::Holds nose and gets ready to dive.::
::Re-emerges, breathes, shakes water out of brain.::
Weeks 1 – 4: The role of ‘place’ in a story
As a relatively new Southerner, I’m constantly amazed at how much the change in latitude has changed my perspective on – well, everything. Like the realtors say: Location, location, location.
In this first chunk of workshop, I will write four stories in which a specific place/location/environment is crucial to the story development. I will be spending one week sometime during this segment on a work-related trip to the Texas Gulf Coast – and some of the same places we visited during last fall’s fun road trip. So, bingo, the Texas Gulf Coast will be the setting for my first four stories. Here are possible central elements of each of my four stories:
• Tree removal in Galveston of the massive old trees killed during Hurricane Ike
• Living on the concrete slab where your house used to be before Ike
• Fallout from the BP oil spill
• Eating shrimp, or something that emerges from my work trip
Weeks 5 – 8: Breaking the rules/breaking the law
Why do people break the rules? Break the law? What happens – good and/or bad – when they do?
In this series of stories, I will show or suggest enough of a character’s experiences and thought processes leading up to breaking the law that, as the character ‘does the deed’, it makes perfect sense to the character and at least imperfect sense to the reader. And what happens after they’ve broken the law? In these stories, something unexpected, possibly outlandish, I hope. This is where I want to insert that ‘social justice without a heavy hand’ bit. Yeah, I’m channeling Carl Hiaasen here… I don’t have specific story lines mapped out yet, but each story needs to be:
• Hit a social/moral issue worth thinking about
Weeks 9 – 12: Taking the mythic journey through the heart of darkness, er, suburbia…
I loved Carol’s words from He says, she says: “Interesting = NOT ORDINARY (although ordinary can be elevated to the level of extraordinary by the way it is acted, written, or thought [expressed or otherwise]).” I don’t know enough about Joseph Campbell’s work on the mythic journey, but this seems like a good time and place for me to learn.
In this series of stories, each story will feature a different character engaging in some aspect of an epic or mythic journey. The characters are linked because they know each other somewhat casually – maybe they are in the same car pool, or work out at the same gym, or meet weekly in the unemployment office. They are ordinary people, and hopefully I can render them interesting and possibly even extraordinary in these stories.
My working schedule for this extravaganza:
• Saturday and Sunday – I will probably spend the weekends fussing and fidgeting and call it pre-writing.
• Monday I will do whatever research I need to have credible scaffolding/background/whatever for the story of the week. I will also do a bulleted list of everything I can think of that could or should go into the story. And write a short ‘flash fiction’ that captures something from and for the story.
• Tuesday through Friday I will write. Minimum goal each day is 750 words, hopefully more. And NO editing as I write.
• Friday I might also do a quick edit (who am I kidding; there’s no such thing as a ‘quick edit’) of my semi-completed story.
Oh, yeah, and crack of dawn. Or earlier. Coffee. Butt in chair. No email, no blog, no news, no nothing until I’ve reached my daily goal.