Writer’s Rendezvous now has a new email address thanks to Vicki! You can now send your submissions here or any enquiries to; firstname.lastname@example.org .
We had a fantastic meeting On Wednesday night with homework being read by Mel and Laurie whose characters were brilliantly portrayed. Honourable mentions of Brad, Vicki and Nina’s work being of excellent quality. Congratulations to everyone who submitted homework, we all had quite a different take on it and all submissions were a pleasure to read.
We briefly discussed having a writing retreat in the middle of the year, Peta will check the writer’s calendar for Queensland and get back to Vicki with a reasonable framework.
Vicki bought in her recent purchases relating to the art of writing. Vicki offered to lend them to people in Writers R. If you have borrowed a book from Vicki, please ensure that you return it to her at the next meeting.
Brad suggested we should get Tee-shirts printed for Writers R. This was carried all standing. If you have a logo suggestion or a catchy phrase, please email Vicki with your suggestions.
Brad and Donna were heading to Maleny for a writer’s retreat this weekend. We are all looking forward to hearing how that went next meeting.
Carleton will also be taking us through the process of self-publishing online as our next writer in residence talk. Peta took us through her take on creation of other worlds. The talk being available at the end of the blog post.
There was a healthy discussion about creating other worlds with Carleton making a very good point about your world being a character of its own and Brad stating that the generic doctor, lawyer, cop seemed to be the go to’s of characterisation. Due to this very good point, the homework, has changed to reflect this. (I am looking forward to reading about a world with a pest controller on the edge!). Please check the homework tab to reflect this slight change.
Carleton is in the process of choosing the “winner” for his cover of his novel “The Hills of Mare Imbrium”. Have a chat to Carleton regarding his experiences with 99 designs. https://99designs.com.au/
Vicki reminded all of us to attend the Writer’s Workshop Salon which is on at the Fox Hotel on the 28th March. Vicki’s book is now being edited by Lauren Daniels.
“M” is well on his way to finishing the first draft of his book.
James is a regular contributor to the blog site, The Late-Night Session, which is up for a blog award.
Peta has been accepted into the Graduate Certificate of Editing and Publishing at the University of Southern Queensland.
Our homework task is now under the “Current Task” on our website. Please email Vicki with your contributions. Constructive criticism is welcome regarding the homework task or if you wish for someone to read their homework out at our next meeting, please make a comment. Comments can be created by clicking on the brown “Comments” url at the top of the blog. Homework for this week was slightly altered due to a very constructive piece of criticism by Brad. Thank you Brad for your sage counsel.
A Week in Review (from Facebook)
Carleton posted up an interesting article on 12 Fundamentals of Writing “The Other” (and the self). The article can be located here:
Vicki posted up on how to get the perfect author photo: The article can be located here:
Vicki also posted up a brilliant application to either write to or fall asleep with.
Peta posted up about a reminder that the writer’s surgery through the Queensland Writers Centre are now available. You can find the article located here:
This week’s Facebook post must go to Jane who posted up a little saying about writing: Somewhere between Torture and Fun.
I will continue to post upcoming events onto the google calendar of events. You will need to have a Gmail account. Please let James know so he can add you to the calendar. You can email him at email@example.com for further information on how to obtain a Gmail account and be added as an administrator to the calendar so you can add events.
That is the round of Rendezvous News for this week. If you have any news, articles or interesting books you are reading please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org or on our Facebook page.
Feedback Etiquette: (taken from Writing Fiction Course Future Learn, 2016)
Here are some feedback guidelines:
• You are asked to focus on the writing for the homework piece. Feedback for other tasks should be given to the author personally.
• If you think an aspect of the writing works well, try to analyse why, but also look for its faults. Usually there will be some.
• If you think an aspect of the writing doesn’t work, again, analyse why. Make sure you look for the parts that might be working better in the piece. Almost always there will be positive things to focus on as well.
• Try to go beyond ‘Oh, I liked that, but I didn’t like that.’
• Always comment on the idea and its implementation, not on the surmised personality of the writer.
• Bear in mind that, often, you will be passing comment on a ‘work-in-progress’, a piece of writing that is not finished. Try to assess where it might go and what tactics might be used in its development.
• Always try to show evidence for whatever claims you make. Evidence, in this instance, is the part of the writing you are talking about. Point out the use of language you are focused on so that the writer knows which part you mean.
• Rather than being imperious in your comments, explain what you mean, point out the evidence – but also freely suggest there may be other opinions. This can be done with little nudging queries: ‘I wonder if anyone else thinks this?’
• Think about how well the writing is geared to its intended readership.
Here are some guidelines:
• When assessing comments you may wish to rewrite the idea completely. Don’t rush into this.
• You may wish to tweak your story a little, rewrite completely or just leave it as it is. Any of these options is possible. There is no correct way of responding to critical comments. You may choose to accept some comments and reject others. Remember: you are the final arbiter; you are the writer.
• If you are lucky and receive more than one lot of feedback, pay special attention to areas where there seems to be a consensus, even though it might be an opinion with which you strongly disagree. Ask yourself: ‘Have I ever had doubts about this before I got these comments?’ Be honest with yourself. If the answer is ‘Yes’, then the area almost certainly needs attention – even if it happens to be your favourite section.
• Ask yourself whether the piece under discussion is going to be developed any further. If so, how?
• If it isn’t going to be developed, what can be salvaged from it? You might wish to use a character, a metaphor, a line of dialogue. It’s important to realise that even if you eventually abandon an idea, there may be some small part of that idea – sometimes just an image, a line or even a phrase– that you can use later, in another piece.
• Remember: your fellow writers are commenting on a piece of work at a particular stage in its development, not on a finished article, and they are certainly not commenting on you personally.
Feedback: (please mention stories name and contributor).
Creating Other Worlds – World Building for Fiction Writers
(Writer in Residence talk)
There are a few trains of thought on creating other worlds, one is that you create the world and drop your character in it and watch the scientific experiment unfold. The other, is to create the character, the story/plot/struggle and then create the world that it interacts with. Finally, treat your other world as a character itself. A caveat to this. Poets create worlds that may not have a character in them but uses words to describe the world itself so for our poets, some of this may not apply to you specifically.
Ultimately, writing fiction is all about the quality of your characterisation. Your characters are going to carry your reader through the book and the world you have created. How they experience this world for them and how realistic it is in creating character growth and development. The world you have dropped your character into, stays much the same once created.
So, let us define what another world is. Another world could be another place in time, an alternate universe, your world, a universe inside another universe, a planet, a house or even just the carpet (Terry Pratchett’s “The Carpet People” is a fantastic read). So, a world can be anything, anywhere, anytime, anyplace, any universe. But it should have its own boundaries which are only limited by your imagination but those boundaries need to be fixed. From personal experience, before I create (and this may not necessarily suit everyone here) another world, I like to flesh my characters out first.
I am going to give you an example:
"They were having a conversation."
If this sentence was in a novel, then you would already know about the world in which “They” and the “Conversation” were taking place in. But if this is your starting point for writing, then we don’t really have much to go by and so the brain creates a scenario of two or maybe, a group of people talking. It might look like a comic strip with conversation bubbles and stick figure characters. It’s a boring sentence when you don’t have anything to hinge it on. Without the context or timeframe, there really could not possibly be a story behind just that one sentence.
Let us take this sentence further, from this conversation they were having, we know at least two people were involved. So, from this we can create the characters. Let’s do a little experiment and give them some common names.
Pete Smith and Henry Jones were having a conversation.
So now we have a beginning of a potential story about Pete and Henry. We can now further flesh this out to give a motive to why they are having the conversation, a plot or struggle that they may be going to face. Let’s take this sentence again and create a storyline without the world surrounding it.
“The Businessman” Pete Smith and Henrietta (Henry) Jones were having a conversation about the developing situation which was rapidly degenerating into their plans being curtailed. They spoke in low, harsh whispers, discussing how this tragedy could be averted.
So now we have the struggle. Pete and Henry’s plans have somehow been railroaded. We still don’t know their world. We need to know where this conversation is taking place. I am sure that everyone has a response to where this conversation is going on. We have created a believable scenario, the start of a world where these two characters are going to interact with and how they are going to interact with it is going to make the story.
This is where I begin to build the world. A world is a character it must be credible, abide by societal and cultural norms of your imagination. It must have physical rules, and be true to itself, research could be an important point here if your other world is based in an earthly time period. A world could be filled with giant butterflies which fill the evening sky to take sleepy children home from a marvellous school, to paraphrase Tina’s beautiful poem. A world, like a character, requires exploration. To understand this, we always question the character’s motive in a story. What is Chen’s ultimate motive in Carleton’s story? I have a few ideas but that may not fit within the societal and cultural values of his world. So, we need to explore the world.
A lot of science fiction writers use best practise science of that period they were writing in. For example, Edgar Rice Burroughs created a rich world on Mars by creating a breathable atmosphere, for 1915, that was the science of the time. We also get an amazing character, and earthling, John Carter who invents a way of travelling to Mars, which was the science of the time – trying to get to the moon. So not only does Burroughs create a believable world that we can all understand, it is also credible and within a scientific time period of 1915.
If we are creating a world in a time period, say America in the 1885 when slavery was common place. When a person called Samuel Clemens decided to speak out against slavery in Southern America in the only way he knew how, behind the pseudonym of Mark Twain. In 2011, publishers of Mark Twain’s books decided to delete the word “nigger” from his novels and either not replace it or referred to them as African or slave or something else. This took something away from his anti-racism message and of that world’s time period. That was the word used at that time in the Mississippi region and it was used with due care throughout his books to highlight gross inequality and entrenched racism based on skin colour. That singular word usage changed Huckleberry Finn from a novel about an outspoken run away with his friend, the runaway slave Jim, to some dreary children’s adventure novel where you didn’t know what Jim was other than a run-away slave.
Don’t shy away from the vernacular used at that time. But as a note of caution be careful with it.
Let’s get back to the story. I am going to set the story in a science fiction world, and in a time period world.
Science Fiction World
“The Businessman” Pete Smith and Henrietta (Henry) Jones were having a conversation about the developing situation which was rapidly degenerating into their plans being curtailed. They spoke in low, harsh whispers, discussing what and how this tragedy could be averted. The transportation network was not going to take the unauthorised weapons from their cargo hold without some form of ident mark from central. The renegades on Vermillion needed those weapons, and Pete and Henrietta needed the ingots to pay off The Sentry gang which didn’t have the best reputation for patience. A Ragged walked past begging for an ingot. Henrietta looked at him. He smiled and handed her something. He walked off towards other lifeforms on the space station platform. Pete and Henrietta looked at the ident chip the Ragged had given her. The Sentry gang’s always watching, she thought as she slipped the chip into the slot. Approved, the terminal chirped and the cargo was unloaded and sent down the stalk. It was up to the renegades now to recover the weapons.
A Time Period World.
“The Businessman” Pete Smith and Henrietta (Henry) Jones were having a conversation about the developing situation which was rapidly degenerating into their plans being curtailed. They spoke in low, harsh whispers, discussing what and how this tragedy could be averted. School was ending soon for summer break and they were $50 bucks short on the menaces money that they were owed by their fellow students. The sat under the shadiest part of the schoolyard, the big blue gum, while the other children jostled for shade space under the meagre shelter from the relentless sun, the sport’s shed roof. They pointed at kids who broke out into a further sweat. Pete and Henrietta were going to get to the opening of Dreamworld and those snots were going to pay.
Some final rules of world building and things for you to think about in your writing. To any reader, a good map is always a handy way of pin pointing where and what is going to happen. Creation of Lineages or pedigrees of ruling classes, creation of a timeline of how your world came to be, creation of diverse cultures (if required), rules and societal constraints, your imagination is your oyster. By keeping always within these constraints your world will be believable. Always make the reader in a science fiction or fantasy world question their perspective on their own world. Good sci fi writers live within their own worlds, for a time, in their head before committing them to paper.
To sum up creating other worlds: