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Sime~Gen(tm) Inc.

WorldCrafters Guild (TM)

Where Sime and Gen Meet, Creativity Happens

     "Essence of Story"

Log of the First IRC class meeting

Edited by Karen Litman

June 13, 1999

 

Session Start: Sun Jun 13 14:20:35 1999
<JL`> Jean hello
<JL`> I have been asking them in #sgchat what their goals are in writing now.
<Marge> Hi Secutib Keon
<Jean> Hi, Everybody.
<Jean> We've got a thunderstorm here.
<JL`> Oy - if we lose you, I'll keep on going. 
<Marge> oh dear. It's warm and sunny here.
<Greg> How does Goal relate to conflict and plot
<Marge> Your first question ladies
<Jean> Goal related to conflict and plot?
<JL`> Jean, I think Greg has noticed that I have called everyone so far on nailing the GOAL and calling it a conflict.
<Jean> A conflict is a versus.
<Jean> It fights back.
<JL`> The goal is a thing - an objective - and conflict is what keeps you from getting it.
<Jean> Goals don't fight back.
<JL`> Right - the vs. is ACTIVE.
<Jean> They sit there out of reach and wait for you to get to them.
<JL`> Of course they've all managed to NAIL the goals in those stories perfectly.
<Jean> Remember that the conflict fights with you.
<Jean> That's why it is called conflict.
<JL`> The thing that's opposing you adjusts -- reacts to -- your moves.
<Jean> It can be your own neuroses fighting you.
<Jean> It can be another person.
<Jean> It can be your physical inadequacies.
<Jean> It can be a hurricane.
<Jean> But it fights with you.
<JL`> An obstacle doesn't do that.
<Jean> Neither an obstacle not a goal fights back.
<Jean> They are static.
<Jean> nor
<JL`> And when you substitute a goal or an obstacle FOR the conflict, you end up with a static plot -- a Situation that doesn't change.
<Jean> Right.
<Jean> Does that cover it?
<JL`> We should move to the next question -- I see much posting in sgchat.
<Margaret_> The instructions are to submit throwaways, but as soon as I get involved enough with a story it is no longer a throwaway
<Ann> Before submission of course, are there any  tricks of the trade to working with emotionally distracting material without being affected by it but still being able to edit it effectively?
<Marge> ok here's your next question
<Jean> Well, you have to have some involvement or you can't write it.
<Jean> For our exercises, choose a one-timer, not your life
<Jean> life's work.
<JL`> Yes - that works best.
<JL`> If you accidentally produce something usable - it will morph as your skills progress.
<Jean> That's what I was about to say.
<JL`> So don't worry about it.  Produce it with the idea that it will CHANGE drastically as you work with it.
<JL`> Analogy - wet clay in a potters hands.
<Jean> An exercise here in 1999 could become a great story in 2001.
<JL`> In making a pot you may mash it back and reshape it a dozen times or more.
<JL`> You have to keep your clay wet so you can rework it until it's 'right'.
<Jean> exercise--sheesh--can't type this fast and think at the same time!
<Jean> Well, actually it'
<JL`> Yes, but think of everything you do here as exercise.  Even the homeworks.
<Jean> it's more like pie crust.
<Jean> Rework it too much and it's inedible.
<JL`> This morning I posted new instructions to Online Lessons --
<JL`> You can use the nifty WorldCrafters Bulletin Boards to post your homework assignments and reworkings of Assignments that have been turned in to Showcase -- for further commentary.
<JL`> Pie crust is a good analogy too. 
<Jean> Yes--I hadn't had time to investigate why no one was using those boards.
<JL`> If you ruin it -- oh, well, - make another batch and this time get it right.
<JL`> Because I didn't post the instructions - Jean.  Why else? 
<Marge> Ready for the next question?
<JL`> I think we're ready for the next question?  And yes, we'll have to do something about "emotionally divorcing yourself" from your material.  An essential skill.
<Margaret_> The instructions are to submit throwaways, but as soon as I get involved enough with a story it is  no longer a throwaway
<Jean> Next question?
 <Margaret_> if I don't get involved, it dies
<Margaret_> how to resolve?
<Jean> That's the same one.
<Greg> do you outline a story..if so..how detailed is it in terms of characterization, conflict, etc?
<JL`> Aha - "outline" means something different than in school. 
<JL`> Jean let me do this first.
<Jean> I write out the plot, but only after I have the other things.
<Jean> OK
<JL`> In a few minutes, if we're lucky -- we will SHOW DON'T TELL YOU how to outline.
<JL`> We're going to give you the essential elements of how it's done - if we can get through the Q&A etc. first.
<JL`> You need only the BEGINNING, MIDDLE AND END and the Protagonist and the conflict.  Not necessarily in that order.
<JL`> I intend to tease that material out of the tangle in Jean's mind with surgical precision.
<Jean> Hah!
<JL`> And if this log works the way I hope, we will then have a homework assignment for you all to break into pairs and do that exercise together.
<Jean> Her scalpel is a rusty schythe!
<Jean> scythe
* JL` ~too true~
<Colleen> How do I resist the erge to lay out my entire universe before I start telling the story?
<JL`> By not KNOWING the entire universe before you start telling the story.
<Jean> Hmm.  That is more often a male than a female problem.
<Jean> On the other side, some writers need to know far too much character background.
<JL`> You have to know that anything your subconscious puts up there for you is going to have to be CHANGED -- so you listen, and nod politely, and then go write a real story.
<Jean> That's me, and a typical female approach.
<Jean> Yes.
<Jean> Robert Heinlein said it.
<JL`> You have to perfect the trick of not knowing what you know. 
<Jean> Never put anything into a story that has nothing to do with that story.
<JL`> What you do is TRUST your subconscious to deliver the tidbits you need when you need them.
<Jean> Right.
<Jean> The more you write, the more that ability will develop.
<JL`> And that trust is gained by practicing (exercises such as we've assigned) working together with your subconscious.
<JL`> Well, you see Jean and I are agreeing again.  You should quail in your boots when that happens. 
<Jean> And by writing stories.
<JL`> So the answer to your question is to practice letting your subconscious know things your conscious mind doesn't.
<Marge> ready for the next one?
<Jean> Or, on the mundane level, if it doesn't affect THIS story, don't put it in.
<JL`> Writing fiction is the act of retrieving tidbits from your subconscious.   When you ask it - it delivers, like a nurse handing a surgeon the right tool.
<JL`> Yes, NEXT -- let's move here.
<Sandra> How do you avoid having your theme misunderstood?
<JL`> You don't -- the POINT of writing fiction is to be misunderstood.
<Jean> Connect theme to plot, conflict, and everything else.
<Jean> If it all works together, readers will get your theme.
<JL`> Each reader creates their own novel out of your template.
<Jean> If it conflicts with the other elements, they won't.
<JL`> They might - or they might get THEIR OWN theme - and maybe it'll be more appropriate to the material than the one the writer intended.
<Jean> The goal is to be able to do it so the reader sees the theme you intended.
<Jean> That doesn't mean the reader will read the same story you wrote, though.
<JL`> You must state your theme CLEARLY -- by showing it, not telling it, in all the other elements.  Once you've done that, each reader can use the sense of reality that this construct gives them to impute their own theme to the work, and it will be valid too.
<JL`> I touched a little on this in some of the commentaries I just posted this morning on showcase.
<JL`> Next question?
<Jean> If YOU don't connect theme, character, plot, and conflict, how can your reader?
<Sandra> Is it always necessary in a short story to have a failure in the middle?
<Jean> No.
<JL`> No -- the middle is failure only if the end is success.
<Jean> The shorter the story, the fewer ups and downs, too.
<JL`> Sometimes the failure is at the beginning (as with MZB's SPELL SWORD) and sometimes at the end as with Tragedy.
<JL`> But today's USA market tends to gobble up stories with SUCCESS at the end -- and reject those with failure at the end.
<Jean> A 3000-word story can be a gripping straight line from a low to a high.
<JL`> so you have a better chance of selling a happy ending.
<Jean> Depends.
<JL`> You should, however, cultivate the ability to do either.
<Jean> There's always a market for the three-hanky movie script.
<JL`> Happy endings use many hankies too.
<Jean> What I think this question is about is pacing.
<Jean> Rhythm.
<JL`> I didn't think it was about pacing -- but about formula.
<Jean> You learn it by feel.
<Jean> Highs and lows.
<Jean> A story must have both.
<JL`> Sandra says it's not about pacing.
<Jean> OK
<JL`> 3 more questions and we go on to the open comment time.
<Sandra> Is it possible to have more than one theme in the same story?
<JL`> Yes - depends on length.
<Jean> Not a short story.
<Jean> A whole series can have an overall theme--
<JL`> I wrote out the formulas for length vs. themes in one of the Workshop posts.
<Jean> with each book having its own theme, too.
<JL`> I learned that in the Famous Writers Course.
<JL`> I'm not going to write it again here -- Sandra -- email me to remind me to write that up at length again. 
<Patric> Forwarded from Anita- When is POV change away from protagonist justified?
<JL`> when it progresses the conflict-line
<Jean> When the audience MUST know something the protag doesn't?
<JL`> Never change pov because you want the reader to KNOW something.
<Jean> Note the MUST.
<Jean> Not want--need.
<JL`> That's going to be misunderstood, Jean.
<JL`> But yes, MUST is what it's about.
<JL`> When the conflict takes you there smoothly -- dynamically -- undeniably.
<JL`> FOLLOW THE BECAUSE LINE
<JL`> Follow the conflict line.
<JL`> If that requires a POV shift, then do it and the reader won't be jarred out of the story.
<Jean> If you stay on the conflict line, POV changes will happen naturally.
<JL`> Yes, exactly what I said. 
<JL`> Last question?
<Greg> in romance writing...is there a balance between external and internal conflict, or is there a predominant one?  ..as a 'rule'
<Jean> Avoid having them happen without clues, though.
<JL`> Oh, yes, on POV shift -- the master-tool for doing it is FORESHADOWING. 
<Jean> The internal conflict is the important one in romance.
<JL`> I wrote about the conflicts in Romance in one of the commentaries I posted this morning.
<Jean> The external conflict has to mirror it.
<JL`> It's a foreground/background thing.
<Jean> That's the hard part--finding an external conflict that is perfect for the internal conflict.
<JL`> Exactly, and we're going to tackle that in Assignments 6 and 7 finishing this course.
<JL`> Then you'll have a time to practice. 
<Jean> Hee Hee--that's the problem with my Zhag~Tonyo story, but it's not a romance!
<JL`> Oh, sit tight Jean -- we'll get there. 
<JL`> OK, Marge - can you OP everyone on the class list?
<Marge> sure
<JL`> We'll have a time -- not more than half an hour for everyone to comment as they see fit.  As soon as you folks are FINISHED with what you need to say, we'll SHOW DON'T TELL how to create an outline from a mass of tangled, inspired, creative material that floods down into your from goshknows where.
<JL`> OK, folks if you see yourself set with an @ sign by your name you can post in this log.  Now is your chance to have at us.
<Sandra> I'd like to thank you both for commenting on my first assignment and I'm sorry
<JL`> Was there anything in our commentaries to Assignment 1 that needed to be discussed?
<Ann> Well .... I would like to start out by thanking the JL's for their time and energy in putting on the class
<Sandra> I forgot to put copyright Jacqueline Lichtenberg on my story.
<Jean> That's what we're here for.
<JL`> You're welcome -- it's fun, actually, and very instructive -- you don't know it until you teach it.
<Jean> Well, any S~G story should be copyright Sime~Gen Inc.
<Jean> If we don't protect it, we'll lose it.
<Sandra> Ok, will remember that.
<JL`> Patric has been trying to keep up with the copyright and other ruffles and flourishes.
<Jean> It's like locking your car.
<JL`> folks - that's copyright Sime~Gen Inc. and ONLY for Sime~Gen material used in the workshop.  Everyone else put their OWN NAME on their copyright.
<Jean> You'd better simply get into the habit, or one day your parking place will be empty after work.
<JL`> Any other problems?  Did you have problems with Assignment 2?  Is anyone having problems with HTML?
<Margaret_> html!!!
<Jean> ACK--let's not get into HTML here!
<JL`> Aha, knew it. 
<Patric> JL's...  Please explain the idea of not questioning (not the right word) the commentary...  We seem to have a lot of curiosity on the subject.
<Jean> Use a program.
<Greg> I write mine in Word and then save as HTML
<Margaret_> I was going to email Patric
<Jean> Two reasons.
<JL`> No, but we can point you to where our instructions are.
<Jean> One is simply time.
<JL`> There is a PLACE to question and second-guess the commentary and a time and place NOT TO.
<Jean> If we spend all our commentary time debating back and forth with two students at length, what happens to the other twelve students?
<Patric> For reference to all who post assignments.. The HTML is just fine..  I am even beginning to recognize assignments by how they are HTML'ed.
 <JL`> We are trying to model this posting process as if you were working for a magazine, filing copy on assignment on deadline.
<Patric> I think we are looking at the commentary question from a professional standpoint, ladies..
<JL`> You don't answer back to an editor (in journalism) and you don't answer back here.
<Jean> Then the other thing is the way it works in the publishing world.
<Greg> One of my problems with the assigments is reading too deeply into what you are looking for...
<Jean> It will do no good to you, especially when you are so good that you receive an analytical rejection letter, to respond to it.
<JL`> Greg -- we are not LOOKING FOR anything -- we are trying to show you how to TEACH YOURSELF rather than waiting around for someone to teach you.
<Margaret_> wouldn't a lesson that requires revision and resubmission be valuable
<Sandra> So will we be turning in another story later in the course to judge if we've made any progress in our learning?
<Ann> I have a question in reguards to resubmission ... What differential is necessary to make a second story different enough from a previously submitted story so one does not violate the rule of never returning to a completed work?
<Jean> Yes--as a teacher in "real life" I get that misunderstanding all the time.
<JL`> Don't try to second guess the assignments.  Do them.  Just that - do them.  If the commentary says you missed the point, OK, go off in a corner and do the assignment 50 more times by yourself until you get the hang of it, then post one to the other BB I have just told you about.
<Jean> You mean the same story rewritten?
<Sandra> That or another one.
<Jean> To an editor who previously rejected it?
<Ann> Yes ... I only use traditional plots so I need a standard differential
<Margaret_> sometimes an editor wants a rewrite, learning how to follow editor's instructions could be useful
<Jean> If ten years have passed, go ahead with no comment.
<JL`> Sandra - exactly -- later on you will create ANOTHER TOTALLY DIFFERENT piece of goods illustrating that you understood the problem with the earlier Assignment.
<Ann> In any way
<JL`> Remember, we have no power over you.  We are not authority.  Your career does not rise or fall because of our opinions.
<Jean> Oi!
<Jean> Cross-commentary!
<Jean> If an editor asks for a rewrite, do it.
<JL`> You shouldn't be trying to impress US.
<Vlennox> I think many of us are used to the school model where you re-write your mistakes. In this model, you don't ... except as a learning lesson for yourself, if you want.
<JL`> Here you can PRACTICE -- when you're dealing with an editor, you get one chance. 
<Jean> If an editor says obliquely that a story should be rewritten a certain way, rewrite and resubmit with a photocopy of the letter.
<JL`> Vlennox - exactly -- we're making this more like the real world than like school.  This is on-the-job training.
<JL`> Most of what you learn here is TRAINING not LEARNING.  The intellect can't do this work.  What we're doing is training your conscious and subconscious to work together with trust.
<Jean> But if an editor only tells you what is wrong and does not give any instructions for revision, s/he does not want to see THAT story again.
<Ann> So the answer I am getting is about 10 years or if asked for a rewrite, correct.
<Jean> If s/he bothered to comment, s/he DOES want to see other stories from you.
<JL`> If you constantly beat up on your subconscious over "get the right answer" it will rebel and fight you -- and your creativity will go down the tubes.
<JL`> Jean is correct - in the real world you don't get to resubmit a corrected piece.
<JL`> Not unless it's ALMOST right and what needed changing was something just to fit the particular magazine's slant.
<Jean> If so, the instructions will be clear.
<Jean> Editors are also writers.
<JL`> Some editors are writers, but I've found it's the writers of the ultra-short story with very low production rate who end up as editors.
<JL`> Novel writers generally moonlight in nonfic.
<Jean> You are more likely to receive rewrite instructions from editors of small magazines that don't pay.
<Vlennox> Nonfic pays the rent. :-)
<Jean> Indeed, nonfic pays the rent!
<JL`> Precisely Vlennox!!  Make a living from your words - write what you can sell.
<Jean> It is also excellent training for the fiction writer.
<JL`> Jean did that, too, to work her way through college.
<Ann> <--- still stuck ... definition of new piece that can be submitted vs. dfn of rewrite unclear
<Jean> If you can't tell from the letter, it is not instructions for rewrite.
<Jean> But you have DONE WELL to get a personal comment!
<JL`> It will SAY and send it to by such and such a time.
<Greg> Your comments are very detailed and very helpful...can you suggest other means of learning/developing our skills
<Jean> Not necessarily.
<JL`> Yes, we can and that's what we're doing in the workshop.
<Jean> Read, read, read.
<Greg> read as a writer...right?
<JL`> And we have MANY MORE exercises that have worked for us and our friends -- that we've been taught by our mentors -- that we want to hand on to you.
<JL`> Yes, - ANALYSE.
<Jean> Start noticing WHAT IT IS that you like about certain writing.
<JL`> Do our analytical exercises until you can't read any other way -- even cereal boxes and toilet paper wrappers get analyzed.
<Jean> Chances are, you will be competent at what you already like.
<Jean> I love characterization, and I'm good at it.
<JL`> Or you may screw up your courage and discover that you can do something you never thought you could.
<Jean> I can overlook plot flaws for good character--
<Jean> --so I have to be extra careful to get my own plots right.
<JL`> And that is what goes into your outline -- the part that you have to be "extra careful" about.
<Jean> Editors WON'T overlook plot flaws for good character.
<JL`> True, editors can't afford to because it's plot that sells.
<JL`> But character is what brings them back for more books in the series.
<Jean> At least for me they won't--other people get published....grumble, grumble.
<JL`> OK, we've got 5 minutes -- is there any other issue to cover before we go on to DEMONSTRATION?
<Greg> can you expand on plot for a moment
<Jean> Note the grumble--that's what you must NOT do!
<JL`> Yes, grumbling one does in PRIVATE.  We just consider this friendly group private.
<Jean> Too many would-be artists say, "Well so-and-so did that and had a big hit, so I can do it, too."
<JL`> Expand on plot. 
<JL`> Plot=Because -- what else is there?
<Jean> It really is formula.
<Jean> Plot is skeleton, and you cannot escape it.
<JL`> OK, there are two parts to story structure.
<Sandra> How about in horror where things happen to ordinary people?
<Jean> In good horror they bring it on themselves.
<Jean> They insist on buying that haunted house.
<Jean> They wall grandma up to get her fortune.
<JL`> There is the part of the structure that makes your piece IDENTICAL to every other piece in its category.  And there is the part that makes your piece UNIQUE among all stories ever written.
<Jean> They scorn the Gypsy fortuneteller.
<Vlennox> In any of the horror I like, the evil grows out of whom the main characters are. It's not random. It's inevitable. Kinda gives a balance to RL, which often is random.
<JL`> What is hardest for creative people like us to learn is how to make your personal fiction IDENTICAL and that's what we're trying to teach you here.
<Jean> Rocky Horror is DELIBERALTELY BAD PLOTTING.
<Jean> Brad and Janet just stumble in.
<JL`> We expect you'll already know how to be original.  From your Assignment 1's I have absolutely confidence in your originality!
<Patric> What about people that just wander by?  They didnt wall grandma, etc..
<Jean> Bad plotting.
<Jean> OK in comedy.
<Jean> Not in real horror.
<Jean> Only Lovecraft can get away with it, and even he usually doesn't.
<JL`> The "just wander by" thing is really a form of karmic plotting -- an advanced course we can do one day.
<Jean> The innocent bystanders are not the protagonists.
<JL`> Did we expand on plot enough?
<Patric> Hmm..  Bad plots sell.  I cant think of a single instance where some passerby didn't get killed off
<Greg> yes, thank you
<Jean> They are the victims that the protag is guilt-tripped by.
<Jean> The passerby is NOT the protag.
<Vlennox> Perhaps the innocent victims are then justifications for what the protag does to the antag
<Jean> The protag is not killed in the opening scene.
<Jean> Can happen.
<Jean> But the antagonist should be the justification for his end.
<Greg> will we 'grow' from this beginning course to higher level courses here?
<JL`> Listen to Jean on this - this is the sort of thing she teaches for a living.
<Jean> We hope to see you grow.
<JL`> Yes, we're planning on prerequisite courses.
<Patric> I always took it be the illustration of just how antagonistic  the antagonis is.  Correct or not.
<JL`> This course will be prereq to almost all the rest.
<Greg> excellent, thank you
<Jean> The antagonist is a hero to himself.
<Jean> Marion Zimmer Bradley said that.
<JL`> Right - the villain is the hero of his own story.
<JL`> OK, past 4pm here -- do we go onward now?
<Jean> If s/he is well-developed, we have some idea of what s/he thinks that story is.
<Marge> The demo.  Want me to deop everyone now?
<JL`> Yes, I think so -- we'll do this again folks.
<Jean> OK--I may as well start.  If you've read the Zhag~Tonyo material, what I want to tell is the real version of a story idea I put in there.
<Jean> Zhag and Tonyo are performing in a new Sime Territory that used to be part of Norwest.
<Jean> They have an argument in the first scene.
<Jean> Tonyo goes out for a walk to cool off.
<Jean> He is a strange Gen wandering about in a junct town, but since he has been doing such things for the past five years, he doesn't really think about it.
<Jean> He gets hot and thirsty and stops at a saloon for a drink.
<Jean> The locals don't like an uppity Gen walking in and trying to buy a drink.   Tonyo is too hot, tired, and stressed out to think straight.
<JL`> Notice how Jean is using ACTIVE verbs to describe what's happening.
<Jean> He's frustrated--so instead of handling them nagerically he slams them.
<Jean> What he presumably would have liked to do to Zhag an hour ago.
<JL`> Displacement is what you call that, Jean. 
<JL`> His displaced anger hits where it can do HIM harm.
<Jean> Unfortunately, he doesn't realize that one of the Simes he slams is the sheriff, who was moving not to attack but to protect him.
<Jean> Tonyo is arrested for assaulting a law officer and carted off to jail.
<Jean> When Zhag finds out, he goes berserk.
<Jean> Instead of handling things properly, he breaks Tonyo out of jail, and the band rides for the border ("Band on the Run").
<Jean> The Gen border.
<JL`> That's a musical band they're with.
<Jean> Now they are in even bigger trouble if they get caught.
<Jean> But it's wilderness out there and they don't.
<Jean> That is not what the story is about.
<Jean> When they finally stop somewhere safe--don't have to worry about a Gen border patrol zlinning them--
<Jean> Tonyo gets from Zhag what it's all about.
<JL`> I see a possible problem in that last sentence.
<Jean> He already knows that Zhag decided to disjunct after he tried to take his newly-established brother to the border.
<Jean> They were caught, and Zhag's brother was killed.
<JL`> murdered, right?
<JL`> No, Killed.  Capital K.
<Jean> That is as much as Tonyo knows, and it never occurred to him that Zhag required any more motivation than that to disjunct.
<Jean> killed
<JL`> Killed.
<JL`> Zhag zlinned his Gen brother get Killed.
<Jean> The gruesome details are in the notes on the website we sent you to.
<Jean> They tried to force Zhag to kill him.
<JL`> Zhag is a channel.
<Jean> Zhag COULD NOT do it, and nearly died of attrition.
<Jean> He was supposed to be punished and used as an example, but it was not supposed to be a death sentence.
<Jean> The law finally brought a channel in to try to save Zhag's life--but the only thing the channel could think of, abhorrent as it might be, was a cascade.
<Jean> Zhag, beyond need and into attrition, was presented with a Gen at the same time as another Sime took a kill.
<Jean> Zlinning the other kill carried him to killing his own Gen.
<Jean> What the channel didn't know until afterward was that the OTHER Sime was given Zhag's brother as his kill.
<Jean> So it was zlinning his brother's death agony that provoked Zhag into killing to save his own life.
<Jean> Now this all ties into the theme of all Zhag~Tonyo stories, junctedness.
<Jean> What is it really.
<JL`> It's right on the core of that theme.
<Jean> BUT--what exactly is the conflict of this story?
<JL`> What's the conflict?  Why do you want to write the story?
<JL`> Whose story is it?
<Jean> I can't really begin it until I figure out what Zhag and Tonyo FIGHT ABOUT in that first scene.
<Jean> It's both their story.
<JL`> OK, let me have a turn.
<Jean> It's about their relationship.
<Jean> Let me finish this first.
<Jean> No one they know has ever had a relationship like theirs.
<JL`> You started out with a fight between Zhag and Tonyo in which Tonyo stalks off in anger and has his fanny caught in a beartrap of his own making.
<JL`> OK, finish.
<Jean> They are not householders, but they are channel and Companion.
<Jean> They are entertainers.
<Jean> Their life is their music.
<Jean> They are tied karmically to one another, and in this lifetime that tie manifests in their music.
<Jean> Right at this point they have been together about four or five years.
<Jean> This is their first time outside Gulf Territory together.
<Jean> A fact of Sime~Gen relationships:
<Jean> Tonyo can live without Zhag.
<Jean> Zhag literally cannot live without Tonyo.
<Jean> Literally.
<Jean> He is psychologically disjunct--he CANNOT kill anymore.
<Jean> Physically, because he disjuncted after First Year, he is junct.
<Jean> Tonyo is his matchmate--he can't just find another Companion.
<Jean> In theory, there are other Gen matches for Zhag in the world at that time.
<Jean> In fact, at that point in time there is no way to find them, and if found, they would probably be out-T Gens incapable of overcoming their fear and serving transfer.
<Jean> So always in Zhag's subconscious is the fact that if he loses Tonyo, he's dead.
<JL`> Abandonment issues.
<JL`> Very primal.
<Jean> What I WANT to do in this story is to SHOW that even if it is not a physical necessity, it is the same for Tonyo.
<Jean> NOW, Jacqueline.
<JL`> I think I see from the way you've laid it out this time -- and it's different this time -- where this thing is coming apart.
<JL`> Back up at the top, I put that I saw a problem in the previously posted sentence.  Right from there on I was watching for it, and I saw it where I started posting questions.
<JL`> You started off with Tonyo storming away from Zhag and getting his fanny into a beartrap of his own making by displaced anger, and acting out.
<Jean> Right.
<JL`> Then Tonyo is in jail and we switch (I think you forgot to mention that he pulls the jail apart breaking Tonyo out) the focus to Zhag.
<Jean> Yes--a POV change.
<JL`> It's the point at which it pivots to Zhag's INTERNAL ISSUES with having been forced to live by his brother's deathshock where the thing goes to pieces.
<Jean> But we have to be prepared for it by what the fight was about.
<JL`> If it's going to be this short (and not a whole novel or novella) this PART of what happens has to be the story of one or the other.
<Jean> Why does this particular story bring out Tonyo's realization of his dependency on Zhag.
<JL`> Tell me the story entirely from Zhag's POV.
<Jean> He and Tonyo fight--at the moment it's over creative issues.
<JL`> The CONFLICT is abandonment fantasies. 
<Jean> Tonyo has grown up--he is now a man, not a teenaged boy.
<JL`> Or the conflict is over worthiness to live/
<Jean> He thinks he knows what song they should open with--HIS song, not an old standard.
<Jean> The song is "My Brother, He Turned Out Wrong."
<Jean> It was the first song Tonyo wrote in their partnership, and is about this very situation.
<Jean> Sime or Gen, everyone has some relative who turned the wrong larity.
<Jean> And was lost to them.
<JL`> This is Zhag's story so far -- Zhag has this abandonment fantasy problem, Zhag has a guilt about being alive, Zhag feels unworthy, Zhag feels dependent, and Zhag digs away at Tony to drive him away while at the same time FEARING Tonyo will leave him.
<Jean> See the connection?
<Jean> Exactly.
<JL`> So why the whole section from Tonyo's pov?  It should stick tight to Zhag after Tonyo storms off.
<Jean> Because Tonyo is starting to fight for creative independence, Zhag interprets it as fighting for independence, period.
<JL`> But that would work in a novel.
<JL`> In a short piece, you need one person's story, one conflict, one resolution.
<Jean> I suppose I could do that, but then an action scene happens offstage.
<JL`> The conflict here is ABANDONMENT and the RESOLUTION is "I won't do that again."
<Jean> No--they cannot not argue over creative issues.
<JL`> Yes, the formula might require an action scene, but forcing the story into that mold distorts the conflict/protag/plot sequence.
<Jean> Look at you and me--where would we be if one of us decided never to argue with the other.
<JL`> Not that they won't argue -- that Tonyo has learned he can't DISPLACE his anger.
<JL`> This is basic companion's training that Tonyo just skipped over.
<JL`> It doesn't help to displace emotions.
<JL`> He has to learn to confront, encompass and deal with them, hot and direct.   Defuse not displace.  Not suppress.  Not repress.  RESOLVE.
<JL`> The argument at the beginning ended too soon because Tonyo did the out-T thing and stormed off.
<Jean> OK--there's a clue.
<JL`> A Householding companion wouldn't storm off. 
<Jean> Right--but Tonyo is used to Zhag's being very, very tough.
<JL`> So whose story is this -- Tonyo's or Zhag's?
<Jean> One thing he doesn't know is that it's scar tissue.
<Jean> Both of them.
<JL`> You can do what I did in HoZ and have the real Protag be SEEN THROUGH THE EYES OF the POV character.
<JL`> In a short-short "both of them" won't fit.  You'll overwrite the wordage requirement.
<Jean> This is NOT a short-short!!!
<Jean> There is no such animal as a Sime~Gen short-short!
<JL`> Well, 12,000 words is short-short for Sime~Gen that has to include backgrounding.
<Jean> If I am really, really lucky, I may be able to hold it under 8000 words.
<JL`> Not and deal with both these complex characters.
<JL`> OK, again, why do you really want to write this story?  What is it about these characters that's SO IMPORTANT.
<Jean> I keep coming back to that main theme of junctness.
<JL`> Then that's what they are arguing about.
<Jean> Of managing to survive in a junct universe.
<Jean> I will not kill...today.
<JL`> And then in that case Zhag has to be in the bar when Tonyo slams the sheriff.
<Jean> I suppose he might follow him.
<JL`> They BOTH have to be beset by a mob of juncts.
<JL`> After the brawl they BOTH end up in jail.
<Jean> Then Zhag isn't free to do the jailbreak.
<JL`> With no Householding Sectuib coming to bail them out.
<JL`> Zhag will have to do it from inside then.
<JL`> Redesign the jail.
<Jean> Hmmmm--that might work.
<Jean> You mean Zhag redigns the jail with a skylight?
<Jean> redesigns
<JL`> The point is the THEME that binds these two characters and keeps them separate is junctedness.
<Jean> They are both junct.
<JL`> Exactly.
<JL`> But they stand TOGETHER both before and against their very audiences!
<JL`> If you're doing ABANDONMENT as a theme, then Tonyo storms away from the argument.
<JL`> If you're doing JUNCTEDNESS as the theme -- aha I have it!
<Jean> What?
<JL`> The brawl where Tonyo slams the sheriff happens AT a concert or small performance -- maybe impromptu in the bar?
<Jean> Could be done that way, but why?
<JL`> Because the junctedness is about and within their art.
<JL`> And this is about junctedness as a SOURCE of their art --
<Jean> Oh, yes--that it is.
<JL`> The brother who died is the inner anguish that Zhag is expressing that everyone understands.
<Jean> Zhag would be the one uncomfortable with that.
<JL`> Yes, can you work with that concept?
<Jean> I still don't have the conflict.
<JL`> Leave the abandonment theme for another story and focus here on the junctedness.
<JL`> And the CONFLICT is ZHAG'S SECRET.
<Jean> I've _been_ working with junctedness.
<Jean> How is that a conflict?
<Jean> Tonyo thinks he knows the story.
<JL`> The argument is that Tonyo wants Zhag to tell him what he's been holding back and Zhag doesn't want to TELL for fear it'll drive Tonyo away.
<Jean> That might work.
<JL`> Tonyo thinks he knows that story, but he also knows there's something else under Zhag's music and his moods.
<Jean> Why doesn't Zhag want to perform Tonyo's song?
<JL`> Then in the concert or the bar -- probably in the bar -- Tonyo performs his song and breaks Zhag up.
<Jean> It's a bar.
<JL`> Because it hurts too much -- he knows how the audience in-t would react.
<Jean> No, it's already a well-known song in-T.
<JL`> Zhag has said NO to the song in the concert.  Here Tonyo gets away with it -- puts one over on Zhag.
<Jean> Might work--Zhag has become increasingly reluctant to perform it.
<JL`> Because every time the audience reacts more strongly and he can barely handle the fields.
<JL`> He's afraid of losing control.
<Jean> Yesss!
<JL`> And when Tonyo cuts loose in the bar after the formal concert -- Zhag does lose the fields -- result, Tonyo slams the sheriff.
<Jean> This is a junct crowd.
<Jean> I didn't give you the tour background.
<JL`> Yeah, the ambassador stuff.
<JL`> It's critical that they be accepted.
<Jean> They've done a triumphant tour of Nivet.  This is a little extra bit, in Platte Territory.
<Jean> That's a corner of what was once Norwest.
<Jean> These Simes had gone raider after the collapse of Norwest.
<Jean> But they were civilized before and want to be again.
<Jean> So they have carved this new Sime Territory out of a small part of Norwest, joined the Tecton, and are prepared to disjunct.
<Jean> But they have no native Gens.
<Jean> Any Householdings that were once here were destroyed.
<Jean> The Tecton has sent people to help, and recruited Gens.
<Jean> It's pretty much a ragged mess.
<JL`> And that's the Territory they're here to energize.
<Jean> This far from Gulf, with Nivet in between, no one is trying to make things easier.
<Jean> These people are going to die so their children can live.
<Jean> Zhag and Tonyo are an example of what _can_ be:  Sime and Gen in complete cooperation.
<JL`> They are on display.
<Jean> Right.
<JL`> It's critical they be seen to be IN HARMONY.
<Jean> Exactly--and instead they're fighting.
<JL`> But Zhag says not to sing this song, and Tonyo circumvents him and does it anyway.
<Jean> Yes.
<JL`> And the song is about junctedness?
<Jean> No.
<JL`> That could be another problem.
<Jean> It's totally appropriate to their situation.
<JL`> Maybe Tonyo ADDS VERSES that are about junctedness.
<Jean> That is why Tonyo is so bewildered--it's the PERFECT song for this venue.
<Jean> He thinks Zhag is pulling a power trip in refusing to perform what everyone agrees is Tonyo's best song.
<JL`> What Zhag is not telling Tonyo is that he's AFRAID he'll lose the fields -- he feels overwhelmed because that song cuts too close to the quick -- Tonyo knows there's something Zhag hasn't told him just from that alone.
<Jean> Yes.
<JL`> Zhag still has self-esteem issues with his junct condition, too.
<Jean> Of course Tonyo believes HE can handle the fields anyway.
<JL`> Of course he does -- but he's not Householding trained, and he can't.
<JL`> At least not at less than too-much-power.
<Jean> Exactly.
<JL`> So Tonyo gets struck down in his moment of victory over Zhag - by slipping the song in after the concert?
<Jean> He'll pull Zhag into it.
<JL`> Which is why it all goes to hell in a handbasket. 
<JL`> Zhag loses objectivity.
<JL`> OK, the CONFLICT is Zhag is junct and can't face it.
<JL`> Zhag vs. his own junctedness
<JL`> And the lack of control that creates.
<Jean> He KNOWS he won't kill.
<Jean> That has already been tested.
<JL`> Yes, but this is something ELSE. 
<JL`> This is about vriamic control.
<Jean> Can't call it that.
<JL`> His vriamic control was destroyed by that cascade.
<Jean> But I know what you mean--what Zhag won't do is CUT LOOSE.
<JL`> Yesss!!!!  Inhibitions
<JL`> That makes this Zhag's story.
<Jean> He does not want to glorify junctedness.
<JL`> Zhag's conflict.
<JL`> Internally it's Zhag against his own self-knowledge of his junctedness.
<JL`> Externally, it's Zhag vs Tonyo.
<Jean> Yes, something like that.
<JL`> Tonyo the one who doesn't need CONTROL.  The one who can cut loose.
<Jean> Yes.
<JL`> But this time, when Tonyo CUTS LOOSE, the sheriff nearly dies.
<Jean> No--he's not THAT junct.
<Jean> It's a misdemeanor.
<JL`> Well, no - but he could be THAT UPSET.
<Jean> No--he does know his own strength.
<JL`> Zhag has to be present when Tonyo nails the sheriff, and Zhag has to REACT TO THAT -- and whatever he does next is the result of it.
<Jean> If it's at the concert, they will both be arrested.
<JL`> Even in the bar, they both end up in jail.
<JL`> Maybe though they let Zhag go the next morning, but keep Tonyo who did the actual deed?
<JL`> I think it has to be in the bar after the concert. 
<JL`> Not when they're on best behavior as ambassadors.
<Jean> I kind of like Zhag literally going through the roof in the middle of the night, and hauling Tonyo after him.
<JL`> True - that would really WORK.
<JL`> So what's the resolution?  Zhag confesses?
<Jean> Yes.
<JL`> Is that, all by itself, enough to resolve it?
<Jean> But then what?
<JL`> Then nothing - resolved - it's the end.
<JL`> The final moment is when Tonyo pries out of Zhag the REASON for his behavior.
<Jean> No--they have to go back and apologize and take their licks.
<Jean> Yes--then the dramatic story comes out.
<JL`> Well, OK, that would be the last line, but not the resolution, the denoument.
<Jean> The question now becomes, how does Tonyo get Zhag to see Zhag the way Tonyo sees Zhag?
<JL`> If the conflict is "YOU CAN'T SING THAT SONG AT THE OPENING OF THIS CONCERT" then the RESOLUTION is "I WON'T SING THAT SONG UNLESS YOU'RE READY TO HANDLE IT."
<Jean> Tonyo sees Zhag as a hero--he doesn't kill because he WON'T kill.
<JL`> I don't think you can get all the way there in this story.
<Jean> I got there in last year's story.
<Jean> This is going beyond that.
<JL`> This story is about Tonyo trusting Zhag.
<Jean> Tonyo thinks that what THIS audience needs to zlin is Zhag's junctedness.
<Jean> And the fact that he still DOES NOT KILL.
<Jean> HIS control, not Tonyp controlling him.
<JL`> Yeah, and make them all jealous of Zhag's having a companion?
<Jean> To Tonyo, Zhag is the ideal every junct Sime should aspire to.
<JL`> Oh, I KNOW
<JL`> The END is another concert.
<Jean> We don't go into that in this story.
<JL`> This time Zhag cuts loose and the roof doesn't fall in on them.
<Jean> Yes, that is the end.
<Jean> Exactly!
<JL`> So you need to write two concerts, an argument and a barroom brawl.
<JL`> Plus a jailbreak.
<JL`> In 8,000 words?
<Jean> And the story in flashback.
<JL`> OK, you know what.
<Jean> I told you I'd be lucky to do it.
<Jean> What?
<JL`> I think the ending concert has to be a real, BIG TIME featured concert in a big town -- with an exact timing -- do or die.
<Jean> Why?
<JL`> So that there's SUSPENSE --
<Jean> This new territory doesn't have a big town--
<JL`> That concert at the end is the bomb under the chair.
<Jean> Oh, but they COULD have Red Rocks Amphitheater!!!!!
<JL`> Well, the biggest town around -- someplace the spotlight is on if it's not big it's KEY.  A port?
<Jean> Red Rocks.
<JL`> The bomb is ticking all the time the story is going on.
<JL`> OK, Red Rocks.
<Jean> EVERYBODY plays Red Rocks.
<Jean> Are you talking literal bomb?
<JL`> They have to pull themselves together and do TONYO'S SONG there.
<JL`> No, a deadline.
<Jean> That is NOT this story.
<JL`> They must perform PERFECTLY at that ending concert.  Here they are doing the ambassador thing and playing every little whistlestop.
<JL`> And Tonyo wants to get Zhag to let go and really raise the roof with this song for a change -- he knows it could be better than anyone has ever heard it be.
<Jean> Yes--they have to get there for a performance where everyone from the whole new Territory is going to try to come.
<Jean> Have you ever been to Red Rocks?
<JL`> So he goads and goads and finally, when Zhag refuses to do it on stage, finagles Zhag into it in the bar.
<JL`> And it's a disaster.
<Jean> I was there as a kid--never forgot it.
<JL`> Then he wheedles and pries the confession out of him -- the cathartic cleansing.
<JL`> Then they TRIUMPHALLY PLAY Red Rocks better than anyone ever thought they could be -- huge audience (for the times) and Zhag handles it like a bloody-be-shenned Farris.
<Jean> Right--he finds that Zhag is ASHAMED of what Tonyo thinks he should be PROUD of!
<JL`> Zhag is at EASE inside himself and thus has access to a kind of strength he'd never had before.
<JL`> Stick to that conflict line and you MIGHT pull it off in 12,000.
<JL`> Stay inside Zhag's POV as much as possible - it's his story.
<Jean> Yes--yes--Zhag tells the story--and then says to Tonyo, "That's what it is to be junct.  You want me to be proud of that?!"
<Jean> And Tonyo says, "I want you to be proud that you are NOT that anymore."
<JL`> And that is Zhag's epiphany.  He ISN'T.
<Jean> Right!
<JL`> And then they go play Red Rocks.  And no I haven't been there.
<JL`> But you must write Red Rocks.
<JL`> In fact - that'd make a great name for the story.
<Jean> Look it up on the Internet.  Everyone plays there today.  It's a completely natural amphitheater, out under the stars.
<JL`> Rock and a hard place -- passion is red.
<JL`> Yeah, I know OF the place.
<JL`> So if we're done, let's recap for the students who'll read the log.
<Jean> Recap.
<JL`> Recap Jean.  It's now not both their stories, but Zhag's story.
<Jean> What we were doing was FINDING THE STORY in the sequence of events.
<Jean> Notice that I was not tied to most of this.
<Jean> We were looking for who is the protagonist and what is his conflict?
<Jean> We decided it is Zhag's story.
<JL`> We decided the real story you want to write is Zhag's story, clarifying the muddle you were in with too much data.
<Jean> Right--that is almost everyone's problem at the beginning of a story.
<Jean> Note how we pared it down.
<Jean> We found the emblem for the story in the song.
<Jean> Brought that forward to do more than be window dressing.
<Jean> In a short story everything has to do double duty.
<Jean> We decided to do the jail break from INSIDE the jail.
<JL`> Which fits the thematic symbolism because Zhag has to break out from INSIDE HIMSELF.
<Jean> The important things are still there--the argument, the Genslam that gets the sheriff, the jailbreak, the song, Zhag's story.
<Jean> I already knew the ending was going back and performing, not what I wrote two years ago.
<JL`> I didn't know that -- but I found it.
<Jean> The Big Concert at Red Rocks now creates a dramatic ending.
<JL`> It's the TIME LIMIT - they must solve the problem.  Before, there was no time limit, it was just an emotional problem.
<Jean> Here I deal with a different aspect of junctedness from the other two Z~T stories.
<JL`> Time limits make drama.  That's the "ticking bomb under the chair" gimmick.
<Jean> But all of these stories deal with junctedness in some way--that under control it is strength, not weakness.
<Jean> These stories are still in the raw, early days--everything is elemental.
<Jean> Junct = killer is still what everyone thinks.
<Jean> Here is where Zhag realizes that it isn't actually so.
<Jean> He stops being ashamed of what he WAS, and learns to be proud of what he IS.
<Jean> Back in a minute--both dogs want out.
<JL`> And that CHANGES THE SITUATION.
<JL`> We now have a conflict, a protagonist, a beginning, a middle and an end -- AND a suspense line with the Red Rocks concert coming up.
<JL`> We have SMOOTH INFORMATION FEED because here in this little town they do their ambassador thing in concert and show don't tell just how important that job is.
<JL`> And when it goes wrong, we see in microcosm just how BAD it could be if the Red Rocks concert doesn't go right.
<JL`> "Rising Action" then all the way through.
<JL`> Red Rocks has to be established right up front in the opening lines.   It's the sword of Democles hanging over them.
<JL`> And the whole thing is structured to BE a short story.
<Jean> I'm back.
<JL`> There is one protag. One PROBLEM.
<JL`> Read what I wrote.
<JL`> One conflict line.  One CLIMAX.  One RESOLUTION. 
<Jean> OK.
<JL`> Tonyo's side of this story is ANOTHER STORY for another time.
<Jean> Now all I have to do is write it!
<JL`> It's possible Jean might do this in under 10,000 words, but I couldn't.
<Jean> We'll see.
<JL`> I'm betting on 14,000 for maximum impact of all the drama.
<JL`> And that might be too long to read in a con session.
<Jean> That will be first draft and then I'll cut.
<JL`> How long was the last one?
<Jean> 11,000
<JL`> OK, this could be that long, or more.
<Jean> I'll try to keep it down.
<JL`> I really want to read that Red Rock concert where Zhag really cuts loose for the first time in his life.
<Jean> I will not mention vriamic nodes, for example.
<JL`> Well, we wouldn't expect to.
<Jean> It will be legendary.
<JL`> Zhag is a channel but not a scientist.
<Jean> People will tell their grandchildren, "I was there."
<JL`> Yes, it'll be that sort of concert. 
<Jean> Of course the audience won't know WHY it's so great--they've never seen these guys perform before, so they don't know last week wasn't as good.
<JL`> Exactly. 
<Jean> But when they go home to Gulf, their fans will see the difference.
<JL`> But in later times it's mentioned as the start of something, the place where people met, the nexus of CREATIVE ENERGY that exploded to remake the world.
<JL`> It's a symbol.
<Jean> OK--I think we're finished.
<JL`> I think that's a wrap.  Wendy says she emailed us something we've been waiting for.
<Marge> Does that mean I can serve the chocolate and tune my shiltpron?
<JL`> Yes, Marge -- you can cut LOOSE.
<Marge> cool
<Jean> Yep--go ahead!
<Marge> Party time
<Jean> Thanks to everyone for coming.
<JL`> It was a good class.
<JL`> I hope it helped.
* Karen passes around the virtual chocolate
* Marge starts playing an old Zeor marching song
* JL` looking around for that dratted shiltpron
*** Ann (annolson@0.0.0.0) has left #classroom
* JL` there it is! Now where did that chocolate go?
<Marge> Karen has the candy
<Jean> I need to log off and see what has happened in e-mail while we were working here.
* JL` chords along with the marching song.
* Karen already passed out the chocolate, Sectuib.
<Marge> Bye Jean
<Jean> Also need to find something to eat!
<Jean> Bye
* JL` lovely huge chunk of chocolate in one tentacle.
<Karen> eat?  What's that?
<Marge> We're Simes we don't need to eat
<Jean> What Gens do to keep up their strength.
* Karen looks around to see if we can find any Gens.....
<Jean> Yes, but what would you do without us Gens?
<JL`> Husband just came in -- gotta go.  Email that log Karen.  Blessings upon you all.
<Marge> I could morph
<Marge> bye Sectuib
<Karen> So could I.
<Karen> Bye, both of you.
<JL`> bye guys
<Jean> Bye all
<Marge> I'm off too. Time to start dinner
<Karen> Then I think we'll close up all rooms.  Hope everyone had fun.
Session Close: Sun Jun 13 17:51:20 1999

 

 

 

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