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Posted on 2012.10.04 at 12:26
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TV writer Ken Levine (M*A*S*H, Cheers) wrote the opening of a sitcom where Superman is adopted by a Jewish couple instead of the Kents. Then the next day he broke down his decisions, showing how the plot was driven at each point, where he inserted jokes that moved the story or defined the characters, and where he gave nods to the Superman canon. Not only loads of fun, but educational as well.

Write-a-thon Wreminder

Posted on 2012.07.10 at 18:09
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Clarion West is more than halfway over, but their Write-a-thon continues. A whole busload of talented writers are pounding the keys and hoping for your bucks to help support one of the premier writing workshops in the universe.

Donate now to help them keep on keeping on!


Posted on 2012.04.04 at 19:03
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Today I Learned that there is an online archive of TV scripts.

--> I see that Hard Case Crime, the noir book series reprieved from an early death by Titan Books, will be publishing Blood on the Mink by Robert Silverberg this coming April. It joins a lineup including books by specfic writers Roger Zelazny, Stephen King, and Robert Bloch.

--> Donald Maass, James Scott-Bell, and Christopher Vogler discuss story structure

--> Kiersten White presents tongue-in-cheek 'rules' of various genres.

--> Locus maintains an excellent list of the winners and nominees for a wide range of genre awards. Meanwhile, NESFA has a list of recursive SF (novels, stories, etc about SF) that is only a little out of date.

--> Approved: a tunnel from Russia to Alaska. Currently intended for cargo only. I would so drive it if there were a car lane!

--> Autry's "Bug" is a Ninahagenesque delight.


--> GQ has an article about real life superheroes, including Seattle's Phoenix Jones.

Clarion West Write-a-thon

Posted on 2011.07.05 at 16:33
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Thank goodness for the 4th of July. While Amy was off delivering Katie to a summer camp, I finished the story on which I was working, and posted it to our writers' group, Sound on Paper. Here's a bit:
      It was the work of half a minute to lay open the frozen flesh and access the veins beneath. Carefully she scraped some flakes of blood onto a glass slide, added a drop of distilled water from a pipette, then mixed the two together. Finally, she blotted a sheet of paper on the reconstituted blood and handed it to An.
     Officer Liang watched the proceedings with interest. She had long suspected he was more than just their specialist on Tibet and chief bodyguard. That was the way it worked, though. When everyone watched everyone else, the state remained secure. Eternal vigilance, the price of communal safety.

Sponsor Edd in the Clarion West Write-a-thon.

Clarion West Write-a-thon

Posted on 2011.06.28 at 02:17
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It was a productive evening. I took the opportunity to deep-six four-hundred words constituting the entirety of a story and replace it with twice that amount, freshly minted this evening. Here's a bit of it:
      Zhao Xixi handed her husband a canteen of water and watched him anxiously as he sipped. Doctor Chen An had not adapted well to the altitude anywhere in Tibet, but here, at the very doorstep of Mount Everest, she worried he might well collapse. Descent, retreat, was not an option. Especially so when one was purposefully sent so far from the seat of power in Beijing.
      An rubbed his face with one hand, then splayed his fingers across a map of the local area. Excepting the monastery they'd camped near, there were only a few scattered settlements. "There are no burials planned for the next few days," he said. "Inform the officer that we will travel to the north and visit households."
That's the first couple of paragraphs.

Sponsor Edd in the Clarion West Write-a-thon.

Clarion West Write-a-thon

Posted on 2011.06.24 at 17:55
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Lots of staring at the screen today, but a few words added:
      Lois Stanton, the clerk on her right, popped a bubble of gum. “Better get back to work, dearie, before old Battle Stations sees you slackin’ off.”
      “Not likely,” said Maud, glancing at the clock. “He’s still in the supply closet having it off with Betty.” She pulled a clipboard from under her seat, consulted her stack of pages, and made a few notations.

Sponsor Edd in the Clarion West Write-a-thon.

Keeping up, Falling behind.

Posted on 2011.06.23 at 11:02
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I've been writing every day for the Clarion West Write-a-thon, really I have. Where I've not kept up is in writing my posts. I know that's a vital part of the job!

I'm having second thoughts about posting a section of the current work-in-progress. It feels like it could be a bit spammy. Could you let me know if it's a good idea or not? Thankee.

Poll #1755129
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 9

Should I post bitsawork?

View Answers
9 (100.0%)
0 (0.0%)
Emphatically no!
0 (0.0%)
I suppose, if you must, but put it behind a cut
0 (0.0%)

Clarion West Write-a-thon

Posted on 2011.06.18 at 22:59
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Been a while.

Though you'd like to hear that I'm participating in a worthy cause, trying to write every day for the next six weeks to support Clarion West. Yes, I graduated from Clarion, but CW is in my home town (and I'm on their board), so yes, I'm writing for money-- just not money for me.

If you'd like to support, you can sponsor me by clicking on the Paypal link on this page.

(And of course you can support someone else! You can find the general Write-a-thon page for CW here, and the one for Clarion here. They both help mostly-writers become writers.)

I'm going to post one sentence a day from my current day's output here. Today's is:

Tesla himself sat behind his desk, his deepset eyes not betraying whether his gaze rested on her or on the scatter of papers in front of him. Behind him some immense round sculpture hinted at Mayan calendars and electric turbines. Dim lights without cords glowed here and there above book-filled cases. He stirred. He spoke.

5 Things I Learned at Clarion

Posted on 2011.01.26 at 13:48
James Patrick Kelly challenged Clarion alumni to come up with five lessons learned when attending the Clarion SF/F writing workshop. The first couple of posts collecting these lists are up at the Clarion Foundation Blog (1,2).

I went to Clarion with two goals: to see if I could write fast enough to consider a writing career, and to see if I liked writing. Like many, I've written stories ever since I can remember, but I am a horrible procrastinator. I did succeed in writing a story a week during the workshop, which came as a surprise to me. Moreover, I did enjoy the process of writing, critiquing, and editing. Since then I've allowed real life to get in the way, but still manage to write every week if not every day.

Clarion is best when everybody's fully present. To attend, you're going to spend thousands of dollars and six weeks of your life. Arrange your life so you can be fully there. My wife, Amy Thomson, went to Clarion West, and gave me one of the best pieces of advice going in, which was that I should not attend West, which is in Seattle where I live. She regretted not giving her all to the workshop. To save money, she commuted, and felt that kept her from bonding completely with the class and from being able to concentrate on writing & critiquing. When you're there, you need to be as fully present as you can be to take advantage of the lessons you'll learn.

1. Short fiction is a great way to experiment. Some people want to write only magic realism, some only hard SF, some only urban fantasy. Some want to churn out four stories a week, some want to spend a month on a novella. Some want to use a common background for all their stories; some want to write only humorous stories; some want to contribute only consciousness-expanding fiction; some want to use only heroic characters. Resist pigeon-holing.

Being exposed to a half-million words that aren't yours during the workshop will change you and your work for the better. By the end of the six weeks what I was writing was different from the type of story I'd written going in, both in theme and style. This is a good reason not to take unfinished stories to Clarion with plans to work on them there.

2. Finish what you start. You may be great at starting a story. Your hook may be excellent; you may get who, what, when, and where down on the first page, but it's not a story until you write 'The End'. If you abandon stories halfway through, you won't get as good at writing endings as you are at beginnings.

3. You don't attend to learn how to write; you attend to learn how to edit. Over and over, our instructors would tell us that the story is not found in the first draft. You write the first draft as a guide to finding out what the shape of the story should be.

I think there are two kinds of writers: ones who write a lot and pare down until they have a tight story, and those like me whose stories start almost as outlines and who have to add enough to make the story complete. I was continually told that characteristics or plot twists I thought self-evident were not at all clear. You will quickly be told in the critique sessions if you have an annoying stylistic quirk or consistent theme. Try to appreciate those who tell you this.

4. Don't create a shared world. Our class spent tons of hours working out an interesting world with a great backstory and potential for many great stories, only to be told by Patrick Nielsen Hayden that it would be an impossible book to sell. You will be tempted to work with some of the other students. This can be good or bad, but be aware that ideas held in common often aren't usable once the association is over.

5. I'm magic. Most years, somebody takes on the job of collecting all the weird comments that arise in the critiques, often so that some of the best or most memorable can be printed on the back of the shirt commemorating that year's class. I went knowing I wanted to be that guy. Because, you see, I had a plan.

There is a bakery in Seattle that specializes in fortune cookies. At the end of the fifth week I typed up all the comments I had, cut them into fortune-sized clips, and mailed them to Amy, who had them baked and mailed back to me in time for the end-of-semester party. Tim Powers called me 'magic' for doing that.

Others in my class were magic as well. Ron suggested a reading series, Deirdre helped get several of us online, Dan shared his legal expertise, Trent his medical knowledge, somebody brought Settlers of Catan. You will have a unique way to be magic for your class, too.

- Edd Vick
Clarion 2002

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