Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Sept 11-17, 2016

Tipsday is chock full of informal writerly learnings!

K.M. Weiland digs into subtext and gives practical examples for how you can identify and apply subtext in your stories. Helping writers become authors

Later in the week, Kate shares more lessons from the MCU: how to choose the right antagonist for your story.

Roz Morris offers an exercise to show how you can shape your tone in your novel. Nail your novel

Vaughn Roycroft discusses the importance of storytelling in turbulent times. Writer Unboxed

Sara Letourneau helps you find the “why” behind your story. DIYMFA

David Corbett helps you fill linguistic holes with some super fun words. Writer Unboxed

Carly Watters shares four ways to write better dialogue.

Jami Gold: when is backstory necessary? Later in the week, Jamie returns with tips on balancing your story elements.

Margie Lawson offers her rule #17: finessing backstory. Writers in the storm

David H. Safford guest posts on Writers Helping Writers with advice on hunting down story holes using a novel journal.

Janice Hardy continues her blog tour on Marcy Kennedy’s blog. Create an editorial map to make revisions easier. This is, incidentally, part of my process 🙂

Karen Woodward explores short story structure.

Gabriela Pereira interviews Jerry Jenkins on DIYMFA radio.

Christine Frazier compares Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The Better Novel Project

Janet Reid shares six reasons she said “no,” recently.

Frances Caballo guest posts on Jane Friedman’s blog. A social media strategy that works: CARE about your readers.

Tim Grahl shares his perspective on the effectiveness of Facebook as a marketing tool for authors.

Authors offer their best writing tips. The Guardian

The Baltimore Sun shares John E. McIntyre’s “trigger warning” from his editing class at Loyola University, Maryland.

Moira Donegan covers the Emily Books Symposium session: what is women’s writing? The Awl

Kerry Gold’s L’affaire Galloway explores the UBC incident in its context and subtext (because there’s so much that hasn’t been stated). The Walrus

Janet Reid shares her thoughts on the difference between racism and using potentially offensive language in context in response to one college’s unequivocal idea of cultural sensitivity.

Mary Robinette Kowal offers a textile metaphor for cultural appropriation.

Jim C. Hines unpacks Lionel Shriver’s speech on cultural appropriation.

And here’s Foz Meadows’ response to Lionel Shriver.

Related (because it occured at the same literary festival): a journalist quotes a writer without permission. Liz Spayd for The New York Times.

Award news! Sunburst Award winners announced!

Literary Hub interviews the Biblioasis Bookstore in Windsor.

Wordstock, Sudbury’s literary festival. Nov 3-5, 2016. CBC

Canadian literati are coming to Sudbury for Wordstock. South Side Story

Last week marked the centenary of Roald Dahl’s birth. Here are a couple of the articles that were posted in tribute.

Shane Koyczan: 152 (audio only)

 

Wasn’t sure where to put this mixed bit of news. Sad to have lost him, but end-of-life issues are never simple and I honour his right to make this decision. Author W.P. Kinsella ended his life last week under Canada’s new assisted dying legislation. The Guardian

Take a look at Salvador Dali’s paintings of Alice in Wonderland. The Earth Child

Seanan McGuire digs into Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin. Tor.com

Joel Minty offers advice to first-time readers of Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon. Tor.com

Alex Brown reviews the fall 2016 television SFF line up for Tor.com.

Germaine Lussier reports that Disney’s new production of A Wrinkle in Time has its lead. i09

The Curiosity is a fairy tale film about selkies 😀 Germaine Lussier for i09.

Connie Verzak offers some fodder for Droughtlander sufferers. The Daily Record

Hope you enjoyed, my creative friends.

See you on Thursday for some thoughty 🙂

Tipsday

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Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, March 27-April 2, 2016

Woohoo! Gotz a crap tonne of Writerly Goodness for you this week! When I get excited, I get profane 😛

Sudbury’s literary festival, Wordstock, is maturing 😉 The Northern Life.

The Aurora Awards (think Canadian Hugos) nominees have been announced.

Controversial writing post of the week: For me, traditional publishing means poverty. But self-publish? No way. Ros Barber for The Guardian. I should have known when Kathy Owen tagged Kristen Lamb, asked her to read the article and respond to it in a blog post, that this was going to raise a few eyebrows (and a few hackles).

I posted it because I wanted to engage people in thoughtful, engaged conversation (which I’m happy to say it did). I share posts and articles for writers on traditional and self-publishing sides of the creative divide. I’ve made my decision after a lot of consideration. Please do me the courtesy of respecting that position. And hella yeah, you know I’ll respect yours.

K.M. Weiland discusses how to know when to write ‘the end.’ Helping writers become authors. Later, she wonders, are you telling the right story? On her author site, Katie urges us to make war, not love, because creativity is an act of defiance.

C.S. Lakin explores the action-reaction cycle in novel scenes. Live, write, thrive. Later, she shows us how to construct scenes using a variety of camera shots.

Catherine McKenzie endures publishing exhaustion on Writer Unboxed.

Jo Eberhardt asks, are you a writer or a storyteller? Admittedly, it’s not such a polarizing question as planner vs. pantser, or literary vs. genre, but in recognizing the spectrum of this apparent dichotomy, could we not find our way to a more balanced view of the more fraught debates? Food for thought. Writer Unboxed.

Tracy Hahn-Burkett wonders whether to TK or not to TK? Writer Unboxed. I did this with my most recent NaNo project. Nothing I left out was critical to the story. It’s all pure research.

Emotional wounds thesaurus entry: being raised by overprotective parents. Becca Puglisi. Writers helping writers.

David Mesick explores creating distinct and grounded anti-heroes. Mythcreants.

Jami Gold (with Angela Quarles) weighs in about writer truth: we’re making it up as we go. I’ve recently said this to a writer friend, and as I mentioned in last Saturday’s update, my process is in continual evolution. We try things out, decide what works (for us) and what needs to be set aside. It can be tough when you learn from established/well known authors. My advice? Do you have to tell them it didn’t work for you? Really? 😉

Angela Quarles guest posts on Fiction University about harnessing your day.

Kathryn Craft offers five tips to sustain you in the query trenches. Writers in the Storm.

Martina Boone helps us decode rejections to identify plotting issues. This only works, of course, if the agent gives you more than a form rejection. Adventures in YA Publishing.

Steven Pressfield advises to analyze your novel like a dream.

Joanna Penn interviews Mark Lefebvre of Kobo Writing Life about how to sell more books. The Creative Penn.

Jane Friedman updates her How to Start Blogging Guide.

Katherine Garcia decries four lies we have to stop telling writers, artists, and other creatives. Everyday Feminism.

I’ve posted this before to great controversy. None of us like change, but we can’t prevent it from happening by ignoring it, especially when there are very good reasons for it. Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period. Farhad Manjoo for Slate.

Orna Ross says creatives and creativists cultivate independence.

Linda Wasmer Andrews reveals recent research that supports how walking can make you a better writer. Psychology Today.

Five writing retreats to jump start your creativity. The Globe and Mail.

Ursula K. LeGuin on racism, anarchy, and hearing her characters speak. Literary Hub.

Virginia Woolf, the woman who remade the novel. The Independent.

Sarah Hughes examines our enduring fascination with the Brontës. The Guardian.

From alright to zap: an A to Z of deplorable words. Not really. Read ‘em and weep twitch, word nerds. The Guardian.

And this is just fun: Librarian Rhapsody.

 

Radio Times collects eleven of the best moments from the new Doctor Who.

How Outlander is taking the art of love (and war) to Paris in season two. TV Insider. I can’t believe the wait is almost over! This weekend: droughtlander ENDS!

And this movie looks interesting for the fairy tale set: Tale of Tales. Vanity Fair.

And that should keep you reading through to next week (!) I hope you have a lovely one.

Tipsday

Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, June 7-13, 2015

There’s a little bit of somethin’ somethin’ for everyone 🙂

Here was the thoughty controversy of the week: Tim Hunt doesn’t want women in the lab. Why? Because they fall in love with their male coworkers, they distract their male coworkers, and they cry (there’s no crying in science!).

So, of course, after making the statement, Hunt quit. That didn’t stop these ladies from taking it out of him with #distractifyinglysexy 🙂

Understanding the sensitive heart. The Elephant Journal.

This is for anyone who has had to watch a loved one die. There is something poetic about being there to witness the final struggle, even if the struggle is not a physical one. To sit with death. The Elephant Journal.

Sarah Knight left a job because happiness is more important to her than commitment. Quartz.

Which countries are the happiest? Find out in this article from 24/7 Wall St. Canada’s in there, but the Scandinavians rule (apparently)!

Indigenous cultures have less back pain. Why is that? NPR.

Baba Yaga’s House, a feminist alternative to seniors’ homes, opens in Paris. RFI.

Eight feminist lessons from Jane Austen. Bustle.

The psychology of inspirational women: Veronica Mars. Janina Scarlet for The Mary Sue.

Caitlyn Jenner got Vi Hart thinking about gender. Honest and awesome.

Sarah Jones delivers a sex talk from the future by way of six characters. Amazing TED Talk.

Margaret Atwood speaks out about Bill C-51. The National Observer.

The problem with patterns. The Creativity Post.

Find out more about the SEAL team that’s famous for taking out Osama Bin Laden. The New York Times.

The moon terminator illusion. Vsauce.

Did the dinosaurs really go extinct? It’s okay to be smart.

Eek! If a Boomslang bites you, you bleed to death (out of every orifice – ew). IFLS.

Here’s a little futuristic retro for you: This is what 1956 marketers thought 1976 roads would be like. Popular Mechanics.

13 rarely seen photos of Marilyn Monroe. Elle. She was such a beautiful woman.

This tribute to a beloved dog will have you bawling. But it is SO beautiful. Denali. Bustle.

So kawaii! A family of weasels scales a wall. The Telegraph.

And in case the song at the end of the Denali video got to you like it got to me:

Now go get that squishy grey thing of yours into gear 🙂

I’m off to get ready for the M.H. Callway workshop taking place in Sudbury this evening.

I will probably not post on Saturday this week because of Wordstock, but I’ll post Ad Astra and Wordstock reportage on Sunday. Ok? Ok. S’alright? S’alright!

Thoughty Thursday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, June 7-13, 2015

Yeehaw! It’s another great week for Writerly Goodness 🙂

So this was a thing: Irene Gallo, a Tor employee made a personal statement in the comments of her personal Facebook account about the Sad Puppies (if you don’t know who they are, Google it) and was given a public scolding by her employer.

Here are some reactions:

Kameron Hurley.

Chuck Wendig.

Maureen Johnson and Holly Black defend their writerly friends.

A little local literary news about Wordstock. The Sudbury Star. It’s happening this weekend 🙂

Anna Lovind wrote this absolutely amazing post: A letter from the psych ward. The Blog.

Allison M. Dickson blogs about generalized anxiety, or, when your brain makes you think you’re dying. Because writing.

K.M. Weiland posted another in her most common writing mistakes series. Part 41: Inferring non-POV characters’ thoughts.

The only thing you need to know about writing strong, female characters. Katie’s Wednesday vlog.

Bruce Holsinger wrote this great post for Writer Unboxed on how to find you mythic theme.

Jefferson Smith, the creativity hacker, explains why readers bail on books (so we won’t make the same mistakes).

Though Extra Credits is a gaming channel on YouTube, the “awesome-per-second” rule is definitely Writerly Goodness!

Here’s part two of Mary Robinette Kowal’s interview on Adventures in SF Publishing. Told you I’d share 🙂

Sword and Laser interviews Beth Cato.

Check out these summer reads by award-winning SF women from Glamour (who knew?).

Stephen L. Carter responds to Ursula K. LeGuin’s anti-Amazon article (you may remember, I shared it last week). Bloomberg Review.

Anne Roiphe: A life 50 years in the writing. Publishers Weekly.

How Canadian writers changed The New Yorker. The National Post.

Wayson Choy talks about life, death, and the hallucinations that saved him. CBC.

You may have to turn up the volume a bit for this one, but it’s well worth it. Sheila from Dala (she’s the la) performs an intimate arrangement of W.B. Yeats’s “When you are old.”

Caitlin McDonald shared this cool thing of the day: The Last Bookstore.

You know you’re a serious book collector when . . . The Antiquarian.

Look at these 29 book-inspired tattoos. Buzzfeed. Breathtaking? I dunno.

Ok. I know this just marks me as a HUGE geek, but Reboot is coming back and it makes me #furiouslyhappy! The Huffington Post.

An Outlander wrap post, courtesy of Access Hollywood.

What do you think of the season two casting? Access Hollywood.

Whew! Gotta love the linkage 🙂

See you Thursday!

Tipsday

Six questions with M. H. Callway

Madelaine Harris-Callway

Madeleine Harris-Callway is a traditionally published crime writer. Her debut novel, Windigo Fire, which has a northern Ontario setting, was published by Seraphim Editions in October 2014. It was warmly received by reviewers, including Margaret Cannon of The Globe and Mail. The Huffington Post Canada put it on their list of Books for Book Clubs. On April 23rd, she was thrilled to learn that Windigo Fire is a finalist for this year’s Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Crime Novel.

Prior to writing Windigo Fire, Madeleine was a successful crime short story writer. Her stories have appeared in several anthologies and magazines and have also won awards.

She has moderated and participated on numerous panels at writing conferences. Most recently, she moderated a panel at Left Coast Crime on plot twists. Her favourite topic is “How to Get Published” and she regularly gives talks at public libraries on this subject.

In 2013, Madeleine founded The Mesdames of Mayhem, a collective of 16 Canadian women crime writers.

_______________________________________________________________________

I was introduced to Madeleine through a mutual friend, author Dorothy McIntosh (D.J. McIntosh), last year. She mentioned that she would be interested in coming up to Sudbury to promote Windigo Fire, and we started a correspondence that culminated with the organization of a writing workshop and her participation in this year’s Wordstock literary festival.

I’m so pleased to welcome Madeleine to Writerly Goodness 🙂

WG: When did you first come to writing, and, as it’s always seemed to be your thing, what drew you to crime writing specifically?

MHC: I have been writing since I was a child. I co-opted my mother’s portable electric typewriter and banged out plays for my friends to perform with mixed results! I forgot my dream to be a writer between studying science and business at university, earning a living and raising a family though I returned to it from time to time. In 2002, I decided it was now or never and committed to writing full time.

While I worked at the Ministry of Health, I was assigned to work on the scientific investigation of the mysterious deaths at Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto. The study, in parallel with the police investigation, was headed up by the Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta. The report concluded that deaths were indeed homicide.

It was a deeply disturbing experience that affected every one of us who worked on the study. My boss at the time ended up leaving the government and becoming a forensic psychiatrist! He and I would have many long discussions puzzling over the motivation of the person responsible. I began to read accounts of true crimes, trying to gain insight into the criminal mind and I continue to read such books to this day though I’ve come to believe that the reasons, at least to me, remain unknowable.

I turned instead to crime fiction, where the criminals, for the most part, are caught, punished and moral order is restored!

WG: You’re an avid cyclist, runner, and downhill skier. Does your physical activity play a role in your creative pursuits?

MHC: Physical activity and writing are intertwined my personal life. Windigo Fire is an outdoor survivalist thriller. I drew on my personal experiences with dehydration and fatigue to lend authenticity to the hardships my hero, Danny Bluestone, goes through. During long training runs and bicycle rides, I have the freedom to think up stories and to resolve plot problems. And on the way I always spot odd and fascinating people, buildings or incidents that give me ideas.

WG: What led you to found the Mesdames of Mayhem?

MHC: Sadly women crime writers still face an uphill battle to get equal recognition. Though we represent at least half of published crime writers, we aren’t reviewed as often as men and we don’t win as many awards. My friends and I feel we have greater power by banding together and supporting each other at our new book launches and through social media. Through the Mesdames of Mayhem website and Facebook page, we reach far more readers than we can as individuals. We’ve had great fun doing readings at libraries and other venues. It’s much easier for emerging and mid-list authors to get exposure when we approach libraries and literary events as a team.

WG: What was the idea that became Windigo Fire, and how did it evolve?

MHC: The first crime novel I wrote became my “learner novel”. Though it had interest from a few publishers and a New York agent, it never quite made it and it now lives in my filing cabinet. Windigo Fire was to be the second novel in the series, but Danny came to life and took over.

The story of Pasha, the tame bear at Logan’s zoo, was inspired by a bear we saw performing at Clark’s Trading Post, a roadside attraction in New Hampshire. I was inspired to write Windigo Fire after reading about Ted Nugent’s obsessive advocacy of hunting. At the same time, I ran across a sad story about canned bear hunts or fake hunts where the poor animal is chained down and shot by “hunters” who pay a fortune for this. Fortunately these occurrences are rare. Naturally, I asked what if the hunters become the hunted . . .

I spent a lot of time in Northern Ontario early on in my working career: my first job was with Lac Minerals, a gold mining company and later on, I ran health studies for the Ontario government. I heard many wild stories from my workmates, some of which, like the wild bear encounter, are true. The event “karaoke strip night” is an exaggeration, of course, though not by much!

WG: Windigo Fire is set in northern Ontario and features a native protagonist. What kinds of research did you conduct in the process of writing the novel?

MHC: I relied on a friend and fellow writer who was Native Canadian. She explained aspects of culture, such as sweat lodge ceremony and shared her life on and off the reserve. Sadly she passed away so she never knew that Windigo Fire was published.

I also did research at the Spadina Road Branch of the Toronto Public Library, which has a great collection of Native Canadian literature. Studying Cree legends, I ran across the story of the windigo, which proved to be the perfect theme for my novel. The windigo is the symbol of evil, a cannibal with a heart of ice that can only be destroyed by fire. I believe Native Canadians used this legendary character to explain the existence of psychopaths.

At a deeper level, my novel represents the struggle of the main characters against evil. Do they rise and become strong enough to fight it? Or do they succumb to it and let their hearts turn to ice?

For information about surviving in the north, I used the book, How to Survive in the Woods, and for details on uranium mining, I used the internet.

WG: Can you give us a hint about what’s coming up in the future for M.H. Callway, author?

MHC: Absolutely! I am hard at work on Danny’s next adventure, the second book in the series, called Windigo Ice. Danny survived forest fire season, but now he’s forced to battle the frigid northern winter and a rogue priest bent on bio-warfare.

In follow up to our successful first anthology, Thirteen, my group, the Mesdames of Mayhem, will be releasing a second anthology, Thirteen O’Clock. It contains twisted tales of time and crime and will be available on Amazon this fall on Kindle and in printed form.

Thank you for an insightful interview, Madeleine. It was a pleasure! Break a pencil in your creative pursuits 🙂

Many thanks, Mel. It was a pleasure to be interviewed!

________________________________________________________________________

Danny Bluestone, a young Native Canadian, settles for a job at a children’s camp in his Northern Ontario hometown of Red Dog Lake. Local entrepreneur, Meredith Easter, offers Danny some easy money: play the role of native scout for his wealthy hunting buddies. Danny knows that Easter’s roadside attraction, Santa’s Fish Camp, is the front for the local grow-op, and probably more, but the money is his way out of Red Dog Lake. Danny flies the hunters to an island lodge deep in the wilderness. Once there, he learns that he’s part of an illegal bear hunt and is powerless to stop the men from shooting the helpless animal. The following morning, he awakes to find all the hunters but Ricky brutally murdered. Even though each of them believes the other is the killer, Danny and Ricky must team up to escape the forest fire started by the hunters. While his friends in Red Dog Lake struggle to rescue him, Danny falls back on the teachings of his shaman grandmother to survive the bush and the Windigo, the evil spirit that pursues him and Ricky.

Windigo Fire

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, May 3-9, 2015

Gots a bumper crop of Writerly Goodness this week!

Writerly news from the Sudz: Wordstock returns 🙂 The Sudbury Star.

Kristen Nelson shares four negotiating tactics of good agents.

Martin Hill Ortiz presents his analysis of 50 years of bestsellers. It explains a lot about how things have changed. Very interesting. In three parts, with more to come 🙂

Brenda Hiatt shares some interesting stats in her Traditional Publisher Survey. It’s from 2013, but it’s still interesting . . .

Roz Morris explains how to transition from academic writing, business writing, or journalism to fiction.

K.M. Weiland not only explains why unnecessary scenes are bad for your readers, but she also discusses the various types of unnecessary scenes and how to identify them so you can get ‘em outta your novel.

In Katie’s Wednesday vlog, she discusses how minor characters help make for a memorable protagonist.

Stuart Horowitz discusses how to plot without using a formula on Jane Friedman’s blog.

Therese Walsh posts part four of her multitasking series on Writer Unboxed: How to meditate when you’re too busy and why it matters – with Leo Babauta.

Donald Maass guides us through the process of using change to stir the higher emotions of our readers. Writer Unboxed.

In which Chuck Wendig critiques your story (that he hasn’t read). Read this amazing feat of digital prestidigitation and see if he doesn’t manage to do it (curse you, Wendig—you’re too brilliant for me).

Why being a debut author isn’t a dream come true (see the URL title for additional perspective: nipple deep in a mudpit of despair—oh joy). Buzzfeed.

Why your brain loves good storytelling. The Harvard Business Review.

Michael Hyatt discusses the power of persistence in his podcast.

16 modern poets you should read. Brit+Co.

The history of the ampersand:

And . . . the history of the interrobang‽

10 brilliant novels that have one fatal flaw. Charlie Jane Anders for i09.

May SF&F books that everyone will be talking about. i09.

Women in science fiction, a podcast from The New Yorker. Interestingly, I’m currently reading Pain, Porn, and Complicity, which explores some of the same issues. Interesting stuff.

Are our heroines too perfect? i09’s Observation Deck.

How Game of Thrones finally fixed its three weakest characters. Vanity Fair.

Holy cow! Where did all of that come from?

Come back for more curation on Thoughty Thursday where I will feed you interesting stuff to get your big squishy (brain) generating ideas 🙂

Tipsday

CanWrite! 2013: Open mic, Andrew Pyper, and Cordelia Strube

I already mentioned the welcome reception and the morning creative writing circles, but have since launched into panels and sessions without mentioning what happened the evenings of June 13 and 14.

Back-pedalling now …

Open mic and shortlist readings

On June 13, interested parties were encouraged to sign up for the open mic.  I did and intended to read the revised opening of my novel as I had at Wordstock, then at supper I heard that the readings would be restricted to five minutes.  This was reduced to three by the time I arrived due to the number of last minute sign-ups.

Not having brought my poetry with me that night, I read as much of my opening as I could.  It was well-received.

Other readers offered their poetry and stories (one humorous one was about discovering one was having a heart attack while on the toilet – shades of Elvis) the organizers sticking strictly to the three-minute limit.

June 14 was to have been readings from the authors short listed for the CAA Literary Awards, but again, a last-minute change opened the floor to additional readers.  I signed up and brought my poetry, a much more appropriate genre for the three-minute limit.

I got to hear the end of the Elvis story and some more great poetry, fiction, and non-fiction.

I enjoyed the readings from the short listed works.  With one exception, none of them could show up in person.  The man who did was Michael S. Cross, author of A Biography of Robert Baldwin: The Morning-Star of Memory (Oxford University Press).

Michael’s reading was wonderful.  I didn’t know Robert Baldwin was such a fascinating character.

Another fascinating author was Jane Doe. She read from her book The Story of Jane Doe.  She is an advocate and activist and her story is a compelling one.  I encourage everyone who has an interest in women’s issues, advocacy, or the attitudes of the legal system to victims of rape and violent crime to pick up this book.

Andrew Pyper

Andrew Pyper

Andrew Pyper

Andrew Pyper is the author of six novels, most recently, The Demonologist.

Andrew’s session was on the afternoon of June 14, and it was as much workshop as presentation.

The session, Getting organized, getting started, focused on the essential elements required before an author begins to write a novel.

  1. An Idea;
  2. A Premise;
  3. A Protagonist;
  4. A Hook;
  5. A Structure; and
  6. An Outline.

He also offered six tips for overcoming roadblocks.

One of the most interesting pieces of his presentation was about ideas.  Yes, one must have at least one good idea to propel one’s plot, but the author shouldn’t stop there.

Traditional thought and misconception would imply that one idea must be made big enough to become the basis for a novel.  Andrew suggested that rather than one idea expanding to fit a novel, that a multitude of ideas should funnel down and feed into a single novel.

This made a lot of sense to me, and when I think about it, that’s how I write fiction.  I never write about one thing.

The premise is distinguished from the main idea of the novel because of its scope.  Andrew’s explanation reminded me of Larry Brooks’s.

He offered the following example:

Idea: A modern-day Frankenstein.

Premise: Archaeologists extract DNA from mosquitoes trapped in pre-historic amber and use it to clone dinosaurs. A philanthropist establishes a theme park around the beasts and invites a select group of scientists and family to witness his triumph; then the beasts escape (Jurassic Park).

The key to a premise is “high concept,” a concept that can be evasive.  This is why Larry Brooks is forever explaining the difference between idea, concept, and premise on his site 😉

Andrew had us write our premises for the Rob Ford story.  As expected, we all had different takes on the well-publicized scandal.

I won’t give away the whole of Andrew’s session, but I will say that it was informative and fun.

Cordelia Strube

Cordelia Strube’s session, on the afternoon of June 15, was mostly workshop.  She’d actually had workshops on both afternoons (14th and 15th) and anticipated that conference-goers would attend both, but a miscommunication occurred and the message was never conveyed to attendees.

Cordelia has published eight funny, powerful, sparse, cathartic and critically acclaimed novels, among them Alex & Zee, Teaching Pigs to Sing, The Barking Dog, Blind Night, and Lemon. Her ninth, Milosz was published last year.

Her plan was to have participants from the first session return and revise the work they had started the day before.  Those of us who only came on the second day would have to start from scratch.

Cordelia gave us a framework and some strategies for getting into our focused writing.  She then distributed horoscopes and a number of other prompts: postcards, small items, all of which were to inform our writing project for the afternoon.

After we were sent off to write however and wherever we wished, the class was asked to share the results of their writing.

It was an excellent session.

________________________________________________________________________

I should take a moment to mention that there were a number of sessions happening concurrently on Friday and Saturday afternoons.  I can only report on the ones that I attended.

Specialty sessions, at a nominal additional cost, also took place during the mornings.

There were also agent pitch sessions occurring Thursday, Friday, and Saturday mornings.  Though I did not opt into these, they were very popular and booked solid.

I like the way in which they were conducted.  Each author was to submit their query letter and first five pages of their novel in advance of the pitch session.  I think that this is a much better way to conduct pitches than to do them blindly.  It’s better for the agents because they have a sense of the author’s work.  It’s better for the writer because they don’t only have their two to five minutes to convey the meat of their novel.

A professional photographer was also on site to take author shots for the attendees.  I happily paid the (again, nominal) fee for this.  I should have the results next week and I hope they will be better than my efforts to date.

Tomorrow: The final panel, Traditional vs. Self-publishing.

G’night y’all 🙂