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Archive for February, 2013

Journal Entry 12

It’s been four weeks. I know. I’m probably supposed to use some adjective there, like grueling or torturous. But it really wasn’t. It was a lot of fun. Early in the semester we established loose roles and they really have not altered. L continues to be our ‘lead editor’; K is perhaps the ‘managing editor’; and J and I are the scurriers (my term…possibly not even legitimate). These positions worked great for us. We have been getting along rather well, which has been a huge help throughout the entire process. Surprisingly, there were not very many clashes. I can only recall the one regarding the Rape Manuscript, as I’m now calling it. If this book had been chosen by our publishers, there may have been quite a few more conflicts. This one, though, was minor and quickly resolved itself. Time heals all wounds, et cetera, et cetera…

There is a lot of advice that I could give. It would all be trite, nothing that you’d never heard before. It would all be true. Have fun, pay attention, read the materials, ask questions. This class relies heavily on the individual’s preferences. It’s a freedom of sorts; revel in it. Books and articles are a great source, but when you have professors who are in the industry, take advantage of them. In the good way…awkward silence…

Z.

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We’re nearing the end of our slush pile exercise. The most recent task was to analyze our author’s digital presence. Then we were to make recommendations for the improvement of said presence.

Good news: all of us agreed that our author needed serious help. Bad news: some of us had no idea how to go about helping. Basically, that was me. I just pointed at the sites and said, “Ew.”

The division of work was fair, I think, until we realized that we needed the separate memo for the author. K pretty much handled that. It was based off of our combined, bullet-list recommendations, but it still felt rather like I wasn’t doing anything.

Suggestion for future students: Keep calm and carry on (or any of the readily available variants). I had some extraneous stuff happening and definitely let it interrupt my flow on that last day. So when it came time to discuss a gentle memo to the author, I was pretty much of the opinion that if she wanted our help, she could suck it up and deal with harshness. It occurred to me shortly thereafter that she had no choice in whether we “helped” her or not. Someone once said that it’s all well and good to go through life on a bed of roses; just remember that roses have thorns. As much as you or I may love this class, it’s not the only thing in our lives. There’s a fairly lengthy philosophical road down which I could meander right now. I’m trying very hard not to do so. Basically, all aspects of your life affect each other. Try to make sure, though, that when one thing is going badly, you don’t end up demolishing something else (or someone else, for that matter).

Z.

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It Seems I Must Write

This post is mostly meant to jettison me out of the gloom in which I am currently shrouded. No, nothing terrible has occurred; no impetus has given rise to this condition. It simply is.

I rather thought that I’d not be posting anything today because my class had no journal entry due. They were not the reason I began this blog, but they have proved quite helpful in keeping my posts fairly regular (not to mention the fact that I’ve rather enjoyed them, myself). That aside, my thoughts are unsettled and my mood intolerant. This could mean many things, but my options are limited as I am at work. Therefore, I take it to mean that I must write something or go insane.

I asked a question once.
They said that if I  did not ask,
I never would find the truth.
But Truth must wear a mask.

I spoke with quiet words,
Plain and clear in meaning.
She wove herself riddles,
As if to avoid the answering.

I strove to follow her words,
To find that all-telling phrase,
But my thoughts fell far behind
As she danced through the maze.

She passed beyond my view;
Her voice my only guide.
I walked the hidden paths,
Desperate to be by her side.

After a time, I turned a corner.
There she stood–Truth in serenity.
It must have been a trick, though,
For what I saw was me.

I asked a question once.
The truth was my only task.
But it was far from simple,
For Truth must wear a mask.

It’s well past my bedtime, folks. Good night.

Z.

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May it never be said that my group shies away from seemingly insurmountable tasks! There is a strong possibility that I am exaggerating…

I mentioned that we were charged with proposing to our “employers” three manuscripts for acquisition and development. Of those three, they followed our recommendation and chose to first pursue One Less Warlock. If you’re interested, you can look it up on Amazon.com. It’s a 22-page story about a witch who is investigating the death of a warlock. I mention this because we have aspired to greatness, pitching the idea that this short story can be turned into a novel. Should you read it, you will see that it certainly has that potential.

We were all in agreement on–from what I remember–every issue. When we met in class to discuss areas upon which we could build a full-length novel, we consistently mentioned the same points. This made doling out responsibilities quite easy: One did the track changes in MS Word, one discussed plot developments while another covered character development, and the final member handled world development and overall formatting. These items have aspects that overlap each other, so our having a consensus was greatly beneficial.

I mentioned in a previous post that this group was refreshing because everyone was involved and active; I maintain that sentiment. Decisions are made not by a single individual, but by the collective. I do think that L and K seem to be more like managing editors; they enjoy lists and delineation of duties. It feels like J and I are more of the go-with-the-flow variety. These differences work well for us, though. We all agree on what needs to be done; L and K keep us from overlapping too horridly.

I am honestly not sure what pearl of wisdom I could present to those doing this assignment in the future. Much of it depended on the cohesion of the group, which is something often left to the rule of fate. Developmentally editing a piece requires a certain amount of like-mindedness from its editors; you need to have a common goal. Otherwise, you would have a variety of edits running in all manner of directions. I guess that is my suggestion: Do your best to maintain a common goal. It will make the work much easier.

Z.

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Parental advice: “If you do what you’re supposed to do, you won’t have any problems.”

I mentioned that I’m an interpreter, right? It’s amazing how often I lie. Some of them stand out and others just glide right past me. This one surprised me. The conversation was fairly standard, one generation complaining about another and vice versa. When one mentioned how tough it was, the other responded with that stunning quotation. I actually hesitated before interpreting it. Could someone actually believe that?

Now, there is a very good chance that I am a cynic. Feel free to take my remarks with a grain of salt…or a bucket, if you prefer. When has doing the right thing ever resulted in an easy life? The kid who obeys the rules in school is the outcast of the student body and the butt of the jokes. The employee who follows the mandates of his employer is the one who is mocked and labeled ‘anal retentive.’ How many activists have been doing the right thing when they were beaten or put in prison?

I am not saying that we should never do the right thing. Just don’t lie to your kids about what will happen when they do it. Everyone is always so surprised when something bad happens to someone good. Is there a charm placed upon such individuals? Being good does not make one immune to trials and troubles. It often makes you more susceptible.

Enough of that. I could go on, but I am still at work and have a great deal more to be doing than complaining about the strange beliefs of our society. It’s food for thought, though. What made us believe that doing right or being good shielded us from difficulties?

Z.

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We are at nine, right? On a completely random side note, Myka is still with the Warehouse. I find this annoying. Moving on, though.

Well, I’ve been babbling a great deal about the fantasy genre–nigh unto gushing in some instances. I am now tasked with describing the key elements of fantasy and deciding whether my suggested manuscript (Pale Queen’s Courtyard, in case you were wondering) fits the bill. This should be fun. I’ll apologize up front for any fantasy fans whom I ostracize by missing something.

The main identifier of a work of fantasy is that the story occurs in an alternate, parallel, or wholly fictitious world. Sometimes the real world and the fantastic are intermingled, often with the denizens of the former being unaware of the latter’s existence; other times, the imagined universe is a piece of reality’s distant past or future; and then there are those stories that create entirely new worlds.

Another common theme is magic, but not just any poof of sparkly dust will do. There are rules, frequently taken from commonly known principles (Every action has an equal and opposite reaction for instance). These restrictions can be stated outright, such as in cases when a character is receiving actual training in the art; most often they are revealed in-scene, a character experiencing a headache or fatigue after using magic to lift a large boulder for instance.

There are a few common story arcs: a character with no magic must face a character with powerful magic, a character with slight magical talents must learn to expand those in order to face a character with powerful magic, or a reluctant character with great power must save the world from a character with powerful magic. Sounding a bit similar, eh? That was done deliberately. It is vastly over-simplifying things, but it is not so very far from the mark. There are variations, of course.

Pale Queen’s Courtyard certainly fits into this category. This world is a part of the real one, seemingly occurring in the distant past. Of the first two protagonists mentioned, one has magical abilities that take a toll when employed and are difficult to control, while the other has no talents in that respect.

This is not an exhaustive list, clearly. It is merely enough to point out the placement of the manuscript that I suggested. I am also thinking that it may be time to sleep soon…

Z.

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Journal Entry 8

“Reflect on your plan for doing the first part of the slush pile work.” Plan? What plan? I jest. I suppose we did develop a plan, though it seemed rather simple in design. Basically, we each wrote a pitch for the manuscript that we suggested; those pitches were then placed into separate sections of a document and a general conclusion was written to encompass all three of the submissions.

I’m somewhat torn by this method. In a way, it allowed each item to be represented by someone who had a stake–so to speak–in its acquisition. Doing this, though, may have resulted in a stilted or incoherent appearance for the overall pitch. As a unit, I don’t think we are familiar enough with one another to support an operational writing style…which sounds awfully pretentious. I merely meant that long-time members of a staff might have a better understanding of each other than an entirely new staff, and therefore would be more likely to convey ideas in a unified fashion. Maybe. I suppose I am assuming a great deal.

There were no real surprises. I suppose one of the manuscripts was a bit of a curve ball. The first two or three chapters had multiple rape scenes, and there was a strong reaction to that by one of our members. It definitely stirred up some initial dialogue, but further discussion seemed to be discouraged. Of course, there was not much we could do other than discuss it amongst ourselves. Were we real editors, I think the manuscript would have been dismissed out of hand unless the author was given a chance to provide reasonable motive. Perhaps it would be dismissed even after an explanation.

For those doing this assignment in the future, keep an open mind. It’s a slush pile, so very little of it will seem good at the outset. The point–at least to me–is to see the potential. Maybe grammatical errors litter the pages or names are spelled three different ways with no regularity. These can be remedied. It would be brilliant if we could all find that naturally talented author. Even they would have to go through a refining fire or two, though. You’re looking for the story.

Z.

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