Short Story Craft Workshop – Day 4

Yesterday Kris Rusch reviewed my Zoom seder story and said it was quite good and that I should send it out. She had a few recommendations for very small things to change. My heart is singing and doing acrobatics.

We received our next short story assignment. It is contemporary and needs to be upbeat. That’s good for me. Upbeat is always in my wheelhouse. I’m considering writing about Diego, the centenarian tortoise who retired from his stud duties in January: ‘He’s a sex machine! He’s always hard! Well, his shell is always hard at any rate.’ (The jokes write themselves.) It’s due tomorrow morning.

As is true of all these days there are also a lot of videos (more on that in a moment), reading my fellow students’ stories, and trying to get down the craft concepts that are flying fast and hard.

Here’s how the videos work with this class. Normally the way this work is that Kris Rusch does the lectures for those taking it in person while Dean delivers Kris’ lectures to the Study at Home contingent. The way this is working with social isolation is that Kris is doing the videos on the books we read for the class. Dean is doing lectures based on Kris’ lecture notes that he would do ordinarily for the Study at Home folks. And Kris does an individual video analyzing each student’s short story each time (for those signed up for the in-person class).

It’s a lot of fun seeing the Dean lectures because they are strangely well-organized with only a few Dean-style tangents. But they still have Dean’s gruff warmth and he adds his wealth of information to them as well.

There’s a lot of information, of course, and a lot to get done. This is something that can be said of certain other conferences like Superstars, which was described to me as drinking from a firehose.

But, this is substantially different. It is focused. Narrow. It’s not a firehose. Instead it feels more like taking a refreshing swim in the ocean and suddenly discovering that you’ve swam out a bit further than you think your endurance will carry you. I’m inundated and it’s forcing me to become a stronger swimmer.


In other news, the countdown continues. I turned in my short story of the week to Dean (who graciously allowed me to use one of the short stories I wrote in the class). At this point I have only three stories (and three weeks) left of the Great Challenge.

The story turned in was “The Pirate Plague Ship Caper,” a light secondary world fantasy story about a caper. I like the characters and the ship, so I may end up returning to this, perhaps as a novel.

I’ll say more about the Great Challenge when I’m finished, but for now I just want to say that it was the absolute best preparation I could have had for the course I’m in. Lyn Worthen described it as marathon training and the class itself as the race itself. Pretty much!

I hope your week is starting well, also. Be well, friends! And stay well.

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