One Bite at a Time




Monday, February 15, 2016

I Went to a Panel and They Put Me to Work



After three days of working on a cogent and well-crafted post for today I found the piece to be 1600 words of swamp. So maybe another time for that one. Or maybe not. If my thoughts have not coalesced enough for me to salvage something out of 1600 already edited and re-written words, they’re thought probably best kept to myself. I always try to have a back-up post ready, and here it is.

Conference season is seven months away (for me, at least) but today I’m looking back to a fun memory from last year’s Creature, Crimes, and Creativity conference. (The organizers’ omission of the Oxford comma in the title on the web site’s home page would ordinarily be sufficient reason for me to boycott, but the conference itself makes up for it.) Each year C3 has several featured authors. (This year Reed Farrel Coleman and Alexandra Sokoloff will be the two keynote speakers, with Donna Andrews and Cerece Rennie Murphy rounding out the special guests.) Each featured author has a panel slot—a “master class”—where they talk about various aspects of writing or how they built their careers. One of last year’s keynotes was Heather Graham, who’s written more bestsellers than most people have read. (F. Paul Wilson was the other.)

Heather had a unique approach to her master class: she made it a workshop, with a writing exercise for the audience. There were several conditions:

The first line had to be: The blood dripped slowly down the wall.

We then had to work in four characters: a policemen, a stripper, a firefighter, and a model. Four adjectives also had to make an appearance: bald, peg-legged, tall, and hideous. We had about twenty minutes to come up with something after which Heather had the more stout-hearted of us read what we’d written.

The results were surprisingly good. Amazing in a couple of instances. This is not my preferred method of working, but I gave it a shot. Here’s my effort (Which I readily admit was not the best):

The blood dripped slowly down the wall. Pictures, some covered in spatter, showed she’d been a model. “I’ll be damned,” the policeman said, scratched his head. “A peg-legged stripper.”
“No,” the stripper said. “That’s my outfit. I say I’m a model, but she really was one. Hands and face, mostly. Things that didn’t show her leg.” The face that had been so photogenic now a hideous mass of blood and brain.
A firefighter stuck his head into the room and the cop noticed for the first time how tall the stripper was. “No fire here.”
“False alarm?” the cop said.
“Not for lack of effort.” The firefighter pointed over his shoulder. “Fire didn’t catch. I’m not sure what set the alarm off.”
“I did.” Both men turned to the stripper.

*  *  *

Maybe someday I’ll make something of that. There’s Noir at the Bar potential there if I find the right angle.

3 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

Can I guess on what the subject of the ditched post was?

Dana King said...

Sure you can, and you'd be right. 1600 words in I decided it was a topic best discussed with you and maybe a few select others over a beverage sometime.

pattinase (abbott) said...

That's why I took my comment down. See you in NO.