Only the Essential

All hoops have been jumped through, permission slips distributed and schedules ironed out. The (K)indred Experiment is all set to have its first ever meeting on October 14th. This is fantastic, and I’m stoked, if a little nervous, but due to school schedules and my schedule only allowing me to easily skip work on Fridays, the number of meetings before the Holiday break has been whittled from the 7-8 planned meetings down to four.

So of course I’m scrambling to turn my over-planning into something manageable and complete in four sessions. The idea has always been to have a complete first draft by the New Year. How do I cover all the elements of what makes a story in, total, six hours?

Obviously I’ll have to throw out everything that isn’t absolutely essential. Characters, setting, conflict and structure, point of view and description vs. dialogue. Those will probably be my four, although I was really hoping to get two sessions to devote to setting, so the kids can really explore and develop their alien planet. It will make the revision process easier to have a complete picture of the world they built. POV, description and dialogue may have to be smuggled into other lessons.

I’ve done a four session building blocks workshop before, but due to MFA program requirements those sessions were much longer and I had ten more hours in which to convey my message to those students than I will with (K)indred students. The next two weeks will be devoted to trimming, shaving, and outright cutting lesson plans, finding shorter example stories, and more direct writing exercises.

It’s a healthy exercise, and convenient that I’ve also reached that point with my novel. I’m querying, and the first half is totally done. 100% at the point where I need professional eyes on it to continue. I could rearrange things forever, so I had to pick a point at which to call it done and stop fiddling with it, or it would never get anywhere. I’d be doing the Hokey Pokey with Nazis again, or something. In, out, in, out… The second half there are a few things I’m still tweaking, and there too, I need to toss everything that isn’t strictly necessary (looking at you, Portugal sequence.)

Thanks to a good friend’s read-through, I know there are a few things towards the end that I need to clarify and expand on just a little. Add only what’s important to the story. It’s like spring cleaning, but since it’s October, I guess it’s just cleaning.

I could apply this same method to my closet, as well, but I think that might be a project for another day.


*Cross post with The (K)indred Experiment.

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