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Posts Tagged ‘Betty Smith’

Writer’s Mail

Tuesdays With Story
WRITER’S MAIL for September 14, 2012

Good Words from Way Back
“Anybody,” said Johnny, carried away by his personal dream of Democracy, “can ride in one of those hansom cabs, provided,” he qualified, “they got the money. So you can see what a free country we got here.”
“What’s free about it if you have to pay?” asked Francie.
–from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, 1943

September 11 Meeting: On Wallpaper…
Wallpaper that comes to life! That was one of the discussions amid critiques and laughter during a “Lucky Seven” turnout for this week’s Second-and-Fourth meeting. Here’s what happened Tuesday night:

Terry Hoffman read from Chapter 12 of The Great Tome. Katelin liked it, but Jen felt the second half was better than the first, thanks to more showing, less telling. Shorter sentences, members said, would create a stronger impact. First silence. Then, the sound. Rebecca felt that the character Doug should be more concerned and shouldn’t back down so easily. Carol wanted him to be scared off. We’ve seen him as calm, strong, and aggressive, but not yet scared. Jack pointed out that the character Rachel was having a psychotic break. Focus on that, he suggested: Let her go nuts for a little while. Then, he said, Doug can just disappear because Rachel would be busy “in her own head.” Another suggestion: Tie in the colors from the painting. If those intense colors start showing up in the bathroom, that would definitely illustrate Rachel going over the edge, at least for the moment. At this point in the critique, members recalled “The Yellow Wallpaper,” a story about a woman going insane, seeing images in the wallpaper begin to move.

Rebecca Rettenmund presented a scene from The Cheese Logue – “All about Limburger.” Terry cautioned her to be careful of point of view – as the narrator, she can’t know what her customer is actually seeing, just that he’s looking at something. Pranita was a little confused by the mix of dialog and action. Jack said that could be solved by breaking up the lines a bit. Carol suggested cutting some of the character direction and letting the dialog tell the story. Jack recommended removing her thoughts as well: “Let the guy tell his story.” Jack also noted that the overuse of “I” is often a problem. But, when people tell a story out loud, they tend to be very self-centered, so the frequent use of “I” in the customer’s dialog makes sense. Jack suggested contrasting this prevalent usage of the first-person voice with almost no use of “I” on the part of the narrator. Members liked the overall layout of the story: Two people coming together and utterly failing to make any kind of a connection. (more…)

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