June 2018

Making Memorable Scenes

In June I attended the workshop series ‘Making Memorable Scenes’, which I had helped organise in conjunction with Didcot Writers, Cornerstone Arts Centre and Oxford Continuing Education. The tutor was Lorna Fergusson, whose literary consultancy you can read more about here.

The workshops were excellent, and Lorna’s knowledge of classic literature allowed her to illustrate the lessons with examples from books I had either read or felt I needed to read. The use of classic literature was an interesting contrast to what I’ve experienced in workshops with Mark Lewis, who used to teach regularly at Cornerstone, and from whose classes I realised that scriptwriting, TV and film – and radio and stage – were as relevant as books when discussing things like characterisation and plot.

This restriction to the written word brought me an interesting learning point in the very first workshop: that all the scenes I consider most memorable in the books I’ve read are ones I’ve pictured. I can’t remember any of the words or dialogue, or even necessarily which characters were there.

A second lesson I learnt during the workshop series was that the most memorable scenes are ones that make you feel something. Therefore, in writing a scene, an author should consider ‘what do I want my reader to feel?’ as well as what needs to happen to get the characters and/or the plot from A to B.

The first workshop focused on pacing, the second on location, and the third on dialogue, and we had very good attendance at all three. I look forward to future such opportunities and to working with the same organisations again.

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