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Tuesdays with Story
August 21, 2020

The first word . . .

How to begin a new piece? “Look for a sentence that interests you, a sentence whose possibilities you like because of the potential you see in its wake. I don’t mean a ‘fantastic first sentence’ or one that sounds ‘introductory.’ I don’t mean a sentence that sounds first because it sounds like other first sentences you’ve read. I don’t mean the kind of first sentence teachers sometimes talk about—the one that grabs the reader. The reader doesn’t need grabbing. She needs to feel your interest in the sentence you’ve chosen to make. Nothing more.”

―Verlyn Klinkenborg, Several Short Sentences About Writing

Tuesday evening, oh, so non-political for TWS . . .

Eight gathered on Zoom to critique the work of six of their colleagues, and no one asked are we going to adjourn on time so I can watch the second hour of the Democratic National Convention. Larry lent a casual tone to the evening by every now and then sipping from his glass of wine. Here is some of what was said in the critiques:

Kashmira Sheth (children’s picture book, Dot and Dash!) . . . Kashmira shared her picture book manuscript with the group. Most like the concept. John suggested changing one part of the ending. Jerry asked about the Pentagon doing five things to prepare Dot for the race. Larry asked what Dash means by “If I lose, I am doomed.” Huckle pointed out that a dash with two dots was also a division sign. Thank you all for your comments. (more…)

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Tuesdays with Story
July 24, 2020

The first word . . .

“You wrote down that you were a writer by profession. It sounded to me like the loveliest euphemism I had ever heard. When was writing ever your profession? It’s never been anything but your religion. Never. I’m a little over-excited now. Since it is your religion, do you know what you will be asked when you die? But let me tell you first what you won’t be asked. You won’t be asked if you were working on a wonderful moving piece of writing when you died. You won’t be asked if it was long or short, sad or funny, published or unpublished. You won’t be asked if you were in good or bad form while you were working on it. You won’t even be asked if it was the one piece of writing you would have been working on if you had known your time would be up when it was finished–I think only poor Soren K. will get asked that. I’m so sure you’ll get asked only two questions.’ Were most of your stars out? Were you busy writing your heart out? If only you knew how easy it would be for you to say yes to both questions. If only you’d remember before ever you sit down to write that you’ve been a reader long before you were ever a writer. You simply fix that fact in your mind, then sit very still and ask yourself, as a reader, what piece of writing in all the world Buddy Glass would most want to read if he had his heart’s choice. The next step is terrible, but so simple I can hardly believe it as I write it. You just sit down shamelessly and write the thing yourself. I won’t even underline that. It’s too important to be underlined. Oh, dare to do it, Buddy ! Trust your heart. You’re a deserving craftsman. It would never betray you.”

― J.D. Salinger, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction

Tuesday evening on WebEx . . .

Our experiment with WebEx was, shall we say, challenging. The audio problems were such that several members dropped out. More on that later. But for the moment, here’s whose work was up for critiques and some of what was said: (more…)

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Tuesdays with Story
July 10, 2020

The first word . . .

Billy Wilder’s 10 Screenwriting Tips:

  • The audience is fickle.
  • Grab ‘em by the throat and never let ‘em go.
  • Develop a clean line of action for your leading character.
  • Know where you’re going.
  • The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer.
  • If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act.
  • A tip from Lubitsch: Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you forever.
  • In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees. Add to what they’re seeing.
  • The event that occurs at the second act curtain triggers the end of the movie.
  • The third act must build, build, build in tempo and action until the last event, and then—that’s it. Don’t hang around.

Tuesday evening on Zoom . . .

Storms prevented John Schneller from using his computer to reach us on Zoom, so he joined us by way of his cellphone. Seven others, though, joined us in the regular way. Here is some of what was said in the critiques: (more…)

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Tuesdays with Story
June 21, 2020

The first word . . .

“You may well ask me why…I took time to write [books]. I can only reply that I do to know. There was no why about it. I had to: that was all.
― George Bernard Shaw

Zooming in from New York . . .

TWS alumnae Jaime Nelson Noven joined the group Tuesday evening from NYC where she works as a promotion pro for a new imprint at MacMillan. She will now be a regular with us for a long as we meet on Zoom.  We had a full house for critiques. Here is some of what was said:

— Kashmira Sheth and Amit Trivedi

            Story of Ba and Virabha would be better if conveyed in section alternating with present events. Transition after Ba and Virabha’s marriage to losing their son is abrupt.  This chapter has added depth to Virabha’s and Ba’s character and fits well in the overall story. Thanks all! (more…)

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Tuesdays with Story
June 7, 2020

The first word . . .

“I feel devoutly thankful to have been born fond of writing.”

― Winston Churchill

Zoom-zoom . . .

Zoom isn’t without its problems. Delayed voice transmissions and audio breakups forced John to leave Tuesday evening’s meeting early. Here are summaries of the critiques those who were on the schedule received:

— John Schneller (chapter 20, Broken rewrite)

While I have tried to embrace the RUE (Resist the Urge to Explain) concept, my minimalist approach left most readers guessing Broken’s distrust, the thief and murderer qualities of the shepherds, the subversive technique to convince the ewe to accept a lamb not her own, and why did he reach into the pouch and bring out nothing (visible). Looks like I has some esplainin to do! (me no edit John’s righting) Thanks for the input.  John (more…)

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(Apologies for the delay in posting. Times being what they are, I appreciate your patience.)

Tuesdays with Story
May 8, 2020

The first word . . .

I write for myself and strangers. The strangers, dear Readers, are an afterthought.

Gertrude Stein

They met on Zoom . . .

Huckle joined eight of our regulars Tuesday evening gathered in front of their computers to critique the stories and chapters of five of our writers. Here are summaries of the critiques they received:

— Bob Kralapp (chapter 15, Capacity) . . .  There were a few mentions of the chapter’s eerie otherworldly feeling and of Melissa’s POV. This was, mainly, the point of the chapter. That, and giving her character a bit more visibility in the proceedings. The light at the end was meant as an antidote to the alienating (to her) carnival scene. Amber pointed out that the tense in this paragraph is inconsistent and needs attention. (more…)

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(Apologies for the late posting of this newsletter. Times being what they are, I think you for your patience.)

Tuesdays with Story
April 24, 2020

The first word . . .

In the age of pandemic:

“If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door- or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present.”

― Rabindranath Tagore

They met on Zoom . . .

Eight of our colleagues—Larry, Jerry, John, Mike, Amit, Kashmira, Jack, and Paul—gathered Tuesday evening in front of their computers, bottles of beer and glasses of wine in hand . . . hey, now that’s the way to meet . . . to critique the stories and chapters of four of our writers. Here is some of what was said:

John Schneller (chapter 18, Broken rewrite) . . .  The significant elements in this chapter made it a good read for most. The healing in a two-step human/supernatural process held interest. The wolves proved brutal enough to be a formidable antagonist. Larry discussed a stronger revision on Silent Eyes’ philosophical dialogue and Jerry provided significant comings and goings of commas and paragraph breaks.  Thanks for all the comments! (more…)

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Tuesdays with Story
February 21, 2020

The first word . . .

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”
― Jack London

“I hate writing, I love having written.”
― Dorothy Parker

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Learning music is hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it because it’s so much fun.”

My old friend John, a jazz pianist who was teaching me basic guitar chords. Much later, when I could finally do a few chord progressions without effort, I realized that he was right. It’s good to know that other writers, and musicians, talk about their craft being work, something that they have to practice or they lose the muscle memory of that skill. And unlike piano playing, writing can be practiced almost anywhere.

 

Last Tuesday evening with Tuesdays with Story…

 Nine dedicated folk gathered together at Barnes & Noble to discuss their work. (more…)

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Tuesdays with Story

February 4, 2020 meeting.

The first word…

Ernest Hemmingway wrote: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” But that seems a little too dramatic to me, like the guitar player saying he “played until my fingers bled.” Really? More realistically from Hemmingway is, “The first draft of anything is shit.” Years later, Anne Lamott followed up on this idea with an entire chapter of her book on writing, “Bird by Bird,” entitled, “Shitty First Drafts,” which explained that it’s okay to have a first draft that might be a little rough. I’m not sure where I’m going with that, except to say that it’s good to know that even Hemmingway had to start somewhere. (more…)

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Tuesdays with Story
January 25, 2020

The first word . . .

“Five common traits of good writers: (1) They have something to say. (2) They read widely and have done so since childhood. (3) They possess what Isaac Asimov calls a ‘capacity for clear thought,’ able to go from point to point in an orderly sequence, an A to Z approach. (4) They’re geniuses at putting their emotions into words. (5) They possess an insatiable curiosity, constantly asking Why and How.”
― James J. Kilpatrick (1920-2010), newspaper journalist, columnist, author, writer and grammarian

Tuesday evening at ye olde booksellers . . .

Seven hearty souls gathered around the tables—yes, we had two tables—at Barnes & Noble Westside to work over chapters of four of their colleagues. Here is some of what was said:

— Larry F. Sommers (chapters 38-39, Freedom’s Purchase) . . . Jerry wondered how Anders could hold a rag to Will’s head when they were walking to the hospital. He also noted there was too much detail on Grant’s military maneuvers, and a big dump of pointless information on Daniel’s activities before hiring on as a hospital aide. Amber was interested in the romantic possibilities of Anders’ possible demise. Jerry was bemused by the thought that maybe Maria, rather than Anders, is the main character—a possibility suggested by the structure of the story. Thanks to all for comments. (more…)

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