After losing nearly an entire week to visitors and work, I thought I’d never make it but today I managed to submit a story I was (almost) happy with and complete the final exercises of the course. The submission of the final story was definitely a big challenge for me – I have never written a short story before the course and I don’t read them either (I know! Shocking…) so I found it quite hard to know what one should look and feel like. After scratching around for ideas I ended up using some back story from one of the characters in my novel – this set me off and running so I was able to knock up a draft pretty quickly but then the agonizing began: it had no plot, no conflict, it was too long, then it was too confusing as I didn’t include enough detail… I needed all of the four days I had left to edit and come back to it and edit some more before it felt OK to let go.
After we’d done it, we were asked to reflect on the following:
- Are the main characters consistent and clear?
- Have they enough conflict and interest?
- Is the setting established?
- Have you done enough research?
- What would you like to develop further?
- Do the language, style and voice fit the characters and content?
I wasn’t sure I had enough conflict / interest and there was a great deal I would have liked to develop further but the 750-1000 word limit seemed very short.
I was so grateful for the useful criticism I got – they picked up on entirely valid points and also made me notice things I had not realised about what I had written. I think the biggest benefit of this is how it has absolutely reinforced the necessity of letting people read your work and give you feedback. Something I find scary but now can see is essential.
I have really enjoyed this MOOC – it’s been manageable in terms of workload and whilst not life changing or revelatory I have definitely learnt a few things and pondered about the writing process in beneficial ways. I have also enjoyed the contact with others both on the comments and on Twitter, it has felt for a while like we have a good community spirit going.