Thursday, 25 October 2012

Nervous Workshop Presenter

I wonder if other authors feel as inadequate as I sometimes do after presenting workshops for other writers.

Fortunately I had managed to get a large part of the two hour workshop on structure of the novel prepared before illness struck at end of August. The last couple of weeks before flying to Queensland to the Word Writers Getaway I did manage to finish it but, being the perfectionist my husband calls me, I still felt under-prepared despite my nine pages of notes.

I did spend quite a lot of time talking about choosing and plotting a very interesting, intriguing story. There are many articles and even books for writers about the different ways to plot a story. This alone shows how important it is to study the elements of writing a novel before ever trying to write that manuscript – especially that first manuscript. I still need to study and try to put what I learn to ever improve my writing. As I try to finish my 19th inspirational romance manuscript, I know now only too well that trying to take “short cuts” in plotting a novel simply does not work! And there is still one of my manuscripts sitting in a drawer waiting for a rewrite after being rejected years ago.
It is also important to write only what I myself am passionate about. I wonder if anyone who has read my books have picked up at least one aspect of Christians’ relationships with the opposite sex I am passionate about?

Another essential element in creating a novel that has a good structure is choosing and adequately portraying characters. There are other elements of course we need to know about to try and capture the readers so they have to turn to that second page, but creating characters that make them care enough about them so they want to keep reading – and enjoying – the whole book is vital. I know my Creator knows me inside and out - even better that I do myself at times. So as the creator of my fictitous characters, I need to know them like that also.

Some of those other elements of course include choosing point of view, whether to use third or first person, how to make dialogue real, goal of characters, the conflict, the motivation driving the main characters, more hints how to create and maintain tension. In fact, each element needs a workshop of its own. Each needs to be studied. Then the writer has to try and put them into practice in that writer’s own unique style with the aim of captivating the reader for the full length of that book to a “satisfying and knockout ending” as James Scott Bell describes in his book Plot and Structure.
I highly recommend this book which is published by Writers Digest. The blurb on his website states:
"Since its publication, Plot & Structure has consistently been one of the top selling books on the craft of fiction writing. From story idea to strong plot line, this book will show you how to write a solid novel, every time out. You will never have a structural weakness again. These principles will free you to add your talent and voice in the most successful form possible. “The best book on writing I’ve ever read!” - Colleen Coble, Bestselling Author

This is available in print and e-book and there are other helps for writers on his website. Do click on his name above to go straight to it.

To help me choose what topics to offer to present at future workshops, I’d love to hear comments from beginner novelists what they need to study, or what authors now wish they had known more about before their first book was published. Is there a reader who would like to make any suggestions too about weaknesses they have seen in novels?
Yes, you guessed it! I am going to be the leader again at the Faith and Arts Creative Writing - fiction at the Tasmanian Poatina Faith and Arts week in January. Click here to go to their website.

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