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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Boot Campers are BA-ACK!!

   
Author Topic: Boot Campers are BA-ACK!!
djvdakota
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Since no one else has, thus far, been audacious enough to start this thread, and since autumn's old thread is growing to mammoth proportions, I thought I'd get the ball rolling.

Hi everyone! We missed you!

[This message has been edited by djvdakota (edited June 27, 2005).]


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HSO
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Who are you people?


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djvdakota
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<She BURSTS into tears!>

"Gone only a week and already forgotten!"


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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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Welcome back!
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NewsBys
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Yes, welcome back. So, how did you do? Did you have fun? Learn anything new about your writing style? What was the most surprising thing you learned?
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Rahl22
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Welcome back! Decompress. I recommend letting your brain cool for a week or so before jumping back into the grind.
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Jeraliey
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....as we puny mortals tremble in fear and awe...
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Keeley
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Welcome back. So, tell us, what was it like?
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Jeraliey
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Too slow in answering! As punishment, I have started a Destination: Bootcamp! thread in F&F. So spill it, or we'll have to make up our own dirt! (Read: Spill it, AND we'll make up our own dirt nonetheless!)

Next time answer faster.


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hoptoad
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Did you bring cherries?
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Spaceman
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I'm still recovering from the ten-hour drive and going to work today. And I saw how much of my state is on FIRE on the drive home.

Boot camp was incredible. Scott is a very good teacher, and very good at picking out details, as well as being an idea machine.

djvdakota and MaryRobinette had two of the best stories. It was so cool watching networks form, with potential future collaborations and such.

More later, being called to dinner...


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mikemunsil
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it's later, dude! c'mon, give!
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Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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If I could, I'd offer you all cherries from our tree.

But I can offer you virtual cherries, and you can imagine them any way you like.


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Pyre Dynasty
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@~ that's a vitural cherry.

@~* and that's a virtual cherry bomb.

[This message has been edited by Pyre Dynasty (edited June 27, 2005).]


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franc li
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I'm sad I didn't go. Mainly, I'm sad that I've been working so insanely hard, as I knew I would when I wrote off going.
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Spaceman
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The cool thing was that by the time I got into the second half of the manuscript critiques, I was marking many of the same things Scott was mentioning. (Except Jeremy's, of course.)
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MaryRobinette
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I'm trying to make my notes coherent to someone besides me. It is unlikely to happen, since frequently one word will remind me of several paragraphs of OSC's lecture.

So, understand that this isn't his lecture. These are simply the things that stood out to me on the first day.

---

Boot Camp, Day 1
There is no such thing as a stupid idea. Unplanned are often the best ideas because they get past the cliché shelf.

Any idea in this room spoken aloud, belongs to everyone. Plagarism is not about ideas, it is about stealing language. If you care about and believe in the story, then it's yours.

When coming up with a story idea ask
Why? mechanical cause i.e. They were poor. (It dehumanizes your characters if this is the only reason. They were forced to do this.)
Why? motive/Aristatelian/final i.e. She loved her parents. (These are the ones we care about. The ones who make things happen.) Anticipation of result+action to achieve result.
Why Else?
Ask this until you get excited. That's what you care about and believe in.

What result?
How?

Remember that you have to take the reader through the process of "how" step by step to make it plausible.

---

(More later. Really, the best thing I can say is to go buy Characters and Viewpoint Read it. Write something. Then read it again.)

The first night he gave us two homework assignments. We had to take 5 three by five cards and fill each (front only) with a complete story idea.
2 had to come from research
2 from observation
1 from an interview

We also had to write a page about an hour of recent time in our real life. We could change names, but we weren't supposed to worry about beginning, middle or ends. The real trick is that we had to write in 3rd person Deep Penetration, using ourself as the viewpoint character. The idea was to deal with POV without having to also deal with invention. It was very interesting.

The big thing that I learned was that I have a tendency to use body language to substitute for thoughts. For instance, I might write something like:

quote:
Mary Robinette looked at the paper and sighed. Then she reached for a pen, tapped it on the table, and began writing.

I've given observations of movements. The problem is that it tells you nothing about the character's thoughts. As people, when we notice someone's body language it's because it means something. We interpret their movements all the time. Not doing so leads to a cinematic POV, which isn't as insightful as deeper POV.

So, now, I might write the same passage as,

quote:
MaryRobinette stared at the paper. What was she going to write for the Flash Challenge? She sighed, trying to let the tension drain from her body. Then she reached for a pen, tapped it on the table trying to drum ideas up.

Drumming.

That might work for a story idea. She began writing.


That sort of sucks, but it gives you an idea of how much deeper the POV can be if you don't rely on body language to replace thoughts.

---

Mike wrote:

quote:
"Though Mary and I are finding it plenty tough to write a short story in a single day."
c'mon, you're liberty hall flashers! that shoulda been a piece of cake!

Oh, you meant good stories. Well, that should have taken at least 2 hours. What did you do with the rest of your time?



In all seriousness, I think the Flash Challenges really helped us.

[This message has been edited by MaryRobinette (edited June 28, 2005).]


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onepktjoe
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Welcome back, All! It sounds like it was a great experience. Thanks for the Cliff notes, Mary.
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Thieftess
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Five? Only five cards?

Why back in the day we had to do seven...you young whippersnappers...

Alethea


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EricJamesStone
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And when we walked to class, it was uphill both ways in a blizzard.

And our stories had to be palindromes. And lemon-scented.

Back in those days, we didn't have your fancy-schmancy computers. No, we had to carve our stories onto the hides of sabertooth tigers. While the tigers were still alive.

> Unplanned are often the best ideas because
> they get past the cliché shelf.

When we went to Boot Camp, cliches weren't organized onto shelves. Cliches were just stuffed into a closet, and you were afraid to open the door for fear all the cliches would fall out on top of you.


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Spaceman
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It sounds like Scott is good at keeping his lectures fresh.
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mikemunsil
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Good info here. Thanks for letting us in on it.

Given the apparent rate of technology development in OSC's classes, by the time I get there all I will have to do is to stare at the paper until blood runs from my brow, in order to tell the greatest story ever told.

Oh, wait. That's been done.


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djvdakota
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LOL, Eric!

First off, I must have forgotten everything I learned from doing Flash Challenges, because it took me ALL of one Wednesday plus a couple hours Thursday morning plus a couple hours Tuesday night to write mine.

I think, on average, Boot Campers slept maybe five hours a night--maybe less. Between writing and critiquing. One woman--Laura--wrote a story that was 54 pages or something like that, and she didn't have the luxury of writing on a laptop. She had to work in the computer lab which closed at 9PM. I don't know how she did it.

For me one of the most amazing things was watching Card invent. He ran through that thousand ideas technique so fast that 'What if?' questions spewed from his mouth as fast as his mouth could get them out. Wow! I want to be like that when I grow up!

Oh, yeah. By the way, Mary is a FANTASTIC cook!

[This message has been edited by djvdakota (edited June 29, 2005).]


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Jeraliey
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Man, Mary, is there ANYTHING you don't excell at?
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MaryRobinette
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I'm very, very bad at math.

I was telling Dakota that the secret to looking good is to avoid the things you do poorly. Oh sure, you could tackle them until you excel at them, but that would be so much work.

I've got some more notes from Day One of Boot Camp, I'll try to make them coherent by tomorrow.


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Thieftess
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I'm still giggling.

Eric, you totally kick butt.

(...and we could only use one side of the tiger...)


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DragonfireEast
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5 hours of sleep! Bah... I didn't even get any sleep wensday night. By the time I finally had finished my story it was 6:30am, thursday morning.

Though 5 hours the other nights were about right. But it was worth it. Most everyones story was a very good read, and all had excellent potential.

I am glad to be back though, where I can catch up on a bit of sleep and tinker with things at a more leisuirly pace. I'm sending my bootcamp story to Writer's of the Future today, so wish me luck.


ps. Hwst rules.


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djvdakota
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Luck, Dragonfire!

Actually, I was wondering if you EVER slept. It seems I have my answer.


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MaryRobinette
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There you are! I was wondering if you were going to return to the fray. I'm glad Hwst is venturing off to WotF this round. I'm sending Salt in for the next session and it's nice to know that I won't be competing with you.

Ladies and gents, DragonFire wrote a story from a convincing and engaging alien point of view. It was a feat of very impressive world-building.


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autumnmuse
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Yikes! I sent a story in today as well. But if your story is chosen over mine that's still great!

I'm a big fan of alien POV, maybe I can read your story.

[This message has been edited by autumnmuse (edited June 30, 2005).]


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EricJamesStone
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Well, Dragonfire, you may beat my record for selling a Boot Camp story. It took me about eight and a half months from Boot Camp to WOTF acceptance of the story.
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Spaceman
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I *do* hope you corrected the little problem at the end. Very best of luck with the story.
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EricJamesStone
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I saw Spencer at our writers' group tonight, and he had complimentary things to say about your stories, particularly "Salt."
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MaryRobinette
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OH! Please tell him "Hello" from me next time you see him. Did he tell you that OSC heckled me on his behalf during my crit of his story?

Here's a bit more of my notes from Boot Camp. Remember, these are the random things that struck me, not the lecture itself. For most of the lecture you can read "Character and Viewpoint."
---

Why should other people listen to your lies?

He hates dream sequences because real dreams have no author. In stories they are cheap way to add sub-text.

Revisions happen in life. We spend a lot of our time saying things like, "Now I really understand why I did that..." Or the news will put out something that says, "Just just in, we have additional information about..." That doesn't happen in fiction. The author has authority. Can you imagine someone saying, "We have additional information about Huckleberry Finn's motivation as he was floating down..." No! Because Mark Twain is dead and he has the authority.

5 or 6 concious choices for 1000s of unconcious choices. Because of that we're seeing the real you. Advocates waking the unconcious mind and bringing in into story. Raise ratio of concious choices. Pick stories that are important and true to you.

If you catch yourself being wise, put it into the mouth of a fool.

Make story that can be translated into another language and still have power.

---

I'll continue my efforts to decipher my notes.

[This message has been edited by MaryRobinette (edited July 01, 2005).]


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DragonfireEast
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Yes, I am back, alive and well. It took me two days on a bus to get back home, and then two days to recover from the whole ordeal.

And MaryRobinette flatters me. I was a fun story to write, but I thought Salt was better. Which is why I am glad Im not competing with her! Best of luck next season though...maybe we will be against eachother in the final round at the end of the year?

djvdakota- I slept as much as I ate

Autumnmuse- Well best of luck to you as well. I hope you get 2nd place :P But yes, you can read my story. Ill send it your way as soon as I finish this post.

EricJones- Well, I may, but I may not. Quite a few people didn't like my story all that much. As OSC put it, since the story is from an alien POV is ended up alienating some readers.Really I dont care about breaking any records, just like to get somthing published.

Spaceman- Which problem at the end...I can think of a few.


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Spaceman
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I mean the little problem where the Earth is unintentionally inside the sun. Larry Niven is a judge. He wouldn't miss that tiny detail.

-----

Yay! Our forum is online!!


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DragonfireEast
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Larry Niven, that old hack! Lol..Ya..I did fix that. Thank you.

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Spaceman
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If I'd written a short story instead of the first chapter of a 250,000-word novel, I might send in mine. But alas,they do have a word count limit.
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JulieMcKeehan
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Hello,

I am brand new to this group and to OSC as a teacher. I have always admired his writing but I must now say it was a truly wondrous thing to also find him to be a very good teacher. By the end of the week I'd stretched my mind far beyond my expectations. Part of this was in listening to his imagination at work, but part was also in the group of writers he'd collected. Such different voices, such captivating stories (though sometimes a bit dimpled around the edges), such a great way to inspire me to do a better job in my own writing (ie., don't cheat and take the simple solution). It was a very good week.


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Spaceman
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Welcome, Julie. Remember, dimples around the edges of a golf ball help it to fly farther.
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djvdakota
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Hey, Julie! Glad you found us!
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davidedwardsmusic
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I'll chime in too. That boot camp was amazing. I wondered initially about the usefulness of reading and critiquing other people's stories for the first three days. What about the instruction? The drills?

Then Friday afternoon, when I was crunching through about the tenth manuscript, it hit me. First we got the instruction (at the workshop), second, we were sent, quaking, into the world to interview strangers and generate ideas, third, we were sent, quaking even more violently, into our private quarters to write a complete story. By this point, I was completely broken down, feeling raw, sleepless and not a little overwhelmed. Which is precisely the point of a boot camp.

And then we started to read. And up to that point, we had not been given a voice. But when the critiques went around the table, we were given a chance to voice our thoughts, and what incredible thoughts we heard. The thing that impacted me the most on Friday was that, suddenly I was reading smarter, faster. My mind was clicking into the way editors read, the patterns were forming. And it was because I was reading so much in so little time, and hearing the concepts over and over in different and wonderful ways by the boot campers and OSC.

So, yeah, it was good. I came home elated, exhausted, and filled up to the brim.

And got to meet so many amazing people in the process. It felt like the time I was sequestered with a Manhattan jury for 2 days. We went in as strangers and came out knowing each other in some pretty profound ways.

So, boot campers -- thanks for the incredible experience.


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Spaceman
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As I said, by friday afternoon, most of my unspoken comments I wrote in the manuscript started to hit on the same points Scott vocalized. That tells me that something clicked.
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Kolona
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quote:
If you catch yourself being wise, put it into the mouth of a fool.

That's intriguing. Would you expound on that, Mary?


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Survivor
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It was something Card said. Shakespeare was fond of the technique, as are many other great writers.

Basically, if you think that you're saying something profound and important, put it somewhere where the reader is free to decide whether it is really all that profound. Otherwise, those epigrammic tidbits will distort your major characters and their role in the story. You don't really need a fool, per se. You can use a proverb (even a book of them) or a minor character, or a scrawl on a wall.


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MaryRobinette
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What Survivor said.

Where've you been?


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Survivor
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Oh, going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it
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