Archive for May, 2013

Words about Synopses

Earlier this semester, one of the required items for submission for the MFA program was a synopsis of the proposed thesis project – something I’ve never written before…  Most of my classmates had not written one before, either. There were lots of conversations over the holidays asking about formatting, what to include, etc.

Which is why I’m sharing this, that was shared over at Magical Words  the other week…

Your synopsis is about the character arcs contained within your story.  Your goal, in writing your synopsis, is to tell about your main characters (usually two, possibly more if you have a really complicated, 250K or more epic on your hands).  You are *only* going to tell plot details when you have no other way to describe what happens to your characters, how they change, mature, grow, etc.

Now, if this had only been shared six moths ago, we might not have languished so much about formatting.

The linked post was written by Mindy Klasky, and a week later she shared this, a synopsis “for an as-yet-unsold novel.” Nice things to have as references, if you’re not a seasoned synopsis writer.

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A Different Kind of Pink… MVM

I’ve been able to appreciate most of what Aerosmith has released. This was one of the big singles from their Nine Lives album (the local stop for the supporting tour for that album is also the only concert of theirs that I have been to).

 

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Give me a Reason on MVM

Some songs grow on you after sufficient exposure. P!nk has made several songs that have done that, or that MC has liked enough that I got the full album. This is an example of the latter.

 

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Send Us, We’re Ready!

You know that line, from Rocky Horror… that opens Time Warp? “It’s astounding/Time is fleeting…”

Fifteen years ago, I was one of 300-odd Air Force ROTC cadets that were sent to Lackland AFB (San Antonio, TX) for Field Training. “Camp” for those in the program. It was the first session that summer (cunningly named “Lackland I”). At this time, all those years ago, we were about halfway through the experience, which for us was four weeks of immersion in a bubble with very little contact with the outside world.

Yes, we got occasional letters in, but that was it.

It was an up at 4:30a, go until 9:30p, non-stop, one activity to another, superman drills to change from one uniform to another as the schedule for the day dictated.

Looking back, it was a blur, but it was a rewarding experience.

When I first realized it’s been fifteen years, I had a rush of memories…

… Of meeting up with one of my friends from college that was assigned to the same session – both in the Charlotte airport, and then again at San Antonio. I arrived first and waited for her to arrive before reporting to the “Welcoming Committee.” We were on the last bus to the base, the last handful of cadets to arrive.

… Of the “Warrior Handbook” – information that we had to memorize (a new piece of information, daily, that we could be asked to repeat at any time).

… Of giant jackrabbits in the sand as we marched everywhere we went.

… Of Road Guards, and PT several times a day.

… Of “camp funk” when dozens of sweaty people (from the constant PT and San Antonio sun) are gathered in one room. Something that we couldn’t notice because we were part of it.

… Of always having to travel in pairs (at least).

… Of always having to wear (or carry, depending on the uniform) a canteen. And the handbook. And demerit slips.

… Of the time I had to have lunch with a Senior Master Sergeant. Not one of the happier memories. It stemmed from something that I had heard and copied down that I thought would be an interesting piece for a story… a jodie that a flight mate from Texas A&M had shared.

… Of the “night” of “survival training,” and learning that some ants taste like lemon drops, and grasshoppers are best eaten if you pull the legs off first.

… Of the trip to the firing range. Do you know how hot a spent casing can be? Do you know the kind of focus and presence of mind that it takes to be firing 9mm pistols and not react when a spent casing, ejected from the chamber, flies up and lands inside the collar of a BDU jacket, on the back of the neck?

… Of the trips to the Confidence Course, and the LTC (Leadership Training Course).

… Of finishing my full PFT, and still having the energy to run back and cheer and push other members of the flight that were still going.

… Of being relieved when it was over, and spending most of the next weeks recovering.

There were about 300 people assigned to the session. Ten Flights (Alpha through Juliet) of 28-30 people. Of the four people from my ROTC program assigned to that session, I was the only one in the top half of the alphabet (Charlie flight). There were 28 of us in Charlie Flight… I’ve tried finding them over the years, although it’s been a while since my last attempts. I’ve found a few, and we’ve connected through Facebook. (Hi, guys!)

28 of us shared in the experience. At the time, we were Coyotes. Coyotes on the prowl.

And we survived…

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Being a Basket Case on MVM

“Green Day sold out!” That was the undercurrent when their first mainstream album Dookie got as much press as it did – fueled by two singles that received frequent radio and MTV airplay [back when it actually played music videos]. It’s sound was much more pop/accessible than some of their earlier straight punk, mostly independant releases.

I admit, I did own the album for a time. While I liked – then and still do – the singles, it didn’t grab me the same way as American Idiot/21st Century Breakdown (the next full albums of theirs that I would own). While I do have other singles from the years between, there’s still that appreciation for the youthful bravado and , “Fuck it” attitude that comes from their punk roots that makes me want to crank this one up when it plays.

 

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Outlining, Another way to rethink the strategy

I mentioned here that I’m under a week away from a semester ending deadline (then about a week before another one for submitting information for the next Residency for the MFA program, then about a month from that until said Residency)…

Part of the crunch I’m aiming to work on over the next few days is to do some outlining for the remaining half-ish of my thesis novel. Which is why I’m sharing this, today… it’s a recent post from Magical Words that touches on this, and even gives a slightly different spin from what I’ve usually read.

… uses a three act structure which she breaks down into four sections (she separates the second act into two parts).  Each section has a midpoint and an endpoint and each of those points should be a “Holy &*#%$!” moment — some kind of game changer that drives the plot in a new direction.  This creates a series of mini-arcs between each point — action that connects the dots.

And there’s even a graphic (pulled from the post):

I encourage you to read the linked post above for details…

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Achievement Unlocked! Another Class Down…

The one actual “class” that I’ve been taking this semester (Reading: Classic Fantasy) has come to a close, and while I don’t have an official “Pass” for the class (ie – final grades have not yet been submitted), I did get a “Pass” for the final paper that had to be turned in, which is the largest component that factors into the grading.

Now, I have less than a week to finish revising a set of pages , while adding new ones, to clear the final deadline for the unoffical class…

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