Sunday, June 1st, was the official start to the Science Fiction and Novel Writing Workshop here at Kansas University in Lawrence.
Basically all of the students trickled in during the afternoon and we met over Chinese takeout and learned what we signed up for. I was very pleased that the legendary James Gunn stopped by to share some food and history about science fiction over the many decades he has been involved with it. Amazing man.
He gave us a few helpful tips on writing. The one that stuck out the most was that a character isn’t a character until they interact with another character in the story. Through interaction, characters are defined.
There were many other tidbits that were ingested along with the fortune cookies.
Kij Johnson then rounded up her 8 novelists and spoke for a few hours about how the workshop is structured. It’s not a critique group in the usual sense. Basically, the outline/synopsis for your novel will be taken apart and the group will offer suggestions on how to improve it from the ground up.
I’m fascinated and look forward to the experience.
Kij also shared some concerns she has with writing and one of the major issues she sees out there in the world is that characters have no AGENCY.
Characters seem to react to events. Action is not AGENCY. Reaction is not AGENCY.
Characters need to engage and DO things. Make decisions. Make mistakes.
This gave me a lot of things to think about in my current works in progress.
She also encouraged us to enrich our worlds through bits of description that hint to things. It was a very interesting and productive evening. I had trouble going to sleep because I was so revved up.
I’ll keep you posted on how it all goes.