Sunday, May 16, 2010

League of Utah Writers Spring Workshops

I just got back yesterday from the spring workshops sponsored by the League of Utah Writers. It was awesome! I am learning so much.

Clint Johnson (author of Green Dragon Codex) told us anyone can write and get published. He taught us that story writing is comprised of the inter-connectivity between these of three things:
  1. Setting the scene
  2. Revealing Character, and
  3. Advancing the plot.

He went on to explain what each of these things were and how any one without the others makes for boring reading. He referred to the blending of these three concepts as "Triple-Duty writing."

For the hands-on portion of his presentation, Clint gave us a choice between I think five different writing prompts and had us take about 10 minutes to write about that prompt, trying to use triple-duty writing.

The writing prompt I chose to write on is a father taking a child to a baseball game and it's the first time the two have been together since a divorce. For me it was quite a challenge, especially with the time limit. My perfectionism kept getting in the way and I kept wanting to go back and change the way I said something, but then there was that time limit to deal with.

But, no excuses. This is what I wrote. Yes, I would change some things on re-writing it, but I'm giving it to you the way I wrote it:
Cindy held her father's hand tightly as they walked from their car to the stand at the baseball field.

"I wish Mom were here,"Cindy thought, "What if I need to use the bathroom?"

Dad got the two of them settled on the bleachers.

"Are you hungry?" Dad asked, "I can go get us hot dogs."

"No," said Cindy, even though she had missed breakfast because she had to be ready so early.

"I'm starving, but I don't want to be left here alone," she thought.

Cindy looked up at her dad, tall and strong, with his favorite New York Yankees baseball cap on. She remembered how he always used to wear that cap when he mowed the lawn at home. Mommy hired the teenager next door to mow the lawn now.

"Daddy?" said Cindy.

"Yes, Hon?" said her father.

She wanted to ask him why he didn't live with her and Mom anymore. Instead she said,

"Do you miss us?"

"Of course I miss you," said her dad, "That's why I wanted us to spend time together today. Are you having fun?"

Cindy put on her best smile and looked out to the ball field where men in tight pants and dark shirts were throwing balls back and forth to each other.

"I hope it gets more fun than this," she thought, "I wish I were home with Mom.

"Sure Dad," she said, "This is great."

Soon the announcer made everyone stand up for The Star Spangled Banner. Dad took off his cap and held it over his heart. Cindy looked at his hand....

So, that was my little attempt. He then made us go back and re-create the scene from the Dad's point of view. That was harder because it was not the natural choice for me. Clint said that doing exercises that stretch us in that way is really good practice and helps us become better writers. He also said that all writing is self-discovery.

As I have time, I'll report on the other workshops. The other presenters were Dan Wells, Elana Johnson, Ben Behunin, Bert Compton and Angela Eschler.


  1. Nice job on the writing prompt. I am way jealous. I wish I could have been there! Thanks for the recap.

  2. Thank you!

    I felt so nervous about writing under pressure like that. I probably need to challenge myself more with time limit exercises. To me it feels like the difference between sight reading on the piano and playing something you've taken time to work through.

    Wish you could have been there. Maybe next time.