Thursday, October 4, 2012
Another Great Writing Workshop
A couple of weeks back my writing buddy, Carol Baldwin, and I headed south to Greenville, SC, for a one day writers' workshop "Show, Don't Tell," sponsored by the Greenville Emyrs Foundation. Author Hester Bass led us through techniques used by actors to create their characters - techniques that are equally useful to writers.
It was great fun and we both gained some insight into improving the characters in our WIPs. Gathering with other children's writers, people focused on the same learning goals as we, is always fun and interesting to me.
How about you? Do you enjoy gathering with a group of strangers to study or discuss a common topic?
Do you enjoy the adventure of going someplace new, meeting new people, learning new things about your work and yourself?
Or are you on the timid side? Your favorite place to be is ALONE in front of your computer, absorbed in the world of your story?
I was a timid child. But, since the age of about 20 no one has since accused me of being timid! I sometimes err on the other end of that spectrum with hilarious, or disastrous, results.
It takes both kinds to create the amazing patchwork quilt of children's literature. People who write from all types of philosophies, people who write for a myriad of reasons, people who write to different age groups, different sexes, different ethnicities, different cultures and in different genre.
One of the fun things about mixing with new people for me is hearing their side of the dialogue. Observing the spectrum of differences in the group. Some I can agree with, some I can't. But I can listen to all of them, observe all of them, gain a better understanding of what makes people different from me tick.
Sometimes I even discover new things about myself when I'm plopped in the middle of a room full of strangers. Sometimes I grow from the experience - if I don't shrink back, don't pull myself inside a safe and comfy shell.
When I participate in discussions with people who are new and possibly quite different from me, I get a bonus from the encounter -- story ideas!
I try to notice people's quirks, accents, facial expressions, body language and use those in my stories.
There are times I meet someone noticeably quirky. Terrific! I can build a whole story around that person's quirks.
I eaves drop on conversations at such gatherings. I might get a spark of a story idea, or a trait to apply to a character I'm working on, or a moment that causes a reaction inside myself. A reaction that I need to pull out of one of my book characters.
Nothing like facing such a reaction in the mirror to help me SHOW it in one of my characters.
"Show, Don't Tell" was a great experience for me. The group was small enough to draw everyone into the conversation. The lunch was yummy. Hester Bass was insightful and innovative. My thanks to the sponsors, and to my good buddy, Carol Baldwin, for inviting me to join the fun.