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  • Writer's pictureShana Ritter

Why I was writing myself into corners…

Last week I took a course at the writing festival in Iowa City called Novel in a Week taught by Kelly Dwyer.  I discovered why it was was that even though I could hear my character’s voices,  see their shoes, feel the tension of their decisions on my own skin, I kept writing myself into corners.

Simply it is because I think like a poet. Poetry is my first language, fiction is a new vocabulary, cadence, rhythm, I am trying to learn. It is not writing prose that was stumping me, but carrying plot, sacrificing image to story so to speak.

I kept thinking that in this workshop on fiction I had entered a new culture. I was surprised as writers described the scene for the rising action just before the climax instead of reading the scene. yet I found that talking about their structure helped me to write my story when I returned to lap top. No writing long hand in this world.

As a poet I dive and surface with sensations to convey through images and phrases, metaphor and simile. As a novelist I am trying to swim the English Channel stroke by stroke. I am tugging along the story line and attempting to do it in a way that the reader feels compelled to follow.

I learned a lot last week thanks to everyone in my workshop and to Kelly. I acquired new tools and names for the tools and have written everyday since, clear about moving the story forward.

I am determined to finish a first draft by the end of September so I can ready myself for a workshop with Mark Doty in October where a poetic sensibility will steer the writing and I can return to my homeland

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