The March 7, 2015 day-long writing workshop conducted by Ron Kuka, the Creative Writing Program Coordinator of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, exceeded all expectations. Participants left feeling confident and primed with tools to improve their writing.
During the morning session, Ron demonstrated how good prose contains the ability to move a reader’s eye as if the reader is in a vivid and continuous dream. It’s important to never disrupt the dream or let the eye wander. We worked on exercises using perspective—up close and personal, mid-range, as well as long shots. We charted our manuscript movement like a storyboard, action by action. He pointed out that creating anxiety is an alert for our readers and the best way to achieve that connection is through the senses. Ron said, “When you have the reader in the palm of your hand, squeeze.” Honing in on sensory eliciting details and creating tension and interest, the prose should pulse like a heartbeat with action and relief.
In the afternoon session, Ron focused on editing prose through a four step process. Begin with writing long and baggy, free of censorship. Then, edit and cut. And edit and cut again. Finally, select what needs to be put back in for your final draft. Eliminate clutter and redundancy, create concise and compelling words; realize one half or more of the baggy draft may be gone in the final draft and the original story may not be the story that is eventually told. His one page example honed to half a page illustrated good editing and story focus.
The attendees’ comments best summarize their experiences:
“Amazing, fabulous, phenomenal!”
“Well-prepared, inspirational teacher.”
“This workshop was my all-time favorite for several reasons: gorgeous setting, sunny weather, and useful guidance.”
“What Ron taught us about framing has come at a perfect time. He made a huge amount of sense about writing and editing.”
“The time flew by and I could have easily continued for longer.”
In addition to the monthly meetings, In Print frequently offers workshops for writers of all genres and levels. Thank you Catherine Conroy for facilitating this wonderful workshop with Ron Kuka.