Mount Crested Butte, Colorado (Part III)

6-23-2012

How can an animal so small continually expand its mind to think so big?  This is a question that cycles through my brain this morning after going to the Gunnison Valley Observatory last night.  Maybe it’s the mountains too.  Mountains climbed, mountains left to summit, as much about physical geography as about personal mental triumphs and setbacks.

The first workshop I wanted to attend today I missed because I sat down and started writing about the question above.  As I continue to sit here at the hotel writing, instead of sitting in a room where the conference is going on, Billy Idol’s cover of Mony Mony plays in the background, out of the ceiling speakers.  I once played this song with a band called Feedback during my senior year in high school.  I have no idea why I chose that song back then other than for the sound, it certainly wasn’t for the lyrics.

There was a time when I had convinced myself that when I recognized I was in a place that I could not have imagined being, it meant that it was exactly where I should be.  In other words, I do not like constant routine.  Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results in life just hasn’t appealed to me.  Though there are times when I enjoy some sense of normalcy, I tend to thrive on the discovery of that which is new to me.  Then again maybe change and routine can be the same thing, philosophically speaking.  Regardless I need to get myself to the next workshop and learn something new instead of sitting here writing about things I could probably be writing about anywhere.

The Crested Butte Writers Conference (Day Two)

Lessons I learned from:  Plot Structure, and Pushing your Characters – Hanna Bowman

The elements of plot include strong premise, interesting conflict development, and a satisfying climax.
Premise is the inciting event or situation.  It must draw the reader into the story and hook them by the end of the first chapter.
Conflict is about where the story goes, how it changes.
Climax is the point of highest action.  It should begin at the character’s weakest/worst point; too early or too late and the rhythm of the story and the reader will be left unsatisfied.
Create scenes where you know things are going too well, this creates tension.
Tension can repair a lack of conflict and pacing.
Use twists in your story to break assumptions readers have made.
When you think structure, think of fractals: reflections from small to large scales.
External conflict can mimic internal conflict or contrast it.
Choosing conflict is a matter of making the character(s) face their worst fears.
Learn to map your book and use act structure diagrams.

I had seen Kurt Vonnegut map stories before, but never thought about how to apply a map to my own.  Ms. Bowman’s structure diagrams looked a little different, but the point was perhaps the same.  Mapping a book can help identify weak points, as well as pacing in the story.

Just like when I try to work at home on writing, I tend to be worthless after lunch.  My best hours, when I am able to write, come sometimes in the middle of sleepless nights, or early in the morning.  The rest of my day is usually spent reading.  It makes me wish sometimes for a quicker way to input data in my brain and output the creative thoughts I have about it.  Maybe I’ll call this wishful feature density flow in some short story later, some organic alternative to the term bandwidth.  I found that attending the conference is like writing for me, I need to cram as much in before noon as I can.

The rest of the day I will work on mapping my book and on the “who” and “what” about my central character in the novel I have written.  I have to craft a one-sentence pitch.  Maybe tomorrow an opportunity will present itself to use it.