Tag Archives: surrealist oracle

Villa Diodati 12

Last week, I got back from the most recent Villa Diodati workshop, this time in southern Spain on the Costa del Sol.

Villa Diodati 12

It. Was. Amazing.

We were in a big, beautiful vacation home a 10 minutes walk from the ocean. The sun didn’t stop shining, except for one morning when it took a while for the haze to burn off. I added a day on the front and the back before the other workshop participants arrived and after they left, and I thoroughly enjoyed the amazing writing venue.

Writing in southern Spain

We talked.

We ate.

We drank.

We danced. No, really!

We even critiqued each other’s fiction. *g*

It might look like a party, which it was, but it was a writer party, where conversations continually revolved around writing projects, markets, marketing strategies, writing ideas, and words, words, words. I managed to finish the Big Fat Translation a couple of days before my flight, and the workshop was amazingly energizing. While I was there, Sylvia and I decided to take a shot at another collaborative story (during one of the many writing conversations), and since the workshop, I’ve gotten a big chunk of that done. I’ve also started analyzing the first draft of A Wasted Land and written a couple of new scenes. During the brainstorming session, I got some great ideas for the next book in the Glassmakers trilogy, and I started integrating those into my Scrivener file the next morning.

This workshop was a lot more informal than previous workshops. Normally, we critique in the mornings and do exercises in the afternoons. This time, we lazed around the pool or in the hot tub in the mornings, did our critiques in the afternoons, and had writing discussions in the evenings.

I put the first third of Recontact through the workshop, a collaborative novella I wrote with Jay Lake some time ago. While the feedback was largely positive, it has led me to the conclusion that I need to separate the prequel story and the novella proper after all. One of my beta readers also had problems with the change in style between what we had originally envisioned as the prequel story and the novella. And then during our marketing discussion, a number of markets were suggested for the novella that hadn’t existed when Jay and I first wrote it and sent it out to the few who would take 20,000+. All of which means I have a lot to think about regarding Recontact. 🙂

Naturally, we also played the Surreal / Surrealist Oracle, which has become something of a tradition at our workshop. (For instructions on how the game works, check out this blog post.)

A couple of interesting questions and answers from the Surreal Oracle:

Ruth: What’s your favorite orifice?
Sylvia: You really shouldn’t ask such a thing on a first date, ok?

Grayson: What would happen if GRRM found a small band of pygmies, all named Danyjon Targartron, camped in his back yard?
Jeff: The answer, as it is to most things, is hot chicks wearing styrofoam.

Steve: What’s the secret to a successful writing career?
Grayson: A bonfire will call the spirits, but you have to wear three pairs of underwear and shout “waha waha ooh” to get the bartenders to notice.

One of our evening writing sessions involved brainstorming a shared dystopian world that we all contributed story ideas to. I hope we’re able to follow through with it. I started my story (working title “Killing Twilight” and set in Forks, Washington) just after our first two members left us. Whether we will ever get around to doing the rest of the brainstorming, however, is another matter entirely. Now we are all back in our normal worlds, and there are many other things besides writing and writers clamoring for our attention.

But it was fun while it lasted. 🙂

Consulting the Surreal Oracle, and another excerpt for #WIPpet Wednesdays

When I wrote up my report on the last Villa Diodati workshop a while ago, there was something I forgot, and that was to explain a little game we played called The Surreal Oracle. Ben Rosenbaum introduced the game at a workshop in southern France a couple years back, and we’ve been playing it off and on at Villa Diodati ever since. The rules are fairly simple. Each person writes down five random questions and five random answers on a piece of paper, like this:

The Surreal Oracle

Then you go around the circle and ask you neighbor the first question on your list, and he or she answers with their own first answer. To mix it up a bit, after you’ve finished a round, you can switch directions, or change places at the table, so it isn’t always the same people asking and answering. With a group of crazy writers, you can get some amazing answers out of the surreal oracle. Of course, most of the time, the questions and answers don’t fit, but enough of them do that whenever we play, I usually end up laughing so hard it hurts. Here are some of the questions and answers we had at the last workshop:

Ruth: How can you tell an ass from a donkey?
Jeff: How should I know? The sun was in my eyes and I was finding it difficult to grasp the shot glass.

Sylvia: What do you think is my most attractive feature?
Christian: That’s the worst pick-up line ever.

Jeremy: What advice would you give to your daughter?
Ruth: I think it should be Floris.

Floris: What is the best aspect of good foreplay?
Grayson: Slow torture will pretty much work every time.

Sylvia: How do you motivate yourself to write?
Jeff: All I remember is the cult leader, white smoke, and the speakers blasting ABBA.

I highly recommend the game, especially in a round of creative types. 🙂

On to the Nanowrimo front, I continue to make excellent ground on the new project and am now at 43,579 words for the month. At this rate, I might win it after all! I hope everyone else is doing great and happy with their progress.

So now that I have fulfilled my duty to my fellow workshoppers, and posted my Nanowrimo progress, I can continue on to Wednesday’s normal feature, WIPpet Wednesday! My math today (11-27) goes like this: 27-11=16. So I’m giving you 16 sentences from my still unnamed fugitive story:

She thought about buying a gun, but she hated the things, now even more than before, and she didn’t know how to use them anyway. She would just have to make sure that the bad guys didn’t catch up with her. She paid for the big ticket items with her credit card, stowed them in her station wagon (officially a crossover, but she still thought of it as a station wagon). She’d parked in the darkest corner of the the parking lot, and she used her screw drivers to steal a front license plate from a nearby car.
Then she returned to the store and bought food, pens, some basic medicines, a couple of spiral notebooks, and some books — in several consecutive runs through the cash register, paying with her debit card and asking for the limit of a hundred dollars cash back each time. She paid in cash for a wig, hair dye, and some large sunglasses.
When she was finished with her shopping spree, she stole a few more front license plates, this time from the employee parking lot, replacing them with a couple of the themed plates on a North Carolina background that she’d bought. She only hoped that would keep the owners from noticing the theft right away.
After she left the superstore, she drove south on Fayetteville Road and pulled into the parking lot of a nearby church. Luckily, urban planning in North Carolina was very nearly non-existent, and outside of the actual city centers, suburbs and shopping malls and industrial parks were like bird droppings on the landscape, usually with plenty of undeveloped fields and trees between the buildings.
In the deserted parking lot, Amber took off her own license plates and replaced the front with one proclaiming, “Hell was so full I came back.” Then she replaced the back with one of the stolen plates. She didn’t want to get rid of her own plates so close to home — although, when she thought about it, once they started going after her, they would be able to trace her easily enough to the superstore up-road.
Across the street from the church was a thickly wooded area. She jogged across the street and hid the license plates under some bushes not far from the road.
By the time she was done, it was almost midnight — which meant she could plunder her bank accounts one last time.

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts. 🙂