People have been posting a lot of Activities on the A215 Cafe forum. This is great, as giving feedback is helpful and I think contributes directly to why most of the people doing A215 are here. A lot of people (me included) have very quiet Tutor Group forums, so it’s helpful.
However, particularly with this week’s chapter (Character Development), I can’t help but feel people may have been missing the point slightly.
The Activities mainly involve creating and developing a character, which is a great exercise – really important. The problem is that a trend has developed on the forum: everything seems to need to be faultlessly written as a passage of prose fiction.
So instead of this style of activity:
“He has brown hair and a small mole above his eye. When he’s nervous he sometimes covers it with his hand, a legacy of some cruelty from his school days.”
People are writing things like:
“He glanced up at the mantlepiece and ran his hand through his thinning hair, wondering why she’d left him.”
These are both valid ways of writing, but I don’t think the second example directly engages with these particular activities. Unfortunately, I guess because people are influencing each other, the latter example is now the norm.
The critiques for these exercises also reflect the current posting trends, which I also think may be unhelpful.
This kind of critique would be helpful:
“I love the character you’ve created – she’s well-rounded and believable. I wonder if you’ve questioned why she seems uncomfortable in her own skin – what might have caused that?”
For character development exercises, this kind of critique is not:
“I enjoyed reading this and would like to know what happens next. The first sentence doesn’t draw me in enough – perhaps you should change the wording of the second half, maybe substitute “called” for “shouted”.
Because of these reasons, I haven’t felt able to share my activities for Chapter 5 on the forum – I fear that the wrong aspects of my activities (the language, structure and wording) will be critiqued, when the important focus should be the development of a character for use in later writing.
I’d love to know what others think… but I don’t know whether my opinions on this would go down very well on the forums. Any opinions?