Notes from a 2013 IIML masterclass by Janice Galloway, by Linda Bennett, Gay Buckingham and Jess Todd
If you begin slow you begin with tension.
Art is showing the ordinary in an extraordinary way.
Constantly have more than one text in your head.
You can take anyone anywhere if they trust you.
Most of us don’t really know what the hell is going on. Life = What the hell just happened?!
Writing is not life, because writing has to make sense. Novels bring several ideas together. Make as much meaning as you can as you go.
You’re not making things up. It’s called making sense of your life. Even writing a novel never feels like fiction.
Look for the lie that tells the truth.
Whatever you’re writing you need a trajectory. Forget page length and word counts. You are constructing a philosophy and illustrating ideas, using a series of devious tricks.
When you edit or rewrite something, it is like fiddling around with tuning buttons; like juggling; it will never be perfect but it will do well enough.
Your audience is extraordinary in its breadth. You are reaching to hold the hands of strangers.
You only need the faintest, thinnest little fishing line to catch a fish.
Writing is acting. Put someone on like a second skin.
Embrace stuff rather than be scared of it.
Know when to stop.
If you can’t surprise yourself, you won’t surprise anyone else.
Show how a character appears – and how they would like to appear.
What you like to read is a marker of who you are – this is a way to find your voice.
Don’t prune things to make them acceptable.
Make the shape of the story to fit your best ideas rather than trying to squash your best ideas into a pre-determined shape.
If your family won’t like what you write, consider what it is that is cutting you off from your people.
Make the problem the solution.
The composition that is catness. The cat with the face of her mother. The awkwardness of a cat watching sex.