1. What did you learn this semester?
What I learned this semester was: First, to talk to other more experienced people. The talk I had with Simon about my story was extremely helpful to help me narrow down what I wanted to develop. Thereafter, my characters did take a more solid shape, both in their own personal history and personality. Second, I learned that piecing together a story with emotion is so much harder than it looks. When writing, I realized that I tend to focus more on what was going on the the surrounding environment that I usually forgot to put in emotions of the characters or put in emotions that resulted in discrepancies of their character. Even now, though the storyline and the characters are much more clear than they were at the start of the year, their are huge gaps that claw at my mind as i think of how to fill them. But after some struggles, every time I find a new fluency or event that connects parts of my story together, it makes me feel very successful (I’m not!). Third, I realized that planning is very important. At the start of this semester and all through last semester, I did’t plan much and just started writing. It helped in a way that I got a better feeling of the story, the atmosphere that i was creating and the hang of how writing a novel worked. But the problem with it is that I’d get utterly stuck at some places and not know how to continue of for a long time which really frustrated me. I had the big picture in mind but it was the small thing that really a writer should plan ahead. Last, no writer finishes a first draft in one draft. The previous drafts i worked on I will completely discard but that doesn’t mean it didn’t help me a great lot in developing my story. storylines and characters tend to change massively while writing but the change wouldn’t happen without the previous draft.
2. What were your successes this semester?
The biggest takeaway I believe I had was improvement in my writing. I showed my complete story to one of my friends and she said “obviously your writing got so much better as the story continued”. I believe this is a very valuable skill I will have fun developing in the future that will be extremely helpful in the future and if I continue to pursue this book which I most certainly will. Another success I had was I finally got the background history of my characters and the world of my setting clear! It took me a long time to get to that and the discarded drafts played a big role in my success in this. What i would find myself doing in writing is see a point or thing I just wrote out and realize that there could be a whole story to what is behind that thing and think about it for at least an hour. Another thing is, when I’m stuck on contingency, I will try writing different scenarios which helped me organize my thoughts until I found where I wanted to go. This is a set of skill that I did not have at the start of the year.
3. What were your failures or things you’d do differently?
I failed rather terribly at time management this semester. So much has been going on that passion project was kind of at the bottom of my priorities list. I would usually end up working on it for only half the block and writing blog posts very late on Friday nights like i am doing right now. To be honest, it’s caused me some stress which means I could have produced a more articulate product if I managed my time a bit better. Obviously, learning from this, I will try to keep all subjects at a generous priority in the future so I don’t get so stressed.
4. Discuss the successes/weaknesses of both the process and what you have created.
The success of the process was what i learned and the skill sets I have acquired. Since it was a process, I don’t believe that there was a weakness in it at all taking it from a learning stance. Every struggle or wrong turn caused me to learn something so I am very grateful for the process. For the final product, i succeeded in finally finding my characters and atmosphere but did not achieve my very naive initial goal of “finishing a whole first draft”. However, it has provided for me the bases of finishing a whole first draft that I will one day gladly share.
1. What did you learn this semester?