Sunday, March 21, 2010

the day after Dzanc Workshop Day/DC

I have no idea if it went well, but we filled up the time and made people write. There were about a dozen participants, most of whom could have run the workshop themselves--I was especially pleased to meet Rae Bryant of Moon Milk Review, and poet Kate Wyer, whose living book project And, Afterward is really fascinating.

It was a gorgeous day, so of course we convened in the windowless upstairs of the Wonderland Ballroom bar. The Barrelhouse lads like bar food and bar drink, but I did not see anyone taking up the waitress on her offer of free waffles. Apparently they used to have bacon days.

Mike Ingram started things off with a discussion of point of view, I did my flash thing, and Reb wrapped up with a guided tour through "Moves through Contemporary Poetry," an essay by Elisa Gabbert & Mike Young that appeared on HTMLGIANT.

For my segment I tried to talk about how tension occurs in vsf, and I shared Katrina Denza's "Soap," Scott Garson's "Captions," Joseph Young's "10 Point" & "Lethe," and Matt Bell's "How To Watch Paint Dry." After a quick browse of the readings I had the attendees write in response to one of the following exercises, all of which I adapted from Behn & Twichell's Practice of Poetry--my rationale being that the compositional mood for writing very short fiction is more akin to that of writing poetry than it is to writing conventional fiction:

A
Write one or two complete sentences in response to each of these steps.
The “You” in these prompts is the narrator, who is part of the scene.

1. Think of a person you know, or invent a person. Describe the person’s hands.
2. Describe something he or she is doing with the hands.
3. Use a metaphor to describe an exotic place.
4. Mention what you would want to ask this person in context of numbers 2 and 3.
5. The person notices you and gives a response that indicates a misunderstanding of your question.

B
Build or dismantle, piece by piece, an object, being, or phenomena that we don’t naturally think of as being constructed.

C
1. Write a paragraph to describe an intriguing event or object—avoid using comparisons, stick with the image.
2. Do the same to describe a powerful character.
3. Combine the paragraphs into one, alternating between the object and the person. Use transitional language to make the paragraph sound right, even if it doesn’t seem to make sense. Make the flow take priority over reason. (new reason will create itself)

6 comments:

Joseph Young said...

sounds like a great day, laura. your exercise is cool (i'd do B) and that thing by mike and elisa is one of my favorite html giant things.

Rae Bryant said...

Hi Laura,

What a blast! This was a fantastic workshop and it was so lovely to meet you. You're passion and shared information on flash fiction was not only encouraging but inspiring. Wonderful exercise, too. I'm really liking the story start I got out of it. You're a muse, aren't you? Really, you can tell me. I won't tell anyone else. ;)

Hope to see you again soon.

All my best,
Rae

katrina said...

Congratulations, Laura Ellen. Your workshop sounds as if it went well. I'm going to try some of these exercises!

Ethel Rohan said...

I have no doubt it was great. Neat exercise, thanks.

Kate said...

Thank you, Laura! It was great to meet you, and yes, the workshop was awesome. I just got the book project back and I'm sending it out again this afternoon. It has some new pages by master collagist Chris Toll.

Scott Garson said...

roll back the clok-- i wanna attend!