looks like
2 (15.4%)

Not really interested in writing, but I'd read along.
1 (7.7%)

Nope
0 (0.0%)

I might participate in different ways in different weeks.
4 (30.8%)

I have no opinion but like voting in polls.
0 (0.0%)

What would you be likely to do relating to writing exercises?

View Answers

I would do them, but not share them.
1 (7.7%)

I would share them, but only if you flocked the posts
2 (15.4%)

I would share them in unlocked posts.
7 (53.8%)

I would like concrit, but only if you flocked the posts.
3 (23.1%)

Concrit in unflocked posts would be fine.
7 (53.8%)

I would not like concrit at all, thank you.
0 (0.0%)

I would offer comment on other people's writing, if they wanted.
11 (84.6%)

I would talk about how well/poorly the excersies worked for me.
9 (69.2%)

I might participate in different ways in different weeks.
12 (92.3%)

I have no opinion but like voting in polls.
2 (15.4%)

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