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From stylistic experimentation to the formation of complex plot structures, the Warwick Writing Programme offers an ideal place for young writers looking to perfect their craft. Indeed, at the very heart of writing development is the development of a writer too. Writing, in the way we see it here, is transformative.

This process demands self-questioning. Why do we write? What are we looking to achieve through writing? This is one of the first questions I ask my First Year students. The answers are at first rather vague and general: the love of creation, to comment on the world around us, to come to terms with painful events, to engage with an audience, to give importance to that which is often overlooked, or even for fun. These are all true. They all contain elements of intellectual and emotional depth which motivate writers. But then we talk about Stanislavski’s super-objectives and how we can apply them to create basic characters. Our answers suddenly change. ‘To truly know our characters is to know ourselves,’ one of my students concluded. ‘Therefore we have to know ourselves to create good characters.’

And so we did a simple exercise involving super-objectives. In pairs, students would first come up with one simple question (ie. why are you in class today?) and one complex question (ie. what would you do if the world were to end tomorrow?) They would interview their partner by asking why, why and why. Using the examples above, it went a little like this:

Q: Why are you in class today?

A: Because I want to get better at writing.

Q: Why is it important to you that you get better at writing?

A: Because I want to be a famous writer.

The most important part of this exercise is to always express answers in terms of desire. After all, desire is the main driving force of our characters. We all want something. And so plausible characters must also want something. What we found, is that answers started getting more abstract.

Q: Why is it important that you become a famous writer?

A: Because I want my parents to be proud of me.

Q: Why is that important to you?

A: Because I want to be loved.

Q: Why is being loved important to you?

A: I guess because deep down I want power.

There comes a point in this exercise a few abstract words begin to alternate (ie. I want power because I want to be loved, and I want to be loved because I want power). That is where we stop. What we found in class is that the final answers, despite being linked to very different actions posed by the original questions, were very similar (if not identical).




At Warwick we think that engagement with the world around us is a prime function of writing. And so this exercise is not only about developing tools to create plots that are driven by action motivated by desire. More importantly, it is about empathy. We found that what motivated us all, the way we live our lives and the choices we make when we create stories… Well, they are connected, related and shared. The concerns of young writers are therefore the concerns of our present context at large. This means that our preoccupation with writing something that looks, sounds and feels relevant is often misplaced. If we understand what drives people – what drives us – our writing will inevitably express universal concerns and collective anxieties.

Try this out. Find out why you write. Find out a little more about yourself and others and how you engage with the world around you.

Gonzalo C. Garcia

Senior Teaching Fellow, University of Warwick Writing Programme


Gonzalo C. Garcia is a PhD graduate from Kent. His interests are neo-liberal reforms in Chile in relation to cultural authenticity, memory, nostalgia, and historical trauma. He worked on his first novel in Canterbury with Scarlett Thomas, alongside a theoretical thesis involving identity reconstructions in indigenous communities living in urban spaces.

He is currently living in Leamington Spa and is a Senior Teaching Fellow in Creative Writing at the Warwick Writing Programme. He has just finished a novel called We Are The End, a book heavily influenced by his marked interest in Santiago de Chile, the relationship between video games, digital culture and everyday constructions of narrative. It launches in September with Galley Beggar Press.


Find out more about the University of Warwick Writing Programme

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