But school will have started back up, and that's fall-ish enough for me!
OK. Down to business.
We had a cozy turn out today! Elizabeth brought in her outline for the memoir / auto-biography that she's constructing. It's looking promising at 35 chapters! She's into the sixth chapter of writing! Keep on writing Elizabeth!
Diane spoke about her work on Real Simple's "Life Lessons Eassay Contest".
We discussed books that is inspiring the way that we are forming our writing styles and tones:
"The Last Chance but not the Last Song" by Renee Bondi, which is a structure that Elizabeth finds most appealing.
The Harry Potter series, whose style resonates strongest with Arius' planned adventure series.
"Catch 22" by Joseph Heller used a voice and style that Rose finds most inspiring.
We also discussed one of the seminars that I took during my lost weekend at Gen Con. This one was "Convincing the Reader to Care", with Elizabeth Bear, Patrick Rothfuss, Kelly Armstrong, and Daryl Gregory. The highlights were:
- Tools that get a reader to QUICKLY become invested:
- Within the first three pages: Show that the main character WANTS something (this is also your PLOT). Create associations between the character and the WANT, make them something that a reader can realistically connect to.
- Up front, give no more than THREE details about the WANTS to hook the reader. Tease the tidbits out after that, one at a time.
- As the story progresses, make the WANTS become an organic cycle of want-influence-change want-influence-etc. as the character grows.
- Obsticals to prevent success of gaining the WANTS.
- What are the stakes for failure? How do they grow as the story progresses?
- Also, from the onset of the story, present the character with questions / challenges one at a time. Ask question 1, then question 2, answer question 1, ask question 3, answer question 2, etc.
- Least favorite character types:
- The 20-something-blank-slate who we'll learn about over the course of the whole story.
- Running from the bear. NOTE: Running toward something is OK. Outrunning 'the other guy' is OK. Keep the cause of the fear ambiguous.
- Avoid TOTAL Mary Sues and also ANTI-Mary Sues.
- Mercutio syndrome is OK, but only if you treat the main character as the 'cookie' and the secondary (Mercutio) character as the 'chocolate chip'. Now is the most important time to show that your main character is the one with the competence and finds the most joy with the WANT. Watch out for losing interest as a writer. If you do, then drill DEEPER (explore wants / needs) of the main character and illustrate those.
That's about it! I'll make it a point to blog about something random and writer-ish in a week or so!