After a year, this writing tutorial has come to an end. Thanks to everyone who participated. There were some great stories. Though I will be closing the collection, here are two final exercises you can try on you own. Feel free to comment here about what you learned from these exercises.
“Write what you know” is standard advice to writers. And it’s good advice. But some philosophers would say we never really know anyone except ourselves. We have to work to understand other people and other lives. So research is also part of a writer’s craft. Through research you can extend what you know.
interview a friend. Ask them to describe their workplace, including any machines, special furniture or equipment. Ask them to describe the skills involved in their work and how they learned them. Incorporate some (not all) of these details into a scene in which a character is tired of their job and longs to leave it. Don’t overdo the details – just provide enough to give an atmosphere of authenticity.
Listeners of music enjoy rhythm and repeat elements. Readers do as well. When elements of your story repeat and resonate with each other you can create a deeper sense of meaning. Resonance, in physics, is where a sound or vibration in one object is created by a sound or vibration in another. The reader feels rewarded when something they remember from the beginning of a story is repeated later on. These links can be used as “hinges” where the storyline transitions to a different place or time. A well-known example is in the film, Schindler’s List, where the girl in the red coat provides the turning points for Schindler.
When characters, situations and timelines echo and resonate with each other, the writer can create an illusion of causal connection or bridges between elements that are, in the prosaic world, distinct. Stories where the ending resonates with the beginning are particularly satisfying.
This kind of resonance is usually added during editing stages, by carefully layering in additional detail. So this exercise will be a little artificial.
Revise a story you have already written or, if you don’t have a suitable one, write something new. You should add an element to the ending that repeats, echoes, or recalls in an altered form, an element from the beginning. This might be something like a colour, a sound, or an object. Objects, since they remain unchanged, are often useful devices for emphasising the passage of time. Consider how the resonance you’ve created adds to your story.