Tools for Storytelling 2023
This six-module course via Zoom and email follows on from Finding Your Voice but can also be undertaken by new students who are sufficiently advanced. This practical course shows how you can create fully rounded characters that come alive on the page and inhabit authentic worlds. It covers advanced aspects of point of view, dialogue, the development of plot and structure and also revision. By the end of this course, you will have a greater understanding of how to create compelling fiction. Students will be emailed comprehensive workbooks on each module along with 18 set exercises.
Please note first work will be emailed 10 May 2023 with the expectation that writing exercises will be completed in time for the first Zoom class.
Fees $500 payable by 10 May. Previous Creative Writing Dunedin students who have completed a full-length course will be given a $50 discount.
This fortnightly Zoom course starts Wednesday 7 pm-8. 30 pm, May 24, 2023
Class Dates: May 24, June 7 & 21, July 5 & 19, August 2
Tools for Storytelling Programme: 2023
Topic One: Story Structure and Conflict
In this topic, we look at the need for story. I believe that the purpose of reading fiction, memoirs, and biography in particular, enables us to consider meaning and motivation. We are exposed to lives we have not led ourselves, and this often leads to greater compassion and tolerance of human behaviour. We have learnt the story of another life and how one thing leads to another, resulting in tragedy or comedy or something in between.
We also look at the role conflict plays in fiction, primarily in maintaining the reader’s attention. And let’s be honest, the writer’s interest as well. Why are there no newspapers based on feel-good stories? Basically, because it’s not interesting. Trouble is interesting, and all stories are based on trouble. Note the conflict can be internal or external.
Topic Two: Characterisation and the Character’s Journey
In this topic, we look at the vital storytelling work of creating characters. Where do they come from and how do you make them walk off the page and into the hearts of readers? Remember your readers do not have to like your characters, but they do need to be interested enough in their journey to keep reading. We also explore the hero’s journey and how this fits into the structure of a novel. What does this mean? If you were to think about your own life in terms of a journey, could you sum it up in a sentence that would be represented in terms of a journey?
Topic Three: Advanced Dialogue
We look at the internal view of characters versus the external view. Most of us are relatively skilled at interpreting subtext, i.e. saying something with an underlying tone or message, especially when it comes to our nearest and dearest but when it comes to putting it in the mouths of our characters without the help of facial expressions, gestures or tone it is a little more difficult to convey. We also explore using dialects and slang and irony, all useful tools in the writer’s toolbox.
Topic Four: Narrative Viewpoint Part Two
In this Topic we develop viewpoint further. We show how you can use viewpoint to manipulate the distance between readers and characters. Who is telling the story to whom and in what form? How much do they know? And are they telling the truth? We also look at filtering, a technique which facilitates a greater closeness between reader and character
Topic Five: Creating the World and Time
In this topic we look at creating a setting for your story. Without a setting for your characters to live in, it would be hard for readers to visualise and believe in them.
We also look at how you treat time in fiction, which is slightly more complicated than you might think. A story or a novel covers a certain amount of time. It may be a few seconds in a short, short story, a day over hundreds of pages as in Ulysses or almost a century as in Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Chronicles.
Topic Six: Revision
In the final topic we explore one of the most important skills a writer can develop, the art of revision. Why is it so important? Simply that when you are trying to get down the story, you don’t always get the right word, or the right tense or any number of factors that go into writing. Once you have the story down it is time to go back and really read what you have written. Think of your story, or novel as being like a sculpture. You have carved the basic shape but now comes the refining and shaping your work into something beautiful.
Also, we ask you to reflect on your future writing journey and how to maintain the good habits you have started.