Monday, August 22, 2011

INKBLOTS - Anatomy of fiction discussion and more

INKBLOTS – August 22, 2011
Graham told us about his new writing opportunity. Some discussion of ethics of writing academic material that might be used by students for plagiarism. Doug Mc told us about visiting the web site of an agent who I met a couple of years ago at CBA in Orlando (or it might have been Atlanta). Inviting site that clearly tells how to improve your writing, and write that query letter. 

Graham read the sample assignment he was given to write for this prospective new company to write for. Topic: nursing. To what extent is discrimination prevalent in nursing? APA Style, two sources, 4 pages. Only 2,000, 000 total nurses with 5% male nurses in USA. The critical deal with research papers is to be sure and answer the question without wandering into other issues not specifically defined in the original research question. Graham caught an awkward sentence he wrote simply by reading it aloud. They asked specifically for opinion about how to resolve the discrepancy. We discussed the value of citing authorities for recommendations rather than being the writer’s opinion. Stylistic clarity, thorough answering of question. Graham really likes writing this material, and it shows. Doug Mc wondered if some of the verbiage might have been improved by tightening up a bit. 3 hours of writing on a topic he knew very little about before he began.

Doug Mc discusses whether what he is doing with Captain Waskow, real character written about from Ernie Pyle’s account of the Monte Casino campaign. January 10, 1943. The account of one of the captain’s soldiers holding the dead man’s hand for five minutes and straightening his collar—very moving. Now Doug Mc’s borrowing from Pyle’s account. Doug seems to have settled well into his first person, present tense point of view. An encounter with Ernie Pyle, war correspondent. The reading aloud test is helping Doug catch some of his awkward syntax. Explosions, some redundant syntax. How do you indicate breaks on the page? You told us a few times that there was time that had elapsed. Curious how you are showing this to your reader. I always try to rewrite so that my words indicate the lapse. I use a 3 word test to help me avoid ever plagiarizing another author: if I find I’ve used 3 of the other guy’s words, I attempt to rewrite in my words.
We talked about attributions, ‘best attribution is no attribution,’ say some. I don’t agree, although it is a helpful target.

I read chapter 4 and 5 of my Anglo-Saxon tale. Comments on my shifting point of view to Cynwulf’s wolfhound’s animal instincts. My hope was for this shift to not be a fundamental shift away from Cynwulf, but rather a further development of his character as seen through the relationship with his wolfhound. Graham asked about how you write fiction. We talked about the anatomy of fiction and how it is a mirror of the reality God has made in his universe; the conflict enters—and every good tale has conflict—and we start flailing around trying to solve the problem on our own. It never works. In fact, our efforts always make matters worse.

I’m having intense writing times these days, 6-8 hours a day, ramping up to try and complete this manuscript and get if off to the publisher by September 1. My mom has been such an enormous help to me lately, letting me write in the garden of her condo, keeping pots of tea coming at me, making me lunch, listening to excerpts and offering her comments. It’s been really fun to write under these circumstances (the basement room I had been writing in was getting oppressive). From title page of my Anglo-Saxon tale, still searching for good title:
“…the minds of the Anglo-Saxon race… maintain that Your Sin Will Find You Out… [that] the kingdom of hell is within us.” Dorothy Sayers

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