Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Screwing up Robert Ray's perfectly helpful Master Class

Sorry, but this one is even more disjointed than the Pitchcraft Master Class Notes.  The class focused more on writing prompts and he made a lot of comparisons to Jane Eyre in plotting, antagonist/protagonists, character development, etc. My scanner is on the fritz so I couldn't get a copy of his handout put up here.  Honestly, without taking the class it wouldn't make much sense anyway.  I suggest getting his book The Weekend Novelist Rewrites the Novel.  We didn't even hit all of these things.  The following is a combination of his handout and my notes.
Now, on to my jibberish...

Welcome to Your Novel Rewrite--Robert J. Ray

*=Discussion points    #=prompts
3 Structure
I. Story—character, resource base=goal, motivation, wants, obstacles, myth, legend, pattern, back story, archetype.  Key:  who wants what?  Will they kill to get it?
II. Structure—acts, key scenes, scene-sequence, plot, subplot, subtext, texture, flashback, POV time-span.  Key:  how many flashbacks?
III. Style—noun, verb, modifier, syntax, image, metaphor, simile, analogy, symbol, dialogue, description, narration, exposition.  Key:  Operation Ratio.
Style is the surface-what you can see.  Structure is the semi-visible framework under the surface.  Story is a competition for the resource base and is buried under structure and style.

1. Warmup—Plot equals Protag’s Path
2. Grid of the Three Goods-Resources, Genes, Behavior (Grid= Plot and 2 subplots)  I remember nothing about this.  Sorry, guys. 
3. Antagonist (subplot 1)
4. Core stories—separate the plot from stacked subplots:  Rags to Riches, Grail Quest, King Replacement, Queen Replacement, Revenge Quest, Scapegoat Sacrafice, Coming of Age.
5. List of Firsts (glue the plot to the subplot and generate scenes in the structure (II))
First Encounter
First Words
First Date
First Kiss
First Fight
First Sex
First Regret
6. The First Encounter, a movable scene on the Arc (see prompt below)
7. Expanding Dialogue—dialogue mirrors the conflict between plot and subplot
8. Rewriting Dialogue—rules on the surface, subtext below
9. List of Scenes; Arc=Entry, Exit, Fate
10. Firsts and Lasts generate scenes (plot + one or more subplots/overlaps with number nine above)  Last Times are important Threshold Crossings if they bring you or your character to a change of states.  The first time initiates, the last time probes pain or memory or nostalgia.
11. Rewriting with the Scene Template.  Scene = Collision of Plot and Subplot
12. Verbs:  Style starts with choosing verbs.
Reader sees words. Writer sees layers.

*Write every single day without your internal editor.  Timed writing and prompts get your juices flowing.
#The first encounter (Lover A meets Lover B OR Protag. Meets Antag.)—  prompt:  Exiting the ________ she saw a man who reminded her….. (6)
*Write from the antagonist’s POV to get the subtexts, even if you don’t use it in the final manuscript.  (I heard this many times over the weekend:  your story is only as strong as your antagonist)
*POV-the key is sensory details.  Not visual so much, because with movies and television it has lost its impact.  
#I am rewriting a story about a character who wants….. (1)
#What is your setting?  What is the timeframe?  How many POVs are you using?  What is your antagonist’s name, age, sex, fate, point of entry/exit?
#My name is ______.  I am the antagonist.  I was born in the year _____ in a town called _____, and the first sound I remember was my mother cursing me because….. (3)
Timed exercise prompts (10)
#The first time she made love…..
#The first time she bled…..
#The first time her mother told her…..
# The last time she kissed
# The last time she saw her mother…
*Squeeze your character down to an archetype and a ritual; what is their core story?
#Setting: The time was_____. The room smelled of _____ (11)
#Character:  His/her hair looked like….. (11)
#Dialogue:  “What are you looking at?”  (11)
#Action: [pick an object]  She picked up the _____and…..
#Intruder:  A shadow sliced the light and a voice said….. (11)
#Climax or cut to next scene  (11)
*Don’t put the crap between dialogue.  Then you have three people: the author and two characters.  Five rules—short lines (1 or 2), echo words, object inserted, hook to past, link to future.  EXAMPLE (The English Patient)
Almasy sits alone, writing into his HERODOTUS, a map folded in front of him, from which he makes notes.  Katharine comes across with a clutch of her SKETCHES from the Cave wall.  Hands them to him.  They’re beautiful
ALMASY:  What’s this?
KATHARINE:  I thought you might paste them into your book.
ALMASY:  We took several photographs, there’s no need.
KATHARINE:  I’d like you to have them.
ALMASY (handing them back):  There’s really no need.  This is just a scrapbook.  I should feel obliged.  Thank you.
KATHARINE (exasperated):  And that would be unconscionable, I suppose, to feel any obligation?  Yes.  Of course it would.
She’s already turning, walking as far from him as the cramped shelter permits.  He continues with his maps.
-Object inserted: book, the Herodotus; sketches by the protag.
- Short lines:  What’s this?  We took several photographs.  I’d like you to have them.
-Echo Word:  you, book/scrapbook, feel. Obliged/obligation
-Future Hook:  should fee obliged, would be unconscionable
-Past link:  we took several photographs
-Intruder:  Katharine, the antagonist invades his book with her sketches
-Symbolism:  the book is where Almasy parks his heart
-Action:  a sandstorm buries the lovers, as they are digging out, Almasy invites Katharine to paste her sketches into his book.  As she pastes in her sketches, we see the softer side of Almasy, photos, some pressed flowers.  This guy isn’t so tough, after all.
-Subtext:  Adultery
-Structure:  the sexual triad of husband, wife, lover (mirrors Gatsby)
-Core stories:  Almasy’s an explorer on a Grail Quest; Katharine is a Death Crone out for King Replacement
-Lesson:  The right sacred object can super-charge your writing.
#AND, SO, THEN, WHEN:  timed exercise.  Every time you want to stop and put a period, insert and so/and then/and when for one long run-on sentence.
*Syntax:  short, chaining, long, fragmented sentences.
#Give me that_____  (7)
*Do a character bio-then write backstory, write scenes, let the people talk.

EXAMPLE of 3 Goods-Resources/Genes/Behavior:  the key to mate selection
Let’s imagine a party scene.  The guests are 30-something, educated, attractive, and mixture of singles, marrieds, and divorced persons.  We focus on two characters-single man, Claude and single woman, Eileen.  Claude is handsome, wears a Rolex and drives a Mercedes.  Eileen is attractive, no car-came to the party with a friend.  Claude is witty-tells a good story.  Eileen is reserved, formal-attracted to Claude. Her secret in this scene is her borrowed wardrobe-she loves good clothes.  Two days before the party she was laid off.  One week before, she broke off a relationship.  She is polite, well mannered, a lady.
What is going on in the subtext?  To find out we decode the details.
Handsome is code for good genes.  Mercedes and Rolex are code for good resources.  Claude has two goods out of a possible three. No judgement yet on his behavior.  
Attractive is code for Eileen’s good genes.  The term laid off is code for bad resources.  The borrowed wardrobe suggests that Eileen is pinching her pennies.  Another clue to bad resources.  Eileen is a lady, which suggests good behavior.
What if Claude has bad behavior?  Eileen has a decision to make: do the good looks and resources outweigh his bad behavior?  Is he trainable?  Will she still go home with him? Her decision will show us her character.


lonstar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lonstar said...

Comment on your question about 3 goods - they are basis of mate selection. Everyone has three traits for mating slecetion: genes (=looks), resources (=mney), behavior (=nice). Create sexual tension by pairing two people with complementary 3 goods. Often this is pairing a older man (bad genes) with money (good resources) with a younger (fertile, good genes) woman with little money (bad resources) and have them both change their behavior from bad (not together) to good (together).

Thanks for the recap. I had read this book and your notes reminded me why I enjoyed it so much.