Graduate Comments

SAMANTHA WEISS-e

When I first started writing, I got a lot of, “very pretty prose! where is the story?” and it took me until I got to Odyssey workshop to learn 3-act plot and causal chains, at which point—while many other criticisms ensued, that particular one did not.  The next bottleneck for me is, and has been for some time, emotion.  I used bodily sensations (clenched stomach and burning cheeks, etc.) as a crutch; often wasn’t clear on what emotions I even intended to evoke (and didn’t really think about it); and just wasn’t giving readers the emotional experience that they signed up for.  Last year, I got together with some other writers to learn the basics of emotional craft.  Shortly afterward, I made my first pro sale.  Encouraged, I took this class.  It’s well organized into sentence-level techniques, paragraph-level techniques, scene-level techniques, and story-level techniques.  A lot of the material was entirely new to me.  One of the things I liked best about critiquing others’ work is that I could see just how well the techniques were working—something I find hard to do when I’m just looking at my own work.  A lot of them—especially using unexpected emotions—were surprisingly powerful and emotionally engaging.  The homework is lengthy but really gives you the opportunity to engage with all of the techniques enough to understand them.  It’s a lot of information and will take me some time to integrate, but for me my only regret is that I didn’t do this years ago.  It really took a lot of mystery out of the question that plagued me:  why is this story so moving?  why isn’t my story moving?

–SAMANTHA WEISS

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