Tag Archives: Critiques

Uncle Orson’s Literary Boot Camp: Day 2

So, yesterday (Tuesday) was the final day of the writing seminar of Uncle Orson’s Literary Boot Camp and Writing Seminar. It has now officially switched to¬†Uncle Orson’s Literary Boot Camp and Writing Seminar.

Huge thanks to fellow boot camper Jerry for the awesome pic of me and my interview partner Janae listening intently!

Huge thanks to fellow boot camper Jerry for the awesome pic of me and my interview partner Janae listening intently!

The last day of the seminar was a bit of a hodge-podge day. We read our (the boot campers) very beginnings of our application stories to learn how NOT to write openings, which was less of a blow to the ego than it sounds. OSC referred to parts of my story as “maudlin” and “repulsive,” and said it created a very ambiguous fake suspense. He also said there was some point to writing it in 1st person, present tense (which he HATES), though ultimately it wasn’t worth it and it would’ve been better in deep 3rd person limited.

And, I agree. I think he’s right. I was trying really hard to make it a good, emotional story and it reads that way. But you know what? It was the first short story I’ve written in FIFTEEN years. 15. High school was the last (and first) time I had tackled the form. And it got me here, so I don’t think I did too badly.

Besides, based on just the very beginning of the story and the title, he guessed where the story was going. That’s awesome. It probably says more about him as a hyper-intelligent reader, but still, I was the one that dropped those clues, however badly. I’m proud of that.

We also talked about story cards by having a few people get up and volunteer to read theirs. I’m so glad I didn’t go up. Thinking it was supposed to be written like a blurb on the back of a book, mine were all WAY too detailed.

Later, we broke off into small groups and pitched one each. It was especially important to me as a boot camper because Day 3 (today) had me writing a complete short story based on the cards. And I got awesome feedback. My group was awesome! Really great questions about what people were confused by, or their ideas of where the story could go. They totally helped shape my story into what it became.

And because I know you’re all SUPER interested, this was what I pitched (and please remember, it’s a story idea, it is very rough):

Justice Bingham was 14 years old when he was sent down the mountain for the first time. He was a man according to his father, though his voice still cracked and shaving was only necessary every second month. Still, he was sent among the Commons (humans without God-given powers) to deliver his father’s penalty to Dwayne A. Folk, a would-be murderer. When he arrived to deliver the blow he found he could not kill the human and so, did the next best thing– he took Dwayne A. Folk to the cops.

But the cops had no Auntie Oracle and could not charge Dwayne A. Folk for the things he had not done yet, and so, let him go. The next day he killed 25 old ladies while they played bridge.

Justice’s father went on a rampage through the mountain community yelling obscenities about soft hearts and weak bellies (his two favorite insults) and breaking everything in sight. He threw Justice back down the mountain to finish his original mission.

Just confronted Dwayne A. Fork and though he could physically see the metaphorical blood on the man’s hands thanks to his Blessings, his powers, he could not complete the execution. So, he did the next best thing and took him to the the cops. This time a sergeant assured him Dwayne A. Folk would go to trial.

When he got home Justice was not surprised to find his way barred. His father, red with rage, would not let a two-time failure back into the community. Justice had done things the worldly way and he could go live in the world. The mountain was shut to him.

And so, he turned and walked back to the Commons community where, in time, he felt more at home though having to wear a disguise and have an alter ego really sucked and he never grew fond of the tights the other fallen hero’s favored. Still, he could be who he really was amongst the Commons. Not the Vigilante Justice his father wanted, but the True Justice, a protector of all people and a killer of none.

And yes, ALL of that fit onto a 3×5 card, though I’m fairly certain I won’t be able to read it in 10 years because the writing is in the tiniest script ever. Also yes, I did change the guy’s name halfway through the card and then change it back. While I’m sure there are typos above because I’m too tired to proofread this, that was an original problem.

So yeah…that’s what my group critiqued using OSC’s wise reader approach. Which, really, is brilliant. I will try to come back and more thoroughly explain some of this stuff over the next few weeks and months, but for now, I just don’t have the time. Google it. You’ll find lots of stuff.

And then, for the last few hours of the day, we just talked, all 42 (or so) of us. Well, those of us who paid money asked questions and OSC answered them at length. We talked about the business end of publishing. About submitting. We talked a little about agents and what you do and do not have to agree to when signing a contract.

And then we talked about his career specifically. We talked a little bit about the movie Ender’s Game and the 25-year process of getting it from novel to screen.

It was all incredibly cool, and I imagine (hope) it’s just a precursor to everything we’ll go over in the next few days.

And…I’m exhausted. And still have to read boot camper manuscripts tonight.

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