Archive for the ‘pleskoisms’ Category

First-class Pleskoisms

Posted: October 25, 2013 by jamieschaffner in pleskoisms

From Virgpaz

A few Pleskoisms straight from my first-class-with-Les-notebook:
About writing scene by scene in a novel: “If you like the scene, it really happened.”
And about building a character bit by bit: “Like a dark room, fixate on a shape coming to life. Then see what it really looks like.”
“Like a cobbler, fix as you go.”
“Where there’s speaking there’s also thinking.”
Thinking about the first person narrator: “Of course he watched this! There’s no other watcher, no other thinker, no other looker, no other do-er.”
“Characters don’t realize they’re in novels.”
Upon being asked what a cliché really was….”Anything you’ve read before in exactly the same words, shortcuts for saying real things.”



“Find a better word…”

Posted: October 21, 2013 by Janet Fitch in pleskoisms

From Nathalie Kramer

The first time Les commented on my ten pages was the first time I met him at his writer’s group in Venice.
Les said: “This has energy!” He was more excited than anyone in the group about my pages. There were certain things in the writing and formatting that needed help, and if I were to read these pages now, I would think: This writer must have never gone to school except High School and clearly her first language is NOT English.
Les, of course saw beyond that.
Les encouraged my heart to speak on the page.
He said that it might actually be a gift to not have had college education and have French as a first language.
Les encouraged my bravery, my need to learn and be a better writer.
Every time I sit down to write, I hear Les: ” Find a better word.” “Find a better way to say this.” Except sometimes, cuz it’s “swell.” or every once in a great while, “GREAT!”

Wind ’em up, let ’em go

Posted: October 15, 2013 by Janet Fitch in pleskoisms

From Jamie Schaffner

How to write a scene: Place your characters in a room, wind them up like those little kid toys, and let ‘em go.



Posted: October 11, 2013 by Janet Fitch in pleskoisms

From Sovann Somreth

Weird? I’ll take weirdness any day. Normal people scare me.

-Les Plesko

The emotional content of the novel…

Posted: October 10, 2013 by Janet Fitch in pleskoisms

From Janet Clare:

“The emotional content of the novel is more important than the forward movement of the story. In fact, it is the story.” Les Plesko

Writing will infect your life until it is your life

Posted: October 6, 2013 by AStrauss in pleskoisms
By Kanani Fong

I’d been traveling in India, where all good ideas either die or flourish. I decided I wanted to be a writer. When I got back to L.A. a huge catalog from UCLA Extension landed in my mailbox. I signed up for Novel 1 because I figured you have to start at “one.” Besides, it was the only class that fit into my schedule, since I had to come from 40 miles away. I wish I could claim to have known who he was, but I didn’t. It was sheer luck.

While waiting for class to begin, the students started hauling out chapters of their works in progress. One lady had 475 pages, another had 500. They talked about the other workshops they’d taken. I was nervous because this was my first writing class. The talk stopped when he came into the room wearing a lime green linen suit. The wild hair, the loud lime green, his eye that seemed to be looking at 2nd base were showstoppers. I remember thinking “This must be how West L.A. people dress.” Over the course of the summer, the lime green suit come back in pieces. Sometimes he’d wear the the pants and a t-shirt with holes, or the jacket would appear with a pair of shorts. Everything about Les was eccentric, even his old rootbeer-colored car that shuddered when he drove it. But his eccentricities would fade when he shared his enthusiasm about writing, along with samples by Larry Levis, David Francis, Anne Carson, Hemingway and more. He was an artist. Few had his unerring sensibilities for beauty, simplicity, and how to declutter a page.

Les once wrote to his students: “Writing will infect your life until it is your life, and there will be no turning back. You will learn what bravery is. You will be utterly and irrevocably transformed. You will wonder, “How did I get here?” But you’ll know how. Then you’ll get back to work.”

My first class with Les was in 2001. The last class was in 2007. My last sighting of the lime green jacket was sometime in 2003. I saw him the last time in 2012, and told him that I’ve stuck with it and told him about my work with projects that have to do with war. He was excited, and later, sent me his book. I didn’t get to catch up with him, but it’s less important than knowing this: His job with me was complete. I have transformed. And as Les would say, “Swell.”

A Luminous Mind

Posted: October 1, 2013 by AStrauss in pleskoisms
Les, to know you was to live beside a luminous mind. Your memory and words will forever inspire us to channel a true love for writing. I hope you’re passing into a higher a state of tranquility and bliss. Los Angeles is grateful and fortunate to have had you. Thank you for changing lives by being the unity between writing, art and life.

Libby Lee G