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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"I would like to thank the Academy"

There's a controvery raging on one of the blogs I read.

To acknowledge or not to acknowledge. If you published a book, did you include a page of acknowledgements? Or would you?

Who is on your list? Was/would it be short or long? How expansive is it? "I would like to thank my Freshman English Professor for being such an asshat because I knew I could prove him wrong, and I did." "I would like to thank my brother, Charlie, for stealing my bike so I stayed home and read instead." "I would like to thank my third wife for all the great material." "I would like to thank my faithful '75 Volvo for taking me to all the places I so eloquently describe."

I work with a number of creative writing textbooks everyday as I am at work writing a novel. They offer great instruction and information and I enjoy some of the exercises they recommend. "Try changing the gender of your lead character. What would that do to your story?" "Add a character who complicates the lead character's life in a way you hadn't planned for." "Reverse the positions of the antagonist and the protagonist." Some are more simple, "change your lead character's occupation, or age, or geographical locale." "Instead of your characters meeting at a restaurant, have them meet in an unusual place, a forest trail, a storage facility, a morgue. What does that do to your story?" In other words, mess things up. Create problems. Make the thing more interesting. I've made some fun changes in my story thanks to these prompts.

What I really enjoy, though, are the motivational ideas. "Buy yourself new shoes when you finish a chapter." (Not really.) "Take turns buying coffee, or a drink, for anyone in your writing group who finishes a chapter." "Write 1000 words and treat yourself to a five mile run." Maybe not. We all respond to different motivations!

This is the one that just caught my eye. To pump yourself up, design your novel's book jacket, write the acknowledgements page, write the NYT Bestseller list positive review. Or, in the spirit of "go big or stay home," this is my favorite. Imagine your Academy Award acceptance speech -- for best adapted screenplay.

I like this one best because it would give me the biggest platform to say what needs to be said, finally. "This is for all of the women and children whose trust has been violated by the church, for all victims of clergy sexual abuse, and for those who discovered afterward that they would be treated worse by the church hierarchy -- ignored, mistreated, scapegoated, even physically attacked -- as the powers that be sought to close ranks and protect their own. This is your story and it is one of your power, your getting a voice, and having the abuse of power stopped. " One day.

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