Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Tuesday, 19 June 2001


Here I am, sitting at my little desk in my little room in Owen. Photo credit goes to Rick Polney.

I finished a rough draft of my new story. It's at 2420 words. It's icky. I kind of like it and am repelled by it at the same time. I think the repulsive bits go on too long, but I'm not sure I see any easy way to cut them. I'll let it sit until after class tomorrow, then read it and see how I like it.

My previous story gets critiqued tomorrow. Early response (something we're not supposed to be doing--responses are supposed to be saved for the critique) has been positive.

We had our first meta-critique session today, where we ended up critiquing the critique process. Jim seemed to think it was a good idea.

Have I mentioned what good critiques we're getting? These people are good. The critiques are thoughtful, informed, comprehensive, and directed at helping the author tell their own story better. You can't ask for more. We sometimes get responses that are suggestions to tell a different story, but they're never instead of a good solid critique of the story as it stands.

Jim's talk at the beginning today was about the kinds of stories that get workshopped. He said you can workshop a story that is:

His point was that the critique needs to be done differently, depending on where the story is. For a broken story, you might suggest major changes to the story structure, major cuts or expansions, changes in direction, etc. For a finished story you wouldn't suggest those things, but you might suggest a way to improve the twist at the ending or to raise the stakes a bit before the climax or a way to bring out the subtext a bit better. For a ready-to-submit story you might just suggest a bit of polish and point out things like awkward sentences or bits that were unintentionally funny.

I haven't been getting my exercising in. I did okay until I got sick, but there's no point in exercising when you're sick. (It's true! The same immune-system signaling chemicals that cause the symptoms of illness--aches, fever, lack of energy and appetite--also block the adaptations to stress that are the whole point of exercise. So you can't do yourself any good by exercising when you're sick.) I'm well enough to work out now. I thought I was well enough yesterday, but I tried to run and then gave up after just two minutes. But today I've been too busy writing and critiquing.


Philip Brewer's Writing Progress homepage