The Page a Day Writers Group

Week Three Prescription: Take Time for Scuba Diving

Posted on: June 14, 2011

No class tonight; Kathie Giorgio’s Online Book Writing Workshop (www.allwriters.org/on_line_classes.asp#BOOK-WRITING WORKSHOP) meets again in one week. The class meets a total of twelve times, and each online meeting involves a discussion of the pages students have submitted in the previous week. The discussions are lively and bear fruitful critique, giving each of us a solid sense of what to work on, as well as the encouragement to forge ahead.

As an exercise, I wrote my last 15-page section in first-person, just to see how it would fly. Most of my classmates prefer my third-person pages, but my instructor and one other student like my first-person effort (there are six of us, total, plus Ms. Giorgio). Hmm… First-person gets tricky. I’ll need to think on it.

Also, my instructor’s favorite part of this recent submission was the beginning. I feel I’m eating enough humble pie here that I don’t mind sharing this jig-worthy POB (Pat on Back!) Ms. Giorgio was pleased enough to sprinkle “phenomenal” into her comments on that section! She felt there was so much that made the experience real in those paragraphs. Of course, that’s what I need to do consistently throughout.

I now divulge, that’s the part I spent the most time re-writing. The rest of the fifteen pages, I pretty much substituted “I” for “she” in my original draft, with a few other minor additions to fill in my character Agave’s internal world, and not very convincingly at that due to not giving it enough time. It was a bit slap-dash. Very basic lesson learned: more time spent in re-writing makes a difference. Better to learn this in a critique class than after submitting to an agent. Slow down, speedy. Rewriting is time well-spent. Duh. Moving on!

My novel is set in Mexico, and another lesson this week involves cultural representation. I don’t want my characters to be seen as representative of their culture; I want them to be experienced as individuals within a culture that influences them. They don’t behave “as a group.” They act the way they do based on their accumulated personal experiences, one factor of which is their cultural environment. One of my less sympathetic characters is even more unlikeable because she makes some uncompassionate statements to Agave early on. I received feedback that, if I don’t want her to be seen as a generalized representative of her culture, the reader needs more time to get to know her as an individual character, more interactions with her, before she makes these outrageous, callous statements.

Ms Giorgio says, “A novel is a process of developing layers. So you can breathe and take a little more time… A short story is like a surfer, riding a wave. A novel is like scuba-diving. Go deep.”

Putting on my oxygen tank…

Write on,

Ondine Brooks Kuraoka

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2 Responses to "Week Three Prescription: Take Time for Scuba Diving"

Interesting ideas on how groups, cultures and individuals appear to the reader. I need to learn more about that concept. I love the surf/scuba analogy! Can’t wait to hear more about this class!

I, too, like the scuba diving analogy. Methinks you’ve picked a winner with that tutor. Looking forward to more 🙂

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Who are we?

The Page a Day Writers Group is a diverse collection of wonderful writers based in San Diego, CA. We've been meeting monthly since 2004. Our primary function is in-depth writing critique, marketing and brainstorming, but there's usually some wine, chocolate and ribaldry involved too. We write fantasy, humor, literary fiction, nonfiction, romance, thrillers and YA. Join us on our journeys to publication and the wonderland beyond!

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