Monthly Archives: February 2015

It’s All About Character

At our last club meeting (Thursday, 2/12), we spent some time discussing the Chapel Hill murders. Three American Muslims just a few years older than our club members were shot and killed in what many Muslims believe was a hate crime. We did a writing prompt where members were asked to imagine their own janazas. Who would come? How many people? Where would it be? Understandably, only a few members elected to share their writing. Thinking sincerely about one’s own death is intensely personal.

We also talked about writing characters in our story and the many factors that might affect how a character thinks and acts in our stories. Where a character was born and raised, their parents, the socio-political climate in which they live, and many other factors affect how a character becomes “interesting” in our stories. If our characters are not interesting, then why would a reader spend time following them for 20, 50, or 100 pages of your story?

We also announced our first short story (less than 5,000 words) contest. It will be a strictly internal affair, so only club members get to read these stories. Until next time, the trashcan awaits !

Short Story Crash Course … and They’re Off !

Alhumdulillah, yesterday we had a productive second meeting of the Al-Huda High School Creative Writing Club. The session started with over a dozen young men emptying their minds of homework, deadlines, anxieties and apprehensions, and then reacting to our first writing prompt: “The ground opened up, and it was gone.” After 5-minutes of focused writing, almost everyone shared some of what they wrote. We had descriptions of dark, cold holes in the earth, branches shattering, and desolation. We had a hole opening up in the sea. We had the earth opening up as a metaphor of how one of our members felt inside himself. Ma Shaa Allah !

We learned one way to look at writing is the four-stage process of Mad Man – Architect – Carpenter – Judge. Mad men often ramble, the words coming out fast and sometimes lacking coherence. The Mad Man stage of writing is about letting go, turning that mental faucet on and writing without hesitating. Are you thinking of the end of the story even though you haven’t started writing the beginning? No problem, as a Mad Man you can write out of order. You can jot down words, phrases, forgetting about complete sentences. Just get stuff down. Remember, you can toss all of it or part of it as you like. The Architect phase is about taking big parts of what you wrote and moving them around or tossing them. The Carpenter starts shaping paragraphs and sentences, and the Judge polishes the whole thing off, looking at each word, listening to how each sentence sounds on the page.

After a crash course on what makes plot (tension!), our club members started on their journeys to whatever world their building. We can’t wait to see what they come up with, In Shaa Allah !