Monday, June 18, 2012

A Class with Connie Willis and James Patrick Kelly

I spent Saturday at the Locus Awards and Friday and Sunday taking a class at the Hugo House taught by James Patrick Kelly and Connie Willis. There were fifteen of us in the class--all female students except one, which I found interesting.

On Friday, Jim taught "Uncomplicating Plot" for five hours and on Sunday, Connie taught about "Building Characters" for seven hours. Friday evening we had the chance to hear both authors read their work.

Attending this class was a really fantastic experience. I took 16 pages of notes on my computer, mostly single-spaced, that I'll be going through for a good long time. My head is full of information and tips I need to absorb.

I've spent the last year and a half learning how to write a story. I've taken classes, read books, and written a lot. But in the last month or so I feel like I'm ready to write/rewrite a story in a more structured, calculating way. I want to hang all the events off of a theme. I want to maximize the scenes for dramatic possibility. I want everything to be important and consistent. --Okay, these are things I've always wanted, but I'm just starting to attempt them methodically and with purpose. The way is finally starting to gel.

Along those lines I've been working on a short story for about a month. I've spent hours and hours trying to make sure the characters have motivations and that logical things happen, and it's still a little flat, I think, but I can tell that it's the first story where I'm trying to use all the tools I've learned consciously.

Heck, a reader might just see a story that's still broken, but I can see the improvement in myself for once and that's heartening.

After another week of rejections, it's nice to have these small ephiphanies.

I feel like I should add that I'm not dismissing the work I've already had published--I'm proud of all of it. It's just that I want to be better and this is how that happens.


Kristy said...

Can't wait for your story.

Folly Blaine said...

Thanks, Kristy. :)

Nicole Feldringer said...

::Gnashes teeth:: I should have signed up for that workshop!

Rebecca Birch said...

I second Nicole.

Eliza said...

I love the feeling when something I thought I learned a long time ago actually starts to click in the writing I'm doing now. Definitely helps to feel that the time spent writing is not being wasted.

Dan said...

Imagine a less trite way to say "You go, girl!" and pretend that I said that.

Dale Ivan Smith said...

I took Connie's workshop on Romantic Comedies during last year's Locus Awards Weekend. She's a fantastic teacher. Very glad you could attend this one! Sounds like you received your money's worth and then some ;-)