Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Friday, 15 June 2001

I added one short and one medium-sized scene to my story-in-progress. That's 530 new words, bringing it to 2920. I think it has reached maximum size now, and will probably be trimmed just a bit. I went over the first half (up to the point where I added the new scenes), but I haven't read the second half yet. It will need a lot of work of the sort that Kelly has been teaching, taking out "filler" images and replacing them with images that actually tell us something that shows character (and, ideally, advances plot at the same time).

James Patrick Kelly arrived. He came up on our hall and introduced himself to us.

It is fun to read all this not-quite-done-yet fiction. It's kind of like watching a magician learn a new trick. Parts work, parts don't, you can see the strings in some places, but it provides insight into how to make things work in your own stuff to see the intermediate stages that lead up to compelling, seamless perfection.

Today was Kelly's last class. It would be tough to come up with two more different writing or teaching styles than Steven Barnes and Kelly Link, which has really worked to our advantage. Steve talked several times about how some people are "intuitive geniuses" at things like plot and characterization, but that the rest of us can learn how to do these things--and then he provided some tools for doing so. Kelly didn't say exactly what she was trying to do, but I think she was teaching us to be intuitive geniuses. I'm really glad to have had both these instructors, and glad to have had them in this order.

Actually, it was just Kelly's last solo class. She and Jim Kelly are going to team-teach a session tomorrow. We're going to critique two stories and then they're going to talk about "being published," drawing on their vast and varied experience.

There are stuffed animals (Staunchy the Monkey and Blue Bunny) in the critique room, to comfort people whose work is being critiqued. But we're such a polite, gentle bunch! So far we mostly haven't needed them. However, Staunchy the Monkey turned in a story yesterday, so we critiqued it today. I had prepared a long, typed critique the way I always do. I thought it was pretty funny, and it did get some laughs. But the more impromptu critiques by others in the circle, especially the self-mocking ones (demonstrating an awareness of the way they did critiques) were even funnier. Ryan (who has often had suggestions along the lines of "cut the first four pages") said Staunchy should cut the first page (of a one-page story). Staunchy threw things at anyone who said anything negative.

Nearly everyone went to Lister's house to watch Jim Kelly's "Think Like a Dinosaur" on The Outer Limits on the SciFi channel. It was interesting to compare the show to the original story. They took out all the great "writerly" elements and added in some unneeded extra motivation for the character in a couple of different forms. So, it wasn't as good as the story, but it was still good. Jim seemed pleased enough with it.

A bunch of people are going out dancing. I got very nearly eight hours of sleep last night, but I could really use another eight, so I came back to the dorm.


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