I just posted this in one of the comments sections and realized it would be useful to everyone.
There’s another part to this that has to do with text. There will be more 10-to-20’s that go along with it. But I think I’ll be trying to create that presentation as a video for the site. We’ll see. Right now I’ve got to finish CODG. But when you finish the ones I assigned, I suggest you add these.
1. BEGINNINGS. Go to the bookstore or library and pick up 10 to 20 random fiction books off the shelves and then sit down with them. Pick up each and read the first two pages. Note which ones pull you in and which resist you. Identify the cause. Then see what patterns you can find.
2. 3 GRUNTS. Find 10 to 20 short stories or chapters from different books. Read them over three or four days. Do NOT read them looking for problems, but just as you would any book you’d picked up for enjoyment. While reading make a note of any section where your interest flags, the writing or story is unclear, or you just don’t believe it. These bumps are what Orson Card calls the three reader grunts. They occur when a story is unclear, unbelievable, or boring (i.e. you grunt huh? come on? or who cares?). When you’ve finished, look for the patterns that caused this response in you. ***This is one of the key things we did in Card’s boot camp that made me feel like the mists were being parted***
3. ENDS. Look at the endings to 10 to 20 novels or short stories that you’ve read. Identify which you enjoyed the most and which you did not. Look for causes. See what patterns emerge.
4. SMALL BEGINNINGS AND ENDS. Do the beginnings and ends analysis 10 to 20 chapters and then 10 to 20 scenes.
Of course, you can look at anything this way–plot turns, magic systems, aliens, settings, dialogue exchanges. Get 10 to 20 of them. Identify which are interesting to you and which aren’t. And then try to see the patterns. But I’d recommend you start with those above.