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PostPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 6:39 pm 
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Welcome to the new Writing Skills Workshop (aka WSW)!

We're reviving the NFA Writing Skills Workshop. We hope everyone with an interest in writing, whether a beginner or an experienced writer, will try our monthly exercises. Even the best need to practice!

What this is not:
This is not meant to horn in on EmyPink's fine Weekly Writing Challenge. The Writing Skills Workshop will focus on the elements of writing, which may not always (or even often) lead to complete stories.

How it will work:
* The WSW is open to all NFA members. No author forum is needed!
* Each month, on or around the first of the month, an assignment for the month will be announced. The first one we'll do is a description. (See information in the post below.)
* People participating in the WSW will start a thread for themselves in this forum with their name or screenname in the title. In their thread they will post their response to the month's assignment. In the same thread, other members can post comments and constructive criticism. Use the same thread for all future monthly assignments.
* Members may also post their writings to their own author forums, or elsewhere, but a posting of their response to the assignment (not just a link) must be made here.
* Think of this like a writing circle. If you join the WSW, you should also read and comment on other members' contributions. We'll try to improve our writing by working together; not writing in a vacuum.
* Suggestions as to length may be given, depending on the assignment. If no suggestion is given, you can make it any length you want.
* Members aren't required to write all assignments.
* I'll create another thread for WSW questions and general organizational comments.

I hope that many of you decide to participate!
:yay:

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 6:45 pm 
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June

Your Assignment: Description


Your assignment this month is to visualize an NCIS-related room (such as in the building, or in someone's home, or some room elsewhere related to the show) and write a description of it. This might be Abby’s lab, the Director’s office, the squad room…anyplace that we have seen or heard about.

Is it different in daytime than at nighttime? What is the furniture like? Don’t rely on just a list of objects; put enough warmth (or chill) into your description that will make your readers “see” the room, and want to know more. No dialogue...description only! (Yes, you can identify who is describing it, if you like.)

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 02, 2010 1:22 pm 
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July

Your Assignment: Emotion


This month you will show a particular emotion in your writing.

The emphasis here is to show rather than state. Instead of having (for example) Abby say, "I'm so sad," show us what makes her sad, and/or how she responds to it. The more that you show, rather than state, the more you will get your readers immersed in your piece of writing. They will feel like they are right there, observing your characters.

So...pick an NCIS character and pick an emotion, and then make it all come to life in a paragraph or a couple of paragraphs. Avoid having the character say the emotion out loud, if you can. If Tony is angry, does he perhaps kick over a waste basket to show his anger? You may use some dialogue, but since we're concentrating on one character here, you won't want a balanced conversation. All eyes should be on your emoting character.

Watch out for cliches. Think about the words you're using and trying to give us new mental pictures. Unless your piece is deliberately sentimental, avoid using emotional descriptions that might seem superficial.

    If you were part of the June workshop, simply use your existing thread here to start on your July entry.

    If you're new to the workshop, welcome! Start a thread for yourself and dive in!

As always, if you participate in the workshop as a writer, please remember to leave comments in the other writers' threads, too.

Enjoy!

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2010 3:59 pm 
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August

Your Assignment: Teaching How to Do It


Many a time we write a descriptive scene in which one character has knowledge of how to do something and has to share it with the others. Now this can be tricky, because unless you have Abby's chemistry/physics background, or Ducky's medical knowledge, you may do a lot of hand-waving to at least make things sound like they could be factual.

It can be tempting to overlay the technical bits with dialogue from the other characters until it's time to safely move on. But let's see if you really can break down what a character with knowledge is saying into steps that the others can follow. This is what you'd expect to happen in real life, right? If you can do that here, without running off to do lots of research, you can do that in your writing, too.

So, here's this month's scenario:

One of the NCIS characters has been picked to star in a work-related training video for other NCIS employees (if it's really good, it might even be shown at FLETC!). You pick the character and their subject of expertise, and tell us what happens in the video. Make sure that the teaching is broken down into steps that the audience can follow. (The training need not be for beginners, however. It might be for experienced employees who need a little something more.)

Dialogue is encouraged--we know that the character is speaking to the camera--but you can also use as much description and prose as you see fit.

No other characters! This is a solo performance. :D

Some ideas: Ziva teaches knife-throwing, Tony talks about interviewing techniques, Abby tells about keeping evidence uncontaminated, Gibbs on middle-managing a team, Tim on using databases, Kate on bodyguarding...there are endless possibilities.

As before:

    - If you already have a thread here, use that for this month's workshop

    - If you are new to the workshop, start a thread for yourself.

This is a cooperative effort, so don't forget to read and comment on other's threads. :)

EDIT 13 August:

This exercise is proving to be difficult, so I'll loosen up the requirements.

- Additional characters are allowed
- The subject doesn't have to be work-related; just something we would expect the character to know about.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 02, 2010 10:01 pm 
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September

Your Assignment: The Original Character


The original character is one you create to fill a need in your story that the established characters can't do. It might be a villain or a victim; someone NCIS has to work with or work against. OCs also stand duty as other NCIS employees, and family members created for Gibbs or others.

Some people have created many OCs in writing, and will probably find this month's exercise easy. Others, including new writers, may scratch their heads and wonder where OCs come from.

I will give you below the names of two OCs, one male and one female. They stand before you in name only--it's up to you to give them form.

What do these names convey to you? For this exercise, take one (or both) and write a short passage (NCIS-related) that heavily involves this OC. Give us an idea of what this person is like. What items you choose to use to do this are up to you, but might include a description, the person's age (the OC might even be a child), profession, their tie to NCIS, and how the NCIS character(s) you use react to him/her. Weave this into your story passage in an interesting manner, and make us want to learn more about this person you've created.

If you then decide you like your OC a lot, you're free to incorporate him/her into a complete fic. :)

- -

    Male: Cecil Byrnes

    Female: Pearl Andrews

As always, use your existing thread here in the workshop. Don't have a thread? Feel free to start one! Don't forget to review others' workshop assignments. :)

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 12:28 am 
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October

Your Assignment: Conflict: Man Against Man

Conflict makes the world go 'round.

Without conflict, there is no movement in a story. Conflict enables your protagonist (your main character) to grow, to have learned something, perhaps to have achieved a victory of some sort by the end of the story. Even in a humorous piece, conflict is needed to avoid having characters just standing around making witty remarks. The TV show Seinfeld was said to be about "nothing", but in each episode there was a plot, a small conflict that was resolved by the end (more or less).

It's commonly held (although not universally so) that there are three types of conflicts in fiction: Man Against Man, Man Against Nature, and Man Against Himself. (These are terms that have been around a long time, so you are free to substitute the word "woman" or "person" in your mind if you wish.) This month, we'll work with Man Against Man, and save the other two for another time.

Your objective: Write a short piece about a Man Against Man conflict. It doesn't have to be a whole story; a few paragraphs will do. Your protagonist should be one of the NCIS characters. He or she should have a conflict with one other character--let's keep this one-on-one to see the drama go back and forth more easily. The other character can be from NCIS, a cross-over character, or an OC.

Show us how the conflict is handled: Do they fight? Argue? Using cutting language? You might tell about their body language, their facial expressions, the setting. Since this is a short piece, you don't have to show how this came to a conflict or how it is resolved, but kudos to you if you can do so. At the end, your protagonist should have some feeling of victory or loss...some element of change or understanding.

As always, use your existing thread here in the workshop. Don't have a thread? Feel free to start one! Don't forget to review others' workshop assignments.

Happy writing!
:)

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 03, 2010 6:28 pm 
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November

Your Assignment: Little Words

How much thought do we give to selecting the perfect words while writing? Most of us probably trust our fingers at the keyboard to produce the best words, without much reflection. Usually, that works well. Sometimes, though, for effect it’s worthwhile to substitute other words. This month’s exercise celebrates the little word (little word ;) ).

Your objective: Write a short, NCIS-related piece (at least one paragraph) of at least 100 words in which all the words are no more than one syllable in length. Exceptions: Proper names (“Ziva”, “Abby”, etc.) and the agency name NCIS are not restricted in length.

As always, use your existing thread here in the workshop. Don't have a thread? Feel free to start one! You can dive in with any month's exercise at any time. Don't forget to review others' workshop assignments—this community survives on feedback and support.

Happy writing!
:)

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 2:21 pm 
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December

Terribly sorry, folks, but December has slipped through my fingers. :embarassed:

With the month half over now, let's just take a recess. We'll start up again in January!

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 8:20 pm 
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January

Your Assignment: Cradle and Grave

We’re back!

This month, let’s take a journey to the beginning and end of Time…personal time, that is.

Your assignment will be to pick an established NCIS character and write both their birth announcement and their obituary. (Note that the obituary is not a news report of how a death happened (although there’s often a mention of that); instead, it might give a recap of a person’s life and name the people (often family) who were close to the deceased.) What spin you put on the birth and death is entirely up to you. You can approach these from a deadly serious angle, or have fun. What do you think sums up a person’s entry and exit from this world?

    EDIT: Pat points out that in the real world, there is usually a charge per word for such announcements, but let's assume that money is no object here. Make your birth announcement at least 100 words, and the obituary at least 300 words. There is no maximum length for either.

And yes, if you want to, you may use this exercise on more than one character—just be sure to cover the birth and death for each one.

As always, use your existing thread here in the workshop. Don't have a thread? Feel free to start one! Don't forget to review others' workshop assignments—this community survives on feedback and support.

Happy writing!
:)

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 12:15 am 
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February

Your Assignment: Love’s Other Forms

Many of you are practiced at writing stories of love, whether fluff or mutual deep romance. This exercise approaches love from different perspectives. You have your choice of two types, and yes, you may choose to write both (but not in the same exercise). Write one or more paragraphs from one of these perspectives:

Type one: Secretive love. This is the love that dare not reveal its owner, usually for fear of rejection. What’s it like to have that crush, that longing, that feeling that you and person X were meant to be together, if only…? Pick either an NCIS character or use an OC who loves an NCIS character, and show their hopeless attraction through their eyes. This is longing only…not intended to result in a happy ending, although if you want to spin this into a longer story with a happy ending, you may do that.

Type two: Love of a friend. Not a fan of mush? Love for one’s fellow man is a powerful drive. Write about brotherly or sisterly love, perhaps expressed as quiet caring for one’s friends…without wanting to be embarrassed by too much emotion. Is expressing something, through words or deeds, better than doing nothing?

As always, use your existing thread here in the workshop. Don't have a thread? Feel free to start one! Don't forget to review others' workshop assignments—this community survives on feedback and support.

Happy writing!
:)

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2011 2:23 pm 
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March

Your Assignment: A World Without Adjectives and Adverbs

Okay; maybe not an entire world...how about just a writing assignment? :D

We are used to using adjectives and adverbs in everyday writing. If you live in my area and are under a certain age, "wicked" is your adjective of choice; substituting for "very" in every imaginable circumstance. But is this always the right choice?

This month we'll ask you to set aside that very, awesome, higher, slowly, heavily, wicked etc. etc. Put it in a drawer somewhere and bring it out next month, if you want to. Instead, choose your nouns and verbs with care so that your meaning is clear and rich without having to rely on adjectives and adverbs.

Your task is to write an NCIS piece--length of your choosing--without any adjectives or adverbs.

As always, use your existing thread here in the workshop. Don't have a thread? Feel free to start one! Don't forget to review others' workshop assignments—this community survives on feedback and support.

Have fun!
:)

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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 11:01 pm 
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May

Your Assignment: Less is Less ;D

Another month got away from me! We may go to two-month exercises beginning June. Here's May, meanwhile.

Let's have a bit of fun this month. Your assignment is to write a piece in which the story summary is longer than the story itself!

Sounds easy, right? Well, maybe not. You'll have to condense something that has an identifiable beginning and end (you can skimp on the middle if you want), and write an introductory summary for it that outweighs the story itself. Maybe in the summary you'll talk about the plot lines that you couldn't figure out how to put in there, or the additional characters you would have liked to have added. Perhaps you'll talk about the theme...and talk and talk. You could even throw in quotations, observations relating your story to something else, or just "free write", in Tim's words.

Obviously you wouldn't intentionally write a story this way...this is just a fun exercise to get your brain limbered up for real writing. :)

As always, use your existing thread here in the workshop. Don't have a thread? Feel free to start one! Don't forget to review others' workshop assignments—this community survives on feedback and support.

Have fun!
:)

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 1:26 pm 
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June

The Skills Workshop is going on holiday for a couple of months. (It promises to take pictures, and may send postcards.)

Look for its return with new ideas in September or October,

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