Viable Paradise: Assimilating the Information takes time, but it’s worth it.

One of the things they tell you at Viable Paradise (get those applications in, folks! Deadline is June 15th!) is that much of what you learn there will take time to settle into your brain and become useable.  The figure quoted was from three to six months. 

As a veteran teacher who is used to hearing nonsense passed off as Truth in teacher trainings, I was certain that that was exaggeration.  But damn if VP didn’t prove correct again.  Those people know what they’re talking about.  As Elizabeth Bear said, “You have to give brains time to spin.”  

Lately, as I write, problems that had seemed unsolvable suddenly present solutions.  Nine times out of ten, the solution can be traced back to something I learned about plot, or dialogue, or how to get unstuck, or any number of other things I heard that week, from the VP instructors and staff.  

It’s kind of awesome, really.  That niggling plot hole I wasn’t sure how to plug?  Not only plugged, but eradicated by changing one of the core assumptions about the antagonists.  The question of why something couldn’t be done to the protagonist a second time?  Solved.  The problem wherein some of the secondary plot threads weren’t being set up very well?  Solved by a dinner scene (thank you, Steven Brust!).  The niggling problem of Character X?  Well, he’s dead now, and his death sets up all sorts of things that could come back in Book 2, Universe Willing.  

Anyway, if you found this page because you’re wondering if VP is worth it, the answer is that yes, it really is.  All that stuff you read on various blogs about how VP staff removed our brains, rearranged them, and put them back?  Yep. It’s pretty accurate. 



Published by Michael R. Johnston

Father of an eighth grader, high school English teacher, writer. Fifty years old and feeling almost every bit of it on some days, and not a bit of it on others. Based in Sacramento, California, USA

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