Monday, May 5, 2014

Conference notes

Most everyone knows the excitement that builds during the Christmas season. It's something we think about all year long. Well, LDS Storymakers Conference holds as much anticipation for me as Christmas does. Since the last Storymakers I attended I began working toward the next. So much is learned from all the talented authors, editors and agents that you can't help walk away with your brain so full of knowledge and ideas that it's turned to mush, yet you still can't wait to park your butt in front of your laptop and create.
I attended all three days. The first day I sat in the Publication Primer with Stacy Henrie, author of Lady Outlaw.Then the next two days I hurried from class to class, lugging my huge laptop around to take notes. I took as much notes as I could or felt I needed and I'm going to share some of them with you. :)
Keep in mind that they are notes written in a hurry and might not make sense. If you have questions leave a comment and I'll answer as soon as I can.

Notes from Stroymakers
 Writing Voice
Taught by Lisa Mangum

The power of voice is when we write a story that readers will want to hear--a story only from us

What is voice? Quality that makes your writing unique
Writing that conveys authors personality and attitude
Characteristics speech and thought patterns of a narrator

What it isn’t

What’s the difference?
Voice is what you have to say
Style is how you choose to say it

My voice says love is eternal and the choices you make matter
I can say it in the style of a YA paranormal romance or a horror novel about a serial killer
Same voice, different styles
There is a lot of theme that goes into your voice

While voice and style are different they are more powerful when used together
Voice = lyrics
Style= melody
Changing the style can help change how people hear your voice
The style and voice is driving to make the same point

Be selective…
About the words you give the voice to
The words you use to showcase your style

Gary Provost quote . . .
This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It's like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety.
Now listen.
I vary the sentence length, and create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length.  And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals--sounds that say listen to this, it is important.

Why the details matter
Choose wisely

Evoke strong emotions
A book is based in emotion. A good book will inspire strong emotions in the reader. (both good and bad)
It’s hard to inspire strong emotions when you say what everyone else is saying or when you sound like everyone sounds.

How do you feel?
How do you feel while writing? If you’re not experiencing a strong emotion while writing, then you’re doing it wrong.

Exercises –
Emma D. Dryden
*Rewrite scene as a play
*Write 200 words utilizing 3 different emotions each
*Interview all characters (main, secondary, minor)
*Write a letter as your character to a loved one you’ll never see again.

Characters are helpful and kind
No one is a moron
Characers are polite
Conflict should never come from a desire to be cruel or mean
Do not fear nuance. Comedy from avoiding conflict not instigating it

What are you known for?
Jot down 5 books you like to read… how are they different? How are they alike?
What is it about them that intrigues you?
Describe yourself in three adjectives
Does your writing reflect that?

Notes from Storymakers
Character Building
Brandon Sanderson

Characters are always what drive readers
Character drive plot and setting

What draws the character?
3 groups engaging and connect with reader

1. How proactive they are
If they are working toward something. What are they passionate about. How do you define them=passion.
2. Likability. How like us are they? Give them a flaw (handicap and flaws are too different things) Flaw is too shy, prideful, egotistic (something they can change). Things the character can’t do. (overlap with conflict). Show them being nice. Show them suffering. Humor. Being loyal. Self-aware. Show another character liking the character.
3. Competence /skills. Making them good at something will make them likable. Direct competencies. He can do the things only he can do. Whatever they have that we wish we had. (Attractive, talents)

Villains have lots of proactive and competence and low on sympathy and likability.
Harry potter has more likability and competence, but not a lot of proactive

Another aspect of Character…

In the first page… Ability to invoke character setting and plot without telling us.
Let the character tell us in descriptions. Motion and character from the start.

 (This next part is a exercise that we did as a class. We came up with 4 different people in different ages. We gave them characteristics and interests then introduced a setting and event. Then we had to write the setting and event through their eyes)

31 man-zoo keeper (Gamer) (bed wetter)
50 woman-newpaper deliverer (loves cheese) (reality show addict)
94 woman-piano tuner (loves African violets) (killed her first husband)
10 boy-banana collector (loves bugs) (eat the bugs he catches)

Walk theses four people through the same situation.
Point of climax for scene

Going into a political convention Center. Bomb goes off. Man next to the bomb is unaffected.
Connect the character to the setting/event/affect
Character through description

When I get to the end could I write it in a different characters’ eyes and have it completely different? If it is the same, then I’ve not accomplished my character building goals.

“Train yourself to be a writer, not a person who wrote a book” -Brandon Sanderson


Notes from Storymakers
The Power of Subtlety
J. Scott Savage

When you’re telling, you’re interrupting the story.
As an author, you don’t want readers to stop.

80% of what a reader gets from a book is not in the book

Plant little seeds and the readers will make them grow.

Do not write through verbs
Thinks, knows, understands, realize, believe, wants, remembers, imagines, desires

Do not name the emotion!!! Show it!!!

Do a search in manuscript for emotions… anger, sad, upset…

Get rid of SO

Instead of writing... 
Mike Smelled bad.
I had to hold my breath the moment Mike meandered by. The words to Ray Steven’s BO song came to mind and I couldn't help but shake my head. Oh, I think I'm gunna die!


If you describe a gun on the wall in your setting, then later in the story it needs to go off.
 In other words...
Don’t add things that don’t apply.

*Good foreshadowing does not draw attention to itself.
*If the reader notices it at all, they don’t know what is being foreshadowed.
*It increases the power of the story when the event occurs.
*May have circularity

Make this better…
Mikes dad is a thief, and mike hates crime. But he will soon be forced into a life of crime himself.

Do I set things up first?
Do I start with a laser-shooting dinosaurs?
How long before I jump into the main conflict?

Make a good beginning
Create a minor conflict then go into the main conflict

Enter the scene late… leave it early

Make the reader expect one thing then something else jumps out and smacks them in the face.
What can my character believe that might not be true?

I have more notes, but I might save them for later. Enjoy what I've posted and leave a comment if you have questions. It's always good to hear from you. :)

Pin It


Unknown said...

Thank you so much for the notes. I wanted to go so badly, but was forced to drive right past Salt Lake that Thursday night and start with my son back from BYU to Provo. I made him help me edit my manuscript the whole trip, since he made me miss Storymakers!

Christine Walter said...

You're very welcome, Diane. I hope they helped some.

Pin It button on image hover