Nobody can escape it – the year of the Blakenhall Writers Anthology is here! We want to take every opportunity to give our members the chance to create some really compelling content ready to submit to the anthology, so we are tailoring our sessions to the theme of our identity, and our local community.
For February’s session, we decided to respond to the group’s request for further work on character development and dialogue. We gave it a local twist by using some old photos of residents of Wolverhampton from the past. There were schoolchildren, factory workers, and even the head of the workhouse, who were just waiting for us to give them a Blakenhall makeover.
First, we did a bit of work to turn these pictures into characters. We tried to answer some questions about the characters, including ‘what do they like to do on a Saturday?’ ‘Describe the most important person in their life’ and ‘What is it like where they live?’
This exercise meant we could really get inside the character’s head, as well as giving us some good ammunition for writing a short story. But now we had some ideas brewing, we had to give our characters a voice.
We learned that dialogue has a purpose in a story; to show the relationship between characters, to move the story on, or to build tension. It’s important that this is effective, or your work will not be believable.
We explored some dialogue techniques, including the importance of the word ‘said.’ Did you know, that if you try to use lots of different words to describe how your character is feeling, you lose the impact of the words? Using ‘said’ is a sure-fire way to maintain a neutral playing field and let the words themselves do the talking (so to speak!)
Then we tied it all together by writing a scene for a story in which the character we built in the first exercise was speaking to another character, to practice the techniques we’d just discussed. You can find some good tips here.
I hope this has given everyone a starting point for a story they might like to submit for our anthology! Try to work on your piece for next month’s meeting and bring it along for some feedback.
Don’t forget, you need to submit some work for our feedback session to the Blakenhall Writers email address by the date of our next meeting (March 14th). Please send up to 3 poems or up to 400 words of prose that you would like some constructive comments on. We will distribute them to the whole group to review, and bring our comments in to the April session.