We took a story to our Cleveland writer’s workshop (Cajun Sushi Hamsters) yesterday that we had been working on for a year on and off. We thought it was close to finished, but were quickly disabused of that notion. Surprisingly it wasn’t so much the final scene, the one we had been working so hard to “fix”, that caused problems, but the lack of setup FOR the final scene. As I listened to one person after another shoot down various aspects of character, action, and emotional payoff, I began to see possible scene changes that would address most of these issues, and hear snippets of dialogue to head off some of the complaints. It was then that I realized I’d come a long ways in this business of making up stuff. There was no sense of defensiveness or shame or even disappointment, only a desire to understand what we’d done poorly (and well in a few instances). Not every criticism is worth following, but as one of our workshoppers likes to advise: before you dismiss a criticism, force yourself to come up with three reasons why it is wrong. More often than not, you’ll see there is some basis to it and the story can be strengthened by dealing with the problem.
The aha moment here is not that we missed the boat on this particular story, but that it’s damnably difficult to be objective about one’s own fiction. We’re published writers with solid writing skills and lots of experience, yet we missed very basic gaffes in this story. Never underestimate the value of another set of eyes, particularly if that set of eyes is attached to someone who cares enough to tell you true.
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The first order of business at our kickoff meeting was to approve a theme for the upcoming Triangulation anthology. The original theme, The Color of Silence, had not met with enthusiasm. We kicked around some ideas (e.g. The Place Where No One Can Hear You Paint) and settled on The End of the Rainbow. I don’t think anyone was orgasmic about it, but no one gagged either, so it won out. Hopefully we won’t get a deluge of Oz stories (though a very good one or two would be welcome, of course). We did briefly consider Shatner’s Ass, but licensing would be a problem. And, really, how many Shatner’s Ass stories do you want to read? One is plenty for me.
Next goal is to publish guidelines. The plan is to open for submissions on December 1, 2009, with submissions accepted until March 31 or the anthology is filled (hint: submit early).
We discussed some ideas for marketing, including the usual rounds to local bookstores and, hopefully, a reading or three. Bill M (the editor) plans a blowout launch party for Confluence next July to help get us off to a good start. He’s talking about knocking down walls and recruiting scantily clad women. He doesn’t seem quite as interested in scantily clad men, especially after the abnormally large blue penis in the Watchers movie – it’s much larger than in the graphic novel, but I digress. The point is that he’s tearing down stuff if necessary to make his case that this is a damned good anthology and deserves greater attention. He’s just the guy to do it, too. I mean he’s actually wired his spare bedroom so that the two light bulbs in the ceiling fixture are operated by separate switches. Totally useless, but totally cool too.
And that, in a nutshell, is the news of the day for Triangulation: End of The Rainbow. Be there.
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