Today is the last day of Taos Toolbox. We will critique the last stories in class, have a Q & A session, and head down to Taos for sight-seeing and our last dinner as a group. It has been an intense, satisfying two weeks.
Yesterday we critiqued three stories, and then Walter and I gave a joint two-hour lecture on the business side of writing: contracts, agents, publishers, career paths. One of the things that happens at a workshop like this is that the instructors are far more open about names, numbers, and incidents than they would ever be on a public panel at a con. Our goal was to describe the publishing world as we and our friends know it, while fully warning students that same world is in a state of flux right now even more roiled than its usual flux. By the time they publish novels, all could be different. Certainly it is different from when I entered the SF field decades ago.
We also gave the students an assignment, which grew out of Wednesday's work on description, and which Walter borrowed from Ursula LeGuin. The assignment, provocatively called "Chastity," is to write an entire page of description without a single adjective or adverb. I have just reviewed these assignments, and in at least two cases, it has made a startling improvement in the writers' prose. I'm impressed!
Memorable quotes from yesterday's critique sessions:
"Why isn't Anastasia reacting to the sudden presence of a rodent on her shoulder?"
"My experience with men is that they don't agree to marry at the drop of a hat. They don't."
"The canned Jesus is fantastic, and I really wish I knew what you meant."
"The good news is that your protagonist does some protagging."
"Life goes faster in a radioactive hell hole."
"All the women in these stories taste like strawberries."