Assignment 3 – Reflective Commentary

 

Part Three in Writing Skills showed how to create speech using monologue and dialogue. The assignment was to expand an idea making use of direct and interior monologue. With the tools learned during this project, I produced a story that included speech.

Monologue helps build detail. I practiced monologue with a character in a setting. It added depth especially as there was action and noise in this particular piece that dialogue could have slowed down. I had difficulty making the monologue sound realistic. For example, my character was sinking in mud and cursing in his mind: “Looking up the hill, he tugged at his leg, his foot stuck firmly in the mud. Bloody hell! As he heaved again on his leg, the other foot sank further in the sludge. Jesus!

Stories written in first person point of view such as Sebastian Faulks’ Engleby are written mainly as monologue. This can help us to become more intimate with the main character, but because we only receive input from him, it is difficult to know what is real and what he fabricates.

Dialogue has various rules attached. The Writing Skills Coursebook states that Anthony Trollope’s advice on dialogue includes “No character should utter much above a dozen words at a breath – unless the writer can justify to himself a longer flood of speech by the speciality for the occasion.” (99). That is a challenge and required a similar streamlining that takes place when writing poems.

Further rules include the use of speech attributions. Stephen King in On Writing claims the best speech tag to use is “said.” (142). In addition, if it is obvious who is speaking, do not use speech tags (OCA 97).

Dialogue would be boring if it was dictated from real speech. To help hear the rhythm of dialogue, I practiced writing down snippets of real dialogue. I then added description and action to develop the story. For example, one line was “Sam’s not giving me any [inaudible].” When action and description were added, it became “She came towards Lizzy’s desk with a big smile. ‘Sam’s not giving me any…’ she mumbled and pushed her long auburn hair up in a band with a sweep of her hands while looking at Lizzy through her fringe.”

When practicing dialogue, I placed a previous character with a character chosen from a list. This piece was interesting so I used it in my assignment. I changed the tone of the piece as it was bright and my assignment is darker. The beginning of the assignment grew when I practiced playwriting. I set Betty in with her doctor discussing why she was unhappy. As it was a play, when I changed it to prose, I had to add action and description. Reading Engleby helped me to see how description can be added without stopping the action. Some times he writes very simple building layer upon layer. For example he describes a Turkish bus station thus: “There were sodium lights over the grimy tarmac and the glass-sided shelter. There was that wailing Muslim music turned up louder than the cheap speakers wanted, so their tinny shuddering was added to the vibrato of the singer.” (Faulks 38).

 

But then he describes something quite poetically; so much so that it is unclear exactly what he means, but you get the feeling from his words. For example, “Whoosh goes the chestnut-amber tide up the side of the straight glass as I tear the cellophane from a silver packet of Sobranie Virginia.” (Faulks 92).

 

During the draft process with my assignment, I cut down some of Betty’s dialogue in her discussion with Jones as some of them were 20/30 words long. Doing this, I could see that the words removed were redundant. I had difficulty with taking Betty back in time to when her husband left her. I am still not sure that I have done this smoothly.

Finally, I have learned to write dialogue that has a function and keeps to the point. To support my further education in writing, I need to read more fiction that shows how writers seamlessly move between time and place. With Betty’s story, I created an assignment that met the requirements of Part Three.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Open College of the Arts. Writing Skills, 2016.

King, Stephen. On Writing. Great Britain: Hodder & Stroughton, 2012.

Faulks, Sebastian. Engleby. Great Britain: Vintage, 2008.

 

Part 4 – Style and Language – Reflections

Reflections of Project 1 and 2

The workbook talks about writing in the style of the authors we like. I enjoy Stephen King’s chatty narrative. I also was inspired by Dorothy Whipple’s Someone at a Distance. She wrote about Mrs. North (mother of the protagonist) in a style I found compelling.

I watched The BFG yesterday and really enjoyed the way he changed words:

Gobblefunk

Kiddlers

Two rights don’t equal a left

Babblement

Chatbag

Fizzcolckler

Frobscottle

Mint Jujube

Rotsome

Scrumdiddlyumptious

Telly-telly bunkum box

Wonka-vite

For Project 1 Ex 1, I started a story in first person about my family. I spoke as myself and wrote in the style of King. I tried to be chatty and familiar like his narrators. I produced some writing that could be developed into a fuller story. It helped me to write in the King style because I gave up being worried about how I was writing. It was also fun.

It was interesting to look at the different styles of writing: business and creative. Old fashioned writers like Jane Austen sound different than more modern. The flow and rhythm of her words are more formal. I had never heard of Fiction in Verse before and came upon Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse. I only read the beginning but it is so good that I will buy the book. She is very succinct in her use of words but that does not make the writing abstract. It makes her writing interesting. Her word choices are perfect.

Science fiction can sound epic with big language – the same could be said of fantasy. In both of these styles you can write what you like because no one is going to question something that claims to be fantasy. No one is going to say in 1918, people did not talk like that/smoke those brands/etc.

Suspense stories use sharp words. This can be the same in horror, but in horror I find that they also use very ordinary words in horrendous situations, which can heighten the fear level (Misery is one of those where the nurse spoke very kindly and then broke his legs).

Realistic Fiction (To Kill a Mockingbird) can sound a lot like Memoir especially when written in the first person.

I read my work for Project 1 Ex 2 and it felt wrong. I was in a bad space that day and it felt inadequate as I felt inadequate. Maybe that is my voice. The voice of inadequacy. That I will speak for all inadequate people. I will speak for the Carries of the world.

Stephen King said that you have to have a number one reader (this is his wife). But I do not have that. I am not sure who I am writing for. My husband does not like writing. It could be my mother or it could be my counsellor.

I wrote the Project 2 Ex 1 to my mother. It is a story about her father. I found that I wrote more this way. I was not picking at the story so much. I was writing this story to my mother and it flowed as a very shitty first draft. I want to develop this story and might use it for my assignment.

In the workbook it states that “we often talk about a writer ‘finding their own voice’ but a writer is a vocal chameleon who should be able to adopt different voices in different situations.” I was glad to hear this because I never quite understood the finding my own voice statement. Often in my first drafts they are written in my voice, but I have to make changes so that the different characters sound different from me and from each other.

For Project 2 Ex 2 I took part of the story I wrote to my mother and thought about who my grandfather was. I was then able to change the voice from my standard English voice, to a working class voice. It was an interesting exercise because it made me really think about how he would talk and think. Because I never met him, I had to think about the era he grew up in and the area of London he lived.

Hangout – Seven Basic Plots – Reflections

We covered the different plots.

There are only seven plots – so that makes it easy to work out what kind of story it is going to be. Maybe that is what Stephen King means: that he writes a story and if it fits a certain plot then fine, but he does not go out of his way to make it fit a plot. The plot comes after the story.

We studied Part one of Eternal Love which seems like an interesting story. We talked about how he wrote and why he wrote that way. Because the author gave us a tickle of what the story was about and that an event was pending, I found it difficult to read the preceding story prior to the event. If I was to read the whole story, I would have to read that chapter again to really get the information he was giving us. It was tantalising, intriguing, and frustrating. But I think that added to the grit of the story. I would not necessarily change it because it was frustrating. It added anger/frustration to the character of the narrator/protagonist.

I found it easy to understand the different plots and what type of plot fit with the stories I have written.

We were asked to write a story and I stalled. It was hard to write a story under pressure like that. We had 20 minutes and I wrote about my grandad travelling over the English Channel to France at the beginning of the Great War. I was unsure about what I had written. I had to share the first paragraph with the group. It went okay. I will develop that story further.