by Diwe Anyadu
One of the most wonderful things about fiction workshops is how they bring young writers from various backgrounds and diverse influences, who might have never met one another before, throw them in a room and have them learn about creating literature from accomplished writers. Fiction workshops are instructive, engaging and educating. They are vital to the literary world—especially for those who are interested in honing their craft—so we really cannot have too much of them.
The Aké Festival this year organized a master class in Fiction. I got in for the fiction master class with sixteen other budding writers in a roundtable discuss where we learnt from sci-fi and magical realism writer Nnedi Okorafor, brilliant novelist Taiye Selasi, and award-winning writer Helon Habila.
Beginning the Fiction Workshop, the very warm Nnedi Okorafor lectured the available participants on the intricacies of editing and publishing, giving insights on almost every facet of the process from the spell-checking of one’s very first draft to sorting a literary agent to assist pushing out a complete work. Using her own writing experience as a window into the publishing industry, Nnedi Okorafor highlighted the otherwise overlooked do’s and don’ts and had the entire class taking treasured notes.
When Taiye Selasi began the second session, teaching on exploiting various narrative voices, she had the workshop participants do writing exercises. In under three minutes, the participants had to draft flash fiction pieces and share to the entirety of the class. Followed by critiques and feedback, the exercises left the workshop venue resonating with hearty laughter, interesting opinions and controlled arguments.
Helon Habila rounded up the workshop with a Broadening Your Horizon Tutorial. The George Mason professor spoke on the essence of writers to read widely; travel vastly; experience and absorb different cultures and perspectives, and to desist from keeping close minds. He also gave tips on writing and using set pieces creatively.
The workshop ended with participants bonding with the facilitators, taking selfies with glints of renewed love for writing in their eyes and of course with excitement of all that the festival is yet to bring.
Nnamdi Anyadu is a writer of short fiction and children stories. His works have appeared on Nwokike Literary Journal, BrittlePaper and several blogs. His latest work, The Forgotten Fable is a children’s storybook and has just been published by Jungle Urchins.