Friday, June 17, 2011

All work and some play

On the couch, in the stifling heat in the apartment. Fans on, full blast. It's not as bad as it was when we first got here, but it's worse than it's been for the last couple of days. Tomorrow we're supposed to have rain, which is good. Hopefully the weekend will be nice and cool so we can sit in the apartment and write and not have to worry about finding some place with AC.

I sat down with Teacher yesterday, and went through my two pre-class submissions. It was very interesting and illuminating. She gives extensive written notes on the manuscript and over 1000 words on a separate document, for each text. Invaluable.

The element we identified that I will focus my work on this coming week is plot. I have a lot of holes and inconsistencies in my plots. I knew they were there, but I didn't know they were that big. She gave me some pointers on how to fix them for the specific stories we discussed. I might rework one of them to submit sometime over the coming weeks. More on my stories in another post.

Today Teacher continued lecturing on Character and went on to Point of View.

I am happy with most characters I create, and from the notes I've gotten so far it seems others do to. What I have to remember when writing a character is that all human beings are inconsistent, but that inconsistency must be kept in check, or the character will make no sense. In most cases I manage to make my characters complex, and so far I have managed to avoid writing a schizo character. I think.

Teacher supplied us with this quote from Flaubert: ”When we're at our worst, we're at our most interesting.” Basically, put pressure on your character. Take things away from him, put obstacles in front of him on the way to his goal, and interesting things will happen.

We talked a lot about dialogue too, as a way to reveal aspects of character. Personally I think I have problems writing believable dialogue. It always feels contrived and fake, so I was happy to get a lot of tools and tips on writing good dialogue.

For Point of View, we need to ask ourselves this question: Whose story is this? Who is telling it? Through whose eyes should we see it? POV is hard, and very hard to put into words. I might need to buy some books on it, since I have POV shifts in some of my stories, which is not good.

Every day after lunch we sit down and do critiques of two texts, three on Thursdays and three over the weekend. Some of the others have a hard time understanding how Meta (who used to be called Guitar) and Charley Horse (who also got a new name today, but one we seem to have forgotten now) can be in bed before midnight, all our work done. Our theory is that we sit down the second we get back to the apartment, and that we all have experience with critiquing. But who knows?

Sci-fi author Barry Longyear is our lecturer for tomorrow. We had an hour of Q&A with him today. He is totally insane, in the very best sense of the word. He's holding a lecture tomorrow which I expect will be really good and entertaining. I also have a one on one sitdown with him where I will listen to him tearing apart one of my stories. Oh joy.

But it's not all work. We have fun too. We went out and had Polynesian food a few hours ago. The place was cool, with drinks like something out a cheesy movie set in Hawaii, a karaoke setup and good food. We plan on going back, with more of our fellow students.

My fortune cookie said: You will be fortunate in everything.

Everything! Hooray!

And finally, an exchange that took place earlier.
Charley: So. Facebook, huh?
Me: I'm actually talking to people that have critiqued my horror story.
Meta: Doesn't count!
Charley: That's true.

So. I was Not Writing. At Odyssey you're either Writing or Not Writing. Writing good. Not Writing bad. Bad, bad beard. I will try to Write some before I go to bed. Night night.

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