This is a rough transcription of the WotF workshop sessions. I haven't bothered to transcribe stuff that was said, but that everyone reading this should already know by heart. E.g., use SMF, don't make simultaneous submissions unless the publication explicitly allows it, etc. You know this stuff. Right?
There was a lot of concentrated material, especially on the first day, so I'm breaking it up. This will continue tomorrow.
TP is Tim Powers. KW is K.D. Wentworth. PM is Parenthetical Me, my own glosses.
[TP]: Consciously design each room where a scene will take place. Know where every bit of furniture is, even if it doesn't show up in the scene. Block out the characters' movements. Know where the light is coming from. Know what the weather is.
Leave no ambiguity to distract the reader, to pull him away from the narrative
[KW]: Readers don't read for the writing, they read for the story
It's easier to get an airplane into the air than it is to land it. Every story must land successfully, and the landing must be satisfying to the reader.
[PM: writers talk a lot about opening sentences and story hooks. Why don't we talk more about story endings? We should do this. Yes, I know it's more difficult.]
Recommends Dwight Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer for classic pulp techniques.
[PM: I actually own this, and hadn't read it. Must move it from 'to be read' pile to the 'to be read in near future' pile.]
A scene is Goal -> Conflict -> Disaster.
[PM: (Explication of this.) I've heard this before, in a slightly different formulation. Jack Bickham's The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes says something similar, and uses the term 'disaster' to describe how a scene should end.]
You may use ONE coincidence per story, if it hurts the protagonist/gets him into trouble. You may not use any coincidence which helps the protagonist or solves a story problem.
Hurt your characters.
[TP] Doesn't believe in letting your character speak for themselves or giving them free rein. You may do it experimentally, to explore character. Karen Joy Fowler does this. However, it does not usually produce a useful story.
TP believes in outlining. Don't worry about the theme or message -- worry about the plot.
In coming up with your story and its plot, throw out a bunch of ideas, twenty or more. Write them down. Pick the best. You probably won't find the best in the first few you come up with. [PM: This is a familiar idea, too.]
TP doesn't start working on character until the plot is secure.
Character: Know what the character would do anything for, and what he would do anything to avoid. It may be especially interesting when these two things are *not* opposites. E.g., the man who is horribly afraid of death, but wants to climb Everest more than anything.
"That which I greatly feared has come upon me." At the hinge of the plot, the protagonist will be in a position to say this. Upon the resolution of this situation, the character will change.
TP says he like to chop off characters' limbs to emphasize that they've changed.
[PM: this is all well and good, but it would be disconcerting to have a genre in which every novel and every story ends with the cast a bunch of amputees.]
TP writes parts of the plot on note cards, spreads them on the floor, then moves them around in two dimensions. Sometimes this makes clear there is a void, and new note cards/scenes must be developed.
TP says he develops a story by making a list of 'stuff that is too cool not to use'. Then he figures out how the individual bits of stuff fit together.
TP makes a giant calendar and writes down on each day what story events are happening on that day. *Then* figure out on which day the story, as written, actually starts.
文献 == bunken == (noun) literature,
|Left radical is derived from a now-obsolete character indication a particular type of dog used in sacrifices (waaaaa!), but now replaced with the modern character for 'south' (南). Right radical is 'dog' (犬). Henshall suggests as a mnemonic: 'Southern dog is very dedicated.'|