I always forget my anniversary…

June 20, 2012

I started by introducing myself to the blogoverse as Chris Kelworth on the tenth of June,  2010, inspired by something I was told at my first Brian Henry Saturday workshop. I meant to do something really cool for the Kelworth Files’ second birthday. Well, the tenth was a Sunday, so I did Six Sentence Sunday, and for the days around it, I was rambling about superstition and posting a goals update, which is cool, but not very celebratory.

So – mucho thanks to all you cool bloggers, followers, and everybody else who’s helped me feel welcome throughout this two year journey. For all of you, I’ve brought a special thank-you present! Click on the box to get your special gift.

And this is a gift that keeps on giving, too! 😀 Can you figure out how?

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Writing characters

February 4, 2012

Well, I just got back from the Brian Henry ‘Writing Great characters’ workshop in Dundas. It was a great day, even though I had a bit of a headache the whole time, and thus plan to put myself to bed very soon.

A lot of the discussion was about stuff that I’ve already gathered and been using, in terms of drawing characters partly from other literary models, partly from people you know in real life, and partly from your own imagination, and about what makes a good character, how to outline or interview a character before you write, how to describe a character or reveal their personality to the reader. I wrote two fun little exercises, both tied into ‘The Scroll’ universe, one a minor character based on an old work colleague of mine, and one discovery scene for Emelia Collins.

Jean Rae Baxter was there as a guest author, reading snippets from her stories and book, and I was interested enough to pick up a copy of her first short story collection, “A Twist of Malice”, and read one of the stories in full on the bus home. She was great answering questions, and had good points to make, although I’m not sure I’m with her 100% about not ever drawing from characters in literature/film/television when devising characters from your own writing.

And I met up with some other great student writers, including Christine, (who I ended up having lunch with,) Steve, and Grace, who I chatted with on the bus home.

Okay, head still throbbing a bit, so I’ll sign off. Must remember to cue up Six Sentence Sunday before I crash into bed.



Strategies Seminar: Getting published.

May 7, 2011

I went to a seminar today on Strategies for getting published, co-presented by Brian Henry and Ryerson university. Basically, the event was a three-person panel featuring a well-known Canadian literary agent, a publishing director for Doubleday Canada, and the founder of a small Toronto-based publishing house, with Brian moderating.

There was some good stuff, which I’m still in the process of sorting through in my head. Each of the panel had their own introductory and closing remarks, but most of the session was Q&A from the thirty or so of us in the audience. A lot of it was stuff that I felt like I’d already heard before, but there were a few new viewpoints thrown in, and reinforcing the traditional wisdom on things like query letters and book doctors isn’t a bad thing – there’s a lot that I’ve heard once but hasn’t been reinforced, so it doesn’t fit in my head as ‘traditional wisdom.’

One good thing that was mentioned by Mike from Insomniac Press relates to this blog and the reason that I founded it in the first place… nearly a year ago? When’s my anniversary, anyway? Anyway, a few times, Mike mentioned the idea that the ‘net is like a lot of tiny little villages or other communities, and that for a writer of any kind to try to build an online audience for his writing, he needs to find the villages where people who’d want to read his books are already living, move in, and start building good relationships with the neighbors.

That’s the sort of thing that I want to do in my platform building, and though this blog is a good start in that direction, it isn’t the entire process. So, I guess I need to keep an eye out for online communities built by science fiction and fantasy readers, and start thinking of putting new content for readers (as opposed to writers) up on the Kelworth Files.

One other bit that pops to my mind was Marilyn Biderman, the agent, talking about her four-page writer’s agreement – how some agents don’t believe that ‘good fences make good neighbors’ and don’t have authors sign a contract, and that looking at some of the contracts in use she found glaring conceptual problems, including the frequent absent of a ‘sunset clause’ describing exactly what happens when the author and the agent wish to part ways. And it was interesting to hear Lynn Henry talk about the realities of championing an author based on a great query letter, when the book is one that will be a tough sell to the publisher’s marketing department.


Workshops

April 27, 2011

W is for…

I’ve had writing workshops very much on my mind lately, and it occurs to me that there’s a remarkable variety in terms of different events and organizations that use that phrase to describe themselves. For instance:

Odyssey, the workshop that I’ve been waiting to see if I’ll get into. I got word two weeks ago that I was on the short waiting list, and that spots would most likely open up around the end of April, though there might be a last-minute drop-out as late as May 25th.

Odyssey is a six-week session with about sixteen participants, lectures, one-on-one consultations with the instructure, guest lecturers, and intense but constructive critique circle sessions between the participants. It’s held in Saint Anselm College, in Manchester, New Hampshire, with all participants living in residence.

I’m not really sure what to expect if I get into Odyssey, but the odd thought flashed through my head as I was listening to ‘Starship troopers’ on my audiobook player that it would likely be a writer’s version of ‘Boot Camp’ – intellectually and emotionally exhausting, but an experience that, if you got through it without cracking, would make you forever a stronger person inside and a much better writer.

Wish me luck on the waiting list thing, by the way!

While I was waiting to hear about Odyssey, I got good news in my email inbox about a completely different writing workshop. Lindsey Grant posted over at the Office of Letters and Light blog asking for suggestions about ‘revision tools’ to help National Novel Writing Month writers work on editing their stories through the year. I was really excited about the call for suggestions, since I felt I had a bit of experience with what worked and what didn’t over at places like Nanoedmo, Nanopubye, and Stringing Words, and so I put together four suggestions and posted them without even really paying attention to the prizes that Lindsey had waved to try and encourage feedback.

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Blog the Cat, Chapter Eight – Where do we go from here?

March 5, 2011

Blog the cat screenwriting index.

Well, I’ve read through the last chapter of Blake Snyder’s great scriptwriting book, ‘Save the Cat’, but I’m not really sure what to blog about it. There’s good stuff in there, but it’s all about promoting your script, finding an agent or closing a deal, and that’s just not really where my head is at in this moment.

Part of my head is still just catching up from the stuff I learned today at the latest Brian Henry Saturday workshop, in downtown Toronto at the World’s Biggest Bookstore. The scriptwriting part of my brain is excited about the fact that the Script Frenzy site is launching, and wanting to go back to the beginning of Save the Cat. So it wants to plot out loglines, come up with compelling characters, pick out a genre, make a beat sheet, and buy a Board somewhere.

And I don’t really want to stop it from doing any of those things for long enough to worry about chapter eight of ‘Save the Cat.’ So I’m just going to page through the E-book really quickly, come up with a few cool things to share, and call this a series.

And all the coolest things in this chapter were the stories about novelty pitches – the ones that worked, and the ones that didn’t:
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Brian Henry exercise number three – Cup of tea assignment

February 4, 2011

Okay, I’ve got one more bit of writing from the Oakville Brian Henry plotting workshop to share today – the assignment was to write something about characters coming to a decision while doing something mundane – such as preparing and drinking a cup of tea. I went in a slightly different direction for it. Please, let me know your thoughts, I love getting feedback on little snippets of writing like this!

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The file organizer box sitting next to the videotape shelves was the logical place to start.

Of course, it wasn’t as if the shelves held videotapes anymore. Who had videotapes these days? VCRs have finally gone the way of the eight-track player. So there was a remarkable assortment of burned optical disks, paperback books, USB cables, DVD box sets, and scrap paper on those shelves. There might even be some receipts on those shelves, and I’d need to look through those if it came to that. But the file organizer box was first.

I sat down in the armchair and opened up the box on my lap. Twenty different labelled pockets, all stuffed full of receipts. So much for the paperless economy, huh? Credit card receipts, utility receipts, bank receipts, miscellaneous receipts that defied description, and… there it was. Investment receipts.

Investment receipts showing ninety thousand dollars that I’d sent to the fund people. Day before yesterday, it had probably been worth a hundred grand. Today? Who the hell knew.

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Another Brian Henry exercise to share.

January 28, 2011

Well, I figured that again, I’d share one of the little passages that I wrote at the Brian Henry workshop last Saturday, which was really fun, especially his slightly tweaked version of the Snowflake method.

I’m not sure if looking at an exercise like this is really the best way of judging what I’ve learned at a workshop, by the way, but they’re fun to write, and probably show a bit about how I was thinking about the workshop topic. For this one, in the morning, we were talking about how to structure short stories, and how they can grow up around a very small seed or prompt. This was based on a prompt that somebody called out, which was: “By the time I got to ______, the turtle wasn’t there anymore!”

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“Purpose of the trip?”

I was taken by surprise at the fact that they actually asked the question outside of tv shows and movies. Maybe I shouldn’t have been, after all, they have to get cliches like that from somewhere. But it wasn’t like I was used to dealing with customs and immigration officials. Heck, I could still count the number of times I’d left Massachussets on the fingers of one hand.

“Umm, well, I’m looking for a – that is to say, business. Or education, more than anything else – or educational business. It’s a student field research trip.”

The uniformed official considered this. “So you’re being sponsored by an American university?”

“Yes.” I dove into my carryon looking for something official with the Harvard letterhead on it, until I was waved down, a gesture that I took to mean that I shouldn’t bother. “Is there a local school that you’ll be working with?”

“I… I’m not sure,” I said. “A local zoologist, at least – Doctor Hector Guerras. I think that he’s with the Institute of Reptile research in Daracas, not an instructor at a school.”

“Very good. Is the Institute arranging for your lodging?”

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A short dialog exercise.

January 21, 2011

I went to a Brian Henry workshop on Dialog last weekend, and I’ll be seeing him again tomorrow for a workshop on Plotting a story. Last Saturday was a great experience, despite the somewhat trying weather – there was just a small group of us at the Saint Catharine’s library, and I learned a lot of useful tips, as well as being able to talk with some other aspiring writers.

Since sharing the ‘Devin’ short story went over well last week, I think I’ll post the dialog writing exercise that I typed out on the Alphasmart Dana for that workshop. Again, this is copyright Chris Kelworth, and I’d love to hear your opinions on it:

 

“Okay, come on, give me the details.” My brother Derek pulled out his android phone and sat down on the couch, ready to thumb-type, with the corners of his nose wrinkling slightly.

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Blogosphere Monday: Quick Brown Fox

December 13, 2010

I’ve gone to three of Brian Henry’s Saturday workshops in the Hamilton area over the past seven months or so – in fact, it was the first of them which actually prompted me to start a writing blog of my own, and share this crazy creative journey that I’m on with the entire blogosphere.

So, this week, I’m happy to spotlight Brian’s blog: Quick Brown Fox It’s full of excerpts and news from all kinds of writers that have been through his courses and workshops, opportunities to submit your work, places to go to find an agent, local writers groups… and it’s a great place to watch for Brian coming to your town if you’re living in Ontario of course.

Myself, I’m already looking forward to heading out to Saint Catherines in the middle of January to learn about “Writing Dialog.”


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