We are writers. Colleagues. We work with each other and learn from each other. Feedback you receive from your fellow writers, as well as the feedback you give to others, are all priceless little stepping stones in one’s growth as a writer. I do not think of myself as your instructor or teacher – I am your colleague and your friend in our little collective. We will together experience the amazing power of feedback, and the growth of our skills will inevitably follow.
The Workshop consists of two parts and is designed to allow all of you to exercise your creative and critical thinking, and to practice your writing. The first part of the Workshop is theoretical and is called Imagination. Here, we will learn how a workshop functions, how to give and how to receive feedback, and how providing feedback can help our own writing. We will cover different sections and aspects of a fictional piece, and we will discuss the things we want to include or avoid in our work. We will start our discussion by observing a piece on a general level, then dive deep into the details. Though we will focus our discussion on short stories, it’s only because of the time constraint, but all of the points we mention can be applied in the same fashion to whatever you want to write: flash fiction, short stories, novellas, and novels as well.
Each theoretical part of the Workshop is connected to a corresponding practical, creative part where we will be ‘workshopping’ existing fiction, as well as writing our own. We cannot have a fiction / creative writing workshop without writing anything, right? This second part is called Creation and is designed for all of us to exercise our creativity, our reading and our writing as much as possible. Here, you and I will utilise the things we learned and discussed in Imagination, with one of the goals being to write a new short story by the end of the Workshop.
This will help us develop and train our critical thinking. We will learn what works in a piece of fiction and what does not, and I will share with you the tips I have learned working with my colleagues in Sarajevo Writers' Workshop for five years now.
I am looking forward to being in this little collective of ours with you, learning with you, writing with you, and growing with you. See you in the Workshop. ＾＾
#Imagination @Creation ∞Life
Let's start with a short introduction and talk about what a workshop is, how it functions, and how 'workshopping' a piece of fiction helps our own writing as well.
This is a practice workshop where we will utilise the points we mentioned in the Intro and discuss H.C. Andersen's "Emperor's New Suit".
Welcome to Level I - the surface level.
In out first official Imagination, we talk about the importance of surface reading and general observation.
In our first Creation, we discuss "The Yellow Wallpaper" by C.P. Gilman, focusing on the general observation only.
We continue with our surface reading / writing discussion, this time focusing on the theme and the main idea, talking about the difference between them, and offering a few helpful tips.
We go back to "The Yellow Wallpaper", this time discussing the themes and ideas we identified in this rich text.
Let's talk about another essential element of any piece of fiction that our readers will surely notice right on the first reading - plot.
In our 3rd Creation, we discuss plot as it is constructed in "The Yellow Wallpaper".
For our last workshop in Level 1, we talk about two more entwined elements of a piece of fiction - movement and flow - and how to make sure they are on point.
One more time, we go back to our "The Yellow Wallpaper" and discuss movement and flow in this text. As always, we learn about techniques which we could potentially adapt and/or adopt and use in our pieces as well.
Welcome to Level 2! Let's dive deeper into the fiction analysis, discuss individual elements of the plot, and check out a number of techniques and tips which help us grow as authors. Most importantly for a writer - let's start writing our own stories :)
We start this section by discussing the relevance of a good opening, as well as providing a few tips on what to do when establishing a setting and what to avoid. After this Imagination, we will write our own Intros too :)
In this Creation, we workshop the introductions we wrote for our short stories. I share with you the opening to the story I am writing for this Workshop of ours :)
We continue with our plot discussion and we talk about the rising action.
Here, I share with you the first draft of my rising action and what I like / do not like about it. I hope that you wrote your rising action too :)
In this Imagination, we discuss the relevance of writing a good climax and how to do it, as well as what avoid doing.
I share with you the freshly written climax of my not-yet-titled-story, and we see once again what unexpected, but fantastic changes to out texts can come out of 'workshopping' each their sentence.
We discuss the two final parts of plot, and we finish the first drafts our stories. Yaaaay :)
While you workshop your own falling action and conclusion, let me share mine, and discuss a few likes & dislikes I have there.
We did a fantastic job writing our stories and diving all the way to the Level 3. We will keep on 'workshopping' - reading and re-reading - the first drafts of our stories so to examine the essential elements which reside deep under the surface level but can make or break the entire structure of our story, and making sure that these work perfectly in our stories.
We start our deep-level discussion with an ever-important element: conflict. We discuss in details what it is, the kinds and types of conflicts we can choose from, and what to avoid when writing our own.
I ask you to check out the conflict in your stories, in my The-Not-Yet-Titled-Story (of which I provided a full version), as well as my published story Child of Stone.
We continue our Workshop with an in-depth discussion of characters and their creation & development.
Let's see if we managed to establish well-developed characters, as well as character dynamics, and what we can do to add to our stories, not take away from them.
In Imagination 11, we talk about what P.O.V. is, the types we can choose from, how to choose, and how we can utilise it properly to contribute to the story as a single unit.
Let's see how the P.O.V. functions in our stories - does it add to it? Does it work or a change of P.O.V. would be better?
Narration and description are such important parts of our storytelling, yet so tricky as well. Let's check out some suggestions on what to do and what not to do when writing these two.
We mentioned some suggestions and advice in Imagination. Now we see how these work in practice and if we managed to utilise them well in our own writing.
The last workshop of this section is reserved for a topic of a highest relevance - dialogues and how to write them (well).
As my favourite element of a story, I like to write and experiment with dialogues, so let's see what I've done in Child of Stone. What about your dialogues? What is is that you like there, what is it that you find lacking, and what do you think how can you make that work?
Welcome to Level 4, my personal favourite :) Though all levels are fun to me, this one was special because I wrote additional two stories for you so you can get creative, have fun, and mark all the no-nos in writing you can find. In this section, we will first check out the opening to a famous novel and discuss the wonderful ways in which it was written, thus learning what to do in our own writing too.
In this Imagination, we talk about a few things that we want to use in our work - which help us create fresh images and which successfully transmit thoughts and emotions.
In this Creation, we find those big yeahs we talked about and discuss how Charles Dickens wrote a magnificent opening to his Great Expectations - why does it function so well?
We dedicate an entire Imagination to the biggest enemy of creative thought, originality, and everything that is art - clichés.
Through 'workshopping' my story Running with Wolves we discuss the dangers of clichés further and learn how to recognise them.
Clichés are not the only things we as writers want to avoid when writing - here are a few more :)
There are so many no-nos, the workshop had to be split in two parts :)
After talking about the big nos, let's find them in my story The Very Deep Blue, and see how they (don't) function in practice.
A looot of nos.... （＾▽＾）
The first / second drafts of our stories were resting during our Level 4. We needed some rest too. Now is the time to take them back out and give them life - now we can read them with fresh eyes and identify the problems, as well as the solutions. Let's see how we can edit our stories and bring them to their final forms. We also talk about some suggestions and give advice for naming our fiction-children.
Our final versions are ready! ＼（＾▽＾）／
How awesome is that? Congratulations. Now let's see how that final form looks like and what has been edited to get it here.
Also, I have some good news about my story to share with you all. ＾＾
My few final wishes for you, friends. Please wish me the same. ＾＾
I am Kulović Selma, a published fiction and nonfiction writer from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, writing both in Bosnian and English languages. I hold an MA in English Language and Literature.
I have been a member of the Sarajevo Writers’ Workshop since 2012 when it was founded by our mentor, writer Stacy Mattingly. With SWW, I participated in public readings, and I have performed my fiction (a piece that included singing a cappella) at the Sarajevo War Theatre (SARTR).
My poetry has appeared in H.O.W. Journal. I presented my academic essay “The Other in One: The Otherness in Golding’s Lord of the Flies” at the International Interdisciplinary Student Conference at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, after which it got published in their essay collection. The paper has been since translated in Slovene and republished.
I participated in the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program during their first Narrative Witness exchange – A Caracas-Sarajevo Collaboration – where I published two short stories, Child of Stone and Among the White Flowers.
I published two more short stories in journal NEMA. NEMA also published a review / report from the 54.Sarajevo Days of Poetry which I wrote with my colleague and friend, Nermana Česko.
I recently participated in The Borders Project – a collaboration between the SWW and the Narrative Collective from Atlanta, USA.
I am currently working on three more exciting projects: one is my own, and two are amazing collaborations, and I will have more info on these to share very soon.
Please feel free to check out my website, and SWW’s website; please like SWW’s page on Facebook, and follow me on Instagram (selmadeanima) if you’d like.
#Imagination @Creation ∞Life