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A collaborative blog by Locus editors, contributors, and other invited guests. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the authors, and do not reflect the editorial position of Locus Magazine or Locus Online.

(Earlier posts end here in April 2010)




Alvaro Zinos-Amaro


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E. Lily Yu

once more into the breach, dear friends

And, lo, we are back. Session Two of #scratchstory is about to begin.

Me, to Michael Swanwick: If you guys could speak more slowly today, that would be awesome.

Swanwick, to me: Not possible.

We’re all in this together, kids.

At 3 p.m., Moyers will be trying to make a cover in Maine (the room, not the state). Go see him. (Sadly, your humble narrator won’t be there because of a previous commitment.)

“One of our gangsters have arrived,” Bear says. “And now we need some parents.”

Swanwick: I want to start by hijacking the third act. I slept on it, and some of you know, when I sleep, I write. I found out the meaning of the cliffhanger that we ended on.

A brief recap of the plot is ensuing.

A salient bit: the protagonist is deciding when to intervene because she wants a certain amount of her wife’s memories to be erased.

At the end of act two, the protagonist goes to deliver the money, the money isn’t in her purse, and she is missing the tip of her finger.

Cassidy: what do I need to do during the next 20 minutes? The answer involved drafting more audience members to serve as characters. Cassidy takes them away to shoot.

Swanwick: If you know anything about fiction, all of the elements are there. Now we just need to figure out what this all means.

His suggestion – at the end of act two, the protagonist gets a frantic phone call from the wife, who demands her bank account number, the wife cuts out and the protagonist is missing another finger.

More…. by the time the wife is returned, 40 years have passed.

Bear: I don’t know how we’re going to do the age make-up.

Swanwick seems unconcerned. “That’s Kyle’s problem.”

Swanwick: I think that’s a plot. I think it’s an appalling plot but it’s a plot.

Adding some new characters, plucked from the audience.

Talk has begun about tattooing Tom Purdom’s head.

We’re trying to figure out where our protagonist would be in 40 years. It’s suggesed that the protag and wife have had kids.

Swanwick writes on the board:

Act III:

Finger gone.
Phonecall with wife.
Second finger gone.
Plea to give up $ – declaration of love
Discovery that decades have passed.

Swanwick has opening sentence: In retrospect, it was a mistake to borrow money from the mob.

Bear, on not filling everything out in the story: Never apologize; never explain.

Names of charactrers are beging debated, while the actors are out of the room. “They could be named Snotgobble and can’t do much about it,” Swanwick says.

Question: why do the gangsters have this technology?

Answer: Because what else can you lose once you’ve lost everything?

Three responses you don’t want readers to have, according to Bear:

1) I don’t care about this story.

(I missed #2 but hope someone will tell me what it was….)

3) Fuck you.

Bear, when Cassidy comes in: We have a climax.

Cassidy: Well we have a gangsters office outside.

Story recap ensues for Cassidy, who was out in the hall at the time.

Cassidy: the protag. should beg her parents for money by the pool because her parents are rich.

We seem to have a story.

Bear: the thrilling part three will be us writing.

Swanwick: My hands will go like this.

Bear: Both the wife and and the protag. lose memories, just different chunks of memories.

Stories when you are working are infinitely flexible, Swanwick says.

What we have done here is a traditional three act story, there are a lot of other ways to build a story, Bear says.

Apparently all of the good stuff is happening out in the hall, according to Moyer.

[perhaps I should go out there]

In the hall is a man taking off his shirt to show off his tattoos. Bracken MacLeod will be one of the gangsters.

Moyer is instructing Venetia Charles, playing the protag, to let her hair down, because this is the future.

Cassidy is doing a speedy photo shoot. Ten-ish pictures per set up, then out.

MacLeod is taking his clothes, exposing a chest tattoo of Greco-Roman wrestling? On closer inspection, it’s Lucifer. Perhaps I am an unreliable reporter. Or need new contacts.

Bear has emerges: Nice desk. [Said desk is a repurposed side table from the main hallway. No one has stopped the wholesale furniture re-arrangement yet.]

Venetia is replacing the furniture as the shots are shot.

Cassidy: Venetia, if you could come over her and be menaced a little bit.

Howard Waldrop just wandered into the shot of Venetia being menaced in order to look at MacLeod’s tattoos.

Back inside, where I walked into a story told by Swanwick that involves a centaur. Write your own punchline.

Venetia sticks her head in: I need my wife! Her wife leaps up and the crowd cheers.

The discussion is about linking technology and magic, about how you can have more them both in the same universe at the same time.

The story wheels are now rolling.

Since I can’t make the next session, I’ll try to get a report from the principles and update this evening.


Comment from Bracken MacLeod
Time July 16, 2012 at 5:01 pm

The second of Bear’s three reactions you don’t want readers to have to your story was, “I don’t care about these characters.”


Comment from Adrienne Martini
Time July 16, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Thanks. My brain flaked out in the middle of typing the list. Oh, brain.

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