August 19 Meeting Change – Prompts and More

There has been a change to our planned August 19th meeting. Our guest speaker had to change her presentation to September 16th.

Writing prompts will be discussed. The following are some suggested ones to try out.

  1. Harry Potter comes to your house for dinner. Write this scene as if you were a teenager.
  2. Job Swap – Take a character from one of your stories and place them in your current job. How does the office respond?
  3. Hiring a New villain – Your old villain quit over creative differences, so put yourself in charge of hiring a new villain for your novel.

Critique of your work – In an envelope preferably, bring something you would like to have critiqued: a scene, a chapter, a poem, a memoir piece, or an article. We will explain the process at the meeting. The hope is that another member will take it home with them to critique. Put your contact information and the type of project on the outside of the envelope.

Dialogue – We will continue discussing dialogue. Bring questions you may have and something to read for feedback. Keep the piece you bring brief so that we have time for everyone.

July meeting wrap-up…and new fun things

Words from Louise…

We had an excellent meeting in July. Members read their dialogue and then it was open for general discussion. I have to say I was impressed that everyone at the meeting participated. We all know how to the write good dialogue.

Dialogue is a vast subject that cannot be completed at one meeting. With that said, we will continue a discussion, when possible, about our characters dialogue at each meeting. So bring your questions and writing to share. 

Writing Prompts

Everyone agreed that it would be interesting to get writing prompts well before the next meeting, so those members who can’t write on the fly or don’t like to could participate using writing prompts. Anyone who wants to can bring their written prompts to share at the meeting. For now, I looked on the Internet and found an interesting group called The Writing Prompt Boot Camp.

I have listed three prompts, and you get to pick the one you want to use. Or come up with your own. Have fun with them.

  1. Harry Potterc comes to your house.

What if Harry Potter came to your house for dinner? Write this scene as if you were a teenager, he’s new to your school, and you’re introducing him to your parents. Also after dinner, he makes a request of you. What is it?

  1. Job Swap

Take a character from one of your stories and place them in your current job. How does the office respond? Do they do a good job filling your place, or are they all play and no work?

  1. Hiring a New Villain

Your old villain quit over creative differences, so you put yourself in charge of hiring a new villain for your novel. What questions do you ask? What does the new villain’s resume say? Write this scene as if it were a job interview.

Depending on how many members want to read their writing prompt, you might be limited to the amount you can read.

Critique of our work – Another great idea!

Bring a piece of your writing that you want to be critiqued in an envelope. I will have some envelops for member use. You need to place your name, genre, and word count on the envelope. If you want the reader to email you their response before the next meeting, write your email address on the envelope too.

If any of the above doesn’t make sense, please come to the next meeting- August 19th.  We are looking for ways to make our meetings more enjoyable as well as be  a learning process for everyone.  See you soon.  Louise

 

July 15 – Meeting – Working with Dialogue

July’s meeting will cover working with dialogue using a unique method so the all attending members can be involved.

Without dialogue, you can only watch the action, and you will never be able to understand the emotional message. Different characters speak in a variety of ways. Real dialogue is getting into your character’s head. You have to know your character well before you can write their dialogue. Dialogue needs to be kept interesting, or you lose the reader.

Louise will have tidbits of information from a class called “Mastering Dialogue” that she took from Creative Writing Now.

Member Participation: Rather than just have a discussion, she asks that anyone who has work in progress or a completed novel to bring copies of any dialogue they want to share. You are also welcome to bring dialogue from a recent book you have read.

Bring a page for each character speaking and enough copies so each reader has their own copy. (Two characters speaking, bring two pages and two copies; three characters speaking, bring three pages and three copies, etc.) A member will then speak the character dialogue with another member, i.e. playing out the scene. She thinks it will make the reading more realistic and more enjoyable for everyone.

Each writer will have a few minutes to explain the set-up for why the conversation is taking place. Then the readers will read their dialogue. The listening members will have no more than 10 minutes to critique the conversation.

Live Blog from the Scene Seminar

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

4:19 p.m.
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.

Winners of our 2010 KWA Writing Contest
Some of the winners of the 2010 KWA Writing Contest were able to join us to accept their awards. Front row: Conrad Jestmore, Lu A. Ross, Sara Jenlink, Marsha Lytle. Back row: Ray "Grizzly" Racobs, H.B. Berlow, Vincent Omni, Bill Goodwin.

3:30 p.m.
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.

3:12 p.m.
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.

Seminar participant Sara Jenlink (left) asks a question.

2:17 p.m.

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.

2:13 p.m.
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?

11:01 a.m.
How to muzzle your internal editor?

KWA Scene Seminar
Writing longhand engages your right brain, so try it as an exercise to loosen up your creativity.

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.

10:17 a.m.
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.)

9:46 a.m.
Amateur pitfalls of character development:

Kirt Hickman, KWA Scene Seminar
Kirt Hickman
  • 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.
Scene Seminar
Here we go!

9:19 a.m.
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.

9:12 a.m.
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.