Thursday, August 18, 2011

RWA Conference 2011 - craft

I'm not sure if these notes will make any sense to anyone other than me, but its helped me to revisit them.

Bob Mayer - Write it Forward (formerly Warrior Writer Workshop)

Bob's workshop wasn't craft oriented as such, rather about getting to know ourselves as an author and setting goals for our career.

His "Warrior Writer" steps (very briefly):

What do you want to achieve with your writing?  Why?  Where will sustained change occur?

Understand your own character.  What is change and how do you accomplish it?  How do you build the courage to change?

Communicate your change to the world.  Take command of your change.  Complete the Circle of Success and change.

A few points I jotted down that stood out to me.

* Ask yourself - "I'll do anything to achieve my writing goal, except don't ask me to do...?"
* Focus on what makes you angry or inspired in your workshop - its probably something you need to work on or address
* Record the one thing that motivates you most as a writer
* Can you communicate the "Shiver"?
* Idea is not story.  The idea can't change in what you're writing, but the story can.
* Every scene needs conflict - character vs character.  No scene - no conflict. External & internal conflict.
* How your organise your daily life is how you will organise your book.
* SOP - Defined tasks, written.  Stops you reinventing the wheel.
* Use daily, weekly, monthly checklists to keep you on track.
* A body language course is useful
* Conflict is rooted in different POV
* Change = Moment of Enlightenment -> Make a decision -> Implement -> Sustained Action
* The stages of change (same as grief) - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance
* The bottom line on 'feeling like a fraud' is to internalize more of your accomplishments.  List them.  You are real.
* Expand your comfort zone by venturing into your courage zone.  (I love this!)

Susan Wiggs - Plotting from the Inside Out

Susan's workshop was about creating a plot without really plotting.

* Character-driven plot - intertwined character / plot
* Take a walk.  Minimise distractions.  Walking rhythm sparks creativity.
* Where is your "white space"?  Your space where you can be alone to think.
* Makes a to-do list before yoga / walking and before bed to help empty her mind.
* Think of an emotion.  Feel it.  Focus on the emotions you are feeling, then combine that with an image.
* Be patient.  Stories come in their own time.
* Create a music playlist for your book.  Have variety.  Different characters will have different songs.
* Make a collage with magazine pictures.  Don't analyse what you are selecting - just feel.  Don't rush it - this is part of building your structure.
* Create a sociogram - write characters name in the middle of your page with spokes out to all the people in their life.
* Create a chart with all of your character names in the book to make sure you don't have character names beginning with the same letter.
* Create a vision of "her world" in words and/or pictures.  Time of year, era, environment.  The more vivid you make the world, the more engaged readers will be.
* Process can take 2-4 weeks.  Be careful it doesn't cross into procrastination though!!!
* Use movie credits, newspapers, articles etc to find names
* Take the character to a point of decision in her life.
* Do freewriting.  1st person, present tense.  Let your character talk to you.  What's on her mind?  What problems does she have?  External & internal.  Keep it to less than 500 words.
* Read self-help books to find an arc of growth for the character.
* Give a reward at the end - the epilogue - the warm fuzzy at the end.
* Can be effective to mirror the opening in the ending.
* When writing a series, create charts / spreadsheets etc to keep track of details about characters - year of birth, births, deaths, marriage, physical characteristics etc
* Susan writes longhand, uses Dragon voice recognition to transcribe.  She keeps her manuscript in the freezer when she leaves the house in case it burns down :)
* Use "Hero with a thousand faces" to describe the hero's journey  12 steps - create events for each step.  Gives you a plot outline.

Julia Hunter - Body Language

* 99% of how we communicate is body language
* How to read body language
  - Read in clusters - some gestures are normal for people, not indicative of anything
  - Does the body language agree with what's being said?
  - Read gestures in context
* Self-touching - nerves
* Body slumping - defeated
* "Steepling" with hands - I'm the boss
* Arms crossed - women - closed off, protecting herself; men - in control, arrogant
* People don't like being pointed at when lecturing
* Palms down - taking authority
* Palms open - believable, trust me
* Mirroring - builds rapport, makes you feel accepted.  We don't subconsciously mirror people we don't like or don't know.
* Move into people's space to force them to open their body language
* - micro facial expressions

Raymond Floro - Staging a Fight Scene

* Think unconventionally for improvised weapons - pens, sock filled with coins, magazine with coins along edge rolled up
* Killing is power / control
* Rape is not sexual but power
* 21ft rule (Tueller's Rule) - the average person with a knife can get to and cut a person before they have time to pull and fire a gun
* Weapons are a great equaliser for size difference
* Pressure points don't work if the person is drugged or heavily intoxicated
* If a major artery is severed (femoral, carotid), lose 1/L of blood/minute.  Loss of 1L - unconscious, 3 L death
* Go for knees / shins to put people down, not chest or head
* Knockout points - anything on bottom half of face (ie nose down) eg jaw, chin etc

Joan Kilby - Writing the Emotional Rollercoaster

* Go deep
eg Level 1 - external conflict.  Heroine loves old buildings and wants the heritage of the old church maintained.  Hero wants to develop it.
Level 2 - Personal investment for character with family connection to church.
Level 3 - Deep internal conflict.  Church is a symbol of the heroine's marriage and love for her dead husband - all women in her family married there.  Its a symbol of their marriage - she can't move on in life.

* Flipside of happiness is fear and vulnerability.  What makes your character happy / what does he want?  Flip it around - what is he afraid of?
* Watch Dr Brene Brown on - lecture on vulnerability
* Show hero's vulnerability but also show his determination to overcome (otherwise he looks like a wimp).  He must be proactive.
* Give your characters a life - use personal objects significant to them to evoke emotion (eg a stuffed toy that the hero gave the heroine as teenagers that she's kept all these years)
* Emotional plotting
  - What are your characters thinking & feeling going into a scene
  - How will this change by the end of the scene?
  - What issues arise that will affect their emotions?
  - Start positive, end negative and vice versa
  - Move the story forward emotionally

* Motivation - Reaction Units
   - Motivation - "I'm pregnant and you're the father."
   - Reaction
       - Feeling - Rafe reeled.
       - Action - He stumbled into the credenza, toppling a pot plant and spilling the dirt.
       - Speech - "You're... what?"
* Beginning a story with a highly-charged emotional scene rarely works because until we get to know the characters, we don't care what happens to them.
* Strong characters push each other's buttons, forcing them to grow.
* Deep down though, they must be soul mates - what need do they fulfil in each other?
* Start slow and build the emotion.
* Don't shy away from strong emotion.
* Margie Lawson - backloading

Lisa Heidke - Sense & Sanity: Living with the First Draft

* Plan your day.
* Watch movies & TV shows that are similar to your genre to recharge / freshen your imagination
* Don't strive for perfection - even if you can only write for fiften minutes, or 500 words, its better than nothing
* Focus on your ultimate goal - the sense of achievement when you've finished your first draft.  A lot of people talk about writing a book.  Few do.  You can be one who actually does.
* Have a writing space to call your own
* Have a set writing time each day / week.
* BALANCE everything in your life - including your writing.  What would my "ideal" day look like?  How would I feel?
* Lightbulb moment - I need ME time as well as writing time.  They shouldn't be the same - I need the me time to recharge / read without guilt
* Set small goals so you don't get overwhelmed
* Hold yourself accountable.
* Stephen King's "On writing" is very motivational when in a slump


Suzanne said...

Fantastic, Kez. Thanks heaps for this - a great idea. Must write up mine & post on own blog.

jugglingpaynes said...

I actually bookmarked this so I could look at each section when I had a good chunk of time. Thank you for writing down your notes. They are very useful for any writer!

Peace and Laughter!