Tag Archives: superficial

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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