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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Living The Dream, Part 3: Day 2

Don't forget part 1 or part 2

DAY 2
  • Damn birds woke me again.
  • Rain again.
  • By 9:13 I’m at Starbucks having my tea with foam
  • I don’t move until 11:45.
GRAD LECTURE: HOW TO BUILD AN ABSENT CHARACTER
Jina Simmons 

  • The absent character is a siphon, a magnet, according to an author called Roosevelt.
  • Annette, in the back, says the absent character “Can’t defend themselves”.
  • “Ghost persona” Gina calls it. Person isn’t there but their presence is felt.
  • We care about the protagonist what we do with the absent character is to show how the protag. is affected by the absence.
  • What is it about not having this person in his or her life and how has the absence affected her?
  • The absent character was just not a void, questions, memories, stories Gina says this.
  • Multidimensional absent character
  • Stories exist about the absent character. Who tells these stories? Were they affected?
  • We meet him the way Barack does (referring to Barack Obama’s memoir).

GRAD LECTURE: LET'S GET IT STARTED, Jumping Into a Story
Angela Foster

  • First pages…If the first page isn’t good, I will shove it back on the shelf. I had to judge a contest and low and behold, she discovered her method was right, those that became finalists had good opening pages.
  • Writing first pages is like herding cats. You don’t know it’s successful till you’ve done it and someone tells you you’re successful, and you might not get it until you are done with the whole manuscript.
  • When in doubt or whenever possible, tell the whole story of the novel in the first page. – John Irving
  • Hook ‘em and hold ‘em- Will Weaver a Minn. writer
  • 3 Key components
  • The hook, come quickly @ the first line.
  • Make the reader care. "I had a friend and we shared everything and then she died and we shared that too.” Memory of Trees
  • Create a sense of danger or curiosity. “Mother spooned the poisoned corn and beans into her mouth…” Mother is starving they all are and she wants to make sure these bits are not going to kill the children so she goes first. From Change Me into Zeus’ Daughter
  • The set up, setting, back-story, intro to characters, foreshadow
  • Engage the reader through set up. –Memory of Trees, sets the tone through a sense of place.
  • Conflict, yearning, emotion that drives the story, opening action

GRAD LECTURE: AN EXPLORATION OF DYSTOPIAN FICTION
Rick Carr
  • A movie running in back of him with a timer running. Image: “Anarchist hackers against WB/IMF”- a tight focus in on a smiley face with no nose.
  • Dystopian Fiction:
  • Looking back…how did we get here? The real world with the fictional world.
  • “Where fiction and nonfiction collide is what dystopian fiction is.” -Rick
  • Struggle with nature. Protagonist trying to engage with nature.
  • On the screen: A fist with the world. “Revolutionary”
  • An old man spray-painting the words “Fuck the Gods” in Bright Red.
  • Showing real images while discussing dystopian fiction.
  • Image: No Gods, No Masters, Against all authority
GRADUATE LECTURE: THE REMINISCENT NARRATOR IN LITERATURE
Carol Owens Campbell
  • "I’m really excited and thank you all for bein’ here and I really want to welcome y’all."
  • Bottles of water and bowls of fruit and candy.
  • "Did I thank y’all for coming?"
  • "I also want to say that I’m honored you’re here, Sterling."
  • "What am I going to do? Give everyone a puppy?"
  • So instead I just brought you a reminder of a puppy…a pic of son with his first puppy.
  • I don’t remember everything about this moment/day…however I can reminisce (with the pics).
  • Series of pics of Griffin, her son, with puppy growing, transformed him into a caregiver.
  • “I’ve never gone this long in a class without someone crying for his or her mommy.” Carol taught preschool.
  • How do children most like to learn? They like to play…Are you all ready to play?
  • Dual of clashing perspectives.
  • Reminiscent narrator- a passive commentator in a rocking chair, milquetoast, sedate–NO!
  • Let the dual begin.
  • The most revolutionary and rebellious storytelling voice is this narrator.
  • Reverie thinking back….Reveille- instead, a wake up calls.
  • Summer afternoon…To me they have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.
Exercise:

The first time I heard_________ by ________ I was with ________and we were at_______.

Then choose one part and expand in a paragraph.

My Example:
The first time I heard Wanted Dead or Alive I was with neighbors, and we were on the bus going home from school in fifth grade.

Neighbors on Casey Drive. Only in the summer there was a granddaughter named Jennifer, blond and nice and perfect. And her cousin Janelle opposite. I told Janelle how girls got their periods. Jennifer once came looking for me at the Maher’s while I was playing Barbies and I felt really stupid. I remember being at the grandparents house with her once and her Uncle who was the brother of her mother loved Laura Branagan and was getting ready that night to go her concert. I remember the four-post bed in the bedroom cherry wood But I can’t remember the family’s name.

This was a fav writing exercise of an editor at a conference from a workshop she went to in NY.

***

Highlights from later in the day...
  • Sacred dinner of which I will not speak of in this blog. Sterling Watson, Meg Kearney, Tanya Whiton, Laure-Anne Bosselaar, Kathleen Auger, Laban Carrick Hill. I bow to them.
  • Readings that evening:  Jaime Manrique Took him 6-7 years to write and just got a publisher. Spanish and Chinese and next year English. Pastoral novels. “If I couldn’t support my wife writing novels, what would I do?” “What right did I have to ruin her life too?” Dennis Lehane. Mystic River was his fifth novel. Movie had his voice and vision. Sterling, his mentor, introduced him. “Thrilling uneasy anticipation." Shutter Island. "Dennis is tough acting… he writes tough guys and is one himself.”  “I’m all choked up and emotional and I can’t feel cool.” D.H. after Sterling
  • note to self...Dennis inspires me to go the edge. Favorite lines: “If her face looked 17 then her brain looked 10.” AND “Can she cook? That’s important. Not if they’re good or bad but that they are willing to do it.”
Part 4 tomorrow...

    1 comment:

    Joanne Carnevale said...

    OMG! I'm feeling more creative just from reading this. Had I been there I probably would've exploded. BTW, I am becoming an ever-expanding fan of Dennis Lehane. He wrote one of the best short stories I ever read, and I've just completed the first two Patrick/Angela detective novels. Love his writing so much that I can't stop reading even though I'm terribly squeamish.