Week before last, I found myself in the position to go to a writing seminar. So, I did. There were discussions on world building, using voice, plotting your novel, and screenwriting. The keynote speaker focused on North Carolina as the writingist state. Since I’m not from there, I just smiled and let him “have at it.” Who am I to question the majority when I could end up bloody and tossed on the side of the road? Ok, I don’t think they’d do that, but I don’t have an opinion one way or the other, so what’s the point in objecting? And I did meet some very nice writers there. Many were more seasoned than I am. Some were less. I think I hit the average mark quite directly. On building a world, we were told to know the history of our characters even if we didn’t write about it. Know their motives. Know their means. If your story takes place in the 1700s, don’t have them driving Subaru Forresters unless that’s the name of a horse or time travel is involved. There are other ways to fit this in, so don’t take that as a challenge. But don’t pull your reader out of the setting by stating something so ridiculous that they can’t help but realize they’re still just reading a story. We were asked to write up a scene using technology so the reader would know in what time frame the story was set. I didn’t read mine out loud, but some of the others featured disco, aerobics, hand crank phones, and laser tests for skin borne diseases. Mine…well….I used a car. We broke for a delightful lunch. Ok, mine was nice. I was treated to great company, conversation, and pizza. The next seminar encompassed adding a voice to your work. In other words, how to make your characters speak like where they’re from. Originally, the third seminar was supposed to be focused on writing for young adults, but since not everyone in the room was interested in that topic, he changed it to how he plots a novel. To illustrate, he used aspects of a book on screenwriting. I was amused because Star Wars illustrated his points more often than not. I don’t often plot when I write. I just watch the characters do what they’re going to do, but it was interesting seeing another’s process. The final seminar was on screenwriting. Yes, we’d just covered a lot of the topic in the previous section, but there were a few tips on form that were helpful. For instance….don’t go over 120 pages or your screenplay won’t get read. When it was over, I went out to find that my car was bumper to bumper with a hatchback eating station wagon. No damage though, and the drive home was pleasant.
And on a separate note, I submitted a story today. Just at the deadline. So if you’ve got fingers to cross, do that. I know I am.