What an experience this has been helping to create my first book video in connection with Goddess Fish Promotions. This was created for my medieval romance released May 7, Their Lady Gloriana, which is available as both a paperback and a Kindle ebook at Amazon, as well as with my publisher Black Velvet Seductions. The video can be seen on my Starla Kaye website or at YouTube by searching for Their Lady Gloriana.
We kept a live blog going during the KWA Scene Seminar with speaker Kirt Hickman. If you couldn’t make it, check out a sample of what you missed! — Erin Perry O’Donnell, Scene Seminar Coordinator
Critiques–everyone needs them. Many of us fear them. How do you keep those comments about your life’s work–your baby!–in perspective? Kirt says:
- Remember that a critique is not personal. The reader is genuinely trying to improve the writing.
- You asked for, and perhaps paid for, their honest opinion. Don’t be upset when they give it to you!
- If they don’t point out problems, they’re not doing you any favors. It doesn’t matter what they are, though, because anything can be fixed.
Are you one of those writers who hated English in high school? It’s your lucky day! We’re giving you permission to break some of the rules from senior composition — when it comes to writing dialogue.
- Sentence fragments. Use them. (See what I did there?). Kirt says anything you can do to compress dialogue will make it punchier and increase the tension.
- Use contractions. You do it when you talk, so don’t restrict your characters’ speech.
- No long, 50-cent words. Most people don’t use them when they talk.
On the other hand, don’t get so realistic with dialogue that you include every “uh” and “well.” Jump past the pleasantries too, and start the talking when it gets interesting. Think natural, not cinema verite.
Have trouble showing your characters’ emotions rather than telling about them? Check out Creating Character Emotions by Ann Hood, with tips on 36 different emotions and how to infuse your story with them.
Another dynamic definition for you: What is the difference between suspense and tension? Duration. Tension is momentary. Suspense makes the reader keep turning pages. Tension makes their heart race.
How many times have you heard “Show, don’t tell”? How many times have you wondered what that really means? Here’s how Kirt says to think about it: You may state facts. But don’t draw conclusions for the reader. Ask yourself, how does my character know this? What is he experiencing or seeing that allows HIM to draw that conclusion?
How to muzzle your internal editor?
Get up early. Skip the coffee. No, really. Kirt says, “Your editor needs the caffeine. Your muse does not. Your muse is up dreaming all night. You can get a good couple hours writing in before your editor even realizes you’re up.”
Write longhand on unlined paper. This will open up your right brain. Typing is a left-brained process, and that’s your editor.
Don’t stop to edit.
Kirt’s giving us a great tour through the elements of plot, from starting points to dark moments and resolution. We’re using well-known movies to illustrate some of the points. Who knew the Donkey in Shrek fulfilled the mentor role? Or that your mentor and antagonist can be the same person in romances? (See: You’ve Got Mail.)
Amateur pitfalls of character development:
- Make each character’s personality different, so they don’t all act and talk the same.
- Make your hero strong-willed. If a character does not believe enough in their goal to assert themselves to achieve it, your reader is not going to care enough to read about it.
- Don’t make your hero just an observer, watching everyone around them solve the problem.
- No cliché character traits: no dumb blondes or mad scientists. Do the opposite of what the reader expects.
- Don’t forget your secondary characters. No cardboard cutouts.
Kirt on knowing your characters: You need to know a lot more about your characters than your reader ever will. The better you know your characters, the more real they are for you, and the more real for someone else. You should be able to talk about this character as if they were someone you actually know.
Our speaker, Kirt Hickman, is going over the basics of self-editing. Two of the things we all know to watch out for are 1) show, don’t tell, and 2) use active voice, not passive voice. What I never considered is that these two things often occur together. When you’re editing your manuscript, you may notice them together but not if one occurs on its own. So, edit for one thing at a time. Focus on one element during one read, then look for the other on a second pass.
KWA Member Carol Martin is looking for three or four children’s authors to hold a book talk/panel discussion at the Ark City Public Library in April. This event is sponsored by the Cowley County Writers Guild.
If you are interested, or know someone who might be, please email Carol at email@example.com.
The world of publishing continues to evolve, including the world of digital publishing. Is having an agent important? What is an agent’s role in this changing digital world?
The FF&P (Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal) chapter of Romance Writers of America is hosting a Yahoo! email loop workshop on “The Agent’s Role in Digital Publishing” presented by Laurie McLean. For non-members the rate is $20, which is a bargain. The workshop isn’t just for romance writers. It is for all writers of eBooks, POD books and self-publishing.
Literary Agent Laurie McLean of Larsen Pomada Literay Agents in San Francisco handles genre fiction (romance, fantasy, science fiction, mysteries, horror, ‘new’ westerns, thrillers, suspense) and middle-grade/young-adult children’s books. More information on her preferences for agent queries is included in the information for this workshop, see the link via the workshop’s title.
Passed on by Starla Criser
The Scene is set!
Registration is now open for the Scene Seminar 2011, Saturday, March 26, at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Wichita.
This year’s event is going to be more intimate and hands-on, so we’re calling it the Scene Seminar. But you can still count on a great day devoted to great writing.
We’re excited to welcome back author and writing instructor Kirt Hickman, who gave a popular session last year based on his book, Revising Fiction: Making Sense of the Madness. It was a lot of info packed into one hour, so Kirt is back to spend the day with us. He’ll give two in-depth workshops at three hours apiece:
- How to Write a Great Story–building fictional worlds, character development, and plot
- How to Write Your Story Well–scenes, narrative style, and dialogue
You can find out more about Kirt on his website, www.kirthickman.com
Click here to register — space is limited. See you in March!
Kansas Day is Saturday, Jan. 29, and this year is the Sunflower State’s sesquicentennial. There are dozens of events taking place statewide, all year long, to celebrate, and some even have a literary bent. Here are a few Kansas Day events for readers and writers, and you can find more at www.ks150.org.
Jan. 29: Postcards from Home: Images and Poetics from Kansas, a 150th Event
6-9 p.m., Warehouse 414, 414 SE 2nd St., Topeka
An all Kansas-inspired art and poetry event.
Feb. 14: Literature with Lunch: What Kansas Means to Me, edited by Thomas Fox Averill
1 p.m., Shawnee County Public Library, 1515 SW 10th Ave., Topeka
Discuss this year’s choice for Kansas Reads 2011. Thirteen essayists and four poets try to map the spiritual topography of Kansas and explain why this particular patch of prairie is so dear. They share the conviction that Kansas represents something powerful, something significant, something noteworthy. Read and discuss the book, or attend and listen to learn more.
Feb. 17: Kansas Poems of William Stafford, ed. by Denise Low
7 p.m., Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St., Lawrence
“Kansas at 150” TALK book discussion presented by the Kansas Humanities Council.
William Stafford may have been named Oregon’s poet laureate, but he was a Kansas boy at heart — born in Hutchinson — and his youth in Kansas deeply inflected his poetry. “Mine was a Midwest home — you can keep your world,” he proclaimed in his poem “One Home.” Stafford’s poetry is rooted in a sense of place, and the work in this collection shows how Kansas as a place continued to inform his thought and verse.