I began the day with a workshop about "Color for Writers" presented by Teresa Marcel. She discussed the psychological, cultural, and personal responses that colors elicit from people. Very interesting to note that most colors have both positive and negative associations. Black is dark and forbidding, but it is also elegant and sophisticated. Fun workshop to help writers send subliminal messages to readers via color.
Mystery writer Robert Dugoni was the luncheon speaker on Friday and conducted back-to-back workshops today. I attended the second one on "Techniques to Bring Your Novel Writing to Life." Mr. Dugoni is not only knowledgeable, but he has great rapport with attendees. Tidbit I took away from his workshop is asking "whose journey is it?" Which character in your story has the greatest motivation to succeed? This is your protagonist. The opening of the novel should introduce an interesting character right away, and establish the setting. Where are we and why should we care about the location? Primarily, Dugoni suggests raising a series of questions to hook the reader in the first sentence and paragraph, and throughout the book. Give your interesting character a goal and place an obstacle in her way in the first paragraph. Will she succeed? Keep reading to find out!
Mystery writer and reviewer Hallie Ephron of the famously talented Ephron family was today's lunch speaker and presented workshops yesterday and today. I attended today's session on Point of View. She explained the differences between first person and third person POV, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each. The writer's most significant decision is selecting from "whose head" the story will be told. Each character will serve as a filter depending on his/her personality and experiences. Third person allows for multiple viewpoints, but beware of sliding viewpoints within a single scene! Too confusing. If your story isn't quite working, try changing the viewpoint. Ms. Ephron confessed to rewriting an entire novel to switch viewpoint. She also explained Narrative Voice to distinguish it from POV.
I ended the day in the film track. Who wouldn't want to attend "Harry Potter and the Truckloads of Cash: Writing a Great Fantasy Script?!" Luke Ryan is Senior Vice President of Production at MGM. He's to "blame" for Hot Tub Time Machine. I don't plan on writing screenplays, but fantasy world building is world building. Ryan provided his definitions for Fantasy, Mythic, and Science Fiction films. Fantasy involves magic and wonder that goes undetected in the mundane, everyday world. Mythic stories are based on the Hero's Journey where the protagonist leaves the ordinary world to undergo a series of tests that force him to grow and change. Science Fiction films generally revolve around human evolution (life in the future) or clashes with alien life forms. A film may contain elements of all three, but it should primarily follow the conventions of one. Ryan explained that fantasy films should be guided by the structure of Joseph Campbell's and Chris Vogler's Hero's Journey. He discussed the required fantasy elements of Theme, Character and World as they relate to the Hero's Journey. He also explained the two variations of fantasy stories: 1) the hero goes to the magical/fantasy world where he is transformed; 2) the magic enters the mundane world and the hero goes on journey to send it back. The original Star Wars movie is a classic application of the mythic journey and Ryan played scenes to demonstrate how this was done.
I have to confess, by the end of today my posterior was TIRED. I was also experiencing writer's panic: "OMG! My current project is trash!" But I've also been noodling with a new story idea and today's workshops gave me terrific guidance and ideas for developing my ideas into a commercial story.
Tomorrow I expect I'll spend most of the day in the General/Genre Fiction Track. I may break down and buy a WW crew neck T-shirt or coffee mug, and I'll once again peruse the Barnes & Noble conference book "store."