Sunday, 5 June 2011
SHORT STORY WORKSHOP - IRELAND
A week-long workshop at the marvellous Anam Cara Writers' and Artists' Retreat, with participants who had travelled from Holland, Luxembourg, the UK and Ireland itself. Their standard was very strong. I worked them very hard - three and a half hours each morning, a mix of flash writing games, discussions about theory, writing exercises that could, if used well, lead to complete stories, regular time spent analysing short fiction by well-known writers (stories selected and brought along for the purpose by the team, and used as guinea-pigs for both 'reading as writers' and our critiquing skills) and regular critiquing of the participants' own work. We focussed closely on revision skills, and put everything into practice as soon as possible! Afternoons were for their own writing, thinking, focus - visits, sometimes.
A word about the group critiquing...we deliberately protected precious first drafts from the onslaught. We spent the first few days dissecting old pieces they knew weren't working - giving the writers a chance to start new pieces each day, a chance to revisit and make sharper, but mostly to gain a little distance from their 'babies'. (It was forcing the issue, really - normally, I'd push for weeks of time elapsed..)And we critiqued to a pattern, by craft element, backing everything up with text examples. It seemed to work really well.
Five writers, and by the end of the week, at the last count, 14 new full-length short stories completed to at least second draft stage. (I think...) Umpteen pieces of flash fiction, many of them ready to get out there...and a hoard of story seeds. Some poetry, prose poems, some written commentaries. We all had one-to ones, one held at a local pub, another on a long walk... some intrepid souls had swum in the river, some had walked and walked some more. Some visited the Stone Lady to have their stones 'read' there were massages, reflexology for the non-ticklish.
We talked competitions, markets, collections, publishers, agents, how the writing of short fic can help with novels and novellas... and a hundred other things. I don't know about them, but their tutor is tired out...and very happy with the formula, especially regarding the group feedback. And delighted at the amazing output!