Getting raw…don’t skim the surface

1 Sep

I’m enrolled at Southern New Hampshire University’s MFA Fiction program. I started in June 2011, and it’s been an eye-opening experience.

Not eye-opening in the sense that I thought I was the greatest writer ever and I found out I’m not. I knew then I had a lot to learn which is why I applied for the program. I also knew I needed a good butt-kicking to stay motivated, and I’ve gotten that too. It’s been eye-opening in the sense that I’m a superficial writer. I tell the facts (what happens first, second, third, etc) and sometimes I show the emotions (okay, a lot of time I tell the emotions, which is bad. Don’t do this. Ever). I tend to skim the surface of what’s really going on. My mentor for the first semester (Diane Les Becquets, who happens to be the program director and a brilliant author) has told me that I need raw, concrete details. I need to dig deeper into my characters. Breathe life into them. Let them tell their stories. Make it believable. Show the scene. Add smells and all the other senses, not just the visual. I interpret all this as writing in 2D. I need to make it 3D. Sound harsh? Not really. She’s so right. Who wants to see a book where no one “feels” the characters? Do I want to have characters no one cares about? No. What’s the point in that?

Why do I skim the surface? I’m not really sure. Perhaps there are things lurking below that I’d rather not deal with. If you’re not a writer, you might say, “Well, write about something else! After all, you’re the one making it up.” To fellow writers, you know that your stories have a life of their own and you have to tell it. You could change it, but it wouldn’t be as true. It would probably come across as fake to your readers. As Diane says about half of my submissions, “I don’t buy it.” I love her.

It comes down to this for me: Face the fears. Whatever they are, even if I don’t know and can’t explain them, I need to forge ahead and get to the center of the tootsie pop. That’s where it’s the best.

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2 Responses to “Getting raw…don’t skim the surface”

  1. Jennifer Lauren September 23, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    Hello lunarmoth,
    Thank you for visiting my blog.
    It’s good that you recognize certain truths about yourself. It’s the only way we can learn. The best way to learn more about ‘showing’ is to read other writers, ones of great prose, and see how it’s done. Every great artist begins by studying the artsits who have come before them, especially the ones they admire. Good luck with your own writing journey, my friend.

  2. lunarmoth September 23, 2011 at 7:33 am #

    I have problems getting to that tootsie-roll center as well. I find myself telling just about everything, without even realizing it! When a person critiquing me says, “Show me! Don’t tell!” I tend to sit there with an open mouth and a blank mind, completely clueless.
    I may not realize it while I am writing, but virtually everything I write turns on one of my own inner issues. Often, I see this truth only in hindsight.

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