Writer’s Mail for 05/14/13
“The Florida in my novels is not as seedy as the real Florida. It’s hard to stay ahead of the curve. Every time I write a scene that I think is the sickest thing I have ever dreamed up, it is surpassed by something that happens in real life.” — Carl Hiaasen
Tuesday at B&N . . .
Ruth, who had popped in at First and Third meetings, visited today. The first 20 minutes were spent introducing her to particulars of the group.
After orientation was over, Bill presented his short story “Conflict.” During the feedback session, Bill stated that Mike was supposed to be a violent jerk, and everyone disagreed, and saw Maria as the villain. In addition to calling Maria a criminal and saying that Mike was always doing the right thing, Andy also stated that the story was too short for everything that happened in it; Jen echoed this, criticizing the overuse of passive telling as opposed to active showing. Terry and Holly offered similar criticisms. Holly said that although he needs to be painted as a jerk with severe anger management issues, he still needs to be likable. Everyone wanted to see more verbal threats and angry actions, like pounding on tables, accidentally knocking his coffee over his newspaper, and arguing with the mechanic and insurance agent about repainting his car. The group talked about various incidents of car damage. Before moving on, Terry mentioned the overuse of “was” and wanted to increase the strength of verbs, and Andy offered one last piece of feedback: That if Maria was taking care of her sick mother, she would not be so reckless and insensitive to someone else’s car. Bill disclosed that she’s from a rough neighborhood and had many things she was stressed out about, and it was suggested that Bill show that through actions.
Andy presented an outline and character notes for his novel People. He read from Brenna’s biography, and everyone did not think the brothel fit with her story and was too over-the-top. The thought process of the group was that she was abused by her uncle and she became a vigilante, killing him and destroying the house in the process. The consensus was to take the brothel out and replace it with her abusive uncle (Ruth said to keep the fire as an accident), then proceed with the story as planned. Jen said to get the bare bones down first, then flesh it out from then. Holly said that if she did it as a minor, she could get psychiatric evaluations and become stable by the time she was offered the SPIES job. The suggestion of her aversion to men was already in her story; it was suggested that she just punch Spalding when he molests her shoulder. Andy became really overwhelmed and shut up… but things are getting interesting.
Rebecca presented the final chapter of The Cheese Logue. Although everyone once again found it boring – except for comparing a cow to a roasted marshmallow – we enjoyed the way it ended. Terry suggested using Post-Its or spreadsheets to show character progression throughout the story, and building things up for the ending to be more complete. Andy once again suggested that there be more instances of personality. Holly wanted Rebecca to show more relationships building, and being friends with all the people around her. Andy said “You have to get other people to treasure what you treasure” – about working at the Cheese Shop, and again mentioned the comparison against Big Box Mart. This led into a discussion about the lighting of Big Box Mart vs the Cheese Shop. When Rebecca mentioned that it was a “home away from home,” everyone wanted her to paint that picture as strong as possible. Rebecca agreed. (more…)