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.