Some of you may know that I am an aspiring writer, but what you may not know is that I am also married to an accomplished one. We have been wanting to team up for a couple years now to combine his vast experience with writing and teaching with my love of learning and improving my craft. It is my pleasure to share my blog space with this amazingly talented person (I wouldn’t share it with just anyone – this blog is my pride and joy), and I can say that with only a little biasedness because his work speaks for itself. The Weekly Writing Workshop will be featured here for the next several weeks, and our hope is that all of you aspiring authors out there find it helpful. -Niki
An Introduction to Your Host
Welcome to the first instalment of the Obsessive Bookseller’s Weekly Writing Workshop! My name is Darren M. Edwards, and I’m excited for this opportunity to discuss the craft of writing.
In about ten minutes anybody could create a writing blog and offer you their opinion as “expert” advice. I’m not claiming to be an expert, but I have had a lot of experience writing and studying the craft of writing which I’d like to share with you.
I published my first essay in 2007 and have since published poetry and essays in dozens of places ranging from trade publications to University literary journals. In 2009 I received a master’s degree in literature and writing from Utah State University where I wrote a spiritual memoir for my master’s thesis. Between my time as an editorial assistant at Isotope: A Journal of Literary Nature and Science Writing and serving as the editor in chief of both New Graffiti Publishing and The Creative magazine, I have over six years of publishing experience. For seven years, I taught college courses in composition, world literature, creative writing, and publication production. I’m currently writing a space opera, Rogue Noble, which I hope to start pitching in the fall, and I’m excited to announce that my first book, a creative nonfiction exploration of Utah’s sport climbing history, will be published by Arcadia Publishing & The History Press sometime in 2016.
Our world is full of great writing: Literary fiction, speculative fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction. You can spend a sunny afternoon sitting under a tree reading Annie Dillard’s beautifully reflective writing. A dark and stormy night could be the perfect time to delve into some H.P. Lovecraft or curl up in a blanket and drift off to J.K. Rowling’s vast world of witchcraft and wizardry. And, whether you’re watching a performance poem by Patricia Smith on YouTube or losing yourself in the imagery of T.S. Elliot, poetry is very much alive.
There is a false notion floating around that these genres have little to nothing to do with each other. Why would a novelist ever read or study poetry? Why read Pratchett if your genre of choice is creative nonfiction? Other than becoming a more well-rounded person, this kind of literary cross training can do a great deal to strengthen your writing in your genre of choice.
For example, if the characters in your space opera feel flat, studying the way Montaigne or Dody weave reflection into their imagery could help you fix that. Regardless of genre, it’s a good idea to visit Hemingway if your writing is too complex or Faulkner if it’s overly simple.
So, once a week, we’re going to dig into one element of writing to explore what these other genres can add to your speculative fiction. We’ll see how basic concepts like voice or setting can hold new insights when you come at them from another angle.
As you comment and ask questions at the end of each post, I hope that this column can serve as the introduction to a discussion on the craft of writing. And, while I have many topics which I look forward to covering, I’m always open to suggestions and look forward to hearing what elements of your writing you’d like to improve.
I’ll also throw out a prompt related to what we’ve discussed each week. So, here is your first prompt. Pick up something you might not usually read. You don’t have to read the whole thing (though that’s not a bad idea) but what you do read, read it like a writer. Then try to mimic that style for a paragraph or a page. Let me know about your experience in the comments.