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It's Friday in Mumbai!

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Dec. 14th, 2012 | 07:01 am

Today is technically a travel day, but I don’t fly until after midnight so I’m enjoying my last day in a pretty apartment in a fun neighborhood. I love it when there’s a vegetable market on the way to the train station!

**
Travel Tip: Be tight with your money at the beginning of the trip, when you’re still high-energy and making discoveries about what you like. At the end of the trip, spend a little more on comfort as you’re getting tired. I’ve taken more taxis (actual cars with windows that keep out the dust and exhaust) in the last three days than I have all trip, and eaten some nicer meals, and I’m grateful I’m able to without blowing my budget.
**

I taught two writing workshops back-to-back yesterday, three hours each with a Hare Krishna temple visit in between, as one does.

One class was for Writers’ Wing, a group of hobbyists and budding professionals who have been meeting once a month for almost ten years now! They loved the eight-point structure exercise (see below) and felt like I influenced them to read aloud more confidently. I also suggested reading each other’s pieces instead of their own, to combat shyness. The second group was four novelists who had just completed NaNoWriMo and wanted to know more about the publication process and how to edit and refine their work. We also did a fun writing exercise, envisioning a day in our Perfect Writer’s Life—and all of us would get up earlier! (Which, you know, is within our power to do now.)

By the end of the day, I felt like my brain was broken from so much thinking, but it was awesome to teach again, and to really think about how to convey information clearly in a way that could benefit writers of all levels. I suspect I’ll write up some of it as articles, too.


REJECTED!
Definitely Not The Opera again passed on my weekly pitch. It’s like playing the lottery! Also, only one rejection this week means I need to be submitting more work.


SCORED!
I’ve felt like my YA novel work is slowing down. Thanks to drwex’s suggestion to think about what’s worked for me in the past, I realized, schoolwork. Yep. Good old-fashioned exercises and homework! My problem was structure, so I googled that sucker and found a nice article on the eight-point dramatic arc (There are other versions of this concept, Hero’s Journey, etc., but this one was easy to follow and it worked for me).

For homework, I picked three books/movies I like (The Secret History, Skyfall and The Hunger Games) and whose plots were online in enough detail to make up for not having the books with me. I went through each plot and wrote what events fit the eight-point structure. I could tell it was working when I got all excited midway through Skyfall and scribbled on my page, “I CAN DO THIS!!!!”

Analyzing my own manuscript, I realized that I have three plotlines and I need to make notes on how to develop each one and interlock them. Now that I know what dramatic purpose the as-yet-unwritten scenes will serve, it’s a lot easier to start brainstorming about what will happen in those scenes. Instead of “oh, shit, what’s next,” I’m working from, “the storyline about Aurora and Trevor needs a surprising event here that bumps their relationship to the next level.” SO MUCH EASIER.

I gave myself an A-minus, and the note, Legibility, please. Handwriting, you are still my nemesis.


OPPORTUNITY OF THE WEEK
Punchnel’s, a fledging online literary magazine based in Indianapolis, is taking submissions for regular columns or blogs (as well as articles, fiction, etc). Check them out, and send in your ideas here.


ME ME ME ME ME: THIS WEEK’S SUBMISSION(S)
The Writer’s Workshop Review, an online literary magazine based in Seattle.

Why?
I read about them in The Review Review and checked out their site. The work seemed quality, and they pay.

How?
Email submission with a cover letter and attachment, as per their guidelines.

What?
“How To Tell If Your Writing Sucks,” a craft essay I wrote originally as an LJ Idol entry. It’s about learning how to gauge the quality of your own work, and how much selfishness one needs in order to develop a writing practice. I was especially motivated to send this piece out after teaching workshops yesterday. The Indian writers were all women, and it was interesting to talk to them about their priorities, and see how family-oriented they are. They still burn with passion for their writing, but family care can be very time-consuming.

And then I hit ‘send’. WHICH IS LIKE AVOIDING A BEGGAR BY WALKING RIGHT INTO TRAFFIC AND ASSUMING THE MOTORCYCLES, AUTO-RICKSHAWS, AND TAXIS WILL DODGE YOU BECAUSE THEY DO IT ALL THE TIME. CONSTANT PACE. KEEP A CONSTANT PACE.


LINK OF THE WEEK
Lee Child, writer of airport thrillers (by which I mean, “paperbacks sold in every airport,” rather than “fast-paced action novels with aviation themes”) has written a terrific, easy-to-implement article about creating suspense. He points out that it’s not just about creating a “whodunit” or “who’s about to bomb it?” mood, but for all genres, setting up a narrative engine that keeps the reader turning pages.

"…[Writers are] told they should create attractive, sympathetic characters, so that readers will care about them deeply, and then to plunge those characters into situations of continuing peril, the descent into which is the mixing and stirring, and the duration and horrors of which are the timing and temperature.

But it’s really much simpler than that."

Read the whole thing here.

____________________________________________
More postcards coming tomorrow!

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Comments {16}

Dom

(no subject)

from: comedychick
date: Dec. 14th, 2012 02:18 pm (UTC)
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Read the link to see how well it matched up with how I wrote my novel. I think I did it pretty much the same as he suggests. I have lots of questions that I don't answer until much later (the big one being "How the fuck did a 17th century pirate come into our century?" which isn't answered until chapter 12). And so far the feedback I've gotten seems to suggest I have a page turner because readers want those questions answered. They tend to get through it pretty quickly too.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 15th, 2012 09:00 am (UTC)
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Excellent! And sounds like you've got great stuff happening!

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Vice Captain of the Universe

(no subject)

from: sweeny_todd
date: Dec. 14th, 2012 03:03 pm (UTC)
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oh gosh yes! I bought have bought a lot of Leigh Childs for my travelling! I actually just got an aging kindle, so I will be loading that up with books. I can see the benefit during travelling, but I still love me some hard copy.

I gave myself an A-minus, and the note, Legibility, please. Handwriting, you are still my nemesis.
I laughed ^_^

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 15th, 2012 09:02 am (UTC)
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:)

Yeah, I keep thinking how sensible a Kindle would be...and how much I don't want one.

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Vice Captain of the Universe

(no subject)

from: sweeny_todd
date: Dec. 15th, 2012 09:09 am (UTC)
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I would never have bought one new - as it was I got my friends bike and kindle for $100 when she left... I still haven't turned it on!

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 15th, 2012 10:39 am (UTC)
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I keep traveling places where it's much safer to open up my $2 paperback than a $100 piece of electronics on the bus...

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drwex

yay!

from: drwex
date: Dec. 14th, 2012 03:07 pm (UTC)
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I am distinctly pleased to have been of some use in my suggestions.

How did you come to teach those workshops? (I hope you got paid for them!)

And now to check out your links, thanks!

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whipchick

Re: yay!

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 15th, 2012 09:10 am (UTC)
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When I signed up for NaNoWriMo, I signed up with Mumbai as my home location so i could meet Indian writers. We had a NaNo meet-up, and the local leader liked what I had to say, so she organized the two workshops. I got paid for one (donating most of it to NaNo) and was given a lovely gift at the other. For me right now, in this location, it was more about formulating the workshop and seeing if this lesson plan worked, and making connections. Later, I'll start a regular price :)

Enjoy the links!

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drwex

Re: yay!

from: drwex
date: Dec. 15th, 2012 12:54 pm (UTC)
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I guess I hadn't realized how global in scope it was, nor how organized.

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whipchick

Re: yay!

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 16th, 2012 12:21 pm (UTC)
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I hadn't either - there's groups all over the place. I think how organized an individual group is depends on who's running it, but it was a surprise to me that it wasn't just Americans.

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blahblahblah, whatever

(no subject)

from: kathrynrose
date: Dec. 14th, 2012 05:07 pm (UTC)
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I love your Friday posts.

I just did the 8 point thing with The Pelican Brief. Interesting. Seems a couple of those points are kind of fat, though. :)

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 15th, 2012 09:13 am (UTC)
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Thanks - I always sit down to write them thinking I don't have anything to say, and then the format saves me :)

Yeah - I wish there was more breakdown on the Surprises thing, because I think that's like, 80% of the book! Though it makes sense that a short story would have one surprise and a novel many - what's helping me is seeing each scene also as a loop of the eight points, but ending with a climax or a critical choice to carry the reader into the next chapter. Also, I already added "longing" to the stasis part - there has to be a dissatisfaction for the protagonist. It's the "I want" song in a musical (Like Belle's thing about "there must be more than this provincial life" in Beauty and the Beast). Musicals are a good format for this, because they almost always open with a Community song (the stasis, this is the way things are around here) and the second song is almost always the I Want song.

John Grisham is the master plotter of the universe :)

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The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors

(no subject)

from: halfshellvenus
date: Dec. 14th, 2012 09:54 pm (UTC)
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I love your descriptions of how it feels to hit "Send"-- always so creative and entertaining!

The Lee Child article was interesting. He described the process well, in a way that wasn't too esoteric. Now, having an idea that can sustain an entire book's worth of suspense without having the reader think, "Is that all?!?" at the end... that's a trickier question!

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 15th, 2012 09:14 am (UTC)
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Thanks, they're a fun challenge to come up with each week!

Yeah, I agree - once one has a grasp of the technical elements, the pay-off has to be worthwhile.

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Lindsay Price

Handwriting

from: lindsaywriter
date: Dec. 15th, 2012 02:35 am (UTC)
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Sometimes I will stare at a page for a full ten minutes because I seriously have no clue what I've written. Chicken scratch you are my nemesis....

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whipchick

Re: Handwriting

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 15th, 2012 09:16 am (UTC)
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I'm glad it's not just me! On the up side, it usually means things are going well... And thanks for the ass kick :)

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