Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Highlights Workshop: Day 4

Aaah!  I can't believe it's already Wednesday!  I'm having such a good time at this workshop, I wish I had a stop-watch to slow down time for the rest of the week..

We had a lovely little black-out last night and most of this morning.  No internet, no water, no lights, nothing.  Sitting alone in my dark, silent cabin as thunder rumbled through the night, I kind of felt like the last person in the universe.  Creepy...

Thankfully our power is now back on, so we could all get back to our writing (and blogging!)  This afternoon we peer critiqued the first chapter of my manuscript.  It actually went quite well (yay!)  After years of hard work and countless revisions, I have reached the point where I finally have a solid first chapter.  As the faculty explained, my beginning is already a "10," so now I get to push it to an "11."  (Apparently that is from some song--anyone know it?  Personally, I'd say it's a 7.5-8, but I'll take the compliment.)  You may wonder why I don't just leave the darn thing alone, but I absolutely agree with them.  Sometimes you have to destroy your baby to make it even better.  It's difficult to do, but the thought of creating something even better is great motivation.  Now the hard work begins...

Our evening workshop was on the topic of Character.  Naturally, this is one of the biggest elements of writing.  If you don't have good characters, it's probably not possible to have a good story.  Just think of some of your favorite books: don't you love them because of their characters?

We started our discussion with a review of "The Hero's Journey" in fantasy stories (a good thing to pop into a google search and take a peek at).  It basically describes the protagonist's path through the story, from the beginning of his journey in the "Ordinary World" and his "Call to Adventure" (think Harry Potter wasting away in the Dursley's house until he receives that mysterious letter) to his ultimate triumph at the end of the book (I think we all know what happens to dear Harry).  The Hero's Journey is both physical and emotional, external and internal.  We plotted The Folk Keeper as a group for practice, which I recommend trying with one of your favorite books, too.

Some other tidbits about character our faculty shared:

-Your characters should be actively making things happen, rather than having things happen to them.  (Otherwise you often get a snooze-worthy story.)

-Challenge your characters internally through external trials.  (i.e. If your protagonist needs to learn bravery, put him in situations that ultimately make him brave.)

-Establish your character and norm in the beginning, then give them their reason to go out into the world.  (Opal in Because of Winn-Dixie feels abandoned and lonely; rescuing Winn-Dixie starts her on her path to finding friendship and, ultimately, herself.)
Best pizza EVER!
-Remember that in the beginning of your book, the world is bigger than your character--then your character rises up to the world.  (Great quote from our faculty gurus!)

So that was our great discussion on Character!  And now for the food.  (Oh, it was AMAZING today and more then made up for all the power-outage troubles!)  We relished in a breakfast of potato scramble, grape brulee and chocolate chip loaf; lunch was BBQ chicken and greek salads; our workshop snack was pesto goat cheese with crackers and cream-cheese/pecan-stuffed dates; and dinner consisted of homemade pizzas (I had a slice of margherita AND portobello with baby spinach and carmelized onions) with an array of cupcakes for dessert (mine was s'mores!)  I'm going to be very spoiled by the end of the week. :)

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your thorough descriptions - of both the workshops and the food :-) I've enjoyed reading your posts.