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Newsletter: 17/3/1: Write Group: Craft Talk 1: What is Story?

Hi everyone,

Craft Talk is an experimental segment of our Write Group meetings. Over the years, we have had impromptu, informal discussions about writing craft. At our last meeting, a request was made to formalize these discussions and those present voted to try it out. So came Craft Talk.

The format of each of these discussions may vary from month to month. What I would like is a different person to lead each discussion. Hopefully, this will diversify the topics, the approaches and the interests for the discussions.

The Talks will cover topics on writing, editing, publishing, marketing and more. Their order will be determined by those members who express interest in leading a formal discussion. Essentially, we will discuss what interests us rather than what comes next in an arbitrary list.

I volunteered to kick Craft Talk off with the abstract What is Story? Those who know me know this is a topic I often wander back to. In this case, I want to focus on how what-story-is influences our craft. And I plan to keep our first Talk a discussion, rather than a seminar or workshop. To this end, my contribution will be to guide the discussion by presenting leading questions that will provoke exploration of what story is and how it influences how we write. After the meeting I plan to write a post on our blog that summarizes key insights donned from our discussion.

The questions I came up with are listed below. I am presenting them to you so you can think on them before our meeting. The questions dig deeper than they first appear to, so read them a couple of times. I suggest jotting down your reactions and responses to each. Also bring paper and a writing instrument so you can jot notes for yourself during the discussion.

  1. What makes story (prose, poem, fiction, nonfiction, blog post, novel,​ essay, memoir, …) magical?
  2. How can we make a story moving or compelling?
  3. Where do stories come from? Where do they reside?
  4. What obligation do we have to our readers? What obligation do they have to us?

There are some logistics we still have to work out and decide about, such as when we should present the Craft Talk during a meeting (I’m thinking toward the end after we share and discuss our writing) and how long it should be (realistically, I’m thinking up to 30 minutes, but that would depend on interest and topic). What things may be curtailed, such as how long we have to share our work or any writing exercises we might partake in, both of which are prime functions of our meetings?

I am getting excited and I hope you are too. Join us on Friday as we try flapping our wings.

In the meantime, keep writing,
Shawn

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