The instructor was a little taken aback at the comment from one of the young women in the writing class. I knew just what she meant. The discussion came after we spent some time selecting one character from our story and then identifying his or her desires, wants, needs and weaknesses.
I had just finished sharing what I’d written down and I was so far off base. The instructor kept pushing, “More detail, more specific! Why is that important? Why? Why? Why?” It was a very uncomfortable place to be. I didn’t have the answers and wasn’t even clear about the difference between desires, wants and needs.
I debated not attending the second session, because I’d left the first one feeling like I’d jumped into a class too far above my skill level. But, in the end, I decided it was already paid for and I was bound to learn something new.
This week’s class exercise was to write down the point of the story. What is it that you want your main character and your audience to discover at the end? And, what is the climactic event that leads to that discovery?
Several people volunteered to share. Most students were too generic with their responses and so the instructor kept pushing and putting them on the spot. They were uncomfortable, but the results were incredible.
As the instructor got ready to move on, I lifted my hand. He asked me if I wanted to share. Somehow I knew that I would lose something if I didn’t grab the moment.
My responses, as expected, were too broad and muddy. As the instructor pushed and prodded, I struggled for the answers. My fellow students added their thoughts and my brain hurt as I tried to find the right words. And…as the hot seat sizzled…ZING! There it was…the point of my story in three words.
The tough love has led to places I never would have imagined. This instructor is so powerfully passionate about story telling and his commitment to each one of us, that he pushes us far beyond our own comfort zone. While I’ve always thought I could write a book, after this week’s class, I believe it.
I can’t wait until next week. Hmmm…I wonder what else he teaches? Thank you, Michael!!