Talking Story

writers workshops

I’ve often said that humans are hardwired to learn through story. It’s no surprise then that certain patterns resonate across cultures and geographic boundaries. In the West, we’re thrilled by stories that follow what Joseph Campbell and others describe as the Hero’s Journey or the Monomyth. Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lilo & Stitch, The Lion King, The Hobbit, The Hunger Games–are all based on familiar patterns found in the Hero’s Journey. But there are other stories–Hawaiian mo’olelo, Asian folktales, Pasifika myths and legends, fairy tales, and African folktales for example–that are structurally very different. Those differences can really confuse western readers by upsetting their expectations. In this workshop series, we’re going to break down stories and learn to map them forwards and backwards, molding them into original compositions that breathe new life into well-worn tales. We’re going to talk about the reader’s expectations and including the necessary story beats that meet them. Here’s to taking old stories and making them sparkle for modern readers.

And by all that is holy, pray that we can have lively discussions via Zoom!

On Feb. 28, 2014 authors Christine Haggerty, Angela Hartley, and I held two creative writing workshops at Uintah High School in Vernal, UT. I talked about being an author and building craft skills and Angela gave a presentation about the power of synesthesia in writing. Synesthesia mixes the experiences of senses in powerful ways like tasting green or hearing chocolate. Angela then showed the students this image and asked them to write about it. Below are a few excerpts. For more examples, please see Christine or Angela‘s blog.

dreary-road

The fog descended through the trees tasting like soapy water. ~ Nichole

It was early morning and Samantha was already out running through the woods. ~Jeff

I bit my lips. They tasted sweet like the blossoms of the bush next to the road. ~Brianne

The sounds of a car and dogs behind him. Chester ran faster. He could almost feel the yelling coming from the ranch director. He was not going back to that place. ~Dalton

It had been weeks since Kasanalea had seen another person. ~Aspynn

Just as she began to feel the suffocating effects of the fog closing in, salvation came. ~ Jesse

As the sun finally began to rise, Kim breathed a sigh of relief. ~ Harmony

“I thought you said we would be safe here,” she accused. ~ Stacia

I was standing in the fog. Dark. Cold. I couldn’t see anything, but I could hear something. I shouldn’t be out this late. ~ Trestyn

Out of breath, my muscles aching. I sucked in the crisp morning air as I ran faster into the light. ~ Jaeley

Leaves scattered out of the way as we sped down the pavement. ~ Paige

 

 

 

 

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