Blog BWP Storytelling Workshop

Morning Exercise Two: Part Two

Let’s see if we can make your piece tighter, true-er, better.

‘Our town had one high school. I lived in the far north west of WA and our school brimmed with over 1200 students. The boxy classrooms were filled with noisy teenagers. Out the back were some demountables which were used only for aboriginal kids. The divide was uncomfortable. 
 

I didn’t really know why there were separate classrooms for those kids. Nobody really talked about it. When I walked past them to go to the typing room or across to the oval, I felt the stares of the demountable kids. I felt really different and small when I walked by. A bit anxious, if I’m totally honest.

My mum’s friends rolled their eyes when they talked about aboriginal people. I was well aware that there were tensions, but I had no idea why. I wished I could find out.’

Play around with paragraphs. Look at my piece again. Would it be better if I started it off with:

“My mum’s friends rolled their eyes when they talked about aboriginal people. I was well aware that there were tensions, but I had no idea why. I wished I could find out.”

and THEN led into the rest of the story? I think it would –

“My mum’s friends rolled their eyes when they talked about aboriginal people. I was well aware that there were tensions, but I had no idea why. I wished I could find out, but I wasn’t really sure who to ask.


Our town had just one high school. I lived in the far north-west of WA and our school brimmed with over 1200 students. The boxy classrooms were filled with noisy teenagers. Out the back were some demountables which were used only for aboriginal kids. The divide was uncomfortable. 

 

I didn’t really know why there were separate classrooms for those kids. Nobody really talked about it. When I walked past them to go to the typing room or across to the oval, I felt the stares of the demountable kids. I felt really different and small when I walked by. A bit anxious, if I’m totally honest.

The eye-rolls had me on edge.”

I often find when I’m writing that the last thing I’ve written belongs at the beginning. It just takes a while to get to the start.

Often the last lines are the most powerful, but they can actually work better at the beginning to hook the reader and reel them in.

Chop up your work, shuffle things about. Try to find the right fit, structure-wise. Take your time.

The beauty of using a computer is that it’s easy to shuffle things – create a couple of duplicate documents and use those to play around with structure.

Now, read it again and look at the way you are describing things, people or feelings. Are they true-to-you? Can you polish or improve those descriptions? Do you need to add something? Or remove something? Settle on just the right amount of words.

(See how I added a couple of things above (underlined), after I shuffled it? I could keep polishing too… )

Here are some tips on structure.

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