WRITERS’ MAIL FOR JANUARY 5, 2011
by Randy Haselow
Fifth Tuesday update . . .
We now have a writing challenge for our next Fifth Tuesday, March 29: Write a conversation with your character.
Select one of your fictional characters, major or minor, and take her or him on an adventure – perhaps a rafting trip down the Colorado River – and the two of you talk. Perhaps your character asks, “Why did you kill me in chapter 3? I had so much more to offer.”
Maximum length: 500 words.
Start writing now. Polish your piece to a high luster.
Saturday at the Christmas Castle
Jerry and Marge Peterson will open their home, a Victorian residence at 920 Glen Street in Janesville, to us this Saturday for a Tuesdays with Story post-Christmas party. Plan to arrive at 4 p.m. Bring some great food for the potluck table, and we will feast at 5:00.
Also bring a game the group might play and bring a book to trade or barter. Says Clayton Gill, here’s your chance to unload that awful book someone gave you for Christmas that you don’t want to read. But if it’s an awful book, who’s going to want to trade you for it? So it might be wiser to bring a good book that you’ve read and enjoyed and would like to pass along to someone else who also would enjoy it.
Here’s what you should do right now, if you have not already done so . . . email Jerry and tell him you’re coming and what you intend to bring for the food table. Then look around for someone with whom you can carpool. Share a ride and save gas.
News from our TWS alums
Juliette Crane’s west art exhibition runs through January 31 at Absolutely Art and Café Zoma, 2322 Atwood Avenue in Madison. Friday evening this week is the best night to see it because Juliette is throwing a party there . . . free drinks and food, live music, and loads of whimsical art. The party starts at 5 p.m. and goes on until 9:00. You can see some of the art Juliette has on display by clicking on this link: http://juliettecrane.etsy.com
Jeff Herwig is now office manager for the MATC/Truax student newspaper. He’s also that campus’s orientation coordinator. Says Jeff, “I basically make sure that students feel comfortable with Orientation and have a good introduction to the college.”
Reading Recap for January 4th (back at Barnes & Noble)
Discussion of Aaron’s Hell Cage
Was the men’s conversation too emotionally literate given their backgrounds? These are physical men: They might punch or bend something to emote. Perhaps they could allude to family history while choreographing wrestling moves.
Why would Tobe let Jack just push him away? Why did Jack expect his long-absent father to send flowers to his mother’s funeral? What is the purpose of the note his dad left when he abandoned the family? What was his explanation? A man would keep such a totem, perhaps in his wallet.
It is a ritualized profession of showmanship: Do they have superstitions, legends, a mythos? Could such be used to foreshadow the supernatural?
Paramedics would make the hanging scene more visually interesting.
The quickest way to get locked up in a psych ward is to be violent, especially without an obvious reason. Padded walls are still used to prevent self-harm.
Great description of the professional wrestling match. After the wrestlers are taken out on gurneys, perhaps others might try to work such props into the act. Maybe introduce a sexy nurse character.
Discussion of Millie’s Life On Hold
Why is Erin scared of going onto the frozen lake if she’s grown up among ice fishermen?
If the ice of the frozen lake the characters are driving on is cracking, it wouldn’t be that audible in the jeep. Twelve inches of ice on a cold day won’t explode. Shifting ice on Lake Superior can sound like a sonic boom.
It’s a great transition if it wasn’t the ice making the noise.
Discussion of Kim’s City of Summer
Why doesn’t the guard just kill the snake with his sword?
How is the kitsune Ryoko so quickly and easily overpowered by two human guards? Is it a ruse, or does she have a blind spot or a weakness they exploit? We need rules of magic for her shape-changing: What is the cost to her?
Why is she so arbitrary/vindictive in killing the men who haven’t even cut any trees in the sacred forest yet? It seems out of character, unless there is an explanation. Perhaps kitsune justice is different from ours.
Why should we care about this forest? The reader needs to have an emotional investment in it. Perhaps we could be shown her memories of it.
It’s cool that the trees are capable of screaming. Have them scream in this scene.
The principal villain in the scene should be more detestable, and not a wimp. He could be cruel to his own people, or spit in Ryoko’s face. And he should have a redeeming quality so he’s not a cliché.
An editor will wonder why the book began as James’s story but then became Ryoko’s, and not recommend it for publication.
James needs to grow; he’s not likable enough. Why does he flash a knife and insist on joining the attack, and then ask if he has to kill anyone? ATNA (all talk and no action) will show up when the situation arises–he might fail to kill the enemy. He could be join the fight (perhaps involuntarily) instead throwing fire from a distance. Maybe he would be awesome in battle (and more likable to readers). Perhaps his magical prowess would come out under pressure. His fatal flaw could be his lack of self-confidence.
A 13-year-old boy takes risks to see if he can succeed. He wants to be able to do a thing, but doesn’t know if he can. He will put himself in an unnecessarily hazardous situation to see how he really does. We may not know how he will act until he is there. At chapter 56, perhaps James should be there. Or perhaps he could grow up in another book.
Certain idioms and modern colloquialisms seem out of place, especially in the narrative. Kim needs to decide the tone with which people will speak. She might step back from our world in order to describe her world in a non-colloquial way, perhaps more direct, with a minimum even of adjectives.
Discussion of John’s Final Stronghold
It’s hard to keep track of the three flying horses in who’s riding them. Could they be named or referred to more descriptively?
The audience doesn’t understand why the sea monster doesn’t manage to harm anyone. Everyone escapes too easily. Is that integral to the story?
John’s writing is getting more muscular and powerful, especially with cutting back on multiple adjectives.
Discussion of Derek Wilson, middle-schooler’s sledding piece (a hilarious short work Jerry brought in to round out the schedule)
The grammatical errors and run-on sentences work for the kid narrator’s voice and the quick action.
What should the 3-year-old in the snowmobile suit be wrapped up like? A burrito? And what happened to the flying saucer they rode across I-90? What is the day and time?
Great details: the Red Lobster parking lot, the dog barfing in the police car. Funny that it’s safer at home playing Grand Theft Auto.
Who’s up next . . .
January 11: Jack Freiburger (chapter, Path to Bray’s Head), Holly Bonnicksen-Jones (chapter, Coming Up for Air), Carol Hornung (chapter, Sapphire Lodge), Terry Hoffman (chapter, The Tome), and Jen Wilcher (chapter, The Hogoshiro Chronicles). *Second-and-fourth returns to Barnes & Nobel Westside.
January 18: Randy Haselow (chapter, Hona and the Dragon), Greg Spry (chapter 3, Beyond Cloud Nine), Cathy Riddle (chapter, Beer Crimes), John Schneller (chapter, Final Stronghold), Jerry Peterson (chapter 6, Thou Shalt Not Murder).
January 25: Andrea Kirchman (???), Kim Simmons (chapter, City in Winter), Randy Haselow (chapter, Hona and the Dragon), Leah Wilbur (chapter, Fog-Gotten), Anne Allen (chapter, Homecoming), and Aaron Boehm (screenplay/part 5, Hell Cage).
February 1: Justin Schober (chapter, sci-fi novel), Jen Wilcher (chapter, The Hogoshiro Chronicles), Leah Wilbur (chapter, Fog-Gotten), Clayton Gill (chapter, Fishing Derby), Pat Edwards (poems), and Amber Boudreau (chapter 18, young adult novel)
February 8: Ann Potter (???) and Jack Freiburger (chapter, Path to Bray’s Head).
Courtesy of Word Spy
motor-homeless adj. Relating to a person who is homeless except for a motorhome or similar RV. Also: motor homeless.
Welcome to Venice Beach, California, where tensions are rising between homeowners and the motor homeless who take over entire streets living out of campers, vans, buses, trucks and RVs.
—William La Jeunesse, “Homeowners vs. ‘Motor-Homeless'” (video), Fox News, August 12, 2010
I’m a “wanna-be” Motor-Homeless person. I would like to spend retirement living/visiting places of beauty and interest. I hope to learn how to do this without annoying the full time residents of places I visit.
—Hank, “Motor-homeless causing a stir on Seattle’s streets” (comment), RV Wheel Life, July 18, 2009
Cedric Glazer and Nisarga Maharaj, sitting at another table, said they had never been to a soup kitchen, but saw a notice for the dinner. “I call myself motor-homeless, because I travel around in my old motor home and don’t live anywhere,” Glazer said.
—”Homeless shelter invites everyone — and many show up,” The Associated Press, November 23, 2001
n. A man’s chest, especially when revealed by an unbuttoned shirt. Also: hevage. [Blend of he and cleavage.]
In what must appear to be the strangest manoeuvre in the age-old battle of the sexes, men, after centuries of contemplating the feminine cleavage with a mixture of lust, envy, and aesthetic detachment, have finally decided enough is enough, and gotten themselves their own cleavage — a ‘male cleavage’ — best showcased through the he-vage T-shirt.
—Lhendup Bhutia, “The Murse code,” DNA, September 26, 2010
Having come of age post-Take That, in an era where JLS leads the way in cheeky winks to camera and male cleavage (the hevage, bulging beneath American Apparel extended V-necks like a beast about to burst from a chest, signifying, in the same way Ridley Scott’s phallic birthing alien did, both the masculine and feminine in one single swell), One Direction has got the combination of sex and son down pat.
—Eva Wiseman, “Up front: Eva Wiseman,” The Observer, December 12, 2010
The question is: how much of his chest or ‘he-vage’ should a man reveal when he’s wearing a shirt?
—Ursula Hirschkorn, “How much he-vage should a man show?,” Daily Mail, October 4, 2007
Overheard on Garrison Keiller’s The Writer’s Almanac:
“An idea you have might not be original — Aristotle will always have thought of it before you. But by creating a novel out of that idea you can make it original. Men love women. It’s not an original idea. But if you somehow write a terrific novel about it, then by a literary sleight of hand it becomes absolutely original. I simply believe that at the end of the day a story is always richer — it is an idea reshaped into an event, informed by a character, and sparked by crafted language.”
(from Umberto Eco’s recent Paris Review interview, which can be found here.)
The Writer’s Almanac is heard weekdays at 1 p.m. on 88.7 FM.