Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Sunday, 05 May 2002

A fine, lazy weekend. Actually, I wasn't so lazy, except about the writing.

Jackie and her textile friends got together on Saturday for something they call "dabble day." (I guess because they dabble in textile activities they don't usually do.) I got useful stuff done while she was doing that--got bread and a newspaper, checked to make sure we have all the pieces of the tent and that I still know how to set it up, stuff like that. At the end of the month we're going to visit some relatives and stay out at their lake camping one night. I realized that I hadn't set the tent up in years. Time was I could set it up by myself in the dark in about five minutes. Took me more like fifteen on Saturday.

Today was the writers group meeting. We've added John Savage as a new member. I hadn't gotten the insurance story rewrite done by the cutoff for today's meeting, so I've held on to it and continued to fiddle with it. It's basically ready now, thought. I'll give it one final pass in the next day or two and then post it for review.

In other writing news, I got a rejection from Ellen Datlow. It was a gentle rejection, but still a rejection. The problem is, I don't have anything better to send her.

I have a new story in the works, sort of. It's loosely base on the hospital story I was working on a few months ago, but I'm really just keeping a couple of characters and the sfnal elements. The rest is new.

The hospital story is the story of a broken man who is healed, and I've spent a lot of time over the past couple of weeks, thinking about stories of that form. As I see it, the structure is this:

1. A broken man who (because he is broken) is unable to make the right choice. Instead, he makes wrong choices, leading to suffering.

2. Another character shows the right choice, but the broken man (because he is broken) is still unable to make the right choice, leading to more suffering.

3. But then a miracle occurs. In a religious story, maybe a literal miracle, but there are lots of other possibilities--hitting bottom, seeing someone worse off make right choice, or seeing someone better off make a self-destructive choice, choosing to help the other character, etc. The broken man makes the right choice, and takes some signifying action that lets us know that the right choice has been made.

As soon as I got that far, I realized that I'd seen this structure before. Pat Murphy described it, when she was talking about the structure of "Rachel in Love," as the structure of the True Confessions story--Sin, Suffer, Repent.

I sent my notes out to some of the Clarion folks who are interested in this sort of writing stuff, and got back some great comments. One guy pointed out that the final "breaking" of the broken man should really be at the climax. It should really be the story of a "cracked" man who has to finally break before he can be healed. That was a good insight. Anyhow, I think I'm ready now to write this story. I just haven't done it yet. And the final once-over of the insurance story needs to come first.


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