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Susan Ito trying to do it all: reading writing mothering spousing daughtering working living

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Learning to Unfold

I went to a "craft lecture" by Samantha Chang today, and she talked about the art of "unfolding" in fiction writing. She was talking about a mile a minute, and every single word was utterly fascinating, and felt very relevent, and I was frantically scribbling a bunch of incoherent notes.

"fineness and squalidness of real people"
"Plot must not cease to move forward, but must have APPARENT variations in speed."
"SLOW DOWN after action so that readers can re-absorb."
"Important to have scenes that SEEM like nothing is happening, but something is."
an artist described himself (who?) as "an exposed nerve for whom art provided the only protective covering."
"In order for there to be revelation, there must be concealment."
"Read: William Maxwell - the Folded Leaf."
"As characters unfold, our opinion of them changes via the narrative."
Read: "Sarah Cole" by Russell Banks

It all seemed very profound at the time.

Now, my dilemma is this: to drive down to yet another gorgeous winery for another reading (Claire Messud) or stay here in the air conditioned splendor of my little room and write?

5 Comments:

Blogger Masha said...

Wow, these bits of notes from the lecture are intriguing and make me want more.

in particular, why is it impt. to have scenes that seem like something is happening when nothing is?

wish i cudda been there with you.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005 7:11:00 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Masha, I wish you'd been there too!

OK, the point about having something "seem like" something is happening, was something about needing what appears to be a "rest" after a particularly dramatic event, but the "rest" is actually moving the narrative along.

She gave an example about someone learning that her husband had been unfaithful (dramatic scene) and the following chapter or scene just has her sitting on a couch the whole time, LOOKING as if nothing is happening, but really a lot is happening ("discovery") internally as she is re-framing their whole relationship and seeing him completely differently. So things are evolving and changing, ie the plot is advancing, BUT it looks like she's just sitting on the couch. Does that make sense?

She also made a point about having to leave or go away from things in order to get some diistance. Fascinating discussion of the Great Gatsby which maybe I will put in the main body of the blog.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 11:53:00 AM

 
Blogger C(h)ristine said...

You are such a generous writer to share your experiences! I love the notes.

And I think it's wonderful that you are enjoying the conference "a la carte" -- what a way to make it your own.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 11:14:00 PM

 
Blogger C(h)ristine said...

btw -- if The Great Gatsby is being used as an example, I would love to hear it! It is my very favorite novel ever.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005 11:15:00 PM

 
Blogger Masha said...

yes, i'd like to know what she said re gatsby too...

Thursday, July 28, 2005 3:46:00 AM

 

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