Hi, Joyce. First off, I guess we’re fellow Chicago ex-pats. My wife and I lived near Damen and Division as well! We were in Humboldt Park, actually. I have to say that it’s pretty rare, even among Chicago writers, to find somebody who has read The Man with the Golden Arm, let alone being familiar with Algren. Very glad you know him and his work. We live in Chattanooga, Tennessee now but we miss Chicago quite a bit. Anyway.
So, great. I liked the situations you put forth there. They’re intriguing and they raised a lot of questions in my mind, which is what you want, of course, with story ideas. How will this play out? How will these people change over the course of the story? What catalysts can I, as the writer, create to incite changes in the characters?
The assignment for next week is to pick three of those scenarios that you created and write three pages for each. You can pick more than three and I’d be happy to look at all of them, but at least three. The three pages can be complete short stories or parts of larger short stories that you’d like to develop. Something that makes dirty realism so good when it’s done well is hyper concentrated imagery, absolute specificity in your description of sights, sounds, smells, the way things feel in the characters’ hands. You may have heard it before, but the great film director Akira Kurosawa said, “To be an artist means never to avert one’s eyes.” Never is that more true than in dirty realism. If somebody is shooting up, we need to know what it looks like when the needle punctures the skin, how the blood looks when it curls up into the syringe, etc. That’s up to you as the writer, of course, but however you do it, you can’t avert your eyes.
Joyce, I’d be curious to know, in general, what are your writing goals? How often do you write? What are you reading right now?
Also, a bit of housekeeping, I saw that you weren’t able to find the discussion boards to post your assignment, but it looks like you did find that. Any other questions as far as stuff like that goes?
Thanks and I look forward to seeing it next Sunday, 8/16. Please let me know if you have any questions about the assignment or about anything dirty realism and fiction related. Hope you have a great week!