Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Sunday, 18 November 2001

As planned, Jackie and I got up early (a little after 4:00 AM) and went out to look at meteors.

We headed out of town, to about the same place where we went to look for the aurora. Lots of other people had the same idea--each country road had several cars parked along the sides. It took happening upon several before I could really believe that they were all there to watch the meteors, but they were.

Viewing conditions weren't great, but they were pretty good. There was just a bit of haze. It wasn't possible to see the milky way, but many stars were visible.

We started seeing meteors right away, with two or three a minute for the half hour or so we watched. It was neat.

I did get one more ms ready to send out, so I've got one ready to go to Sci Fiction now as well. So, that's six out and eleven post-Clarion submissions. It also means that all the stories in my "Completed Stories" folder are out to editors, which is how I mean to keep it.

One thing that Steve Barnes told us, that I didn't mention in my journal at the time, has stuck with me. It had to do with writing scripts. He said, "Actors say the text, but they act the subtext. When the text and the subtext are the same, the actor is left with nothing to do, so the scene tends to fall flat."

I found that an interesting idea when he mentioned it, but I wasn't sure it had much to do with stories (as opposed to screenplays or teleplays). However, in the work I've done since then, I've found myself coming back to that idea over and over again. In a story I don't have an actor interpreting my lines, acting the subtext. But the reader will do that job for me, if I provide the right cues. I don't have to do the whole job of the actor, providing all the facial expressions or body language. I just have to fill in certain key ones. If I do it right, the reader will fill in the rest. Then the tension between the "acting" of the characters in the reader's mind and the dialog can make a scene spring off the page just like it springs off the screen.

I spent some time writing on one thing and another. I played around a bit with my sestina of artificial intelligence, but I don't like it as well as my sestina of alien invasion. I felt like writing poetry, but couldn't think of anything I particularly wanted to write. I started jotting down a vignette that might turn into a story. I worked on another little story. None of it really came together into anything, but that's okay.


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