The last three weeks, I have been participating in the class Writing the Other – Deep Dive into Description. I took it because I want to write stories that contain characters from multiple races and ethnicities and because my writing in general lacks description and I want to improve that.
I was blown away by how much I learned in this class. Many of the instructional texts I’d read before, or at least heard the ideas before. What really helped me was analyzing texts for how different authors described their characters. I already knew to avoid the cliché mirror description and food metaphors, but I didn’t know what to use instead. Now I have tools – comparison, simple adjectives, and more. And I am excited to put them into use.
Going into this class, I expected to talk about race, and we did, a lot. But we also explored gender and ability through various writing exercises. Doing these exercises really helped put into practice the things I had learned, and exposed some blind spots that I have. I plan on using some exercises for WIP going forward to help get to know my characters better.
The structure of the class worked really well for my schedule as well. Most exercises took less than 20 minutes to complete, and they asked us to dedicate half an hour a day or every other day to contribute to discussions. Assignments were given multiple days before they were due (after which we would discuss, or provide peer feedback) so this gave me freedom to take off Sundays (which I do for religious reasons), and flexibility when I lost two days to headache and nausea (thanks ITP!)
Overall, I highly recommend this class, and will be looking at other deep dives in the future.
- Writing the Other: A Practical Approach by Cynthia Ward and Nisi Shawl
- Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story by Ursula K. Le Guin
- “Thoughts on Exposition” by Kim Stanley Robinson, Wonderbook
- “Let Me Tell You” by Cecilia Tan
- “Writing With Color: Description Guide” by Mod Colette