Viable Paradise: Day 2


Structurally very similar to Day 1. Workshop stories. Lecture. Lunch. Lecture. Collegium. One-on-ones. Dinner.

The morning lecture came from Debra Doyle, with the subtitle “Your sentence goes clunk, and other problems.” The focus being, in fact, constructing stories at the sentence level – word choice, presentation of information [how the sentences are structured]. Story is important, but how can the writer make sure the story comes through as clearly as possible?

Sherwood Smith flipped to the opposite end of the spectrum for the afternoon, discussing techniques for those that may be more visually oriented – when it’s all about capturing the images that we see in the mental movie as we write, and how to capture and work there.

Elizabeth Bear talked about story/plot formulas… “how to cook a workable plot every time.”

Yes, I am generalizing… the topics are great, but they are really things that are best experienced in person, since it’s not just the information being presented, but the conversations surrounding them that really forms the takeaway from this sort of experience. [Besides, the lectures could be completely different from what you may experience, should you attend yourself.]

It was at night though, after dinner, that things got… interesting.

That was when we had “Beer with Billy.”

In other words, the cadre had selected a work of Shakespeare prior to the workshop and prepared reading copies for everyone [this year was Richard the Second, but the play was not revealed to the students until the scripts were handed out]. Alcohol was available for those that desired to partake (as was cider or plenty of soda or water). And we read Shakespeare. Aloud.

The way the reading works is that everyone sits in a circle and someone ends up starting the play – either by volunteering or being thrown under the bus – and with each new speaking part that comes on, the next person in the circle takes that part. They then maintain that character for the duration of the entire Act. At the end of the Act, the next person in the circle becomes the first person, and the process repeats. (So, we had 24 students, and eight faculty all doing the reading. Act 1 had about ten characters. The 11th person in the circle became character # 1 in Act 2.)

And yes, we read the whole thing.

Afterwards, this put us close to 10p, it was back to our rooms for more critiquing (for Wednesday), or writing (for Thursday), or doing whatever we felt like needed to be done – passing out, perhaps, from information overload.


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