|Christopher Vogler, me, Donald Maass, James Scott Bell|
|Ruby and me|
I thought about consolidating my thoughts more coherently about this workshop but decided to share what's not widely available in the books and where my mind took me. So rambly style, here are my impressions.
Chris has a lot of the East in him. Don is NY. And Jim represents the West. I found myself thinking, it's a darn good thing we're raising our kids in the South because they'll know how to shoot a gun when the time comes. LOL. I know, what a random thought, but it's not. Don had asked, "Who are we?" Silence descended as we processed the question. "We are certainly not the greatest generation." He paused. "We are the helpless generation." Bingo. Why? I think it's because people don't believe we have anything to fight for. And this is why I am glad to be living in the South, because here it is so much easier to teach the children moral truths, that there are some things worth fighting for. Studying To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was such a brilliant choice because it brought to light the kinds of books we should be striving to write, books that are salt and light, books that make us want to be better. Each of them spoke about this. How great books enlighten us.
ChrisV spoke about wants vs. needs. We identify with the hero because we want what he wants. We connect. But the hero has a journey to make and it's often about learning what he needs. He made a very important point. People come for the thrill of the story, but they stay for the lesson! The story of Rumpelstiltskin illustrates this beautifully. The girl makes a deal with the imp. He gives her what she wants in a twisty way. But what she *needs* to learn is the value of human life.
So study mythology and the Hero's journey. We have so much to learn. I like Jane Yolen's thoughts on mythology (Touch Magic) as well as Tolkein's and Chesterton's. These giants have deepened not only my understanding of story but of my faith. It's all good! So it was especially wonderful to have a workshop like this, so highly focused on structure and craft. Sometimes I wonder why everybody is not already Catholic because the story of Christ is the greatest story ever. Creation. Sacrifice. Redemption! What else is there?
|At Fort Sumter|
I won this little book: The Art of War for Writers from Carol's blog. I'd read it a few years ago, but I feel like a warrior owning it and Jim signed it for me!!! Thank you Carol and thank you, Jim, for writing the book!
By the way, James Scott Bell has a new little book with a great new concept about writing from the middle. He speaks about the mirror moment. Of course, I had to go see what exactly happens in the middle of my polished manuscript (that needs another polish now). And wouldn't you know it, I didn't just have a metaphorical mirror, but a real one, where the main character is asking, who am I, where am I going, is this the person I want to be and then the rest of the book is about dealing with the change of heart that occurs. Powerful stuff. Did I plan it? Not exactly. But a little death occurs in the middle.
|Ravenel Bridge, taken from Fort Sumter -- you should be thinking about plot points I and II :)|
So that Don can come and talk about emotions. Wah!
Don Maass is really good at making you look at the emotional content. We did an exercise writing about joy. Really capturing the sensory details of that moment. Now find a place in the manuscript to give that moment to our character. We read to feel powerful emotions. One thing we concentrated upon was secondary emotions. How to use those to bring out the primary emotions in a reader. Example: The scene in TKAM when the trial is about to begin. Scout is describing it practically as a picnic! A gala event. The whole town is there. But underneath, we sense the dread. And it's powerful. His Breakout Novel Workbook allowed me (a nonfiction, shorty-short writer) to complete a novel. And his 21st Century Fiction is helping me to dig deeper. Folks, do the writing exercises at home. I can guarantee you that your stories will be better. He pushes and pushes you to take your story to the next level. In the space of these three days, I worked on a new (I thought MG novel, but it's really YA, but I feel as though I have material now for three books. Heaven forbid I write a trilogy, when one book will suffice. I am, after all, a magazine writer, who tries to be economical, though you might not believe me with the length of this blog post ... but I am confident that my story is worthy.
And so, I hope I've left you with enough wisdom to inspire and encourage you to study and write. Never give up. One tip from me. Deconstruct.
|Sullivan's Island, taken from Fort Sumter|
I cut out from the workshop a bit early to go to Mass. We only have a month until Laetare Sunday ... and choir practice was a balm to calm my buzzing brain. It was lovely to give thanks to God for this opportunity and to pray for everyone at the workshop and their safe return home to their families. This photo was taken from Fort Sumter a couple of years ago, but there she is ... Stella Maris! I leave you with one of my favorite hymns. Wishing you and your sweethearts a loving and lovely Saint Valentine's Day!