Thursday, April 4, 2013

Black Marks on a Page

Good morning! For you, happy typewriter art from my writing room.

Something about typewriters just makes me happy. Not using them though, just looking at them. My perfectionist brain is ill-equipped to deal with the intransigent nature of their black marks on the page. I need to be able to move those marks around like scrabble tiles until my brain says OKAY ENOUGH ALREADY. 

Speaking of "black marks on a page," I will be teaching a workshop in May called "It's All Just Black Marks on a Page." It's something I think about a lot, but have never attempted to teach, and what I want to deal with is wordcraft. Basically: how we use words not merely to "tell a story" but to attempt to craft an experience for the brain that induces in the reader the total experience of the characters. How to use words to pull the reader in as completely as possible, and hopefully make them forget they're reading. You know the whole "I laughed I cried"? How do you do that? And how do you scare readers, and set them on edge, and make their hand fly to their mouth in astonishment? How do you actually alter their heartbeat? It's not just by stating what's happening. 

I am in unending awe of the power of words to set our brains on fire, and I would say that easily 80% of my own writing time is spent toying with these black marks on the page in order to sharpen as much as possible the experience I am attempting to induce. I am trying to sink my fingers into your brain. By way of words. Hope that's okay with you.

So that's the workshop. It's going to be at the Oregon SCBWI spring conference, and I'm doing a talk on "writing as creating experience" too, which will be related but different (not a workshop). The rest of the conference looks great too. Come and join us!

And, oh, this, just because my camera happened to point at it and it makes me smile too :-)


LinWash said...

I should send your blog post to my niece and nephew. A typewriter is like a dinosaur to them--something long extinct. But your typewriter art makes me smile.

Anonymous said...

I so wish I could hear your workshop!!! Alas, I am on the other side of the country. I think you're a master in the art of wordcraft. I don't suppose there's any way you could write a post about it? Or is there any chance someone will be recording your workshop?

There used to be a typewriter up in the unused bedroom in my grandparents' old house, and it was always so intriguing. The loud clacking sound loudly proclaiming that someone was writing, someone was creating something! So exciting. :)

Catherine Denton said...

I know you've probably heard this a bazillion times (now a bazillion and one), but your ability to form gorgeously delicious sentences AND create heart-throbbing stories, is beyond brilliant. Just thought you should know.
Catherine Denton

persnickety_jen said...

That workshop sounds phenomenal, and I can't think of anyone better to teach it! Reading your books is the closest I will ever get to experiencing synesthesia.

Also: adore the typewriter art! I bought a turquoise Royal (very similar to that first print, actually) at a rummage sale 2 years ago, and I never get tired of admiring it.

Bob said...

Would love to watch a video recording of the workshop.

Jordan Evans said...

I'm in agreement with the other comments; that workshop sounds like an amazing topic, and there's no one better suited to give it than you. Could there be a transcript/recording of it?

tone almhjell said...

Nooooo, just AFTER I go back to Norway! I would LOVE to go to this workshop!

Like I've said before, your writings on writing have been my best and most important guide these past six years. And this elusive thing you're talking about here - that's where the magic is. And you wield it.

Helena Davey said...

Your workshop sounds amazing. I think wordcraft is your biggest talent as a writer. It's always what stands out to me.

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