Thursday, December 17, 2009

What’s the point? (PFC: Last class of the fall semester)

Apparently, at least at this hump in the road, I don’t have one.

I’m talking about my WIP Ala’der, of course.

In class last night we talked about how to avoid writer’s block, tips on remaining positive about your writing, and the purpose of synopsis. The last on the list was what we applied in our writing exercise.

Pam gave us a list of generic points in a novel – such as call to adventure, crossing the threshold, and reward – and asked us to write one sentence after each point. The idea was to give us a very general idea of what our plan is for our novel. In short, an outlining exercise focusing the important parts of what would ultimately end up in your synopsis when you have a shiny new agent and they’re pitching your masterpiece to a publisher.

Afterwards, we broke into groups to read our rough outline to our classmates and get some feedback. The instructions were to read the sentences you wrote for the exercise (unless you’re that guy – see my previous posts on PFC – in which you just proceed to babble about your novel for a half hour when the entire time allotted for discussion is intended to be shared by six people. /shakes fist).

Lucky for me, I escaped my diabolical non-rule following classmate for my 15 minute chat with Pam. I really had nothing in mind to ask her, so I just started babbling a little bit. It was fun to just chat about, and the conversation leaned to the importance of establishing the rules and laws of my fantasy universe. Very cool to just say the concept out loud and have someone ask me questions about it. A fun fifteen minutes which showed me a few holes that I need to fill in my world building.

I returned to my group to find that only half the people had gone. Since I missed critiquing, I was pretty content to just miss my chance to read. By the time everyone else was done, all but two of the people in my crit group had to leave. Can you guess who was one of the two that stayed behind?

You guys are so smart!

Though I do have to confess that That Guy isn’t so bad at giving intelligent feedback. Now if only That Guy could follow the rules and remember that all this cool stuff about writing also applies to them.

In short, the one sentence per topic outline didn’t really work for me as far as getting my point across. I found myself longing for a real synopsis! Wow. Crazy. I WANTED to write an actual synopsis.

The apocalypse. It must be close…

I was asked a lot of questions by my two classmates, most of which I could explain, but tried not to, but did anyway in a bizarre how-can-I-say-this-the-fastest-so-I’m-not-annoying-because-class-was-over-ten-minutes-ago kind of way.

Despite the confusion, I got some pretty interesting feedback that made me rethink some parts of my intended ending. And when asked to give the ending statement that’s all about the entire theme of novel (aka what’s the point) I learned that I don’t really have any f'ing idea. At least not in a way I can articulate in the English language…yet.

Good news is I have plenty of time to figure this out. And here's hoping the answer doesn't come to me in Chinese or something.

1 comment:

scott g.f.bailey said...

Erin: Do you really think you need an "ending statement" or even to be able to clearly articulate the theme of the story? My opinion FWIW is that, as long as you've been true to the characters and haven't cheated the reader in the narrative (no sentimentality or plot manipulation, etc) then whatever deep meanings are in the story will make themselves known. The theme(s) don't even have to be clear if you aren't writing a didactic/moralistic story. Just ask yourself if everything rings true and leave it at that. Feel free to tell me how full of shit I am.