New Kiwi Women Write Their Stories

Giving a voice to Auckland's migrant women

Week 3 – Prose

 What is prose?

Can be long or short

Often narrative or character focus (but not always)

Has been influenced by other forms eg poetry, TV/film, visual arts, social media  – and often merges with these forms (eg novels written in verse, graphic novels, microfiction).

 Think about:

Images

Rhythm, a musical quality – love of language and words, sometimes playfulness

Point of view – one or multiple, how does this filter the telling of the story?

Character

Plot

Read authors you admire, listen to how that author makes you feel and how they might do that (images? Rhythm? Language? Plot? Character?). Try to write like them. Does it work for you? Have you discovered something about your own personal writing voice and what makes it more effective? 

If English is not your first language, you can write in your home language.  You could choose to then translate or to use this as the basis for a different piece in English. Sometimes it’s impossible to write the same thing (story, idea, image) in different languages.  But the two can inspire each other.  The language, idioms, metaphor and cultural references add richness.  You can choose the language depending on the story you want to tell.

Language does not need to be complex in order to be good prose.  Often, simple (short sentences, short words, less adjectives) is stronger.  Have the confidence to explore, to find your own natural rhythms and language.

Exercises:

1. Read the story – excerpt from The Daughters of the Colonel by Katherine Mansfield.

Now, write a short piece: think of a food – then write a short scene examining emotions around that food. You might want to add in a situation – a conflict, or conversely a warm situation.

2. Empty out your bag. Catalogue the objects in it. Pick one – write a short piece describing it in detail. Initially, stick to the facts. What does it look like, feel like? Is it new or old? What do you use it for? Is there anything you’ve never noticed about it before? Finally, extend this into a piece of writing. What happened the last time you used this object? What might it have seen? What are your emotions around it? How would you feel if you lost it?  You might want to choose a point of view. Yours? Others’? The objects?

Discussion : Publishing

 Traditional publishing – in NZ still relatively informal, you don’t need an agent, just submit direct to publisher. Most publishers will have people to read through submitted manuscripts. 

Agents – good for accessing overseas markets, but very hard to get.

Socialise – Volunteer at Auckland writers and readers fest, attend Michael King centre events, many other writing groups and guilds to join

Journals – Potroast, Takahe, Hue and Cry, Sport, Snorkel, Landfall, Turbine, Blackmail Press, JAAM – have online submission guidelines, can google. Also overseas based journals.

Competitions – Sunday Star-Times, NZSA, Commonwealth Writers Short Story competition, Katherine Mansfield short story comp are some which will gain you immediate attention if you win or are shortlisted.  Many others though.

Open Mics – Poetry Live on Tuesdays at Thirsty Dog on K rd from 8 pm, One to one cafe in Ponsonby on Wednesdays from 7.30 pm.

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This entry was posted on February 20, 2014 by .
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