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.

A quick trip to the Short Story Shrine

December 10, 2012

First off, the Hamilton region TGIO was last night, and I had a really great time. The food was awesome, the company even better, the prizes and raffle seemed to be enjoyed by everybody. It was the perfect night to wrap up my first tour as a Nanowrimo ML.

I got some good progress made on the short story revision yesterday, and now I’m ready to go to the Short Story Shrine, which is the equivalent of the ‘How to Revise your Novel’ Monastery. As I said last spring, the Writer’s Monastery is not a place but a state of mind. Doing the Monastery exercise means leaving many things behind – you leave all previous drafts of your story out of sight, and all your notes, and don’t refer to them. Ideally, you leave behind most of the internet, all television and videos, and any music with lyrics. You don’t talk to other writers, or complain on your blog, or read other books.

You just take what you know deep down in your heart about what you want your story to become, and you write it down as a rough synopsis, one sentence or short paragraph per scene, from beginning to end, doing your best to write with care but not second-guess anything.

The Shrine is probably going to be less intimidating than the Monastery was, both because I’ve been through the Monastery and I really like what I got from it, and because ‘The Storm Mirror’ is shorter and won’t have as many scenes in its outline. But who knows! I’ll give you an update whenever I post next.

Insecure Writer’s support group – Writing in the Monastery

March 7, 2012

(Note, when I first posted this last night, I completely forgot that I’d meant to tie it into IWSG – so I’m making edits on Thursday morning

I have entered the monastery – and I came out on the other side to leave this post for you all. There’s no blogging from inside the Holly Lisle Monastery. (Which isn’t a real Monastery, just a state of mind for doing a particularly intense exercise in Lesson ten of the ‘How to Revise your Novel’ course.)

It was an interesting and cool experience. I dawdled a bit this evening – first, because you’re not supposed to listen to any music with words inside the Monastery, I spent time going through my itunes and coming up with an iPhone playlist of instrumental tracks – covering Bach cello by Yo-Yo Ma, Mozart piano sonatas, Serenity and Simpsons movie soundtracks, John Sheard and Natalie McMaster. Holly suggested just keeping ‘Classical Gas’ on single-track repeat, but I knew that sticking with any one song would drive me crazy.

Then I did a bit of review – going over my scene cards and every exercise that I’d done in the course so far, not trying to memorize anything so much as refresh my subconscious memory of anything that might be useful. That took about three quarters of an hour, and I put it all away and ventured into the Monastery at five minutes to eight, with my list of promises, my Alphasmart and a power cable for it, and the netbook a few feet away with the instructions and the Monastery progress thread on the Holly Lisle forums set up just in case – and a project tracker to count my Monastery time for NaNoEdMo.

And I started to write out scene sentences. And paragraphs, because I didn’t always get them down to single sentences, but I think I did a pretty good job of including the five elements of a good scene in most of them.

Read the rest of this entry »

Preparing to enter the Monastery as a Writer Monk

March 5, 2012

I haven’t posted that much about the Holly Lisle How to Revise your Novel course here lately, but I’ve been continuing to work away at it, a little every week. I’m getting very excited about it now – I started lesson nine, the last stage in figuring out what’s good and what’s missing in the current draft, yesterday evening at quarter after eight. I had finished the last exercise by the time I got to work at quarter after eight in the morning today!

I’ve now read through the worksheets for lesson ten up to the point where she says to not read ahead further until I’ve finished an exercise. Lesson ten is about making your plan for major surgery on the book, now that triage is done.

And wow, what an incredible, exciting, scary, intimidating exercise it is!

Holly calls this part ‘The Monastery’, and you’re supposed to leave everything behind except your awareness, deep down, of what kind of book you want your writing to become, a cheat sheet of her big promises that every writer is making to his or her readers, and something to scribble on. (Since I hate using pens, I’m going to venture into the Monastery with an Alphasmart instead of pen and paper.)

No copy of my manuscript. None of the notes or exercises that I’ve spent the past three months working on. No discussion with other writers, or complaining on my blog. Ideally, no television, talking to family, or surfing the web for anything.

And in the monastery, I will write out a new synopsis for my book, one sentence per scene, that will fix all of the problems I’ve spotted with the old draft and bring out all the hidden potential that I see in it.

“You do not speak about writing. You do not read about writing. You become writing, and you simply write.”

I don’t think I’m quite ready to face the monastery yet, but I’m looking forward to it!

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