Stephanie had a good idea, so here's the new thread. Let's see...
Six posted so far. And, yeah, it was hard to sit on the news.
Query (I'm very new at this):
Any idea of the expected lengths of the stories we're expected to produce in the workshop? 'Short story' covers a fairly wide swath of words.
I'm a bit obsessive when I write and really like to get it to (my version of) correct before letting it out to play with others. I realize I won't have that luxury at CW and it makes me a bit nervous.
I just finished a 2,200 word short and that feels manageable. Should I shoot for that range?
Flash fiction tends to show up the final two weeks. Stories of 3k - 8k were the norm at CW '10. Quite a few novelettes were produced. Even a couple of novellas appeared (I think). The problem with novelettes and novellas is that time becomes very precious. It can be difficult to give in-depth critiques on three long pieces in one night (plus work on your own story). That said, length is determined by style and complexity of the story, so don't worry about writing to a predetermined length. Be faithful to the story.
Most students produce one story every week (in theory, the maximum allowed). Some of us produced five in six weeks. Sometimes output is just a few stories. To each their own! Do what works for you and don't stress over the output of others, is my advice.
From what I've heard from past participants and read in some of the CW journals, story lengths run the gamet, up to and pushing novella.
Some people write fast and long. I like flash -- 1,000 to 1,500 words -- and my longer pieces average 4,000 to 6,000 words. Stories are as long as they are. But I'm certain that third or fourth week, after plowing through a batch of 10,000-word stories, that most of us will bless you if you give us 2,500 words.
I'm thinking 2,500 to 5,000 is manageable; that's usually where my stories end up.
I'm taking to heart the suggestion that we bring as many skeletons of story ideas as possible. Please, little gray cells, please.
I have no idea how anyone else does it, but I find that putting down 100-300 words for either the beginning or end of the story (assuming I have an ending) as actual narrative (instead of just notes) lets me get back somewhere near that initial glow if I return several weeks later.
I took a break this aftn. from another story I've been plunking on (i.e., batteries ran down) and was arranging some history books (WWI has a horrible fascination for me). Of course I thumbed through one and hit a description of trench warfare life, describing how prolonged bombardments would drive the rats in the trenches insane and how the soldiers would be killing them with shovels as they came out of the walls before the things bit them.
And then for some reason my mind asked: what if it drove a kobold out of the wall?
DING! One story idea in the can. Thank you, Whomever.
Started reading Maureen McHugh's novel China Mountain Zhang this week. I found it very difficult to get started on but am now enjoying it. Oddly, it reminds me a bit of The Sand Pebbles. Anyone else?
I finished the same book recently, and I really enjoyed it. Just don't focus on plot; her characterization is more important, and it drove me crazy at first trying to second-guess what she was doing with the narrative. I've not read The Sand Pebbles, so I can't compare, but the book is wonderful.
I just finished Graham Joyce's The Facts of Life. I have to say it's not the sort of thing that have read in the past (it was shelved under 'Family Fiction' in my local library!), but I dived in and thoroughly enjoyed it. I suspect I'll be reaidng more of his work in the future...
Writing SF in contemporary or historical settings has never held much appeal for me in the past, but after The Facts of Life I've been researching all kinds of weird and wonderful ideas.
Oh, the Clarion muse.
Oh, man, I (heart) Google Docs, big time. I use it for everything. If the tubes of the Internets break, I am in big trouble.
Google docs is great!
I also use Evernote a lot for clipping web sites and making notes for later. Plus I can access EN via the web, an app, or on my phone!
"Google docs?" he seconded, wondering what they are.
Google Documents is a Google program that allows you to write and store documents online and share them with other people. It's possible for two or more writers to work on the same document, at the same time, and see each others work almost immediately.
Combine Google Documents with Skype and you can see and talk to someone anywhere in the world and co-write a document as you talk. My grown son (in Ohio) and I work on screenplays together using the combination. It's as close to sitting down and writing with someone as you can get, without actually being in the same room.
Never heard of it. Is it a program you buy, search and find, or, rather, Google?
Have I mentioned that I'm not terribly computer savvy? *sigh*
1) Go to the Google search page
2) Click "more" in the top bar
3) Click "Documents" in the pop-down window
You have to have a Google account but it's free.
I recently deleted a 4k word story (recently as in last week, my most
recent work) when I tried to move it from one computer to the next
using a thumb drive instead of emailing it to myself. Let's hear it
for sleep deprivation. That...hurt.
FWIW, you might try something I do.
When I have a significant slug of words done I print them out on scrap paper (the back sides of other things that will get recycled anyhow). Single spaced, junky, but I know I have them.
I started this procedure after an incident similar to yours.
That's already crossed my mind. I haven't lost a story in over 20 years, but losing that one hurt. Could have been worse, I suppose. I could have lost the finished product.
I do keep everything backed up on a thumb drive, which has been a blessing more than once. Just not this once, LoL.
Sandra, sorry to hear about your loss. That really sucks.
Google docs has been a blessing for me on more than one occasion. I have lots of trouble keeping things organized, but it's that way with any method I use. Organization is not my strong point. But, at least I have it...somewhere!
"Google docs?" she said, quirking an eyebrow.
Can any former attendees comment on the coffee situation at CW? I feel this is a very important item for some of us. Especially if, like me, you should be able to stand a spoon up in it.
I'm willing to bring a grinder and a bag of good beans if there is a drip coffee maker.
Coffee is available 24/7 via automated drip machine. Restaurant style/truck stop quality. But FREE! ;)
Trebant Coffee Shop is a 12 min walk down the street on Northeast 45th. Good stuff. Try the Mexican Mocha!!! They have a Clover Machine. True afficianados will know what it is.
Besides Trebant, I've one other strong recommendation: Avoid watching TV as much as possible. Seriously. Spend "free" time (hah! sure) talking about life, the universe, and writing. Play games. A movie or two is fun, but really, if at all possible, keep the damn TV off. Avoid TV
series or DVD collections like the plague.
Why not live and breathe writing instead? This may be the last best chance you ever get with a bunch of kindred souls. Suck the marrow!
And congratulations, gang!!!
I should be in Seattle during the month of Jul. Hope to see some of you at the Friday night parties.
-Todd Vandemark CW '09
Much thankiness, Todd. My idea of TV is turning it off whenever possible, much to my eldest son's dismay. Nice to see I'm not the only one. I much prefer music, or my latest vice, podcasts.
Speaking of podcasts, check out "Going To The Chapel" at The Drabblecast, http://web.me.com/normsherman/Site/Podcast/Podcast.html .
Self pimping over and out.
Todd, thank you for all the coffee tips and advice. The reminder to use free time wisely is useful as well. It's so easy for me to get sucked into a show and forget about writing. Looking forward to meeting you and other CW grads this summer!
Whatever there is at CW, I'm going to miss my Silvia (my espresso machine). She gives me great crema, each and every morning.
... or rather, 'Yawn'.
Adam: You're coming to Coffee City. There are more people here working as barista than any other occupation. At least, that's how it seems.
Will you be at Norwescon this weekend? Look for me at The Dragon's Hoard Games & Collectibles table in the dealer's room if you are.
Sandra: I'll be there. I'm sitting on three panels and presenting a reading -- my Analog story, I think -- on Sunday morning. I've got a cold, though, so I hope I still have a voice left come Sunday.
A voice is a good thing. I have my Fairwood Writers Group sessions back to back Saturday afternoon. Let's hear it for thick skin and an open mind. these are two stories that haven't sold, or generated any interest at all, and it's time to take a closer look at what isn't making them tick.
I hope to crack the ANALOG market some day, but I only dabble in science fiction. I recently deleted a 4k word story (recently as in last week, my most recent work) when I tried to move it from one computer to the next using a thumb drive instead of emailing it to myself. Let's hear it for sleep deprivation. That...hurt.
True. Lake Washington is the only significant body of water in the US listed as "French Roast".
They're changing the name next week to Lake Starbuck's.
They can call it what they want -- as long as they don't move it to Oklahoma City.
Soylent Green is coffee.
I was writing last night when a couple of totally unrelated ideas wandered through the little grey cells. As I always try to do, I popped open WordPad and jotted them down, knowing otherwise I would forget them in about ten seconds.
Looked at them this morning and saw I had misstyped "War of the Worlds" as "Ware of the Worlds". For some reason I began thinking, "What type of ware? Hardware? Software? Be-ware?" And then a story just popped into my mind, complete. This never happens to me. Perhaps it's the magic elixir of CW working.
Anyhow, I started typing as fast as I could, just reading the story off my skull. Three hours later "Ware of the Worlds" was 2,500 words long and finished.
I'm still not quite sure what the "Ware" means, though.
And people ask ware ideas come from. ::ducking::
Serously, Mike, congratulations. The dam has burst for me this week, too. I haven't written word one since March first, but Monday night two old story fragments called to me. I began to combine them and now I'm 5,000 words into Milk Run. God, it feels good, doesn't it?
Yup. Run with it, man. Ideas may never run out, but time surely will. Show the bugger who's boss.
I have no idea how we will swap our stuff around. Any experienced hands to inform the benighted among us?
Congrats to Mike and kcball! I haven't been working on any short stories, though I've been writing down fragmented ideas for shorts as they come to me. I know what you mean about writing again -- it feels to get back to revising my YA novel. I'm full of focused energy while waiting for CW this summer! :)
I'm WOTF this year, too. I set up a private site at Yahoo Mail where the twelve of us in WOTF 26 can exchange e-mail and post stories to personal files that the others can access.
Something like that may be what Neile has in mind for us here.
They do a Kinko's thing, as far as I know.
Oh, the paper copies for critique. Yeah, they send them out for photocopy. I thought Mike meant swapping stories now for folks to look at.
I was thinking about the critique material. I find it much easier to mark up a story on paper than on screen.
Of course, swapping a few yarns around now would be fun as well. The only rule I can think of would be no savaging prior to CW.
I'm game for that, with Mike's addition of no savaging. We'll sharpen our claws for the workshop.
Um...I was joking about the claws...
I'll be your guinea pig, Sandra, so feel free to claw away at my first story...to test my "thick skin", a pin-cushion, if you will. ;)
Now that I'm beginning to feel better (hate ickies), I'm chomping at the bit to get back on the writing wagon. I have three fragments that are itching to take to the page.
Write on, Mike!
I'm telling you, I am feeling pumped. I'm sure everyone else is, too.
What a great feeling.
Congratulations everyone who made it! And to everyone who did not (this year), keep writing and you'll succeed as well.
For those who got in (this year), you'll be getting a lot of great tips and info in the packets Leslie and Neile send out. But here's a couple of tips (take em or leave em) to get working on right away:
1) If you have a significant other, start the quality makeup time now. You will be very busy preparing for the workshop, and then gone for six weeks in the workshop. That can put strains on relationships, and even create some negativity or resentment in the significant other towards CW and/or your writing (sometimes bubbling beneath the smiling support). So don't forget that in addition to the job preparations, and the story idea prep, and the reading prep, and the financial prep, etcetera that you need to consciously find extra quality time to spend with that special someone, and I don't just mean a weekend getaway just before you leave.
2) Let the reading begin! You will probably want to read at least a short story by each of your instructors, not (only) so that you can discuss it when you see them, but so that you get a sense of what you think they are good at, and can ask their advice on acheiving that paritcular strength yourself, etc.
Also, I would advise reading some best of/ award collections for two reasons. First, so that you absorb and level-set to that highest quality/ level of short fiction in the field and get a sense of what makes a great story. And Second, because you will likely meet a number of the authors in those collections over the course of the six weeks, and after CW as the world of pro publishing begins to open up to you more and more, and you'll have wished you'd read something of theirs when you meet them. Examples would be:
First: The Best of the Best (20 Years of the Best Science Fiction) edited by Gardner Dozois. This collection has a couple stories by your instructors, as well as many other great authors you may well meet some day.
The Locus Awards (30 Years of the Best in Science Fiction and Fantasy) edited by Charles N. Brown and Jonathon Stratham. No stories by your instructors I don't believe, but again you may well meet some of these writers at some point.
And of course you may want to read a collection or two edited by the amazing Ellen Datlow. Nebula Awards Showcase 2009 would be a good one. And I enjoy the Years Best Fantasy and Horror collections, though they are sadly discontinued.
Let the fun begin!
Strahan, just fyi, not Stratham.
Thank you Randy, great suggestions! I think I'm going to have to sleep with my eyes open and a book propped in front of me to get all the reading in I want to! :P
Thanks for the words of wisdom, oh master of robots, particularly about taking care of relationships before June. It's far too easy to overlook the benefit of the support network at home, particularly the person who stands beside you (or behind you, pushing you up hill).
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