Writer’s Mail for December 21, 2013
“Sentences are not different enough to hold the attention unless they are dramatic. No ingenuity of varying structure will do. All that can save them is the speaking tone of voice somehow entangled in the words and fastened to the page for the ear of the imagination.” –Robert Frost
Tuesday Night at Alicia Ashman Branch Library . . .
Tuesday with Story members gathered for the First-and-Third Group meeting Dec. 17. Thanks to Amber Boudreau for reporting most and thanks to Andy Pfeiffer for reporting on Amber’s reading!
Millie Mader presented a rewrite of Chapter 49 of Life on Hold. Andy thought it was a lot tighter, but asked whether the main protagonist isn’t conflicted enough with what is happening in the story. Bob Kralapp wondered why the characters have to go to breakfast. He also asked how Millie pictured the place that the characters visit. Could Millie could have accomplished what she wanted with less, Amber wondered – for example, maybe just coffee instead of breakfast. Jerry Peterson asked what an essential government worker would do that was so important that she wouldn’t be able to get away. Also, instead of asking whether someone is a widower, Mill might have had the character ask about their grandmother.
Amber Boudreau read from Chapters 26 and 27 of Noble. Andy suggested that Aaron take Moira to dinner before Homecoming, or at least that he suggest it. He also suggested to have Ansel show up at the dance and cause Moira to be conflicted about saying yes to Aaron. Ruth Imhoff thought he would be lonely by the punch bowl. The group discussed the football game in conjunction with the dance, which take place on the same night, and whether that was a feasible part of the date. Jerry picked at arrows being “loaded” – they’re not guns. Andy wanted a reminder description of the Aryx because it had been too long since the last encounter. Ruth wanted Moira to see other students in the hallway escaping school – students making out in corners, the ghost librarian, or someone she knows at the dance, like Natalia. Jerry was disappointed in what he thought was the ending. But there are two chapters left, Amber pointed out. “Stay tuned!”
Judith McNeil brought Chapter 7 of My Mother, Savior of Men. Andy really liked it, but did not much care for the formatting in some instances. Jerry answered some questions about the return of bail bond money.
Bob Kralapp shared two poems with the group. Bob told us he wrote the first when he worked for an assisted living facility in another town. Millie wondered about the transformation in the poem. Bob agreed that he needed to make that part clearer. Judith and Jerry thought of communion. Ruth wondered whether the cup was clear and full of something opaque and someone became shiny when it was empty. Jerry thought there were some nice touches in the second poem, “Father.”
Andy Pfeiffer read from Chapter 10 of The Void. Ruth noted that, in her opinion, one character still had no reason for being part of the story. There was some discussion of the materialization of weapons. Clayton Gill – not present at the meeting, but dropping in a “virtual comment” anyway – pointed out that consistency in “rules of materialization” was important. He contrasted two scenes from the movie The Hunger Games. In one scene, the Games managers drop a tiny parachute with a needed item to help the protagonists. We can well understand the technology – it’s a tiny, but very real parachute. However, later the Games managers created virtual attack dogs through computer-aided design, then unleashed them on the protagonists. The dogs are digital, in contrast to the physical parachute. Nonetheless, the dogs are able to kill one of the Games players. If the Games managers can create real dogs out of electrons, why bother with parachute delivery?
Jerry Peterson presented Chapter 21 of Capital Crimes. Amber suggested that when one of the character dies, others mention him by first name only and not by first and last names. Bob thought Jerry’s knowledge of the period and the details he adds make the story especially interesting. Judith wondered whether the lyrics of the hymns have anything to do with clues to the murder, but Jerry said that is not the case. Ruth pointed out that Martha is the only character whose lines are narrated in the story.
Who’s Up Next . . .
December 24: No TWS meeting as members make a last-minute Christmas shopping run to their favorite book stores. And to all a good night!
January 7: Lisa McDougal (chapter, Tebow Family Secret), Amber Boudreau (chapter 26, Noble), Cindi Dyke (chapter 2, North Road), Millie Mader (chapter 50, Life on Hold), Ruth Imhoff (chapter, Motto of the Hound), and Jerry Peterson (chapters 22-23, Capitol Crimes). Meeting at Barnes & Noble Westside starting at our regular time of 7:00 p.m.
January 14: Karen Zethmayr (page of pop-up book instructions), Holly Bonnicksen-Jones (chapter 6, Coming Up For Air), Deb Kellerman (chapter 3 of recent work), Carol Hornung (chapter, Ghost of Heffron College), Ryan Wagner (poems).
Pass the Bread and Critique, Please . . .
The Middlebury Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference features the guidance of MacArthur Fellows, Pulitzer Prize winners, National Book Award recipients. The next 10-day Conference takes place August 13-23 near Ripton, Vt. For details, visit http://www.middlebury.edu/blwc.
Send Stuff to Pat . . .
For the next issue of Writer’s Mail, please send your writing tips, upcoming events, and other content to Pat Edwards. Poems welcome, too!
Thanks and best wishes for your best writing in 2014!
The Last Word . . .
“To be nobody-but-yourself – in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” – e. e. cummings