Discovery World-Building versus Revision World Triage

December 13, 2012

I’ve figured out that I skipped an important step in the ‘Revise my Short Story’ stuff I’ve been doing – the World Triage lesson, where you take inventory of all of the world elements – sets and props and gimmicks and doors and philosophies and even more categories that she’s come up with. You need to figure out what you’re using in the story to figure out if what you’ve created is the best world to fit the story you want to tell, and so that you can use those elements consistently in the rewrite.

Unfortunately, I think I’m at the point where I need to go to bed and continue the lesson tomorrow, because I’ve strayed from Triage and have caught myself doing Discovery World-Building – just looking for world elements that seem cool to know about this corner of Arion, despite the fact that I can’t see any possible way they fit into either the current draft or the revision outline that I already wrote in the Monastery. And I really do need to keep myself to the stuff that’s relevant, or I could be world-building until New Year’s!

So that’s something that I’ll have to keep in mind when I get on the bus tomorrow and try to pick up where I left off – only include the stuff that’s above the water level on the iceberg.

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‘Harry and Mars’ rewrite update

June 9, 2011

Big thanks to everybody who left encouraging comments last week when I told you about my plans to do a third draft on ‘Harry and Mars’. It really helps to get such supportive thoughts from total strangers!

So – I started the rewrite from scratch last Saturday, and now I’m up to 5824 words, and I think that the climax has just passed. To my surprise, it’s all new stuff, too, I never got to a point where I thought, “okay, here’s where this bit from the first draft fits in” and copy/pasted it. I definitely had a lot of the same general scene ideas – the engineer finds out about the leaking tank, the captain issues orders to everybody, Harry and the engineer bond and talk about childhood fears, the fire in the reduction lab, Harry trying to get out the airlock – but I had different things I wanted to get out of each passage now.

I’ve also done some interesting character work, I think – I was wanting to establish the crew as being really multinational, and that didn’t come through on the last draft, so I started looking at all the countries who’ve had space programs, no matter how small, and looked around coming up with really distinctive names that obviously signify a nationality or ethnicity – and those names have informed the secondary characters and helped me flesh them out as individuals, in an odd way.

I feel a bit like I’ve been doing ‘discovery writing’ with this draft; I haven’t been trying to come up with a polished product, just get some good stuff in there, especially since I know that the Kansas crew will be able to help me figure out what works and what doesn’t. But I like the story more at this point than I thought I might.

Which is good, because there’s about five days left to finish and polish it before sending it out to my fellow CSSF workshoppers – not to mention any last changes I want to make to the Landing. Tic-toc!


Workshop homework

May 19, 2011

I’ve been putting off my homework for the Storywonk Discovery writing workshop. It’s been that kind of crazy week, especially with CSSF and Dragoncon to plan for.

But the class on Sunday afternoon was really good – the first half was about voice, and the second about characters. There’s a homework assignment for each part.

Voice assignment: take an excerpt from your private writing, to someone who you feel very comfortable expressing yourself with, a situation where you’re not tap-dancing, trying to appear clever, or writing for a public audience. Study that passage for the details of its style; look at the length of the sentences, whether the language is flowery or simple, funny or serious, formal or casual.

Then you try to write a very short story in the same voice and style as that, take a similar excerpt from something that you’ve written before, and compare the two fiction pieces.

Character exercise: Think of a scene for your book in your main character’s POV. Outline it in your head, and start to look at your character’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Then write the scene, highlighting those aspects of his or her character.

So – I’m looking forward to getting into these, but I guess I haven’t taken the time for it. I really should put in a good hour tonight, and maybe post some comments to the class forum if I’m having problems.


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