Saturday, January 24, 2009

Writing Boot Camp, crap we have to read out loud!

I did not start at the beginning of the book, but rather a chapter I was working on at the time. It gets re-read when it pops up again during our die-hard meetings, and it caused some frustration to me as Lisa, who caught my characters not being true to character, again caught me on the second go-round where I still lacked skill. Soooo not fair. That’s writing -- wanting to argue with the reviewers, but once sensible, really want the work to improve, stomp home frustrated, yet determined, turn on the computer and edit.

Scene: Lee has invited his cousins over for the evening and has asked Kerri Ann to go to the liquor store for him, a task she detests, her passive aggressive response spirals out of control and ends in disaster...for her.

The last thing I wanted was a bunch of drunks in my house, of any nationality, but I stocked up. Three to four brands of scotch, whiskey, bourbon, rum, vodka, gin, singles of brandy, cognac, kahlua, tequila and some other crap that was on sale. Enough to open my own bar, didn’t want to have to make that trip for another ten years. I lined up the bottles on the dining table and they covered every inch.

“Jesus,” Lee said, when he walked in the back door, “I didn’t invite the whole country.”
(A Single Pearl, Chapter 10)

We used the plus sign ‘+’ abbreviation to denote what we liked, minus ‘-’ did not, ‘?’ for obvious, and I used a dot when I wanted something I wasn’t getting, but it wasn’t bad enough for a minus.

Ginger: +like the storyline, ‘bow at the Lee alter,’ people’s reaction she is not Korean, -confusing at the end of chapter and start of next.

Jade: + ‘his mouth opened but no sound came out,’ and a ‘second shot of electricity sizzled.’

Kelly: great conflict, +‘…until I realized I should, maybe, breathe…’

Lisa: ++good description, funny; good verbs, ?hanbok? What is it, explain. If they’re married and she’s naked after the fiasco, well, something more happens in the bedroom. Tighten up the description of her thoughts about John talking about father.

Melanie: ++love the voice, humor, emotion, tension.

Pam: I assume there is a reason he is Korean? Your dialogue is very telling of the characters. The whole series of action: the cousin yelped, the door slammed, etc. I loved that! It sounds like Lee isn’t all that mad, more fascinated with her. Is Lee his first name? Didn’t you say “Jason Lee” at one point? Probably not. Good visual details and I like your character’s thoughts.

Peggy: +great emotion, gut wrenching. +great description of characters. -May want to add when she left the liquor store and was home, ground the character a bit more there. +everywhere else was good, just make sure reader knows where she is. +nameplates--great description here, +office description, +pressure with handshake J , like her thoughts during John‘s rambling.

Sallee: +good résumé description, t-shirt, bare-bottom (good descriptions), -need more scenery, surrounds, embarrassment goes on too long (?), -confusing as to where we are, +'cute sandal to cute sandal' (good!), + good description of office (old world), more action and conflict, good inner thoughts.

EDITS: I felt when the reader receives the information about the backdrop prior to this scene, what the class felt was missing might feel less so. Am I right? You’ll have to skip ahead to where critique of Chapter 10 occurs to find out. And when you do, well, something more happened in the bedroom, unlike Lee, Kerri Ann
has no problem apologizing. The change altered the mood of the scene, helped end the confusion between chapters, but I felt we lost the concept that Lee is fascinated with Kerri Ann. In the end, the scene served its purpose, explained why she refuses to wear a hanbok, traditional Korean dress, but not necessarily why it was important to him, but that gets explained in Part II.

Yes, book is divided into two parts, One and Two. (That ‘one and two’ was probably unnecessary, but that’s ME, write way more than you need to, now where’s that red pen…or that drink!)


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