At a Creative Writers’ camp recently, Richard Harland worked with students to demonstrate ways in which they might create and build a story. He drew on examples from some of his most popular stories, Worldshaker and Song of the Slums to inspire students to investigate the feelings and emotions of the characters, and how they might develop these ideas in their own writing.
One of the things he emphasised was that writing requires you to draw on your own experiences. However, he assured us that even if you haven’t actually experienced the particulars of an event, it is possible to transfer emotions from a similar event to develop an idea. So we then had a few “have you ever…?” moments to inspire ideas and discussion.
Early on, Richard spoke of his own writer’s block – his first fully published success was at the age of 45 even though he has written all his life! Discovery of your own writing style and talents is thus important, he stated. He encouraged students to seek comment from others – both positive and negative – so that they might work out what they write best.
Another idea he demonstrated in the workshop was that writers are all unique, drawing from different experiences and lifestyles to create their stories. As we shared our ideas, this was clearly obvious, with many different scenarios developed around the group. “Ransack your memories…
The finale was when Richard demonstrated his SteamPunk guitar, which he encouraged a friend to create from his own imagination.
“Put yourself in the character’s shoes, and imagine how s/he would be feeling.”
In weeks to come, there should be some reviews or comments from those on the camp who purchased his book, Song of the Slums, so check back soon.