“I just wanted you to know that I was so inspired by you. You have such a great enthusiasm, without being rah-rah or annoying. I think everyone was impressed with this special trait and left the presentation raring to go forward. Listening to you has given me some hopeful determination.” ~ workshop attendee
Join me at the Willamette Writers Conference!
Today’s editors are looking for richly-drawn settings that feel essential and natural to the story. However, often writers create nondescript settings or feature characters acting on what is essentially a blank soundstage. Big mistake. Setting should play a vital role in the story, sometimes revealing characters, creating moods, and adding or creating conflict. It can also create obstacles, trap characters, and be used for pacing. You will discuss how setting is brought to life via all the senses and how it can be shown in increments, not info dumps. The workshop will also cover using quirky or unusual places in your stories, how to borrow from film techniques, and the role of research in creating settings that are perfectly suited for your story.
Prop Master Extraordinaire: Handling the Visuals
Any object that can be moved in a drama is called a prop. These objects can be characters’ possessions, such as cars, clothes, cell phones and gadgets, along with food, furnishings, tools, and weapons. They add meaningful texture in fiction and creative nonfiction. In this workshop you will discuss using both ordinary and extraordinary props, how props can contain clues or create misdirection, and how props create authenticity. What would Downton Abbey be without props? You will also discuss weaving in weather and seasons via props, the potency of color and smells, and using props to reveal characters and to show time passing.
Rx for Middle Maladies
In a fiction manuscript, Act One ends after the first plot point. Then comes Act Two— the long, sometimes wobbly bridge that transports a reader from the opening of a novel to the climax. Middles are where most of the story takes place. And middles are also where writers most often get tangled or stuck. We’ll cover how a series of crises, a major turning point, and rising complications, stakes, and motivations transform a slumpy middle. The workshop will delineate the three acts of drama, explaining how in the opening chapters events are simmering, but by the middle the plot should be cooking at a full boil. The workshop will give a series of examples of a must-have scene in fiction and film: the midpoint reversal. The midpoint is like a second inciting incident. This reversal will always be a catalyst for what follows and it will create new awareness in the protagonist. The midpoint often twists the story in a new direction, changes momentum, or adds a star
ling new element. Readers need to witness your protagonist surviving the midpoint reversal where everything changes including the protagonist. Other topics covered are: how suspense and tension generally increase in middles, how to keep increasing obstacles and conflicts, and how middles show characters becoming more emotional and the situation untenable.