A lot to say

I love stories told mainly in dialogue. It's a great way to explore subtext: what's said/held back/inferred. In 'Beginners' by Raymond Carver, we have a story told almost entirely in dialogue. Carver is a master at this, and of handling subtext.

Have a read and try short story using mostly dialogue. What can you show in the relationships between your characters and the stories they tell? Can you handle this in poetry? Try a Dramatic Monologue:

BEGINNERS by RAYMOND CARVER in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL


More Than Meets the eye


Each week I encourage my students at New College, Swindon, to read something new. It doesn't matter if you are writing a novel, a poem, or a play, wide reading can help you become a better writer.

I've chosen a few brilliant pieces that I feel are surprising and make up new realities for their subjects. 


Ange Mlinko is writing about poetry here in More Than Meets the I, but it rather reads like a poem. 'poetry is more plastic than sculpture, has more microtones than any formal musical system.'


          "Like birds, and yet so human . . . 
         They mate by briefly looking at the other. 
         Their eggs are like white jellybeans." 

Chocolate Dog by Shawn Misener on Fictionaut

"My house is your house is built by radio signals beamed from the bottom of the ocean."

Gazpacho by Shawn Misener on Fictionaut

"For a brief and torturous moment I could sense her presence locked up in the Tupperware, like some twisted and desperate ghost ..."


Free write about something you know very little about. Write down the word then write without stopping for ten minutes. What you don’t know, make it up. Choose an object, person, animal. The stranger the better. 

Read the above stories and poems to help you into the idea. 


You must change your life ...

Each week I encourage my students at New College, Swindon, to read something new. It doesn't matter if you are writing a novel, a poem, or a play, wide reading can help you become a better writer.

This week I chose Anton Chekhov’s story, Oh! The PublicA bus conductor gives up his drinking to become more serious about his job. He is then confronted by a difficult customer ...

"HERE goes, I've done with drinking! Nothing. . . n-o-thing shall tempt me to it. It's time to take myself in hand; I must buck up and work. . . You're glad to get your salary, so you must do your work honestly, heartily, conscientiously, regardless of sleep and comfort. Chuck taking it easy. You've got into the way of taking a salary for nothing, my boy -- that's not the right thing . . . not the right thing at all. . . ."

In Archaic Torso of Apollo, Rainer Maria Rilke, through art and beauty, shows the fragmentation and completeness of human nature. He makes use of what’s missing in the piece of art to show us what is there. He experiences a transformation through this process: you must change your life.

I suggested they write a short story, flash fiction, poem, or play that features a change of life moment, or a discussion of change, transformation.