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Friday, May 17, 2013

StoryMakers 2013 - Part III

            Here is the final segment about StoryMakers 2013. These are the presentations that I attended on Saturday.

Fine Tuning Your Writing presented by Anne Perry

This was a great class because Anne is a great speaker. She discussed theme. The most important thing I took away from this conference is that we should not only have a theme for each of our stories, but a theme for our writing in general as well. For me that helped solidify what I need to be doing this year. I could be writing speculative fiction. I could be writing middle-grade. I could be writing historical novels. But what I need to do is determine my passion in life and then start writing books that reflect it.
Anne also spoke about something I hadn’t considered before and that is characters accrue debt. What she means by that is whether it is a debt of money owed, or one of gratitude, or even a debt of family bonds that characters can be forced to move in a direction they don’t want to go. Explore different kinds of debt and you can create deeper motivations for our characters.

Blogs Are More Than Marketing presented by Sandra Tayler

Blogs can be anything: a collection of recipes, an online daily diary, bits of fiction, or updated directions to the best coupon clipping sites. The best way to get readers is to create something awesome. Create what you’re passionate about. (Sort of reflects what Anne Perry had said in the previous presentation.)
Expect to see some changes in this blog because of the excellent advice that Sandra passed on during her presentation. Thanks Sandra.

Writing Action Scenes presented by Sheralyn Pratt 

            Here are the twelve tips Sheralyn gave on writing action:

1) Do what you write. Take the time to attempt the actions to see if they can be done.
2) Use your verbs. Do they set the right tone?
3) Avoid passive voice.
4) Use dialogue strategically. Use it to break up the action.
5) Every sentence moves the action forward.
6) Read other writers.
7) Give it tension.
8) Foreshadow the protagonist’s success of failure.
9) Keep it tight in the scene.
10) Have stakes. What happens to the winner / loser?
11) Stay within real time. It shouldn’t take longer to read the scene than to perform it.
12) Keep it primal. Instinct not intellect.

Nancy Drew To You: Writing Mysteries For Teens & Tweens presented by Linda Gerber

            Since the novel I’m working on now is a mystery I decided to find out how much of the advice for the tween market would apply to me. The majority of it did.
     -         Teens want dynamic characters.
     -         Teens like to be empowered.
     -         Teens like to be scared.
     -         Teens like sophisticated plots.
     -         Times change and writers must change with them.

A mystery must have:
     1.  A puzzle.
     2. Someone to solve it.
     3. Clues.

            Plot Devices:
- Riddles                                  - Clues                                     - Red Herrings

- Checkov’s Gun                      - The least likely suspect           - Closed community

- Unreliable witness                  - The big reveal                        - Sexual tension

Story Turns presented by John Brown
            This is a presentation that I highly recommend. Understanding turns, as presented by John, is the key to writing exciting stories. Story turns grab our interest and they make you turn the page. Turns are changes that raise a question in the reader’s mind or give them an anticipation that something dramatic is going to occur.
            John used a small clip, a commercial I believe, to demonstrate this principal. A man and his family is at the beach and he shuts the hatch on the back of the vehicle and walks to his family. We see that the car starts rolling down the road. The man chases the car. But then he starts to run out of breath. The man spots a bike and takes it. The man catches up with the car and is able to grab a hold of the door. But then a sign indicates that there is a turn up ahead. The man dives into the car and grabs the steering wheel. But the wheel locks up, preventing the man from turning it. Then we see a shot of the back of the car where the keys are still in the lock.
            The Turn has a basic flowchart that goes like this: Event/Action – Reaction – Action – and either Resolution or return back to Event/Action. The first action in the video is the car rolling down the road. We get a reaction from the man—he wants to catch his car. The action is his running down the road after it. Then we loop back up to the Event/Action portion again and see that the man is getting tired and will not be able to catch the car. At the same time he sees the bikes alongside the road. His reaction is to take the bike and use it to catch the car. Etc. Etc. Etc. This looping continues until we reach the end of the story.

     -         Change the situation
     -         Affect progress
     -         Raise questions
     -         Make us anticipate
     -         Often surprise

John suggested that you look at them as a sort of good news / bad news announcement.  Such as: You are pushed out of a plane. The good news is that you were wearing a parachute. The bad news is that it doesn’t work.
           Turns drive pacing and the more frequently you go through them the faster the pace. And once in awhile through in a surprise turn that no one will expect.

That’s it. Even though it took three posts to tell you about the conference I learned so much more than what I wrote. And I made some great friends too. If you get a chance I suggest you check out a writing conference near you.

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