Friday, August 31, 2012

RWA 'Diamonds are Forever' Conference: Part 1

The Romance Writer's of Australia annual conference (themed 'Diamonds are Forever') was held at the funky QT hotel in Surfers Paradise, Queensland.  The decor was funky, the staff uniforms were funky - the valet met me at the door wearing boardshorts and a stripy red jacket!!

On both Friday and Saturday mornings, a small but enthusiastic group met at 6:30am to start our day with a walk along the beach.  The weather was very kind to us, and the sunrises were spectacular.

Friday was a full day optional workshop with screenwriter and thriller writer Alexandra Sokoloff, Screenwriting Tips for Authors.  I had the 'honour' of being MC for the day (in front of 150 people!) which was quite nerve-wracking.  Apart from that though, the day was excellent. 

Alex talked about how movies follow a certain structure - eg in a 2hr movie, there is a climactic scene approx every 30 minutes - and how you can use that structure in novel writing.  As far as I know, her ebook and blog go through everything she did in the workshop. 

A movie can be divided into 8 sequences:

  • Act I, Sequence 1
  • Act I, Sequence2
  • Act II: Part 1, Sequence 3
  • Act II: Part 1, Sequence 4 (Midpoint)
  • Act II: Part 2, Sequence 5
  • Act II: Part 2, Sequence 6 (Black Moment)
  • Act III, Sequence 7
  • Act III, Sequence 8 (Final battle)

We discussed the structure of many movies in various genres (lots of chick flicks!) and analysed which were the important scenes and how they were done.

Some notes I jotted down from the day:

  • Often climaxes involve crowd scenes to make it seem more climactic
  • A setpiece is a big climactic scene where you have to build a big set or a scene that isn't going to be cut because they're the 'money' scenes.  Also the scenes you see in the trailer.
  • Every love scene - kiss, interrupted kiss, sex scene etc - must be a climax / set piece.
  • Use index cards to brainstorm scenes.  Set up 40-60 index cards - write down the scenes you know.  Start arranging them to fit the structure.
  • Opening image needs to set things up visually.  Where they are, genre, tone, world.  Themes / symbolism.
  • The 'Plan' can and probably does change along the way.  The initial plan requires the least amount of effort for the hero/ine.  Plan changes at midpoint at act II climax because plan goes wrong.
  • "The Dance" - we need to see the hero & heroine working together in some way to show they're perfect for each other.  Makes the reader want / hope for hero & heroine to get together.
  • Hero/ine knows what they want, but not what they need.  The reader can see what they need.  After the black moment, the hero/ine realises what they need.  And that what they wanted isn't right for them.
  • If there is a mentor in the story, the mentor has to disappear / die at the act II:Pt 2 climax so that the hero/ine can grow and become their own person.  (Dumbledore anyone?!)
  • Act II: Part 1 is the genre fill-in / world-builing - eg Harry Potter - the classes, Quidditch matches etc; Mystery - police procedure; Caper - gathering the team, training
I've already bought a new corkboard and big post it notes so I can use Alex's methods to do a structural edit on my WIP!

Friday night was the Cocktail Party with a Diamonds are Forever / 1950s theme.  Lots of Marilyn Monroes, a couple of Elvises, lots of Pink Ladies and Sandies, and many glamorous frocks.  My personal favourite was Radar and Margaret from MASH.

I didn't get any photos on the night, but this was one of most of our face-to-face writer's group taken by fellow RWA member, Elle Fynllay. 

Stay tuned for the rest of the conference in Part 2 :)

1 comment:

Suji said...

A great recap of events! Wish I'd been there (but I wouldn't have made it to a 6.30am walk!).