Tuesdays With Story
WRITER’S MAIL for October 3, 2012
“I don’t care who you are. When you sit down to write the first page of your screenplay, in your head, you’re also writing your Oscar acceptance speech.” — Nora Ephron
Who’s up next . . .
October 9: Josh Miller (prologue, A Chronicler’s Tale: Awakening), Karen Zethmayr (short story, “The Oak Arena”), Rebecca Rettenmund (chapter 13, The Cheese Logue), Carol Hornung (scene, The Lodge), and Terry Hoffman (scene, The Great Tome). *To join the reading list, contact Carol Hornung.
October 16: Lisa McDougal (chapter 7, Follow the Yellow), Amber Boudreau (chapter 11, Noble), Millie Mader (poem), Pat Edwards (poems), Aaron Boehm (film script, part 4, “Stealing from Yourself”), and Jerry Peterson (chapter 21-23, Rage).
Coming events . . .
(Thanks to Jerry Peterson)
Spike’s book launch . . . Spike Pedersen has invited all of us to come to the launch party for his first book, At First Light, October 21, 5-8 p.m., at Boulder’s Climbing Gym. That’s at 3964 Commercial Avenue in Madison. Why Boulder’s? At First Light is an adventure novel . . . and Boulder’s is a place where people train for the adventure lifestyle.
Fifth Tuesday . . . October 30 at Rebecca Rettenmund’s mother’s house, 702 Emerson Street in Madison. That’s on the southeast side of town. It’s potluck, so bring good food to share. Do this now . . . email
Carol Hornung, and (1) tell her you’re coming, (2) who you’re bringing as a guest – guests are always welcome – and (3)
what you’re bringing for the food table.
Here’s the writing challenge for Fifth Tuesday: Write a Halloween story, poem, essay, or short film script featuring a ghost, vampire, ghoul, or some other supernatural creature. 250 words max. Three stories are already in. Send yours to Jerry Peterson. Deadline for that is October 26.
Making a Point vs. Telling a Story.
Blog post by J. Stanton, author of The Gnoll Credo
(thanks to Jen Wilcher)
From an offline discussion about my novel The Gnoll Credo:
“There’s a lot to be found in very few words inside The Gnoll Credo—and that is precisely because I didn’t set out to write something deep or profound. I simply wrote down everything I knew about Gryka’s life, and how knowing her affected me—which gives the narrative a richness and verisimilitude totally lacking in polemics like (to pick two opposing examples) Ishmael or The Fountainhead.
“When an author sets out to make a point instead of telling a story, their characters are immediately demoted to the status of objects: bricks to construct metaphors, mouthpieces for polemic, puppets to perform a shadow play. The result may be clever and interesting, but it is rarely deep or profound, and almost never bears the sort of analysis you are bringing
to the table. I believe this to be behind the postmodern obsession with authorial intent, though probably not consciously: when “characters” are almost always simple objects, all meaning flows from the author.
“In contrast, characters in a real narrative are autonomous entities. The narrative flows naturally from their actions. It contains the richness of their desires, fears, motivations, and history, not all of which will be explicitly stated in the text—and it can be analyzed on its own terms, as a description of events.
“This is a much richer ground in which to forage for meaning. To use a metaphor, “making a point” is agricultural. It can create one specific idea, very quickly…but anything else is pollution or a weed, and there is little to explore in a field of Roundup Ready soybeans. In contrast, “telling a story” is organic, wild, complex, forest and jungle and savanna and desert, a living community within which foraging can be very rewarding…
…for those with eyes to see.”
90+ Published Novels Began as NaNoWriMo Projects
By Jason Boog
(thanks to Alicia Connolly-Lohr)
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) relaunched its website as writers around the globe prepare to write a 50,000-word novel draft in November. The writing marathon organizers counted more than 90 published novels that began as NaNoWriMo projects.
The updated site added new new badges and upcoming pep talks from writers like Marissa Meyer and Nick Hornby. The site also added a wide range of NaNoWriMo merchandise, everything from clothing to thermoses to pencils to pre-sale winner shirts.
Here’s more from the release: “With NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program, that community crosses age boundaries into K-12 classrooms around the globe. The YWP allows kids and teens to set their own word-count goals, and offers educators high-quality free resources to get nearly 100,000 students writing original, creative works. Although the event emphasizes creativity and adventure over creating a literary masterpiece, more than 90 novels begun during NaNoWriMo have since been
published, including Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and Cinder by Marissa Meyer, all #1 New York Times Best Sellers.”
NaNoWriMo writers produced three billion words last year. We shared writing tips all through November. Follow this link to read our NaNoWriMo writing tips from 2011.
This year, we will once again publish one NaNoWriMo writing tip every day during November to celebrate the annual writing marathon.
If you are looking to warm up for the marathon, enter our free writing contest and rewrite a page from a Victorian vampire novel for fun and prizes.
Short story writers, hey, this is for you . . .
(thank to Jerry Peterson)
Turn your October Fifth Tuesday writing story into an entry for Wisconsin Life’s Flash Fiction Ghost Story contest. Our limit is 250 words. Theirs is 600, so you’re in.
Deadline for entry is October 7, just a day or two away, so move fast.
Email your story to email@example.com and be sure to include your name, address, and phone number with your submission.
No money if you win, but your story will be recorded by a team of WPR of radio actors and audio engineers, then broadcast.
For more information, go to WPR’s Flash Fiction page at http://wilife.tumblr.com/flashfiction
Writer’s Mail: Duty Roster
Step up today! Volunteer to edit Writer’s Mail for a month by joining the schedule below.
· October – Carol Hornung,
· November – Elect yourself!
· December – Clayton looking at the Mayan calendar!
· January – Still here? How about editing as your New Year resolution?
Great words . . .
From Word Spy Paul McFedries:
patchwriting: noun, a restatement of another writer’s text that uses too much of the original vocabulary and syntax.
– patchwrite v.
– patchwriter n.
These days, it feels like hardly a week goes by without a professional journalist being exposed for plagiarism, fabrication or patchwriting, which is a failed attempt at paraphrasing that over-relies on the original writer’s syntax and vocabulary. That last transgression is likely today’s most common sin, according to Rebecca Moore Howard, the Syracuse University professor of writing and rhetoric who coined the term.
– Kelly McBride, “Journalism’s problem is a failure of originality,” The Globe and Mail, September 28, 2012
Of the 1,911 student uses of sources that the project coded,…16% are “patchwritten,” defined as “restating a phrase, clause, or one or more sentences while staying close to the language or syntax of the source”… Of the 174 papers the project reviewed,…52% included at least one instance of patchwriting.
– Marc Parry, “Software Catches (and Also Helps) Young Plagiarists,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 6, 2011
Worse, our adherence to the received definition of plagiarism blinds us to the positive value of a composing strategy which I call “patchwriting”: copying from a source text and then deleting some words, altering grammatical structures, or plugging in one-for-one synonym substitutes.
– Rebecca Moore Howard, “A Plagiarism Pentimento,” Journal of Teaching
Writing, June 1, 1993 (approx)
Notes: The current uses of the word patchwriting are almost always negative and view such writing as a lightweight form of plagiarism. However, as you can see with the earliest citation, the coiner of the term viewed such writing as positive: it is (she goes on the say) “a valuable composing strategy in which the writer engages in entry-level manipulation of new ideas and vocabulary.”
The Last Word:
“I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.” — Steven Wright