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Exploring the ways into creative writing

Maria Fernandes | NT Kuriocity

The Navhind Times Creative Writing workshop was held on November 25 at Dempo House, Panaji. Jessica Faleiro, author of ‘Afterlife’ (2012) and ‘The Delicate Balance of Little Lives’ (2018) was the resource person for the half-day workshop. Open to those above the age of 14 years, the workshop aimed at helping beginners and improvers learn techniques related to the craft of writing fiction.

After introducing herself to the 50 participants, Jessica gave a summary of what she would be covering in the session. She began by asking the group where they got inspiration for stories from and then moved onto discussing the importance of strong opening lines for their stories. Through examples of opening lines for various genres of fiction like, ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife’ from pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, she asked participants to come up with their own opening lines. The enthusiastic participants got to work and came up with various openings for different genres which they shared with Jessica and were given feedback.

She then went on to explain the basic story structure and discussed the importance of developing conflict in the story as she took participants through the various components of the narrative arc used in fiction, namely; exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution. “Understanding the story arc will help you understand how to improve a story that seems too one dimensional,” she said. Next participants were given a story to read and analyse. They were asked to dissect the story into its components to understand conflict development in the story. In the following exercise participants had to describe their favourite object in one descriptive paragraph, by engaging the reader’s senses in the process.

In the session understanding how to develop interesting and compelling characters, participants created their own protagonist keeping in mind, gender, age, name, where he/she lives, fears, secrets, etc. “Knowing what the character’s fears and secrets are, is important as this will help decide his/her behaviour in the story,” she stressed.

Developing a story plot was covered next and Jessica reiterated the importance of conflict in a story. “The most important part of plot development is understanding how to develop conflict and apply it in the right places in the story,” she said. Participants then got busy writing their short stories utilising what they had learnt from Jessica along with their own creativity.

In the final session that covered editing and revision, the top five mistakes that writers make were explained. These included, repetition of words, thoughts and events; inconsistent point of view, use of tenses and insufficient editing. “The first draft of your story cannot be the final draft. Careful editing and revising as required is extremely important,” she emphasised.

Participants had fun time learning with Jessica.

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