Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Thursday, 15 July 2004

Got a critique of my robot story this morning. It was good. The story isn't as polished as the providence story, so I didn't expect as positive a response, but I got really good comments that will let me focus my rewrite efforts.

Dave had one great general suggestion, that he said he'd gotten from Orson Scott Card, which was (and I'm paraphrasing here, so don't blame either of them if I screw this up) to add layers to the motivations of the characters. Don't have characters have just one reason for the things they do, have lots of reasons. And press the secondary characters into service to produce a web of conflicting pressures on the protagonist.

In my story, for example, the hero has a thesis advisor whose only real functions in the story now are to facilitate exposition (conversations with him reveal information) and to provide a single kind of pressure (raising the stakes if the hero fails to make progress). It could be pushed up if the thesis advisor were, say, a family friend whom the hero strongly respected. It could be pushed up more if the advisor had his own interests and they came into conflict with the hero's.

Repeat that with every character in the story, so that the hero isn't just pulled in two directions, but is pulled and twisted every which way.

I'm sure it's possible to go too far with that, but as a way to approach improving this story, it's a great idea.

Other than critiquing, we all also got some writing done. Toby turned in a story for critiquing tomorrow. I started a new story.

I didn't run, but we did play with the frisbee twice, adding up to enough minutes that I think it counts for as much exercise as a short run.

This evening we all, including Toby's wife, went to see "Spider-man 2," which everyone has been praising, but which did not live up to the buzz the movie has gotten.


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