Tuesday, October 27, 2009

PFC: Week 4

Sorry for the late post. I was in Colorado at the Stanley Hotel. Redrum anyone?

Week 4 of my fiction class focused on conflict - both internal and external. Pam discussed how a scene is much like tiramisu, as in it has many, many ingredients, but if you remove just one it'll taste like crap. So conflict, you see, is one of the many necessary things that make a scene tasty. And now I'm hungry.

We only did one exercise this week, but it was broken down into a few parts. First was the set up, then came the scene writing.


Write down the name of your main character on the top of the page. Next, list 10 things your character would never do. When you complete the list, pick 2-3 items that are the most extreme. Now write a scene where your main character DOES one of the things you said they would never do.

This type of conflict building comes from Donald Maass, who Pam quoted a number of times during the lecture.

I enjoyed the exercise. Since this scene needed to take place in the first 1/3 of our novels, I used the time to rewrite and combine the text with a scene I had written previously in my short story version of Ala'der. I liked the scene overall, and the exercise opened my eyes to some tension building I'll have to do before I reach this point in the novel.

I volunteered to read first again. I waited, again, but no one seemed to want to toss themselves out there first. Part of me wonders if this makes me look cocky, but it's really not about that. I'm not shy about sharing my writing, I never have been. And I have experience being critiqued, from both good and bad critiquers. So I don't mind being the ice breaker for the people who need a few minutes to overcome their nerves. :)

I got some good feedback and was happy to find that most of the questions that came up were things that would be easily clarified in the context of the novel. For example, one of my classmates assumed Kelder was male, just by the sound of the name. It is clear Kelder is female on page one of the novel. Also, questions were asked about the relationship of the two sisters and the significance of the father (who is mentioned once in the scene I read). Both of these things are visited in great detail before reaching this scene. There was some mention of POV confusion, which I think will be clarified, again, in context. Regardless, I'm going to give it some extra attention when I revise, just to be sure.


1. Expanded the exercise into three pages
2. Bring something into class that speaks to you about your novel

Next week we're going to talk more about conflict, and the people who didn't read in this class are going to have their turn next time.


scott g.f.bailey said...

Homework #2, "Bring something into class that speaks to you about your novel" would be interesting if you were working on Hound for the class. "Here's Clyde, my zombie. Yes, he bites. And he critiques."

The Screaming Guppy said...


That would be amazing.

Clyde: "BRaaaiiinnnsss..."

Me: "Oh, don't worry. That means he likes your story!"