Uncle Josh Struggles with a Writing Assignment

This post is part ramble, part warm up. I’ve been taking a MOOC from the Univserty of Iowa called How Writers Write Fiction, because I find taking classes can spur me to write when the rejection letters get too heavy on me. This is week three, and the focus is on plot. Here is the assignment:

Write a story with any number of characters (these can be newly created characters or borrowed from your Class Session 1 and 2 writing assignments), where an external force demands that a character or all the characters jump into action.

No problem there. The thing I wrote for Session 1 was a scene froma story I’ve been trying to write since 2006 or so. Here’s the second part:

Additionally, include in the story a separate decision made by a character/the characters that does not result directly from the external force.

And….this is where everything I think I know about writing and plot goes out the window. From what I think I know, this second bit will simply destract from the story, deviate from what is necessary. I have a rough plot of the story I’ve been trying to complete. I used the Seven-Sentence Story to put together some causes and effects. I had hoped to use this story during this class for source material, but the assignment doesn’t help that story particularly well. At least, it feels like I’m shoe-horning something into the story to make this assignment work. I’ve alse been telling this story in close third person with only one viewpoint, and this assignment feels like I’m going to need multiple POVs or good omniscient narrator, neither of which I have much practice with.

Have I really spent so little time writing this way? I think so. Looking back on my writing so far, there aren’t a lot of experiments. One favorite story of mine had 5 or 6 narrative voices (it also has 12 rejection letters so far, which is almost the point of self-publising for me), but that was written 11 years ago.

I think I can apply this to the story I want to finish, but I think this “random decision” is going to end up being the result of a secondary action, another character’s response to the initial external force.

Or maybe I should give up and take up pig farming.

Uncle Josh Struggles with a Writing Assignment was originally published on Uncle Josh Talks Too Much



About Uncle Josh

I am a genre writer from the Great Metropolitan Rain Forest.

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