Thursday, May 06, 2010

Pikes Peak Writers Conference 6

House/Move recap. We're starting to order major stuff—to the point that we're asking for higher credit limits on our credit cards. One headache: One of my cards that was due to expire didn't make it. For security reasons, they're issuing a new card with a new number. I dread having to figure out all the places that have my card on file where automatic purchases will be rejected. But, of course, the alternative—that someone else got the card and might use it—is even more of a headache.

"Meet the Author" recap: Barbara O'Neal (Samuel) led a great discussion & Q&A at the library. Members of two book clubs, plus "regular" people discussed what they liked about her books, and asked questions about her writing process. I did meet two librarians and hope that I can hook up with a program there as well. I didn't get my library card, though, because the desk had closed by the time we wrapped up. Maybe tomorrow, since I'm going all the way down the mountain—Mom sent a gift card to BB&B!

Writing: I've moved forward a tad—one scene from Chapter 3. I'm trying to apply what I've learned at the recent workshops. Mixed feelings there. I'd rather deal with that after I've written the scene, not feel bogged down and outside the action trying to see whether I'm handling tension, pacing, and suspense properly. I think I'm going to revert to my old system of writing the scene, then re-reading it and doing the edits the next day. I'll let you know if it's working. But second-guessing every paragraph is slowing me down.

And, speaking of workshops: The Last Pikes Peak Workshop – Characters

Fantasy author Todd Fahnestock gave his presentation on Characters on Sunday. I haven't figured out how to create my own graphics for this blog yet, so if you'll copy the triangle and at the top write "character" and on the bottom corners write "setting" on one and "plot" on the other, you'll see what he wrote on the board as we started.

In writing your story, it should become organic that you are incorporating all three at once all the time. Todd says that good stories can get away with mediocre plots and settings, but not mediocre characters.

He suggests methods for finding your hero:

Draw from experience. Who have you always wanted to be? To fall in love with? And these characters must be vital to the story.

He went on to tell us to put our fears into our writing, and to play out our fantasies. To build characters we love, then do horrible things to them. He also stressed that emotional blows hurt more than physical ones.

Characters need depth. Fearless characters are never heroic. Brave characters are.

Every protagonist needs an antagonist. The antagonist can be the character himself, nature, or another person. The function is the same: to oppose the hero.

Secondary characters have to be more than cardboard. Give them their own agendas. They must struggle against their limitations as much as they prosper through their prowess.

Details help add depth to your characters. Find some small, personal details that make your characters stand out.

Make sure you work your characters into the setting you've created. If they belong to a particular level of society, they have to behave that way consistently. A character's status and prejudices should follow the character wherever he or she goes.

And that, my friends, wraps up my notes from the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. I hope you've found at least a tidbit or two interesting, if not helpful.

Tomorrow we're going to Arizona.


Terry Stonecrop said...

Thanks, it is helpful.

Second guessing slows down me too and even stops me in my tracks. I try not to think about anything I've learned about wrting while I'm actually doing it. I save all that for edits.

Terry Odell said...

I think when we 'try too hard' we shut down the creativity circuits.