Members of the Point Pleasant Writers Guild met recently to discuss the importance of sharing their skills and talents which produce the poems, essays, plays, short stories, and books that have been brewing in their brains, possibly for many years, before being released as words on paper for all to read and enjoy.
Patrecia Gray reported that a new volume of “Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul” is now available, and advised the guild members to take advantage of this excellent forum for exercising their creative juices, telling them that everything is a story and to “just get it out there.”
In the last meeting of the guild, Feryle Lawrence covered the lesson on gawking characters, which, according to Sandy Tritt, author of “The Plain English Writer’s Notebook” is a narrator who tells the reader what happens in a scene instead of letting the reader experience it directly, thus distancing the reader from the story. Carol Newberry rewrote an example of using a gawking character and read it to the group, using the first person point of view.
For the current lesson from Tritt’s book, Lawrence reviewed “voice/tense/intimacy” in writing. These three elements affect how close the reader feels to the story and the characters.
Regarding the “narrative voice,” which is the way in which the narrator talks, it can be formal, conversational, or even illiterate. Anyone who has ever read or seen the movie “To Kill a Mockingbird” remembers the conversational voice of Scout Finch as she describes how her brother Jem came to have a broken arm when they were kids in the South. And who does not enjoy the voice of Uncle Remus as he tells of Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox, or Mark Twain as he describes the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
Intimacy in writing reveals how close we are to the action and to the character’s thoughts and emotions. Not all the members agreed that the more emotional a situation in the story, the more distant we should become.
When it comes to tense, most readers prefer past tense, and it is also easier for the writer to control. The main thing to remember is, pick a tense, either past or present, and stick to it throughout the manuscript so as not to confuse the reader.
Gray volunteered to cover the next lesson, which will be on “pacing,” a tool used by writers to control the speed in which a story reads. She suggested everyone write a 500 word story, focusing on its pace.
April Pyles distributed information on the “Haiku” (high koo′). Haiku began in 13th Century Japan as a prelude to an oral poem of 100 stanzas, but broke off as a short poem in the 16th Century. It consists of 17 syllables which are divided into three lines: five in the first and third lines, and seven in the middle line. Generally a mood poem, Haiku usually features images from nature, does not have a title and does not have to rhyme. Traditionally, a Haiku is written in the present tense, has its focus on a brief moment in time, and offers a sense of sudden enlightenment.
Using the 5/7/5 format, Newberry wrote: “Waves crashing on shore, Sand burning beneath your feet, Wind blowing your hair.” Gray wrote: “The sun shone today, It made my heart want to play, Spring is my tonic.” A former native, Jane Sterne Turner, sent her Haiku via social media. She had written it while taking her dog for its morning walk: “A chill in the air, And a sliver of the moon, Bring April’s first dawn.”
The Haiku can also be written as three lines with the first line having one word, the second having two words, and third having three, such as Newberry’s Haiku: “Love, He said. She didn’t believe.” Newberry also wrote the reverse, beginning with three words: “Distant lightning flashes, Clouds roll, Thunder.”
Marilyn Clarke read another chapter from a new book she’s writing.
Tritt is scheduled to visit the Point Pleasant Writers Guild on Aug. 7.
Those attending the meeting included Patrecia Gray, Feryle Lawrence, Sue Underwood, Carol Newberry, Marilyn Clarke, and April Pyles.
The Point Pleasant Writers Guild meets the first and third Wednesdays of each month from 1-3 p.m. at the Mason County Library on Viand Street. All writers are invited to attend.
Article submitted by April Pyles.