Introduction to the Music Shuffle Challenge

Photo credit epicfireworks; permissions: CC BY 2.0.

March has been incredibly busy for me – partly because of a writing project I undertake every March (which I’m going to talk about here) and largely because of much more boring and horrible nonsense (which I shan’t mention again).

March is Music Shuffle Month for me – a challenge I established for myself in 2010.

Music Shuffles are one of my favourite writing challenges in and of themselves, actually! They’re great for people like me who enjoy writing to prompts, but also like being able to go off and follow however the idea branched with no idea how it related to a prompt. Of course, I also love music (and having a large music collection makes this challenge even more fun and/or unpredictable).

I don’t, however, run the challenge the way I originally found it. I tried that once and decided some of the rules needed to be shifted a little to make it more workable for me. So here are the rules as I use them!

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Tulsa Creative Writer’s Mini-Conference Report – Short Fiction

A few weeks ago, my friend (and fellow Ferret) Lissa came across a free creative writing conference being held by Tulsa Community College and the Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers at OSU-Tulsa.

Rebekah, Lissa, and I all managed to fit it into our schedule and attended Thursday afternoon. We split up, because there were four sessions being run concurrently after the keynote speech (which was hilarious and excellent): Novel, Short Fiction, Poetry, and Memoir.

Rebekah stuck around in the large, open room after the keynote for the Novel session, Lissa headed down the hall to a classroom for the Poetry session – and I traipsed across the street, into the depths of another building, and up six floors to a conference room for the Short Fiction session.

It was wonderful, with two instructors – Josh Parish and Sloan Davis, who worked really well off of each other and led a very interesting, interactive sort of ‘lecture’.

In fact, in the Short Fiction session, we covered plot arcs, including timing and the hows and whys of tension, release, climax, etc., character and building characters – and how to build characters quickly, what is most important/catches the reader quickest – setting, dialogue, emotion, and above all, how everything has to work together to make a story work.

There was lots that worked for all kinds of fiction mediums, and some specific discussion on how to make other forms work as well, but I’ll keep these notes to the short fiction specific thoughts.

I was left with pages of notes, a handful of hand-outs, a list of new books to read (a couple just for story, and more for theory of writing), some new quotes on writing, and a new exercise I think I will be doing more often, because I loved it and it was very interesting.
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