Settings That Come Alive | Melissa Sokulski | Skillshare

Settings That Come Alive

Melissa Sokulski, Writer, Artist

Settings That Come Alive

Melissa Sokulski, Writer, Artist

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7 Lessons (15m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Connect To Place and Time

    • 3. I remember

    • 4. Things That Are No Longer There

    • 5. Nostalgia and Introduction To Final Project

    • 6. Final Project

    • 7. Conclusion

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About This Class

In this class, you'll learn how to write vivid, emotionally charged settings, settings that are vital to your story or essay.

We will connect to a place and time from our past. We'll do three writing exercises that will help bring up memories and details about that place, and we'll learn how to work that detail into our writing.

We'll discuss nostalgia...a word that originated from the Greek language: nostos meaning return home, and algos meaning pain. In the late 18th century it meant acute homesickness, but today has come to mean a longing or wistful thinking about happy associations from the past. We'll learn to use nostalgia to emotionally charge our writing and help the setting come alive.

Meet Your Teacher

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Melissa Sokulski

Writer, Artist


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1. Introduction: Hello. Welcome to settings that come alive. No, this isn't a class about writing a story where the setting morphs into a big monster that comes alive and eats its inhabitants. Now that I think about it, that would be amazing. And maybe I have to think about that more for the future. But this is a class where we will learn to write vivid, emotionally charged settings, settings that are so vital to your story they become like and their own character. So my name is Melissa Sokolski. I'm a writer and an artist. I have a podcast called Writing With Melissa, in which I share daily prompts, and you can find that on Soundcloud and hopefully soon on iTunes. And I also have a website and blood called writing with Melissa. Adopt blawg spot dot com. You can visit me there, but for this lesson, we are going to learn how to write about setting time and place that is so vivid, so emotional that it will just become a vital part of your story or essay or seen or whatever you want to write about. So we're gonna go through three different exercises and then the final product Final Project will be writing a story or an essay or a narration or a scene or whatever you want to write about. And the setting in that piece of work is gonna pop. It's just gonna come alive and I'll show you how to do that. Let's get started. 2. Connect To Place and Time: Okay, So in this first lesson, we need to connect to a place in time. So I want you to go back to a place where you used to live. And if you've only ever lived in one place, and that's the place that you're currently living right now. That's okay. Just go back in time at least 10 years more if you can And think about that place as it waas 10 years ago or whatever time you choose. I'm going to choose. When I used to live in Boston in the 19 nineties. So about 25 years ago, I used to live in Boston, and that's the time that I'm going to choose to write about for the rest of this class. So once you have chosen your time in your place, I want you to tell me 10 things that you know about that place and that you only know because you've lived there. Okay, so I'm choosing Boston, so I'm not gonna just right. Boston is in New England. It's has a controversial football team or just different things than anybody might know about Boston. I'm gonna write 10 things that I know about Boston or the Boston area because I used to live there. For example, when I lived in Medford, Massachusetts, which is right outside Boston, I discovered that the Mystic River that runs through Medford is full of black crowned night herons. It was amazing. Another thing I know is that in Brooklyn, where I used to work, that's where I bought and found these amazing half moon cookies that are half chocolate, half vanilla frosting on top from Jewish bakeries that were that line the streets in Brookline. I loved it there, and that's where I found this half moon cookies. Another thing that I know where I went Toe Acupuncture School in Watertown. There were another kind of cookies that these little cookies that are made with chickpea flour because in Watertown there's a lot of Greek and Armenian stores and restaurants, and they sold these just amazing baked goods and delicious foods that I could only get in Watertown. So things like that that you know about the place because you lived there. 10 things. At least 10 things. If you can think of more, please go on right as many things as you can. But if you could only think of seven. I want you to really challenge yourself and try to think of 10 things that you can share with me about that place that you only know because you've lived there. Okay, so get started on that. And when you're done, joined me from the next lesson. 3. I remember: Okay. Hope that was a lot of fun for you from the next exercise we're gonna do is an I remember exercise. I love these exercises. So I want you to set your timer. You're gonna need a timer for this one. Set your timer for 15 minutes. At least 20 minutes if you have the time, but at least 15 minutes. And this is an exercise where I don't want you to stop writing. You just right. I remember. And then share a memory, right? A memory that you have about the time that you lived in that place. So about the place, about people, things you did places you went just I remember. Do this fast. You only have 15 minutes or maybe 20 if you're lucky. But just keep writing. I remember and write a memory. Then when you're done with that one I remember and do another one. If you can't think of anything right, I remember. I remember. I don't remember over and over again until something comes into your mind that you can write again. Please write until the whole length of time that you've chosen. And if that time goes off and you're in the zone and you're writing. Just keep going until you're finished. But if you finish after seven minutes, you feel like you're done. Don't be done. I remember. Keep writing. Just pull up some memories. Some of the best stuff will come when you push yourself just that little bit further to keep going. Okay, So you're gonna be focusing on that same place that you've chosen that you've told me 10 things about You're gonna focus on that. But then I remember exercise. Have fun, and I'll see you in the next lesson. 4. Things That Are No Longer There: Okay, welcome back for this next lesson. It's going to be another list. 10 more things I want you to share with me. 10 things that used to be there when you used to live in that place or in that time that aren't there anymore. So this might be difficult if you're not still connected to that place. If you haven't been back. But maybe you can think of 10 things. Try. They could even be people that you once knew or things that you once had. But try to focus on the place and think of 10 things that used to be there that aren't there anymore. For instance, when I lived in Boston, there used to be something called the Big Dig. And because all the highways were above ground and all these ramps used and it was kind of crazy, they used to kind of cross over each other. Then Boston had this idea they were gonna put on the highways underground. We all thought that is crazy. I thought that was crazy. And then in the nineties, and it took them years and years and years. And when I left Boston in 2000 they were still working on it. It was called the Big Dig. But it's done. The highways are actually underground and all his ramps, air bombing. So So that's That was something that was there that's not there anymore. Another thing kind of relating to the ramps or the overhead. The overpasses was one of my favorite restaurants. Downtown Boston, near South Station. It is called country Life, and it was underneath those Rams and it was a vegan restaurant. It was 1/7 day Adventist restaurant. Fantastic. I loved it. It's not there anymore. When I go back to Boston. When I went back, I was so disappointed that it was gone. Another thing is my acupuncture school that used to be in Watertown. It moved to noon, but now it's part of University of Massachusetts. I think it's in Worcester. It's not even in the Boston area anymore. That's gone. So think of 10 things like that that used to be there when you lived there, or when you're choosing how many ever many years ago that aren't there anymore. And again really try to come up with 10. If you can come up with more than 10 that's even better. But if you can only think of nine, keep thinking. And maybe you can come up with one more thing. One more person that you've lost touch with, or something that was there and is now not there anymore. Okay, When you're done, come back and join me for the next lesson. 5. Nostalgia and Introduction To Final Project: Okay, Welcome back in this lesson, we're gonna start our final project. But first I want to talk to you about nostalgia. So in the past three writing practices, you might have sort of sent some nostalgia while you're reminiscing about this place that you used to live in this time, Like for me, That was 25 years ago. So nostalgia. It's an interesting word. It's Greek in origin, no stows means to return home. And Al Ghost means pain, said the pain of returning home. And in the 18th century it used to mean acute homesickness. But now it's come to sort of have sort of more of a bittersweet connotation where it's wistful, remembering or longing for a place and time in your past and usually has happy associations with it. So I have a feeling that maybe you've touched on a little bit of nostalgia at some point during the past three exercises, And that's good because that is where the emotion emotional charge comes from in your writing, when you feel a little bit of that nostalgia when you're writing about a place from the past. So now what I want you to dio is start your final project. So your final project is going to be an essay that's gonna incorporate all the things we've done, too. To be able to write vividly about setting were not about setting, but having setting these vivid part of your story or essay. So I'm gonna ask you to set your timer again 15 minutes, if you can spare it 20 minutes, but at least 15 minutes. And I want you to choose a memory, maybe from the I remember exercise or any other memory that might have come up. That's kind of speaking to you from the last three exercises. So set your timer and right using that memory as a jumping off point, you might narrate that memory. Remember toe put details about setting about people that were their dialogue, anything that you can remember really slow down and use that whole time. Teoh right that memory out and again. If you're writing fiction, that's fine. Like you can use this as a jumping off for your fiction a lot. I write fiction, too, but a lot of my fiction does have personal experiences. I'm able to work into my fiction so you can either write this as a personal essay that you might later change into fiction or might draw from. Or you might write it in the voice of one of your characters. Anything you want to do. This is this is for you. This is your class. But I want you to use those past three exercises to draw from so that this 15 minute essay or story that you write really comes alive with details and things that you've remembered. And then when you're finished with that, come back, we'll talk about the final project, reworking that into a final project and submitting that project. I can't wait to see what you've come up with. I'm really interested in this topic. So set your timer for 15 minutes, shoes, a memory and let's go. And when you're ready, come on back and we'll talk about how to turn it into your final project. 6. Final Project: Okay. How is that? I hope it went great. So welcome back. Now. We're gonna talk about your final project. What I want you to do for your final project is re read that 15 minute essay that you just wrote, or however long it waas that you just wrote and ask yourself, Does the setting really contribute to this piece of writing? Is it vivid? Does it pop? And if not, go back to those three exercises and see if there's anything else that you can add that would make sense to add into that piece of writing that would make the setting come alive more. And also you can rework your essay. Now is a good time to revise what you've written or use it as a jumping off point for a piece of fiction. Say, if you wrote it as an essay. But you are more interested in fiction and using the pieces that you've written about, that the emotions that you tapped into and then work that into the peace and what I really really would love you to do is to share your work. Because I actually love traveling. I love visiting places. It's sort of a personal. Just something I really enjoy. So I would love to read anything you want to share with me. You can share your final essay or story. You can share a work in progress. You can share any of the exercises that we did. You can just share a piece of your writing that you particularly like, just share something in the projects. I will be so grateful. I love to read it and, um yeah, so get started on that work in your final project, please share it with me. Come back for the for our final conclusion lesson and will kind of just talk about some last things. Have fun. Let me see your writing. I will talk to you soon. 7. Conclusion: Hi. So welcome to the conclusion of this class. I hope you enjoyed reminiscing about a place that you've lived in a long time ago. I know I have. Really? I'm about to visit Boston again. And that's how this whole idea came up. I started writing about it. Start writing about what it was like in the nineties there, and I hope you enjoy this exercise as much as I enjoyed it. I'm really looking forward to reading your projects. Please share them and please join me in future classes that I'm this whole upcoming here. I'm going to be adding more classes and also join me on my podcast writing with Melissa for Daily Prompts or my Blawg and Website, which is writing with Melissa at blood are dot blogged spot dot com. So I hope to see you in the future. I've really enjoyed this class. I hope you have to help to see you again. Thank you so much. I