RWA Conference – Day 1 (or Day 4 of Vacation)
There is a direct correlation between free Internet and the ability to blog on a regular basis. This post is belated since I didn't have ongoing access to the Internet, but hopefully it is still a worthwhile read. Enjoy!
I’m sitting out by the pool, surrounded by palm trees and a summer breeze, as I write this blog. Anaheim has some amazing weather, especially for summer.
Yesterday, my writing buddy CJ and I did some networking, attended a book signing, and went to Downtown Disney using a Mickey pass on a transit bus. CJ was quite happy to get her dosage of Mickey, she practically has Mouse-Covered walls. They *did* have mouse ears for benches, which I thought was quite cool!
Today was the “official” start of the conference. Breakfast was more than I expected – decent food but nowhere to really sit. It was like eating breakfast at a cocktail party. After, we began the seminar panels.
Panel 1 – Raising the Stakes for your Characters – by Virna DePaul
GREAT panel, which made me smile because on opening day, the panels can go either way. She was organized, well-spoken, and knowledgeable. I really liked that she used movie references to make her point. She had obviously attended every workshop and retreat on story structure, screenwriting structure, book structure, etc. because she incorporated all that knowledge into an amazing presentation.
1. Ratchet up the stakes for your characters. Think “JAWS” music, how it starts slow and ominous and gets faster and faster. That’s what you want with your book.
2. Raising the stakes means something the character can win OR lose. It doesn’t have to be something he/she can lose only.
3. Readers want to experience all the turning points that the character goes through. The beginning, the need to change, the believable reason for the character to step away from an average day to meet his/her goal, and fighting for it until the end.
Panel 2- Show, Don’t Tell
Next came a panel by Janice Hardy about the ever-repeated writer rule: Show, Don’t Tell.
Another great panel! She brought up several words and phrases to be careful of when writing, because often these words tell emotions rather than let the reader experience them. Words such as “she felt happy” doesn’t SHOW us anything, it tells us. Saying “she grinned so wide, her teeth gleamed in the Texas sun” is better.
One key point I really liked from her speech was: If you can’t “act” it out, then you are telling. For example, if you say, “Anger bubbled from her heart.” She had 3 volunteers come up from the audience and try to act out the sentence. They had no idea what to do. However, if the sentence spoke of a woman’s shoulders slumping, her crawling into the fetal position, etc., this helps us “see” the scene more.
The welcome luncheon was a busy experience, as always, but good food and an inspiring speech by Stephanie Laurens. Her main point was that no matter how the e-book revolution may change the distribution and marketing of books, bottom line – we are writers. We are storytellers. Our job is to get the works of emotion to readers, no matter which channel we accomplish that goal.
Panel 3- “Dialogue: It’s More than What You Say” by Julia Quinn
This was probably the most popular panel of the day! I arrived 15 minutes early and there was standing room only. The host managed to get some extra chairs, but otherwise this was a packed panel!
Lots of interesting info, the difference between dialogue tags (such as “she said”) and action tags (such as “Jane walked into the room. Then the dialogue is listed here)
A great day overall.