MikeGeekyCloseUp

Mike Marano's Drawer of Inappropriate Starches

Broodings of a Horror Writer/Critic

New Directed Study by Mike via Grub Street
MikeGeekyCloseUp
mikemarano
Hi, Everyone!

I've been cooking a new directed study for my former students of my WRITING THE SMART PAGE-TURNER, ART OF GENRE, and THE SMART PAGE-TURNER STRIKES BACK! classes at Grub Street. The focus of these classes has been on blending the literary with popular fiction, focusing a lot on genre writing of all kinds: Mystery, Thriller, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Horror, Western, etc. This directed study is also open to people who haven't taken my Grub Classes before. If you're interested, or know people who might be interested, please forward this along.

Thanks!
Mike


COST:

Is dependant on the number of students who sign up. It's on a sliding scale, going from a minimum of 6 enrolled students to a maximum of 10.

*If it's 6 students enrolled for 10 weeks, the cost will be $325 per student.

*If it's 10 students enrolled for 10 weeks, the cost will be $195 per student.


TIMES:

Based on the feedback I've gotten from my students, it looks like the best time to meet will be Sunday evenings, 6-9 (the same time Mike _always_ holds class). Since we will not be meeting at Grub HQ, there's wiggle room for our start and end times. Some weeks we can start as early as 5 PM, or even 4 PM. If some Sundays don't work (like President's Day Weekend), we'll be able to shift the day around, too.

DATES:

The class will begin January 31, and will continue for 10 weeks to early April 2010. The last class will either be April 4th or 11th, as President's Day is an unknown variable for now.


LOCATION:

Is not set yet, and will probably change as the class proceeds. All possible locations will be easily reachable by subway. I'm currently talking to the Sweetwater Cafe (where I've held class a few times before, around the corner from Grub HQ near Park Street Station), places in Davis Square, and I'm looking into booking the Masonic Halls near Grub HQ and in Porter Square. If we do book the Masonic Halls, a rental fee of around 5 bucks each might be needed (which would be cheaper than getting coffee or beer at any of the other places I'm looking into).

CONTENT:

The focus here is going to be much less on formal class structure, and much more on workshopping and critiquing. As issues arise over the course of workshopping, I might do quick class-like lessons on strategies to address certain problems. As a few of you have mentioned that you've gotten a lot out of the eclectic readings I've assigned, I'll still be assigning things to look over and study. (I'm thinking of having everyone read Suzanne Collins' THE HUNGER GAMES, as it's the most page-turning thing I've read lately. Here's some guy from Maine's review of the book for EW: http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20223443,00.html )

Specific topics I've been asked to cover are:

* More inside views of how publishing works.
* Strategies for plotting entire novels.
* Keeping track of large "casts" of characters in novels.
* Writing prompts and ways to "kick start" inspiration.
* Ways to develop the self-directed skills (scheduling, focus, reaching specific word count goals, etc.) needed to finish a long writing project.
* How to search for an agent.
* Good ways to critique, evaluate, revise and rewrite your own work.

I'll try to get some of my writing pals to come by and give talks, too.


TO SIGN UP:

Contact Sonya Larson at Grub HQ. Call her at 617-695-0075 or by e-mail at sonya@grubstreet.org


If you have any questions or need any more info, please let me know!

Thanks,

Mike

P.S. About me...

The Instructor:

Mike Marano is a nationally syndicated pop culture critic on Public Radio and a multi-award-winning science fiction, suspense and horror writer with years of experience as a writing coach and teacher. He's currently also Fiction Editor of the award-winning dark fiction publication _Chiaroscuro_. ( www.chizine.com )

"I've enjoyed Michael Marano's work for many, many years. He can be deadly serious, he can be very funny. But no matter what his mood, very few know the writing game as well as Marano. That's why we call him 'Professor Mike'."

--F. Paul Wilson, New York Times Bestselling Author of _The Keep_ and _Ground Zero_, creator of the "Repairman Jack" series.


"Michael Marano is one of the best creative writing instructors I've ever had. His teaching and critiquing draw on a wealth of writing, editing, and publishing industry experience. His feedback on my manuscript was detailed and insightful. It gave me an understanding of my strengths and weaknesses that might have taken me months or years to figure out on my own. Michael Marano's teaching aims at bringing out the unique voice and literary quality of students' work. He encourages his students to write great fiction that transcends the label of 'genre.'"

--Testimonial from a "Smart Page-Turner" alum.

German Translation of Dawn Song
MikeGeekyCloseUp
mikemarano
Just found out that the German translation of my novel Dawn Song is the first publication in a new line by Suhrkamp called "Newgothic". This kind of blows my mind. I knew they were translating and publishing it, of course. I didn't know they were using it to kick off a new line. Kinda psyched! Also, I just got my first fan letter from Germany, which is really, really gratifying.
Of course, this is tempered by my getting a pretty crappy review in Germany, but that's cool (crappy review here: http://tinyurl.com/ycuffn2 ). The good outweighs the bad!

http://tinyurl.com/ya2pvja



They also gave me a most excellent Barbara Steel-in-Black-Sunday-like cover by the German comic book artist PiWi.


Given the way US publishers are, I can't help but think of the John Carpenter quote:

"In France, I'm an auteur. In Germany, I'm a filmmaker. In the U.K., I'm a horror director. In the U.S., I'm a bum."

Tentative Readings for "The Smart Page-Turner Strikes Back"
MikeGeekyCloseUp
mikemarano
 Hey, Everybody!

There's a little less than _one week_ to sign up for my Grub Street class "The Smart Page-Turner Strikes Back".

Here's the official Grub Street class description:

 

How do write popular fiction with literary depth? How do you tackle the hands-on, practical issues of writing genre and genre-influenced fiction... like plotting, starting a story, ending a story, keeping track of plotting and themes... and make your work smart? In a world in which literary lions like Junot Diaz and Cormac McCarthy win Pulitzers for works that build upon pop fiction, the writing of the smart page-turner that uses both literary and genre tropes has never been more dynamic. This class, which addresses specific topics requested by Grub students, will teach writers of romance, mystery, science fiction, erotica, supernatural or suspense fiction how to strengthen their literary potential while getting a grip on the "nuts and bolts" aspects of writing popular fiction. Classes will entail the workshopping of your stories and novel chapters, exploring the terrain of the genres, the use of writing and idea-generating exercises, and discussion of the magazines and publishers looking for your sort of fiction. While this class expands upon topics covered in Grub's "Writing the Smart-Page Turner" class, it is open to all but recommended for those with previous workshop experience.

The breakdown of the class topics that I'll cover, from things like the d=creation of good imagery to the creation of good conflict and villians, can be found on my LiveJournal page, here:

 http://mikemarano.livejournal.com/2395.html

In conjunction with that breakdown, I'd like to give a list of possible readings I'll be assigning. These selections aren't final. I'm posting them here so people can get a sense of what the class will be like in terms of tone and approach.

 ================

 

1. Readings for "Creating Strong Imagery":

Robert Leslie Bellum, "Dan Turner: Hollywood Detective"; Ray Bradbury, "Long After Midnight"; Joyce Carol Oates, "Did You Ever Slip on Red Blood?"; Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; Junot Diaz, The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men.

 2. Readings for "Tracking Multiple Plot Threads":

 Daphne Du Maurier "Don't Look Now"; John Gardner Freddy's Book (1980) or Nickel Mountain (1973), and a short story submitted to the magazine I edit that illustrates through the editorial process it went through how there are several _kinds_ of plot.

3. Readings for "Keeping Track of Multiple Themes":

Mickey Spillane, My Gun is Quick; Shirley Jackson, TBD; Annie Proulx, Close Range: Wyoming Stories .

4. Readings for "Harnessing the Weird":

Justin Haythe, The Honeymoon; Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye; Hubert Selby, The Room, or Requiem for a Dream, or The Demon (1976);  Rosellen Brown, "The Only Way to Make It in New York" (1974).

5. Readings for "Incorporating the Real":

Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road; Philip K. Dick, "The Father-Thing".

 6. Readings for "Happy Endings? Ways to Finish a Story":

 John Cheever, "The Five Forty-Eight"; Rod Serling Twilight Zone episodes; Harper Lee, the last chapter of To Kill a Mockingbird (1960); Richard Matheson, "Night Call" short story and teleplay.

 7. Readings for "Starting a Story":

 John Le Carre, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; Jack Ketchum, The Lost (2001); Ian Fleming, From Russia, with Love; Douglas Fairbairn, SHOOT (1973); JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone; the opening 26 Minutes of The Godfather screenplay; Don Stuart "Who Goes There?" compared to its screenplay adaptation.

 8. Readings for "Violence and Action Scenes":

Jon F. Merz, "Prisoner 392"; Conrad, "Youth";  David Morrell ,First Blood or The Totem; Richard Matheson's short story "Duel" compared to Matheson's teleplay adaptation of same.

 9. Readings for "Generating Conflict and Creating Good Villains":

 Gerald Walker, Cruising; Alan Moore, Watchmen; Raymond Chandler short stories; Elfriede Jelinek, TBD; Star Trek: Countdown graphic novel; William Faulkner, Sanctuary.

 10. Readings for "Research Techniques for Fiction Writing":

 Marano, "Shibboleth"; Patrick Susskind, Perfume; Cori Crooks , Sweet Charlotte's Seventh Mistake.

 ============= 

The DEADLINE to sign up is SEPTEMBER 9!

The class will meet 10 Sundays in Boston, 6pm – 9pm at Grub HQ near Park Street Station. The course begins September 13th. The Registration Deadline is September 9th. And remember, SCHOLARSHIPS ARE AVAILABLE FOR REDUCED TUITION.

 The Grub Street listing is here:

 http://www.grubstreet.org/index.php?id=12#smart

 For more information or to register, call Grub Street at 617-695-0075

 


My list of Apocalypse predictions at SciFiWire.com
MikeGeekyCloseUp
mikemarano
My list of historical apocalypse predictions and how they turned out, in honor of the upcoming 2012.

http://scifiwire.com/2009/08/2012-15-doomsday-propheci.php

The Smart Page-Turner Strikes Back class description
MikeGeekyCloseUp
mikemarano

 

Just letting everyone know what topics I'll be covering for my upcoming Grub Street class "The Smart Page-Turner Strikes Back". 

Here's the official Grub Street description:


How do write popular fiction with literary depth? How do you tackle the hands-on, practical issues of writing genre and genre-influenced fiction... like plotting, starting a story, ending a story, keeping track of plotting and themes... and make your work smart? In a world in which literary lions like Junot Diaz and Cormac McCarthy win Pulitzers for works that build upon pop fiction, the writing of the smart page-turner that uses both literary and genre tropes has never been more dynamic. This class, which addresses specific topics requested by Grub students, will teach writers of romance, mystery, science fiction, erotica, supernatural or suspense fiction how to strengthen their literary potential while getting a grip on the "nuts and bolts" aspects of writing popular fiction. Classes will entail the workshopping of your stories and novel chapters, exploring the terrain of the genres, the use of writing and idea-generating exercises, and discussion of the magazines and publishers looking for your sort of fiction. While this class expands upon topics covered in Grub's "Writing the Smart-Page Turner" class, it is open to all but recommended for those with previous workshop experience.



The class will meet 10 Sundays in Boston, 6pm – 9pm at Grub HQ near Park Street Station. The course begins September 13th. The Registration Deadline is September 9th. And remember, SCHOLARSHIPS ARE AVAILABLE FOR REDUCED TUITION.

The Grub Street listing is here:

http://www.grubstreet.org/index.php?id=12#smart

 

For more information or to register,  call Grub Street at 617-695-0075 

I'll be posting more details on the class, including a listing of the readings, here on my LiveJournal and elsewhere soon.

E-mail if you have any questions! I'm open to suggestions for the readings, so feel free to send them along.

Thanks!

--Mike

=======

Topics to be covered in

"The Smart Page-Turner Strikes Back!"

1. Creating Strong Imagery

How do you create effective imagery? How do you make imagery that's truly yours? How do you find the right way to express a specific idea? We'll take a look at different techniques for creating imagery that suits your plot, your characters, and your premise in ways that will make your writing strong and vibrant.

2. Tracking Plot(s)

There's more than one kind of plot. There's the narrative plot, and that can include multiple threads. But there can also be also the symbolic plot, the thematic plot, the emotional plot...  how do you develop and co-ordinate them all? We'll come up with different ways to stay on top of your plot(s) so that none of them get away from you.

3. Tracking Themes

Just as plots can have a lot of threads, so can themes. How do you weave several ideas into a whole? How do you keep track of all your ideas and incorporate them into your work without having the seams show? Or, worse yet, seem like you're getting on a soapbox? We'll look at ways to cook ideas so that they're integrated into your story and don't clutter your plotting.

4. Harnessing the Weird

How do you use the unreal, the bizarre, in ways that are intriguing, but that won't alienate the reader? How do you ground the bizarre in the real so you can use it in your fiction? We'll figure out how to balance the everyday with the off-kilter so that they play off of and compliment each other.

5. Incorporating the Real

How do make everyday things dynamic? How do you add your own personal spin to the mundane in a way that makes for compelling as fiction? We'll take a look at how two views of the same world (1950s suburbia) can create two different wildly different fictional realities.

6. Happy Endings?

How do you finish a story, rather than just have it just... stop? What makes an ending a real ending, and not just a narrative running out of steam? We'll look at ways to keep your eyes on the prize of a memorable resolution while dealing with those pesky beginnings and middles.

7. Starting a Story

How do you make the beginning of a story a real grabber of a beginning, and not an incident that just happens to be front-loaded in your narrative? We'll figure out ways to make the kick-off of your story the first of a sequence of incidents that that hook the reader.

8. Violence and Action Scenes

How do you write action scenes and violence without just re-hashing, in prose form, things we see in the movies? How do you make action and violence seem real? We'll take close looks at the ways writers make action and violence immediate and visceral.

9. Generating Conflict and Creating Good Villains

Plots need conflict. But how do you put characters into conflict in ways that are natural, and not forced? We'll figure out methods to get the various characters in your work to lock horns, and go over ways to make your villains worthy of your protagonists (and vice versa).

10. Research Techniques

How do you hunt down facts that enrich the story you're trying to tell? Do you hunt down facts to buttress your plot? Or do hunt down facts to help you come up with plot points? Do you do both? We'll come up with ways to put facts in your fiction so that they enrich what you write, and not read the copy from a Discovery Channel special jammed into your story.

 


My timeline of Virtual reality up at SciFi.com
MikeGeekyCloseUp
mikemarano
 My timeline of Virtual Reality (as a Science Fiction concept and as and a real technology) is up at the SciFi Channel: http://scifiwire.com/2009/06/a-comprehensive-timeline.php


It was fun to knock together...

Snapshots from the Plague Years
MikeGeekyCloseUp
mikemarano
I'm currently revising my short story collection, STORIES FROM THE PLAGUE YEARS.  The collection deals  with the plagues that killed my friends in the 1980s... urban violence, rage, drugs... and AIDS. I've been talking to some younger people who have no idea what this _felt_ like. The terror, the despair, and the anger at polite society that didn't give a shit that people were dying. Here's a snapshot--A False Prophets video for the song "Never Again Again":

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOHivayvX4U

 

And Diamanda Galas, "Double Barrel Prayer":

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9T29Lqpi2RQ

 


Review of 2 new Transformers graphic novels
MikeGeekyCloseUp
mikemarano
 Yes, I will review anything for money.  Transformers; Defiance was actually kinda good,

http://scifiwire.com/2009/06/review-transformers-prequ.php

My Facebook URL
MikeGeekyCloseUp
mikemarano
 Hey... if you want to find me on Facebook, I'm at

http://www.facebook.com/michael.marano

Two new reviews at the SciFi Channel-Eddie Murphy & Trek
MikeGeekyCloseUp
mikemarano
 

Two of my reviews for the SciFi Channel went live today.

IDW's comic book adaptation of WRATH OF KHAN

 
http://scifiwire.com/2009/06/review-star-trek-iithe-wr.php


And a review of the new Eddie Murphy kiddie movie IMAGINE THAT
 
http://scifiwire.com/2009/06/review-imagine-that.php#more

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