More Ad Astra notes from Friday night:

(Taken from my palm tungstens)

Beta Readers
Terminology – editors versus test readers versus critiquers versus critters or beta readers.
The Bunch of Seven, at Ryerson: “Does anybody want to read this manuscript?”
The worst critiquer – your mother? Anybody who will grimace and say “it’s great”!
Deal to meet every two weeks for coffee to talk, and you had to demonstrate process or owe the other person a coffee.
Pride on the line, didn’t want to have to owe the other person anything.
My sister, the professor beta reader – loving yet stern.
Critiquing the work in progress is an art – getitng from the little cleanup stuff, to the bigger stuff, ‘where you lost me, what were you trying to do I didn’t get it.’
Is it important to all be around the same level of skill?
Useful specialty fields, like renaissaince history, fantasy fan
Someone who will give you the bad stuff, won’t take your bullshit or excuses.
Shorthand vocabulary between long time beta readers, familiarity with longer works.
30% more or less of a particular factor (30% less words?)
Posting something up for the fans realtime, but it’s malleable, make changes based on the fan feedback. intensely collaborative experience.
Different specialties and different perspectives, like cultural – british or german?
Busy schedules – distributing manuscripts before the meetings.
Everybody has to make a commitment to the group.
Internet writing friends – commiting to writing.
Limits on the group policies, reciprocity.
Where to find readers? making friends with other readers.
Writers as beta readers? giving the readers/audience perspective.
At what stage do you let the beta readers see it? in progress/first draft/second draft/later?
Clarity for helping you see where you need to get over the hump you’re facing.
‘Too many characters?’ When you list them off, if you say ‘he’s the other guy’ then get rid of him.
The reader is doing a good job when you say ‘I hate you / shut up.’
Ongoing relationship – it builds over time.
Might overlap with professional editing.
‘A marvelous precis of a story, with good cursing.’
Something positive, and something to improve on.
Getting the most beautiful rejection letter, it’s nice that they took the time to write it.
When do you take a comment to heart?
The stages – first to encourage, then your needs change as you get more confident and better.
Don’t tell them that you’re not taking their notes to heart, just thank them and compliment them.
Have the courtesy to say thank you.
Don’t tell them that you’re not taking their notes, or defend your work. (as in getting defensive,)
‘That’s a starter book’, ‘that’s a green belt book instead of a black belt book.’
Writer’s group, you feel under the gun with serious criticism. (defensiveness again.)
Don’t repeat the same constructive criticism that other people in the circle did.
Plug for ‘day jobs for creative professionals.’
Times when it’s very hard to write. you may need to make a change in your life.
Mystery story without any mystery in it.
‘Rewrite in regular english instead of fake olde english.’
‘Very pretty, very terrible story, with a remembered plot.’
Cutting 20000 words from the middle of the story.
‘Well i like you as a person.’
Confessionals didn’t come in for another 300 years.
Writing a rosary within 10 years of the introduction of rosaries.
Better to write fantasy than historical, because the real world anchronisms aren’t a problem.
Beta readers for world building.

Using conventions to your advantage:
Don’t be afraid to network and sell yourself
The editors won’t cut your story an unfair break because they like you
But they may give you a helpful hand, to pay forward the favors they got when starting out
Meet anyone you can, ask for big favors
But don’t stalk someone (at dinner, in the bathroom) to push your manuscript on them
Supportive community, because the work hammers at you
Meet someone on a simple basis first, then ask favors the next time? Do your research on them. Develop an acquaintanceship
‘It was nice seeing you at the ad astra panel on ___’ can get you past the slush reader
Send ‘it was great to meet you’ emails not asking favors yet, but referencing a topic of conversation
Be careful about saying bad thing on social media, or in person. Those mistakes can stay with you for a long time
Specific things to research
Bio on a company website
Agents will list favorite authors – common ground. Vibe of their personality.
Getting the research wrong (common ground or even their own work)
Coming alone to force yourself to talk to strangers?
Other panel attendees may be your peers, at the same general skill level
Bringing a manuscript, just in case
The editor shouldn’t be the beta reader, it should be a more polished jewel at that point
Helicopter story – ‘leave the helicopter bit really blank’
Winston churchill anectode ‘is that the best you can do?’
Carry the ball as far as you can with your own beta reader group
Networking – when you introduce yourself to one person, you’re making contact with everybody that they know.
You can’t get a good critique of your blueberry pie recipe from somebody who hates blueberry pie
Networking is a good way to find beta readers
Looking for somebody with similar taste in subject matter, but possibly different thoughts on style
Brutal honesty but diplomacy
How to respond to a critique of your writing (with rejection slips) search it on youtube!
It takes practice to know how to deal with the notes
You only get criticism when people think you can improve

Travel and writing research
You can always take your experiences and apply them to your writing, but maybe not the same exact place. could be fantasy or amalgam locations.
The atmosphere is what affects it most, not the specifics.
Summer is not the best time to visit Greece – hot and rainy.
Weather at the Acropolis, what it’s like to be assaulted by a changing wind pattern.
You can’t get the smells and the feel of the wind from computer research.
Las vegas – the casinos are something that you really need to be able to experience in order to express.
Jana – big fan of the Napoleonic sailing era, (but not for the sake of strict historical accuracy.)
‘I need to really spend some time on a very tall ship, to get the details, the feel right.’
The effort you put into worldbuilding has to come through to the reader organically. You don’t have to do this all on location. But you need to try to experience different places than where you’re used to.
Liminal space, the space between the audience and the performers.
You couldn’t get a sense of the space from different perspectives, from reading it on the internet.
It’s important to see worlds other than the world that you’re used to. Like thinking a different way from learning another language.
Travel enables you to see unexpected resemblences and unexpected differences, which let’s you imagine ‘other’ places better.
You don’t always have to travel – volunteering at the old age home. (The japanese and koreans getting visitors from younger people who aren’t any relation to them.)
You don’t know your home city – you just see a very limited slice of it. You can see another slice of it for a dissonance.
You’re still only getting slices, no matter how long you visit a foreign place.
the ugly american – fear of being in a place that’s ‘not comfortable and not safe’ – You make it impossible to learn from that experience.
Wherever you go, it won’t be homogenous, people will have different perspectives on their neighbors.
Everyone is strange and exotic, no matter where they live.
Ignorance breeds lack of empathy.
If you’re aware that cultures exist, and of the way they interact, then you’re about as far along as anybody is.
National culture, subculture, organizational business culture.
it won’t always be exactly the way you studied it.
Don’t just get the tourist experience? Guided tour from a local.
where to eat, beating the lines, where to cross the street, seeing the curvy streets and the small town.
Be open to happy accidents. Taking a wrong turn, going somewhere that nobody ever goes.
Aliens in Madagascar, everyone’s an alien in Vegas. Taking somebody who’s never been on a ship before, and put them on a ship.
Newfoundland – authenticity via email research, news through the global village.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, if you’re really ready to hear the answer.
New York university students, five block radius of experience.
Indianapolis, preachers going to find their flock, homeless people under the bridges.
People that you wouldn’t necessarily know about.
Bridge over the atlantic (island)?
We’re writers, we make stuff up. I won’t write about a place that I’ve never been, but I’ll make up a fictional place.
Opal mining town in outback australia – built underground for the cool. Took it to the next level in her fantasy book.
Keep a travel journal, just talking about your experiences.
You never know what will be useful in the future.
Regretting the pictures that you didn’t take while travelling.
Guy in the south of france,
L is for Location, (for A-Z challenge)
Not just repersenting an aspect of canadian culture, but also just subgenres of Canadian culture, *bigotries, etc* who??
Read books from different cultures.
Historical fiction?
Take a voice recorder?
Creative process never works the same way for two people – see if it works for you.
Travel alone? Seeing the world the way a child would see it.
Find the places that intrigue and inspire you, the places that you want to know more about.
Don’t overplan, be open to the happy accidents.

Screenwriting trade
A very low percentage of what you write ever makes it to the screen
Scriptwriter’s ADD issues, after taking the meds you can access it whenever you want.
Rejecting via format and length.
Need to squeeze a lot into 22 pages, and hook the audience for each commercial break.
Forcing yourself to outline and structure in three acts.
Notes coming across the hall – ‘it’s not on the page.’
Three act structure – beginning to introduce, summarize what’s going on. middle to keep the audience, plot breaks at the beginning and end, midpoint where the Character changes from being run by circumstances to exerting their own control. ‘everything changes’ at the midpoint.
Screenplay, syd field
Robert mckee, story
Save the cat
Adventures in the screen trade,
What lie did I tell? william goldman
How to write screenplays that sell, hague.
How to write for television, stewart kaminsky
If a tv show isn’t working, it’s probably because the structure isn’t right.
They only hire experienced writers, because you know you’ll get a decent script
Write a 90 minute stoy that never bores people.
There’s people who want to make movies, and people who are interested in Telling stories, come from other media.
2 things that people don’t think about
What’s on the page is what’s on the screen. *I cann’t see what he’s thinking.*
What would 5 pages of that script look like?
Translate your story into a visual story.
Rhythm of a film is very different.
Read screenplays, and watch movies.
Transcript is not the same as a screenplay.
Don’t write the director’s job – but you can lead him, by writing action that suggests certain shots.
Don’t do anybody else’s job in what you’re writing.
Actors suck sometimes – ‘I have a really good idea for this scene.’ ‘My character would never say that.’
Celtx or finaldraft., movie magic
Your job is to make the rest of the crew’s life easy.
The budget list (cabin, inn exterior, outside, but don’t cut down any trees.)
It’s helpful to have a budget to write to.
6 million ‘the line of invisibility.’ (in US) Below that, you can’t really get anybody to see the movie.
‘Isn’t a million dollars a lot?’
The fountain, budget being halved and quartered.
First 4 episodes of a series, really fancy, trying to court ted turner. Then he turned it down, and the rest of the series was 4 people and a cave.
The biggest job of a screenwriter is to rewrite.
Pretend to address the notes, but protect the heart of the story.
The novice writer who couldn’t adapt to the idea of not being able to write down the script.
A screenplay is a traditional step, not a work on its own.
‘The making of the trouble with tribbles.’
If you write a movie, and it’s a big hit, the first time it’s shown on tv, it’ll have a bigger audience than anybody who ever saw it in the theater.
Tv reaches a lot of audience, touch a lot of people’s imaginations.
Studying screenplays teaches structure.
Great movies are great moments, more than the plot.
What don’t you see coming?

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