The Micro-obstacles/Flow Technique

with Rosemary Tantra Bensko

Meg VanSciver, Rebecca Saenz
http://www.flowvis.org/OldGalleries/2003/assignment2.html

November 18, 2020 | 3 Weeks |

$195.00

Text-Based

No matter what length of narrative you compose, you can strategically use this indispensable technique of alternating moments of Micro-obstacles with moments of Flow to vitalize your fiction. Discover a myriad of uses and combinations for these two modes: foreshadowing, generating hunger for info-dumps, fostering irony and humor, empathy with characters, pressurizing characters leading to uncharacteristic behavior, and more. (3 weeks.)

Micro-obstacles/Flow Technique

Focusing on major plot points, some authors forget to include little problems that create contraction, tightness, and irritation. Those annoying tension-creating events (Micro-obstacles) build up characters’ frustration pressure. The characters can’t help but release that steam during a resultant moment of Flow such as in an outburst of uncharacteristic honesty.

Ever wonder how to reveal facts without a tedious info-dump? Well, here’s how: lead up to relaying facts with multiple Micro-obstacles to the information exchange. When characters finally learn or explain, the news will matter more to them and the audience.

So, after Micro-obstacles lead to unbalanced Flow, that almost results in a major conflict. In this class, you’ll study varied effects of Micro-obstacles at strategic times, in appropriate genres, for the correct characters. If you haven’t noticed this pattern before, you might be surprised how commonly writers use this tactic, and what opportunities you’re missing if you don’t.

You aren’t required to screen the movies and TV shows analyzed in the lectures, as the text describes the system of the two types of pacing. But you’re welcome to stream the shows, all of which can be found online, perhaps requiring a purchase of a few dollars. In addition, prose passages, flash, short stories, and novels provide additional insight into how and when to apply the alternation of the two modes. Apply your new knowledge with weekly exercises to sharpen your skills.

Excellent class. Excellent instructor. Valuable input. This class has made a difference in my writing.
—Anne Hodges White

Course Outline

Week 1

Read the lecture featuring examples from Halt and Catch Fire. Watch episodes if desired.

Take the quiz.

Submit the exercise for feedback – a passage in which Micro-obstacles facilitate an entertaining relay of information that avoids tedious info-dumps.

Week 2

Read the lecture featuring Fire Walk with Me. Watch the movie if desired.

Take the quiz.

Submit the exercise for feedback– a romantic scene which begins with Micro-obstacles and ends with Flow.

Week 3

Read the lecture featuring The Shining. Watch the movie if desired.

Take the quiz.

Do the exercise for feedback–a Flow flash fiction about accepting an offer too good to be true.

Questions about the course content? Contact instructor directly.
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Student Feedback for Rosemary Tantra Bensko:

Rosemary is the real thing. She is experienced and knowledgable, tough and fair, thorough and completely supportive. It's clear that she understood what I was trying to do; she supported that. Anne Hodges White

I love Rosemary.  Her feedback was generous and helpful. I thought the lectures were the best so far on Writers.com. There are a few classes I'm looking forward to taking.  I really like working with Rosemary, she's wonderful. Laura Secor

I am thrilled that not only did I get started writing poems, but with the inspiration and guidance provided in Poetry Workshop, have actually written a few that feel meaningful to me. I even have had one accepted for publication! Melissa Haylock

Rosemary was amazing, and her lessons so thoughtful and thought provoking. After 34 years since the last time I tried to write poetry I was quite nervous, but she helped me start to find my voice again and I remembered how deeply I had loved poetry. Barbara White

I loved Poetry Workshop. Rosemary was both pointed and supportive in her critique, and I really feel I developed as a writer. She pulled fantastic poetry for our weekly readings, and her lessons were always clear and constructive. Tamara Kreutz

Rosemary Bensko is an excellent teacher. Her course instruction and selection of poems are to the point. She's also very sharp in commenting on our writings and guiding us to improve our pieces. Her recorded analysis of a poem for each unit is my favorite. It's full of insight and her voice is so pleasant. Hongying Liu

Rosemary Bensko's instructional materials and attention to student work is professional and engaged beyond the expectations for an online course. Her attention to our work is so prompt and engaged—she takes the construction of a good poem seriously and that's exactly what you want in a poetry instructor. She attends to language, the presentation of feeling, the development of idea and story in a poem. I'm currently taking my 3rd class with her. Nina Goss

Rosemary's feedback was prompt, copious and direct. She was very honest with her comments without being harsh or negative. Her enthusiasm was contagious and she continuously pushed me to grow and get better. I was also blown away by the breadth and depth of the lectures and associated learning material. Rosemary's resources will offer me months if not years of further study. Marcus Hilgers

This course was challenging and fun. Rosemary's critiques were very helpful and I am a better poet thanks to her constructive and encouraging comments. It forced me to write each week and that was good for my body and soul. Gwen Morden

Rosemary was excellent. She had a way with words! I admired her ability to herd a rag-tag band of wannabe writers a little further down the writing road. George Simard

Rosemary is an excellent teacher, encouraging yet critical at the same time. She helped my hone my writing skills and improve the structure of my work. Judy Hampson

I was thrilled with my first course with Writers.com and with my instructor, Rosemary Bensko. This was a way for me to begin writing regularly with support and feedback and I learned so much more than I had anticipated. Rosemary is a wealth of knowledge and experience, and gives generous, positive feedback that is also direct and useful. I wanted to grow my skills and I felt like I did. I was so happy that I started another course the very next week! Julie Gibbs

Rosemary is brilliant, engaged, gives both inline and general feedback and even includes audio feedback for tackling certain problems in your writing. I learned where my writing belongs and in what genre I was able to write. Rosemary is an inspiring teacher; I’ll be delighted to take another of her classes. Sophie Cayeux

Rosemary taught me so much about using muscular language and avoiding expository narratives. The lectures were amazing. I read them all the time. Benjamin Magie

Rosemary was wonderful. Always encouraging, very kind in feedback but always pushing you on to make the draft better. It’s hard to achieve that balance.  I really liked the way she recorded the feedback so that it felt more personal. I liked the  Haiku Learning website she used too. There was plenty of choice of assignment and they were interesting and challenging. Everything was useful in moving us to the goal of getting our story/stories finished. I thought the notes given were especially interesting and generous and although I am a compulsory buyer of books on writing, there was much that was new or better explained (loved the information on different types of short story - some of which I hadn’t come across; and the discussion of different ways of developing the plot was very useful to me.) I ended up with what I wanted from the course - a goodish draft of a story. I see so many more classes I’d like to do!  Sharon Bakar

Rosemary's editing was amazing! I learned a lot about removing narration and getting to the action. Norma Kaufman

I loved this class. And Rosemary. I feel that I have made a transition (finally) with her and might actually have the confidence to really begin to write seriously . She is honest, constructive and has really help build my confidence. I am away at the moment but will be in touch re private classes with her. I will be interested in any class she is doing! Jeanette del Olmo

Rosemary presented her critiques in a positive light but made relevant and helpful comments. I often took a step away after reading her response to my work and then came back to revise. Each time, I felt that the changes I made improved the quality of the piece. I emailed Rosemary several times with questions, and she was quick to respond. I would not hesitate to take another class from her. I felt the lectures were stimulating and the assignments were challenging. Both forced me to engage and push myself to another level. I have recommended your site to others and hope to continue taking classes from Writers.com. Janis Brams

Have you always wanted to write the perfect story? Explore your inner visions and commit them to paper? Be prepared, Rosemary Bensko will set you on fire...as a teacher she has the unique gift to be able to identify within you your innate spark of creativity and ignite the ether of your imagination, to reveal to you the magic of your words. She is that good. As a writer I can testify to the value of working with Rosemary. Growing up I have always enjoyed words. I love to spin them around, phrasing moments in time, to make them clear and born anew. And when I took her class, Rosemary got that right away and encouraged me to play with the tools of language, providing me resources to help stretch my imagination. With her tutorship, I was able to refine my writing skills while retaining the desire to honor that which flows from the heart. That is a very good thing. I wholeheartedly recommend you take this class and allow Rosemary to help you to bring your writing up to the next level... Paul Barnett

This was challenging and substantive. Rosemary's readings of our posted work were invariably prompt, detailed, and constructive. As usual, the participants were serious, generous, and ambitious writers and readers. Rosemary is engaged and professional. I admire her as a fellow teacher and am grateful to be her student. Nina Goss

Thanks for the class. I downloaded all the lectures. I feel like MicroObstacles and Flow is a great technique. It is taking me time and thought to process... I want to really be able to apply this to my own fiction/works, so I will probably take the class again once I get more of a handle on the technique... I have taken several classes from Rosemary. I have tried to put all of her feedback into practice. My writing (and reading and viewing) craft have improved with every class. One of my pieces that I workshopped in Rosemary's classes has been published. I just feel so grateful for her mentorship and turning me on to Writers.com!... Chris Perkins

Tantra Bensko

About Rosemary Tantra Bensko

Rosemary Bensko—writing as Tantra Bensko—has hundreds of flashes, short stories, novelettes, and a novella in journals such as Mad Hatters Review, The Journal of Experimental Fiction, Fiction International, The Fabulist and anthologies such as Women Writing the Weird I and II, Surreal South, Holdfast, Up, Do, Not Somewhere Else But Here, Looking Back, Writing Disorder 2, Redacted Stories, Quantum Genre on the Planet of the Arts, Cellar Door 111, No Site for the Saved, Cadavre Exquis, Ironic Fantastic 3, and Triangulation: Parch. She also has a over a hundred poems in journals and anthologies, such as Chatahoochie Review, Carolina Quarterly, Florida Review, Hawaii Review, and North of Wakulla. She has several chapbooks, such as The Cabinet of What You Don’t See (ISMs Press) and short story collections, such as Lucid Membrane (Night Publishing). She has published other people’s work as well through a magazine and LucidPlay Publishing. She has won awards for both her poetry and fiction, including Carolina Quarterly — the Academy of American Poets Award, Punkpen, The Iowa Journal of Literary Studies award, and the Oblongata Award from Medulla Review and two awards from Cezanne’s Carrot, and many more. Her four psychological suspense novels have garnered many industry awards, all in large categories. The first, Glossolalia: Psychological Suspense, won the gold medal from Readers Favorite in Intrigue and also the gold award from Literary Titan. Floating on Secrets won a Silver medal from eLit for Romance for all major or small press. And Encore: A Contemporary Love Story of Hypnotic Abduction won the Bronze medal from eLit for Mystery/Thrillers/Suspense, and was listed as one of the dozen best thrillers of the year by BestThrillers, beating competitors Stephen King, John Grisham, and Dean Koontz. Rosemary earned her MA from FSU and MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop, teaching both places and at Memphis State. She has taught for years through UCLA X Writing Program and her own academy online, and maintains a resource site about experimental writing. She lives in Berkeley.