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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

F2K Starts Another Session.

F2K is the name of a free fiction writing class I take whenever I feel a need to awaken my muse.  It is a favorite class at Writers Village University, and once writers take it once, it becomes an addiction.  This session, which started the first week of September, has a stellar cast of writers, both published and unpublished.

I usually use the class to help with my current work in progress, A Door In Time, which I have worked on over a spread of almost ten years. A young adult novel, it starts out in the current year, and takes three teenagers from Wichita, Kansas back in time to 1887.  Without their electronic toys, cell phones, I-pads, computers, cars, motorcycles, and other inventions, the kids go through a culture shock.  The farm family who takes them in also goes through cultural trauma as they try to decide whether the kids are actually witches and warlocks practicing their beliefs.  It makes for some delightful fun.

This session of F2K, however, I am introducing a new short story, currently under the working title of The Spirit of Jefferson Library.  It's about a ghost, living in a public library, who does not like the intrusion of living humans in his inner sanctum, the library.  The librarian, who at first is terrorized by the hostile spirit infesting her library, begins to feel sorry for the misplaced ghost, and tries to help him find some answers and closure, so he can rest in peace.  But getting the ghost to cooperate with her is quite a challenge.  He fights her at every turn.  I'm hoping this story will be a good one.

The nice part about F2K, is the quality and quantity of feedback that storytellers receive, and give to each other. It can be difficult in many cases, to get the advice of seasoned writers and readers, and in F2K, the feedback is part of the lesson, and is required of each writer.  The storytellers are taught what constitutes good feedback, and how to give it, and receive it, gracefully and respectfully.

Starting out, the class offers some orientation to the website, and allows the students a chance to get acquainted and meet the mentors.  The assignment is to write an introduction of the author in the voice of one of the characters they have invented.  The rest of the class, then, must respond with their criticisms and praise, to the character, not the author.  This can be confusing to some students.  The assignment has a word count limit of 500 words, which can also be difficult for more "wordy" writers.

Each student, besides submitting their own author introduction, is required to offer feedback to at least four or more students, and the mentors and their assistants do keep track of those figures.  At the end of the course, all those who have submitted every lesson and the assigned critiques, will earn a certificate of completion.  In years past, there have been contests, too.  The last lesson is when a complete short story of fifteen hundred words or less will be submitted and the mentors and classes will vote on the "best story" for each classroom, with a champion over all the classrooms.  That keeps the competitiveness sharp.

So, for the rest of tonight, I will be doing my feedback for Lesson 2, which is on the senses, all eight of them. What?  Yes, for our lesson, we acknowledge eight senses: sound, smell, taste, feel, sight, time, space, and unknown.  We write some sentences for each sense, and a paragraph that includes all eight senses, and we also take a story by James Joyce and identify the senses in as few sentences as possible.  The story is over 11,000 words, so it is a challenge.  The Holy Grail of this lesson is to find one sentence in the story that holds all eight senses.

I guess I'd better get at it.  I'm always glad when this lesson is over.  I don't mind writing the sentences and paragraph, but I am definitely not a James Joyce fan, and I'm not alone in that feeling. After tonight, the rest of the lessons are fun.  I will share my lesson one assignment in a separate post.

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