Saturday, April 28, 2007

I've Got a Secret

by Jamie Cat Callan

I'm still down here in Solana Beach. I taught the first day of a weekend workshop today. Nine writers gathered around a table in a middle school classroom. What a terrific group--ages 22 to... well, I'm not sure. Before I arrived, I gave everyone a "Word of the Weekend". The word was "blush" and everyone was to write 500 words inspired by that word. Everyone wrote something really beautiful, really unique, and I used exercises from the The Writer's Toolbox to push them into the next step of the story. The first thing I gave out was an object, i.e. a photograph from 1957 or a pair of earrings and after that, a "risk", i.e. "she tells him she's leaving." This is all based on right brain theory. I believe in the yin and yang of a story--that is there is this exterior (yang) part of fiction, where we have action and dialogue and observation of the physcial world. And there's the interior part (yin). That's the internal narrative, and the imagnation, the dreams, wishes, hopes, fears, desires. The secret. Every story has a secret. It's when the secret crashes up against the exterior world--that's exciting to me. This is how you get a strong climactic moment--that place in a story where the reader gets goosebumps. I love that.
More tomorrow. Jamie

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