We talked about how to pace a story, how to set up a climax in the story and how to do a proper revelation at the end.
The only scenes you want to include are those that show changes of significance for the main character. Why? Because the pace of the story decreases if you include scenes that don't matter. Once you know of a change that you want to put in a scene, find the latest point in the scene where you can come in and the earliest point where you can get out. You don't need to show the start of a conversation, or the end for that matter, as long as your characters say what has to be said to advance the plot.
Should be both inevitable and surprising. The protagonist's choices should have been narrowed down by now to the point where the reader believes there are maybe only two options left. Ah, but see, there is a secret door number three! The surprise. And the effect we want? ”Why didn't I see it? Of course that's the way it had to be!”
The answer to the Big Question. This Question may or may not be known to the reader, depending on how much information has been held back. Good revelations? Luke, I am your father. Charlton Heston realising he is on Earth. Bruce Willis realising he's a ghost. Tyler telling The Narrator they're the same person.
We also talked about how to create, revise and improve a plot. One important element which has come up several times is the causal chain. Does one event in the story cause the next? Are all the events significant the story?
When I get back home I am going to go through all my notes (41 pages, 10 point font size, so far), pull out some important stuff and get it up on my wall. How to write a three-act plot, above all. And then rewrite every damn story I have to follow that pattern. Rules are there to be broken, of course, but most stories still adhere to three acts.
Today our next author guest Theodora Goss arrived. We had slightly more than an hour in the classroom with her tonight. She talked about her own experiences as a writer, how Odyssey helped her and a lot about cons she goes to. Very interesting. Tomorrow she will hold a lecture and then sit in on the critiques of the three stories we're doing, one of which is my scifi story. Nervous? Who? Me? Never!
Right now I am reworking Something Wicked, my pre-class submission, based on the feedback from Teacher (who was kind of disappointed with her nickname and insisted on being called Evil Overlord). My plan is to have it reworked by Sunday night so I can turn it in to be sent to Gary Braunbeck, our writer-in-residence for all of week five. I have a private critique session with him then. Nervous? Who? Me? Never! Stressed out? Who? Me? Never!
Quote of the day:
There's enough adverbs in the world for you to start creating new ones. - Barbecue Man to Meta, as he created the word "fastly".
And on a personal note. I emailed with the talented Mike Libby over at Insect Lab about building me a clockwork bumblebee. So. F-ing. Cool.