Monday, April 26, 2010

Pikes Peak Writers Conference 1

What I'm reading: Like Mother, Like Daughter (but in a good way), by Jennifer Greene, Nancy Robards Thompson & Peggy Webb

Things got off to a shaky start as we awoke to about a foot of snow. No way my Honda Fit was getting up the steep driveway, and the roads were a mess. A semi couldn't make it up the hill of our street.

But, family is great. My daughter caught my Facebook update and picked me up, so I arrived in plenty of time to check in and get to the first workshops. Since I was a straight "attendee" and not giving any workshops, I went to a workshop in every session. Overall, the focus of this conference is on helping people along the road to publication, but there were plenty of offerings for every level of writer. We never stop learning.

The first was a bit "heavy" for early in the morning. Given by Susan Mitchell, it was about rhetoric and all the nuances of word usage. When someone starts off using Greek terminology, you know you're in for a dense amount of information. Thank goodness for handouts. The most memorable moment was when she mentioned one of her favorite sources, Kenneth Burke. That name was a weekly, if not daily, occurrence in my High School English Lit class. Here's to Mr. Holtby!

For writing, perhaps the most significant point was what Mitchell called, "Loaded Language"--the difference between connotation and denotation, which can color our writing, and might give different readers different impressions. "Home" is more than a "house" and means different things to different people. Her lesson: Being conscious of language makes you a stronger writer.

Next was a workshop by Barbara Samuel, whom I had the pleasure of hearing at a Central Florida RWA workshop. She discussed using structure and story to showcase values. Regardless of genre, it's the emotional payoff for the reader that makes a book a keeper.

She discussed Vogler's 12-step "Hero's Journey" but admitted having trouble fitting her stories into that structure. She realized it was because in romance, you're also dealing with the heroine, and the heroine's journey isn't the same. Instead, she presented the 9 step journey from Victoria Lynn Schmidt's "45 Master Characters" using the movie Titanic as her example (of course, I'm one of three people on the planet who hasn't seen the movie, but I could follow along.)And since you've probably seen the movie, you can use this as a "test" to see if you can spot the points where each step takes place.

The steps:

1. The illusion of a perfect world.
The character believes that if she follows the rules, she'll be rewarded.

2. Betrayal or Recognition
Her bubble is burst. She sees that #1 isn't true for her.

3. Awakening & Preparing for the Journey
She either falls into the pit of despair or escapes

4. Passing the Gates of Judgment
She grapples with her fears.

5. Eye of the Storm
She gets a taste of the life she wants—or thinks she wants

6. All is lost
Humiliation, or a loss of community (if you remember some of my earlier posts on his brain/her brain and he speaks/she speaks, you might recognize that females are community oriented rather than hierarchically oriented the way males are)

7. Support
With help, she can make the required change

8. Moment of Rebirth/Moment of Truth
She can return to her old life of choose a new one.

9. Reward
She gets the life she was meant to live.

I'll be continuing to share what I've learned, as well as updates on the move (officially, we're out of the apartment tomorrow) over the next week or so. And, of course, I'll be hosting my Tuesday guest . Please join Ann Ambrisio as she talks about setting, and how Saratoga inspired her.


Mason Canyon said...

Sounds like an interesting conference. Oh, I don't even want to think about snow. Good luck with your move.

Thoughts in Progress

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

These 'journeys' always interest me when I read about them! I can see so many stories that fit into the prototypes. Thanks for sharing these with us, Terry!

Mystery Writing is Murder

Terry Odell said...

Mason - yes, it was interesting. Any time you put a group of writers together, it's interesting!

Elizabeth - glad to share what I've picked up. Anything that makes us think is good.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Thanks for sharing!

Carol Kilgore said...

Thanks for sharing your conference notes. You'll learn to be a Mountain Woman before you know it.

Terry Odell said...

Jacqueline, Carol -- my pleasure. We managed to push my car up to the top of the driveway, and beyond that, the roads are clear, so I'm signing off. Please send your friends over!

Debra St. John said...

Thanks for the nine steps! I'm going to go jot those down right now.

Terry Stonecrop said...

Thanks for sharing this. I look forward to more.
I need to be concious of language because I'm writing in anotehr era, really. People spoke differently then and I try to be aware of that. Thanks for reminding me.

The snow looks pretty though, right? :)

Terry Odell said...

Debra, Terry. The intenet gods willing, I'll have the next installment of conference workshop recaps on Wednesday. Tuesday is guest day.

Jemi Fraser said...

Sounds really interesting! I agree with the heavy topic stuff - should wait until later for that :)

Patricia Stoltey said...

Although I'm a regular at RMFW's Colorado Gold Conf. in September, I've never had the chance to attend PPWC. It's great that you're covering the conf. and workshops here.

Sheila Deeth said...

Sounds a great conference. Thanks for the intro.