ENG107 FINAL – Creative Writing

ENG107 FINAL – Creative Writing

George Orwell – 2 great problems in English Prose
I. Vagueness or abstract language (collateral damage – civilians were killed, not calling things what they really were)

II. Dead Metaphors or Cliches – finding the easy way out, it’s ready made language, unoriginal, less meaning and sometimes it’s nothing more than a saying, Orwell feels that it isn’t more powerful

George Orwell – how to FIX the 2 problems
1. Write as concretely and specifically as possible

2. Avoid over-used or cliched language, by using imagery that is as FRESH and UNIQUE as possible

Burroway’s Idea for Book
“The overriding idea of this book is play, serious, strenuous, dedicated, demanding, enthusiastic, repeated, perfected play.”
Burroways “purpose” of writing
To give readers something to “take away”
In Creative Nonfiction writing, the trick is to make the move from…
OBSERVATION to INSIGHT (begin in the descriptive and concrete NOT int he abstract)
“From Heaven And Earth In Jest” 28

– Imagery, verbs
(frog being sucked to death by a water bug)

“Standing By” by: David Sedaris 29

– shows people in a simplistic way (airport story, describing people in concrete detail)

“Facing It” 42

– guy going to the vietnam memorial and being jumpy/nervous

“Girl” 38

– washing clothes, cooking, repetition, saying everything that comes with being a girl

“American History Looks For Light” 39

– prayer for Barack Obama

“French Fries” 44

– woman living in a McDonald’s

Chapter 2: Image “Show, Don’t Tell”
Start in the concrete first and foremost b/c the reader will then connect to it, and the reader will do the rest of the work subconsciously.
Limbic System in the BRAIN
> When sensuous responses develop, followed by emotional, are generated
> Writer needs to use ALL 5 SENSES and imagery that is concrete, to trigger strong responses
* MLK’s “I have a dream” speech – when he says there is a bank of justice, and black people have been given a bad check. The imagery is then followed by concrete details.
Comparison using figurative languages without explicitly saying it’s a comparison.
Saying “like” or “as” in a comparison.
(Active verbs) The VERB is the ENGINE that DRIVES the sentence.
Word play that suggests 2 or more meanings “Your trash. Your family’s trash.”
Giving human qualities to NON-human things
Poem: “Facing It” pg. 42 (Vietnam memorial)

– Personification & metaphor “I’m stone” simple statement but very dynamic to the piece
– Emotional impact of war
– The way HE sees her simple action as being hateful when it really wasn’t, shows that he’s been traumatized and cannot deal with people doing normal things

“Snow Day” 41

– school names were to be funny and playful
– he keeps things light and funny, poetry can be fun and doesn’t hvae to be dark and sad

Chapter 3: Voice
– Your voice
– Persona
– Irony
– Character View
– Point of View
Combination of vocabulary, words chosen
The order in which words are used
Your Voice
An author’s voice involved recurrent:
– word choice
– syntax
– imagery
– idiom
– rhythm
– range
You need to be clear, precise, and vivid. Words need to be rich, flexible, varied. “Seek to voice, your voice will follow.” No such thing as an “exact” synonym for anything.
Mask adopted by the author, which may be some form of the author’s self.
– It develops your meaning b/c people see the author as an idealized person
– It’s the way you present your “self”
Say one thing, mean another (sarcasm and satire are most common kinds)
– We respond to it (funny)
– “A Modest Proposal” > satire
– “Guns For Teachers” pg. 68 addressing school shooting safety issues, but he thinks arming teachers is stupid so he dramatized it all
Audience knows, characters don’t
Efforts stopped when we try our best
Something chosen, and may be TOTALLY unlike the actual author, persuades people w/ dialogue.
– Takes lots of imagination
– You have to be very aware of how others talk
– Never speaking in the actual author’s voice
– Trial & error, discovery & decision
Who? Where?
– Distance or closeness of action & diction
– Manipulating point of view will reveal the author’s opinion about the world, not vice versa
– First decision of point of view = persona
It’s the voice of the central narrator (my story) or a peripheral narrator (edge of the action)
Using the word “you”, one character addresses another. Makes you feel you are in on something private.
Greatest range of efforts, total objectivity or intimacy
– Omniscient: godlike, past/present/future
– Limited Omniscient: into the minds of a few, but also observes from the outside
– Objective: observer gives facts only
Situational Irony
A state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects.
– “The Grad Student Rap” pg. tone of voice is sarcastic, the “rhyme” has a strong effect on readers
“Beauty: When The Other Dancer Is The Self” 62

– Tone is honest, not overreaching in diction
– Heartfelt story about personal experience
– Covers ages 2-27 (nonfiction)
* Young diction at first, then it matures as the character ages too. Present tense the entire time. Vivid, intimate, we experience it in time.

“Victory Lap” 69

Writes in 3 different persona’s, from 3 different points of view of the story for us to figure it all out. Why does he use these voices?
– Mystery?
– We see many sides to one story
– Playful wording/thoughts

Jill McCorkle on character
1. Know what a character loves the most
2. Know what would hurt that character the most
5 Methods To Present Character
1. Image (appearance)
2. Voice (speech)
3. Action
4. Thought
5. Background (flashback)
Directly speaking “walk in the woods” (indirect or summarized dialogue) it creates tension in a work and makes people more invested/ curious
– Good to not just use “said” but describe the image, actions, facial-expressions, body language > mix it up
– Capturing the way people actually speak, makes the dialogue more believable (cussing)
– Speaking, then add details, then resume speaking
– Indent at a new speaker, use italics
PHYSICAL DETAIL (character as image)
Clothing, appearance, expressions
BODY LANGUAGE (character as image)
Frequent gestures, movement
ACTION (character as action)
* Occurs when a character first experiences, discovery then a decision to act on discovery
– Telling anecdotes: telling stories about a character
– Using examples: from people’s lives, descriptive
– Sense of background: what has happened already
CREATIVE NONFICTION (character as thought)
Learn thoughts of author only
FILM + DRAMA (character as thought)
Asides and soliloquies, voice-overs, “fourth wall” character speaks directly to audience.
FICTION (character as thought)
Writers play “God”, go into character’s head
POETRY (character as thought)
Poet can tell what they’re thinking
Good to understand background of character. Flashback to an earlier event. Or Burroway calls “indirect telling” – can tell things about a character with small, paraphrased snippets.
Components of Character
Voice – Image – Action – Thought – Background
“The Book Of My Life” 111

“my writing is tainted” now had been corrupted

“Me vs. Animals” 112

– 8 sections, organized NOT chronologically but w/ each other chapter being about a different animal
– He compares himself to an animal which suggests his violent tendencies throughout story
– His violence comes from killing a deer, and makes killing animals seem normal

“Tandolfo The Great” 118

Love – the woman he works with
Fears – alcoholic, rejection from girl, clown life
* verbal irony, 3rd person (limited to only tandolfo’s thoughts), final image is very important (image)

“God Says Yes To Me” 130

– God’s a woman, sassy, they have a close relationship
– This is an affirmative God/ lenient
– Important to the poet that God acts this way b/c there is no judgement w/ this God

“Stonecarver” 128

She’s talking to herself – 2nd person reassuring herself about her father who is getting older and fading

“Telephone Bob” 131

Bob is a filter/ mediator/ interviews

The power of place. “Nothing happens nowhere” – Burroway
“What My Heart Wants To Tell”

“What my heart wants to tell”
Mood: nostalgic, historic preservation of life
Being self-sufficient, heavenly pure place, pride
(returned to Kentucky)

“Captain Kentucky”

Mood: It’s charming yet repulsive, fun, witty, wild
He builds the setting by being nostalgic about good and bad things at honkey-tonks
(returned to Kentucky)

“Harlan Hubbard’s Printing”

Mood: Romantic, you can’t get enough, important.
He only writes on Sundays, heaven is actually quite simple
(returned to Kentucky)

Story can be used as:
– As a journey
– As a power struggle
– As a connection or disconnection
John Gardner 2 stories:
1. Someone went on a journey
2. A stranger came to town
Joseph Campbell: The Hero w/ A Thousand Faces
Hero > leaves > something happens/ gets something > returns home (or not)
Burroway’s Questions about the Journey
– Where does main character want to go?
– What are the obstacles?
– What is/ is not overcome?
– What does character learn/ change?
Story as Power Struggle
“In literature, only trouble is interesting” Burroway
– Crisis: Conflict: Resolution (or not) good love stories are boring, need trouble and conflict to interest people
– Image
– Character
– Dialogue
– Narrator
– Setting
– Voice
^^^ to tell a story, you never TELL in fiction, only show. The biggest difference is you’re telling the TRUTH!
– Do not have to come to definite conclusion
– Conjecture and speculation = work
– You can show AND tell
– Want to see a serious, engaged, thoughtful, mind on the page
– Crucial move from observation to insight =
Memoir and Personal Essay
Trust > memoir > more or less straight forward account of a person’s life
Personal Essay
Starts in one’s own experience, but can veer off in other directions; toward political, historic, literary or cultural criticism
“The Female Body” pg. 245

– Begins talking about herself > women in media/advertising > Barbie Dolls > uses of the body/worth > love vs. biology > women vs. men
– Comical, but addressing a feminist issue
– NOT a memoir of Atwood’s life; instead it criticizes culture she comments on, beginning with herself

“Margot’s Diary” pg. 247

Anne Frank is the main Holocaust hero and other people are overlooked – went to the Anne Frank House wondered what her sister’s diary would’ve been.

Creative Nonfiction: Introductions
– Photograph (description) 247
– Arresting Image, scene, statement 245
– Scene 176
– Middle of things 29
– Memory 62
Creative Nonfiction: Conclusions
– Arresting Statement 247
– Final Insight (idea about observations) 255
– Image 150
– Twist (something reader didn’t know yet) 117
– Scene (bring it all full-circle) 33
Creative Nonfiction: Ethics?
Did that actually happen? – Given that memory is often unreliable, and rarely “photographic”, is it ever allowed to make up what we don’t remember in creative nonfiction?
– James Frey’s time in jail, he never went to jail.
– Ed McClanahan’s gall stone earring
– Reece’s hiking companion
– John’s suicidal subject
* You cannot toy with readers’ emotions, small lies don’t really matter because they don’t dramatically affect the story. DON’T LOSE TRUST!
* Burroway: “An absence of intent to deceive.”
Series of events in CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
Series of events DELIBERATELY ORGANIZED so as to reveal their dramatic, thematic, and emotional significance.
Covers a relatively long period of time in a short narrative time. + BACKSTORY!
Vividly, through image, character, setting, conflict and dialogue, with a short amount of time, the heart of fiction. + FLASHBACK
BACKSTORY (summary)
What it sounds like; info from the past told in summary form.
Jump back in time to an actual scene.
TRUE or FALSE: Most stories are in chronological order, they’re NOT better using flashbacks and moving around in the plot.
FALSE: Most stories are NOT told in chronological order, they ARE better using flashbacks and moving around in the plot.
ex. Tandolfo The Great story-board activity
In Media Res
In the middle of things
3rd person OMNISCIENT
“Plays God” knows thoughts of all characters
3rd person LIMITED
Only knows thoughts of 1 character
3rd person OBJECTIVE
Only knows facts, not thoughts
“Night Ride” – Kinfolks pg. 30

3rd person LIMITED
– Wilgus’ head 13 year old boy
– “screwing” knows something is up but too young/ confused to understand
– Coming of age story for Wilgus, intimate story about only him.

“Fat Monroe” – Kinfolks

3rd person OBJECTIVE
– We ONLY see actions, not WHY anything happens

Journey story
– Right of passage for Wilgus because he grows – literal journey and learning journey
– Artificial adult world > driving home when his uncle is too drunk
– Wilgus finds he’s actually a lot like his dad and could achieve anything, despite limitations
Maxine pg. 99

Fears being alone in “the end of the world”. – She loves her daughter Cindy most
– She has self-esteem issues, Wilgus tries to console her, Cindy refuses to live w/ her
* gurney builds her character
– shes pissed off at everything
– drunkenness shows her real thoughts/ feelings
– Maxine doesn’t know if she’s saying things out loud or not
* setting > per psychology reflects where she is
– she’s trapped where she is/ repressed
– She’s fantasizing about opportunities neither she not Cindy have to them – looking for true love and a real life

Writing A Screen Play
Everything you write is:
– scripts narrow focus of story to manage it
– you can say what the camera is seeing or doing without explicitly saying it
Description & Dialogue
Need to be proportioned right!
> 1st time you introduce a character you can do a small, concise description of them
> This is a visual medium, so DON’T just use dialogue in movies, entertain visually
Tips to a good SCREEN PLAY
* Consider the “rhythm” of music involved to make good decisions about it
* Don’t over-do profanity, just use it when it’s appropriate or it’s useless
* DON’T artificially invoke emotion
* Dialogue doesn’t necessarily need to be the obvious turning point in the story
* EXPOSITION – things you need to have already known to understand the present action
* Don’t do all the expected genre-specific things people know
* Film switches back and forth from 1st person to 3rd and so on
Text & Subtext
– Speaking tells more about story & characters
– If you don’t believe if a certain character
“wouldn’t say that” then change it
– Don’t write so organized that it’s an essay, that’s not how people really speak
– Controlled Ambiguity = readers understand when characters do something (plot twist)
“Gift” by: Czeslaw Milosz 1971
– He came from Russia and escaped communism, then won a Nobel Prize
– Very simple poem, comfortable, easy language
– Honest statements, honest imagery, straightforward
A figure of speech in which something is referred to by using the name of something that is associated with it.
“The Good Shepherd” by: Ai
– Free Verse, monologue (delivered by killer)
– Persona, she isn’t a male serial killer
– Verbal irony, creepy and told by a woman
– Why is he a “good shepherd”? because the killer justifies his actions and thinks hes normal and God’s the one who’s not, shepherd is an ironic term
“Democracy” by: Leonard Cohen
– Political protest, bad things about U.S.
– Formal Verse, serious topic, mocking that we really don’t live in a democracy and that we have serious issues
* be sure the form you use in poetry matches the content
“Try To Praise The Mutilated World” by: Adam Zagajewski
(post- 911 poem)
– Only poem published in the New Yorker post-911
– The world is flawed but we shouldn’t give up
– Tone is calm, quiet, not angry, just a sentiment
– Free verse > written before 911 happened
“Guns For Teachers” 68

– Dramatic irony

Please follow and like us:
Haven’t found the essay you want?