STORY – Home Again

I made it home. Spent a lot of time sitting around the airport, thinking about writing. Spent a fair bit of time on the plane waiting on the tarmac, thinking about writing. Took a break during the flight to watch a couple of episodes of Carnivale on my iPod. Now, I’m home, doing my laundry, and thinking about writing.

Specifically, I’m thinking about my new novel.

I want to start fresh, after the seminar, and use the method and structure to see where they take me. To that end, I’m making notes about characters, scenes, the types of conflict, things like that. What I’m hoping to discover in the mess of ideas is what the story is about. Once I have that, I’ll have an idea about the antagonist (or forces of antagonism), and I’ll start to see the structure of the thing.

So, did I get what I wanted out of the seminar? Honestly, I dunno yet. I haven’t looked at the list, yet. Let’s do that now.

A better understanding of the underlying structures of story as put forth in the book. I primarily write short stories, with a single completed novel and half of another novel, and I find that thinking about things as Acts and Scenes and Beats doesn’t come naturally to me.

Check. His examples helped this sink home very nicely, and walking through Casablanca was very enlightening.

A better example of the way the elements discussed in the book work together to form the whole. There are tons of examples of each individual idea in the book, but they’re drawn from a number of different sources to illustrate individual points. The seminar features a stop-and-start viewing of Casablanca to analyze the movie scene-by-scene in light of the principles presented in class.

Check. Again, the viewing of Casablanca helped a lot, though there was a lot of time spent on the cinematic aspects of the movie. Fair enough; the seminar is primarily targeted at screenwriters, and I can see how useful and valuable that discussion would be. Some of it was interesting to me, some of it wasn’t. But the exercise gave some real insight into how everything fits together.

Discussion about the various points. Books are great, but a live tutorial session illuminates so many more elements of the material.

Check. Very much check. Several times during the session, I found myself thinking, “Oh, so that’s what the book meant!” Sometimes you just need to hear the right words the right way to really get it.

A renewed passion for writing. I’ve been a little bogged down, mentally, and really want this to recharge my batteries and get me excited about writing again.

Check, and check again. I really want to stay home from work tomorrow to get a full day’s work done on the new novel, but that ain’t gonna happen. Thank god for laptops and lunch hours.

Inspiration about the central conflict in a novel I’m working on. I’ve got a good idea for setting, some good characters, some interesting scenes, but no actual PLOT yet.

Kinda check. See, I don’t have the central conflict, yet, but I do have more confidence that it will emerge as I build and structure the novel using the method from the seminar.

See a little of Vancouver. I’ve got most of a day to walk around, and the hotel is near the waterfront, and Chinatown, and Gastown. I’ve never been to Vancouver, so I’ll be a bit of a tourist.

Check. I also got see one of the cruise ships pull into dock from the window of the seminar venue – it’s an experience I have to remember if I ever have to describe something huge and ponderous and building-sized moving. It was awe-inspiring.

Have dinner with my cousin. He lives there, and we’re going to a place called Sanafir. Once you get past the annoying (but pretty) intro, it looks like interesting food.

Check. Good food, good company.

So, that’s my trip. One last thing to tell you folks – on the taxi ride back to the Vancouver airport, I saw a sign that said, “Left turns restricted ahead. Use Hemlock.” I thought that was a little harsh*.

*I was tired and my head was full of literary thought. I make no apologies.

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