Monday, 11 October 2010

One Sentence at a Time

*I bounce down the street, knowing I'll never go to Peter's flat again.

*'If you fall in love with me, you're going to regret it,' she said.

*I only wear false teeth on a Saturday.

*A fortune teller once told me that I'd die on my 35th birthday, but it would be a good thing.

*We were finally on the road with our thumbs up in the air.

Above are a few of the opening lines I generated at the One Sentence at a Time workshop, curated by James Burt and Ellen de Vries, as part of Brighton Creative Writing Sessions. I can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday than to be creative together with other people. And James and Ellen have an ability to trick you into working by playing ...

To spark the imagination Love Heart-sweets, Miracle Fish and words on pieces of paper were passed around. And if you were really stuck you could stick your hands in Ellen's magic box ...

Before the first break the focus was just on writing opening lines for short stories or novels. After that we carried on writing opening paragraphs, and then we were encouraged to build on some of these paragraphs. Everybody read out three paragraphs and the other participants voted for the one they wanted to be developed. By the end of the workshop a few of us had more or less completed stories or at least a big chunk of material to carry on working at.

I felt so inspired that I wanted to go home and spend the rest of the afternoon/evening/night writing and was annoyed that I had other plans ... (Even if the party at Zu Studios in Lewes also was a good source for inspiration.)

It's amazing how people's imagination works. The oldest participant in the workshop wrote a story about bondage pets, a very sweet guy wrote a story about a sex addict politician and one girl wrote about nuns having a fight. And I got very inspired by someone else's opening line:

'The prints of Mary were still fresh on the snow.'

What I liked best about the workshop was the playful atmosphere. Once we stopped just to pop a party popper. James said Herman Melville used to do this when he felt stuck in his writing ... Whether that's true is up to you ... What is true though is that whenever you're stuck throw in a clown in the story and see what happens.

Good news is that there are more workshops and happenings planned. I think this is the way forward for writing workshops. Instead of "learning the craft" these sessions are about letting go and setting yourself free and let the words flow. Passion, inspiration and imagination is sometimes more important than style.


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