Posts Tagged ‘write drunk edit sober’

Improv Writing for Better Writing

Or – How to love not knowing what the hell you’re doing.

By: Bowen Gillings

I am a huge fan of Pikes Peak Writers’s Write Drunk, Edit Sober improvisational writing events that occur on the second Wednesday of each month. Deb Courtney provides a grounding lesson at the outset that sets the theme, if you will, for the evening. Then a series of writing prompts are given out, each designed to be the opening line that drives you the writer forward for the next ten minute span to let you brain steer the train down whatever track opens up first.

When the timer goes off, that train hits the station whether you’re ready for it or not and then you’re off again, chugging down the tracks with a new thread to pull on led by a new prompt and, if you’re brave enough, allowed to take the wheel of you’re creative self all on its own until the clock dings and time is up. Then the whole crazy excursion starts again. Only the boundary of the clock following the final prompt halts your cross-brain zephyr. Then it’s upstairs for a final cocktail and a bit of sharing with your fellow writers.

What is Improv Writing?

Improvisational writing, that is writing based on the directive of a third party and limited by time to force creativity, is a wonderful, powerful, and inspirational tool all writers should make use of. Improv writing is fun, invigorating, and eye-opening. It is from one night at Write Drunk, Edit Sober where I wrote about four paragraphs that I then expanded into a short story which was published in Allegory. That short story provided the opening chapter for my first completed novel manuscript which won at the Zebulon Writing Contest and became a finalist at the Colorado Gold Rush Literary Awards. Without improv writing, I would not be able to call myself a published, award-winning author. Did I mention I love improv writing?

Four Benefits of Improv Writing

Allow me to share with you four benefits of improvisational writing and I think a) if you have never tried it, you will want to, or b) if you’ve dabble in it as a fun release, you’ll grasp it’s true potential to release the great writer in you.

  1. Improv Writing Kills Your Internal Editor

By having a hard time limit, you are forced to drive the story forward. You can’t afford to go back and make your effort pretty, to select a better adjective, to tweak a phrase so that it rolls better of the tongue of the mind. You have to move the story along and that is key to getting through the first draft of any work. Improv writing allows you to ignore the blemishes of what is already on the page and just get the story that is swirling in your mind onto the paper or screen in front of you.

2. You Will Discover Your Voice

Voice is something each of us has. It is what makes us different from the next schmuck with an idea for a novel. Voice is the you in your writing. It is that special something that makes the story yours versus someone else’s tale of a non-binary werewolf looking for love while touring the Dutch tulip fields in 1973. Improv writing brings your voice forward like no other tool I know.

For the longest time, I was convinced that my writing destiny lay in epic fantasy. I loved, lived, and breathed that genre. I set out to write a trilogy set in my own magical world. Yet I struggled to move it forward. I started and fought and sputtered and started again. Then I dove into improv writing and found that, when pressed by the constraints of the medium, my brain never went to fantasy. I wrote contemporary stories dripping with wry humor, offbeat characters, and odd scenarios. My voice emerged of its own accord and it was not in any way the voice I saw as mine until it popped out and said, “Yo, douchebag. What took you so long?”

3. You Can Try Things Out

Let’s say you have a work in progress. You have a character you love or a scene you want to expand. Improv writing is an opportunity to flesh out that character, reimagine that scene, play around with the structured narrative of your current project. Maybe in your story your protagonist would never attack an innocent. But, in the freeing realm of improv, a writing prompt may just let you experience what your character would do or how they would react to doing just that, or sitting by while that happened, or maybe they shoplifted a Snickers. I don’t know, but you get the point. Improv lets you play with aspects of characters and events that you won’t reveal in your story, but will add to your understanding of that character’s depth, that scene’s importance, and what the consequences would be to your fictional world if you changed just a tiny aspect of your work.

4. Exposition Go Bye-Bye

Okay, we have all read or been guilty of writing the hated info dump opening. These are the “here’s how my world works” first five pages that agents and editors stop reading after paragraph one. Improv writing forces you to ditch exposition. There’s no time for backstory and world building on the page when you only have ten minutes to vomit out an opening narrative. This is a good thing! You quickly realize that, no matter the genre, readers don’t need or want a lengthy setup of the world in which the story takes place or the traumatic history of the main character. That info can come later, at the time and place the reader and the character need that knowledge revealed. Your story features complicated social norms? Improv writing forces you to show them to us through interactions with your characters, not by telling the reader how things work before starting us along the path of the story.

Improv writing is like a trip to the gym for your creative muscles. It hits your weak spots. It lets you flex your strengths. It leaves you tired but energized and eager for more. I challenge you to tackle an improv writing event at you earliest opportunity and experience how your writing will metamorphose. Pikes Peak Writers offers improvisational writing every second Wednesday. Check out Write Drunk, Edit Sober on pikespeakwriters.com for details.


Bowen Gillings

Bowen Gillings is an award-winning author writing to appease the story demons in his head. A former president of Pikes Peak Writers, he currently hosts Open Critique and Writing with a View each month (both on COVID-induced hiatus). He has been featured in Allegory e-zine, Voices and Views and Rocky Mountain Writers podcasts, Ghosts of Downtown, Writing is Art, and the Writing from the Peak blog. He holds a Master of Education in Adult Education and is a travel enthusiast, nature lover, and closeted RPG nerd. He enjoys cooking big meals for family and friends, hiking wooded mountain trails, and seeking Zen through mixed martial arts. Born in Wisconsin, he grew up in the Black Hills of South Dakota, matriculated in Minnesota, and then bounced around Europe with the Army. He’s lived on both coasts, danced on the Great Wall of China, and driven a Volvo from Alaska to Louisiana before settling in Colorado with his wife and daughter. Check out his website and look for his latest work in the anthology from Pikes Peak Writers due out in 2021.

Letter from the Editor – November 2018

Dear PPW Readers,

Welcome to November and the first day of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Are you participating? Last month Writing from the Peak covered many ways to prepare yourself for NaNo, and today is your day to fly. I wish all of you luck and perseverance as you dive head first into what might be one of the most grueling writing months of the year. Some will cross the finish line in twenty days, while others will crash and burn in two. No matter when you cross the line, just remember, success is not finishing first, but starting in the first place.Success is not finishing first, but that you started in the first place.

Writing from the Peak, will spend November helping you keep writing. Deb Buckingham will help you find ways to Generate Ideas. DeAnna Knippling will set the pace for you with Pacing Primer. Lit-Quotes by Gabrielle Brown, are always inspirational and a visit with the Grammar Police by Robin LaBorde will keep your writing free of comma comas. In addition to PPW’s blog, Pikes Peak Writers will also be hosting monthly events that will certainly add to your writing arsenal.

Open Critique
This FREE program provides a critique experience for a small number of PPW members who seek feedback on manuscript pages and who want to learn how to have positive critique group experiences.

Write Brains
Write Brain Sessions are free mini-workshops on the craft of writing, business of writing, and the writer’s life. Watch for them in Colorado Springs on the third Tuesday of most months. Pikes Peak Writers began offering monthly Write Brain workshops in 2004.

Write Drunk, Edit Sober
Come and enjoy some wonderful, guided improv writing prompts and a discussion about what those prompts produce.

Writers’ Night
Writers’ Night is two full hours of discussion, laughter, and fun with other local members of Pikes Peak Writers.

I wish everyone writing success in NaNoWriMo as well as anything you are doing this month. May you find the courage to sit at your writing table each day to conquer whatever writing beast you are facing.


KJ Scrim, Profile ImageManaging Editor, Kathie “KJ” Scrim, is a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her inspiration for blogging, flash fiction, short stories, and the long haul of novel writing comes from her many life experiences. When she’s not writing you can find her somewhere in Colorado walking, hiking, or rock climbing at the local gym.

Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2018 Special Events, Part 2

Pikes Peak Writers Conference 2018 is just around the corner.  Today, Karen Fox, PPWC Conference Director, shares some Conference extras that you won’t want to miss.  PPWC offers so many extras this year that they couldn’t all fit in one post.  Check back for more Special Events at PPWC 2018.  -Gabrielle V Brown, Managing Editor


We’ve already mentioned some of the great things happening at this year’s Pikes Peak Writers Conference, but there are even more!  Take a peek at the activities that were so popular, we’re bringing them back.

 

 

Write Drunk Edit Sober

Like to drink?  Silly question, we’re writers, aren’t we?  Once again, we offer the opportunity to Write Drunk and Edit Sober on Saturday night from 5:45 – 7:00 p.m. in the restaurant annex.  There is an extra charge of $25 for this event, but you get to taste several different beers and write to a prompt.   On Sunday morning, you’ll join us again in the restaurant annex at 10:10 a.m. (not too early, you notice) to edit the prose you wrote while drinking.  This is a win-win situation!  And you don’t have to participate in the Write Drunk portion if you want to sit in on the Edit Sober portion to see what emerged from the beer.  Be sure to select the Write Drunk, Edit Sober when you register.

 

The Shop Open Mike & Lab

If you enjoyed last year’s Open Mic session, you’ll have another opportunity on Saturday night following the banquet (approximately 9:00 p.m.) in Aspen Leaf.  Damon Smithwick, our emcee and last year’s host, will once again oversee the open mic.  Based on PPW’s monthly Shop, this event is an open mic with a twist.  The night starts with a forum, evolves into an open mic; and ends the night as a workshop for artists to premiere works in progress for critique.  Come, singers, poets, comics, rappers, storytellers.  This is your opportunity to grow as an artist.

 

Huge Book Signing Event

PPWC is holding a huge booksigning on Saturday afternoon from 5:45 – 7:00 p.m. in Aspen Leaf that features all the speakers at the conference, including keynotes–Jim Butcher, Laurell K. Hamilton, Jonathan Maberry and Mary Robinette Kowal.  You can bring up to two previously purchased books in with you to this signing, but all authors will have copies available as well.  This event is open to the public so feel free to invite family, friends and bookstore owners to attend.  Check out our list of amazing faculty here.

Annual On-Site Flash Fiction Contest

We’ll also be holding our annual on-site flash fiction contest which takes place during the conference.  If you can tell a phenomenal story in 100 words, this is the contest for you.  Details will be released during lunch on Friday and participants have until before dinner on Saturday to turn in their entry.  The winner will be announced during Sunday’s lunch.

 

Professional Head Shots

Need an author head shot?  It looks good on a website or better yet, a book cover.  Jared Hagen has slots available to take personal photos during the conference.  They only run $70 for a 225-minute photo shoot, which is dirt cheap which you know if you’ve priced this out already.  You’ll receive a CD of professional author photos to which you’ll own the rights.  Even better, Jared donates 50% of his proceeds back to the PPWC Scholarship fun.  This is win-win! Sign up for a time slot when you register for the conference. (I’ll attach my before and after shots if you want to use them.)

With all these enticements, don’t hesitate!  Go now to  https://www.regonline.com/ppwc2018 to register right now.


Karen Fox is PPWC 2018 Conference Director.  When not embroiled in the adventure and romance of her latest characters, Karen shares her house in Colorado Springs, CO with her husband, her granddaughter, and four cats.  She has published eight paranormal romance novels, one short story and one young adult novella.  Her second book, SOMEWHERE MY LOVE, was a 1998 RITA Finalist for the Romance Writers of America.  She’s currently at work on a young adult urban fantasy and new romance.

SaveSave

SaveSave

Events this Week

  • Pikes Peak Writers is committed to helping writers grow and thrive through education, outreach, and community.Some of our events are for members only, some are open to the public.  Membership is free and its easy to join, just click here.

    Write Drunk, Edit Sober Oct 11, 2017 — 6:30 PM to 9:00 PM

    Location: Bar K 124 E Costilla St. Colorado Springs, CO 80903 (get directions)

    Please join Deb Courtney for Write Drunk*, Edit Sober on the second Wednesday of every month. We start at 6:30 PM will run until approximately 9 PM. It is located in the lower level of Bar K in Downtown Colorado Springs.

    The basic format is improv writing followed by discussion of critical techniques useful in unpacking improv responses in order to further develop them.

    Bar K is located on Costilla, between Tejon and Nevada.

    This event is no host, which means Pikes Peak Writers will not be providing the drinks. Alcohol/soft drinks are available for purchase. There is no food service; owners have graciously agreed to allow outside food/snacks. Please be courteous and leave no messes.

    This event is only open to writers who are at least 21 years old.

    Hope to see you there.

    * Pikes Peak Writers does not endorse or approve of drinking to excess. Please, if you choose to drink alcoholic beverages, drink responsibly.


    Profile Photo of Gabrielle V Brown Managing Editor Pikes Peak Writers Blog

    Gabrielle V. Brown, Managing Editor of Pikes Peak Writers Blog, is an engineer by trade and a writer by passion. Her published works included government studies, textbook credits, research abstracts, training manuals and poetry. She has extensive experience in website design and maintenance, blog content and management, and SEO. Gabrielle has put words to paper since she could hold a crayon and currently writes speculative fiction, humorous short stories, poetry, and literary fiction. You can reach Gabrielle at editor@pikespeakwriters.com.

     

SaveSave