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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Uncle Orson's Bootcamp

   
Author Topic: Uncle Orson's Bootcamp
johnbrown
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Just wanted to say: if you have the $$$ or can scrape it together, and you want to improve your writing skills, then the bootcamp is WORTH EVERY DOLLAR.

And IT'S COMPARATIVELY CHEAP. In the business world a day of training costs $250-350 a day. That's for 6 hours. Card's workshop which is like 9-10 hours a day comes in around $100.

I attended the bootcamp (all 6 days) last summer, and it was THE BEST WORKSHOP I've ever attended.

Let me tell you why. No, first, let me tell you that I've attended a lot of workshops--spent a week with Budrys and Wolverton in the WOTF workshop, took numerous creative writing classes in college, done online and live workshops, attended writing seminars put on by Kristine Rusch (former editor of Magazine of F&SF) and Dean Smith, and others. Of those the WOTF was the best. But none of those workshops came close to helping me learn like the bootcamp did.

Of course, learning depends on the student as much as the teacher. The learning occurs in MY head. So perhaps it was just my time.

But, dang it, some teachers are able to bring key enablers to the exeperience and some are not--(1) a safe stiumulating, fun environment that fosters creativity, (2) presentation of examples to help me see key concepts, (3) insight into the principles involved, (4) activities that have me practice what it is I want to learn, and feedback.

Card brought all of it in spades. So, yeah, it was the right time to learn what I did. And maybe via trial and error I would have picked it up in a decade or so if ever. But Card and his bootcamp did a killer job of what teachers/coaches can do.

Since the bootcamp I have finished more stuff like I and others like than since I decided to write for publication. Since day 1 of the bootcamp to today I have finished two novellas and am 3 chapters away from finishing a novel that I have been struggling with for 7 years.

I learned too much to summarize here. But the two BIGGEST insights for me were:

1) That the writer's trance comes and goes and when it goes it doesn't mean I was born to be a plumber and God is telling me I should stop tormenting myself; it means I should simply keep inventing, asking myself what I don't like and what I do, making lists of options, writing out a creative option until that trail peters out or feels right, and having confidence that if I follow the creative process, a true and compelling option will present itself sooner or later. That one insight, which simply had to be experienced to be learned, came because of what happened during the bootcamp.

2) I finally felt and experienced what made a story clear, credible, and interesting. I could see it in my story and address it.

3) Oh, and I learned that writer's block is actually A GOOD THING. It's telling me that I need to invent more. And I should listen to it, ask questions of why I'm not liking this or that, not fear and tremble or try to break through it.

Here's a summary of what happened

DAY 1, MOSTLY PRESENTATION
* How to invent
* How to structure
* In the evening we were assigned to come up with 5 story ideas. Card tells you what to do. It's challenging, but it gets better the next day.
* Tons of other insights of the story process and what makes stories work.

DAY 2, PRESENTATION AND WORKSHOPS
* What the 3 grunts of fiction are (clarity, belief, and interest)
* POV
* Workshops on our 5 ideas
* Writing life
* Tons of other insights of the story process and what makes stories work.

DAY 3, WRITE YOUR STORY
Sends us off to write our stories based on one of the 5 ideas we came up with during class. If you don't finish on Wednesday, then you have to finish during lunch and dinner and breakfast and bedtime on Thursday or Friday.

DAY 4-6, WORKSHOP
Card leads a workshop of the stories where we give 3 grunt feedback. He'll go off on "rifts" during the feedback, explaining concepts and principles that apply to the story we're giving our reader responses to.

The workshop is managed so that everyone goes away seeing what works in their story and where it wasn't clear, believable, or interesting. And they get tons of ideas. It was a positive and insightful experience!!!

I've gone on too long already. But it was simply an amazing experience. I recommend it to everyone.


Posts: 300 | Registered: Jul 2002  | Report this post to a Moderator
Amka
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I have to come and second what John said.

There is so much that I learned there it's not even funny. It certainly far surpassed creative writing in college. It inspired me so much that I not only want to write I want to teach others to write.


Posts: 119 | Registered: Sep 2001  | Report this post to a Moderator
Brinestone
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It sounds wonderful. Maybe someday I'll scrounge up the funds to go...

A question to all of you who have been to boot camp:

I'm pretty good with clarity and credibility. I know what life is like and I can describe it well. I have trouble sometimes keeping people's interest, though. I find that many of my stories are boring to other people. Did Card give any ideas on how to make a story interesting? I know; this sounds like a strange question, but I really want to know what's missing in mine.


Posts: 814 | Registered: Nov 2000  | Report this post to a Moderator
SiliGurl
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Sounds awesome!! Now if only OSC would do such a thing here in Texas... or have a schedule more amenable to those of us in the military!

(For some reason, the AF thinks that they're more important than my writing... Go figure!)


Posts: 306 | Registered: Feb 2001  | Report this post to a Moderator
Penboy_np
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*sucks in breath of air* As much as I'd absolutely love to go to it, I can't. Not only do I need to save money for school but I'm in a different country.

Maybe next year.


Posts: 42 | Registered: Mar 2003  | Report this post to a Moderator
Kokomo
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Brinestone, you'll get it. Boot Camp is all about communicating with your readers. I will never forget one of my favorite OSC quotes: "Your competition is naps." If you hook up with a Boot Camp, you'll find that you have loyal Wise Readers for life. It is an incredible privilege and gift. I treasure my fellow Boot Campers and I rejoice in their successes. And of course, I hope some of the magic rubs off on me.

Back to yet another rewrite - my fellow Boot Campers are really hard to please.


Posts: 134 | Registered: Jul 2001  | Report this post to a Moderator
Nocturne
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So you stay in touch with them after the camp is over? cool

Must try to find something similar here in the UK.


Posts: 32 | Registered: Apr 2003  | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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