Missing the point, sometimes…

June 27, 2012

When you’re critiquing, sometimes you’ll miss the point of a story or book. That happened to me a bit in today’s workshop session.

For one, I had some company. Nearly everybody who critiqued one story was saying that they weren’t sure what the intent of the plot was or putting forward their own theories – until our workshop leader took his turn, and more or less nailed it. (I guess that’s why he’s the guy in charge.)

And in another story, I was the only one who missed a more minor point – the gender of the main character – everybody else had identified the narrator as ‘her’, and I’d written ‘he’ in my write-up. Oh well.

I’m having a great time and learning lots. Mistakes are part of that learning process, right?

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Novel revision: Structure and conflict

August 21, 2011

Well, I had my final class session for the Storywonk revision class this afternoon, and overall the class wasn’t really what I was expecting.

I learned quite a lot, but I guess I thought that the manuscripts that I had were ready to the point where they just needed some fairly small changes made to them and they’d be ready to get queried.

Now, I don’t think that anymore. Most of the class wasn’t about the small-changes stuff, though Lani did cover that in ‘The paper edit’, which was today’s topic, actually.

But everything up to this point has been on more fundamental stuff – the structure of the book, the conflict, the relationship between the protagonist and the antagonist, the role of the major supporting characters – and I’ve started to see that I have a lot of work to do here. I think I’m nearly finished rewriting the basic structure of “The way back home” to up the stakes of the conflict between Naveli and Merlik, but I’ll have a lot of rewriting to do to match things up to that structure.

Which in a way, should be exciting. At this point, I’m not sure if I’m terrified or just disappointed.

So, here’s the first part of my structure – what do you think, does it sound like a story that you’d want to read? Are the stakes high from the beginning? Do things keep on getting worse?

Opening scene: While having fun with her friends at the Royal Jubilee, Princess Naveli is taken prisoner by rebel agents, along with her pet ferret Ereyu, her friend and bodyguard Tuma – and her possibly-crush, the Lady Jenna.

Things get worse: At the rebel fortress, Naveli meets Merlik (change name?) the warlock who arranged for her capture. He scoffs at her references to ransom, and tortures Tuma and Jenna in front of her to try and break her spirit. Naveli tries to use magik to escape, but the rebels have taken precautions against the few elementary wind magik spells that she knows.

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Revision on the brain.

July 25, 2011

So, I had my first live Revision class for Storywonk yesterday – it was the second class in the course, but I joined late because of the Polaris craziness and caught up on that class with the on-demand replay, which isn’t as fun as being in chat live and getting to answer questions.

But I’ve got all kinds of things running through my head with all the stuff that Lucy’s covered in class so far, and other things that I’m just thinking of because of tangents. I think I’ve got a good idea for the opening scene, but it’s going to be a big rewrite – partly because, as Lucy points out, the opening scene has a lot that it needs to do.

But I’m also starting to think about ‘the trouble’ from the bad guy’s point of view. My antagonist is really resourceful and clever, and when he decides to take a Princess prisoner, he’s not going to do it by sending armed soldiers into the festival. I think I’ve managed to come up with a much more clever scheme that does him justice, involving poisoning and food vans. Now I just need to figure out how to tell it from the POV of my protagonist, and let her stand up for herself just a little but still end up in the really hot water.

I’ve also got a new beat breakdown up on my corkboard – this one is for my current draft of ‘The Long Way Home’:

Each card is a scene, with the sequence of scenes in the book going ‘Summer Glau style‘ back and forth from the top left down to the bottom left. Some types of scenes are color coded:

  • Yellow – ‘anchor scene’ candidates, as per Lucy’s structure
  • Pink – key scenes for Ereyu the ferret
  • Green – scenes involving my antagonist, Merlik, or where his influence is felt.
  • Blue – flashbacks.

So, I guess I’ll leave it at that for now, except to ask – if you’re not doing revision, then what have you been up to for July?


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