Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Tuesday, 05 June 2001

Well, I feel better.

Not that I'd felt bad, you understand. I'd just gotten a bit behind on sleep. But I took a nap yesterday, and I got more than six hours last night (and slept very well until I woke up on my own), so I'm well on my way to being recovered.

There was lots of good stuff yesterday. It was odd, though, to realize that we've only been here for one day--it feels more like a week. Part of that is that I've been away from home for several days, but mostly it's just that we packed so much learning into the one day we've had in the classroom so far.


More great stuff today in class. Yesterday was plot, today was character. Steve suggested a model for character based on the chakras (core survival, sexuality, physical power, emotion, communication, intellect, spirit). He compared that model to other ancient models for people (ancient Hebrew, native American, etc.) and to more recent psychological models.

If you have a model for your main character, you have a structure around which to analyze what a character wants, and what he needs. This, then, can feed back into your plot: you can structure your plot so that your character tries to get what he wants, but fails (because of flaws in his character) and those failures lead him getting what he needs. That can make a very satisfying story.

He also suggested using the same kind of model for other characters. Perhaps in full form for the antagonist, perhaps in simplified form (body, soul, mind) for minor characters.

Flaws in the chakras do harm upward. He worked a few examples (a man with a flaw in his sexuality chakra pursues women, destroying any hope for healthy emotion). He also mentioned that damage has to be cured working from the bottom up. If you try to heal someone with damage in lower chakras by working from the top down (spirit, intellect) you produce an evil magician.

All great stuff for modeling characters and feeding that information back into plot.

The food is as bad as they say. But most of it is not actually inedible. I've been mostly eating in the Owen cafeteria, and I'm in no danger of starving. Their corn flakes are fine. (Actually, besides the corn flakes, I've found the tomato rice soup to be pretty good and the pizza adequate. But I haven't had anything from the among the hot dishes that managed to exceed "not inedible."

Another very long day. We didn't finish with doing critiques until 4:30 PM, at which point we picked up four more stories to critique by tomorrow morning. Fortunately one of the stories for tomorrow is quite short.

To keep things under control, I'm setting myself a schedule. I'm going to write 800 words of new prose each day. I can write in the morning on days that I don't run. Then I'll write after class for as long as it takes. My stories tend to run around 4000 words, so that will let me finish a story a week (including a bit of thinking time and a bit of revision time). When I finish writing I'll read for critiques until 9:30 PM. Then I'll get ready for bed. (Since I get up around 6:00 in the morning, I can't stay up any later if I'm going to get 8 hours of sleep.) I'll get done as much as I can.

I've done okay, finally. I got my words written. I've done half the critiques I need to get done. I also took half an hour to go to the gym and lift. I still have at least enough time for one more critique, maybe two. I'm going to go ahead and post this, so I'll have one less thing to do at bed time.

Basically, things are back on track.

Now we've been here for two days. It feels like a week. And I mean that in a good way. I've learned a lot, and I'm already applying it to my work.


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