Friday, January 22, 2010

Sifting "Owl Creek Bridge"

It's a bromide that teachers learn from their students. If the translation of the bromide comes to "Students impart information to their teachers of which the teachers were ignorant"
-->--I am not sure I agree. Or, if I have gleaned new information from those I teach, it doesn't tend to be the sort I was itching to know. (I really did not need to know that Ben Franklin's sells cap bombs. Really. Although I must admit it is in keeping with their patron's interests.) I will not deny, however, that I have learned from my students in this sense: that in looking for questions to ask them, I have had to dig deeper into certain questions than I would be likely to, left on my own.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

In Five Acts

Recently I was reflecting on how to coax a play out of a certain story. It’s the second or third time I’ve given this particular short story a run-over, and both my earlier attempts completely dissatisfied me--so much so that this time I decided to scrap everything I had done before and start afresh. So I did what every good writer with writer’s block ought to do: I wrote something else, in this case, something in the nature of an outline. Since a great part of my difficulty with the story in question was structural (it’s cursed with scenes in many places, lots of time elapsing, plenty of authorial intrusion, etc.), I decided to set out the approximate structure of a play, in hopes that doing so might give me a template for altering the story in question.