Time to get serious about this blogging thing. Today’s is going to be mostly about writing.
Since I last wrote, I finished Do No Harm, my medical mystery/thriller, and submitted it for a couple of minor awards. I was thrilled to learn it was a finalist for the PNWA Literary Award, that’s Pacific Northwest Writers Association. Yes, Pacific. “But you live in Florida.” Yep. But what a great organization. I was turned on to it by Carol Cassella, an anesthesiologist/author who graciously agreed to talk with me last year about combining the careers.
So here I am in Seattle. Yesterday I met some wonderful authors, all here to improve their craft and try to start the process of sharing their writing with others. Some things that struck me yesterday:
- Writers are, in essence, entertainers. An interesting perspective that hadn’t occurred to me before. I love to become immersed in the lives of well-drawn characters and their world, and I hope to provide such an experience for readers.
- Setting is a big deal. So this wasn’t really news, but also not something I spend much time thinking about. Description is probably my biggest weakness. I don’t enjoy reading a lot of description, and advice always seems contradictory – only put in important details – but how important is the shape of someone’s nose? I, too, can say it was “aquiline,” but does anyone really know what that means? Mary Buckham, a successful romance author, gave great examples of introducing setting through the eyes of a character. First she described a street…brick houses, one that was stucco, some cars on the street…better than that but just the nuts and bolts. Then she described the same street through the eyes of a military sniper. He noted possible locations for bombs, good sniper locations on roofs, etc. And finally through the eyes of a mother, who noticed the chalk drawings on the sidewalks, laundry drying in the breeze, SUVs parked along the street where a birthday balloon was stuck in a tree. She had a great suggestion of going through and highlighting every place I have description and comparing that with other authors in my genre whom I admire. Break out the highlighter (on Word).
- Scott Driscoll, an author and teacher, talked about characters’ values. Have to say I have questions on this one. Here’s the two-cent summary: Characters have underlying values (what is right/wrong, what is worth living for) that are challenged by the inciting incident causing them to go on a quest. They have a conscious desire to restore balance in the familiar world, but also unmet desires (always operate in a state of deprivation), and in the end they must choose between that value, and its negation. So that’s where he lost me, too. Maybe I’ll send him an email. He seemed very receptive.
- Robert Dugoni listed books he thought most useful for writers:
- I’ve led a ridiculously charmed life. Andre Dubus III talked about his childhood of deprivation and becoming a street fighter. One woman is writing a memoir of her drug abuse and eating disorder before embracing her homosexuality. Another’s memoir is of her kidnapping at age 8, months in captivity in war-torn Africa, and a “90-seconds in Heaven” type near-death experience. My memoir would be the most boring book in the world…”Mom got me the wrong tube socks for Christmas when I was 10″ doesn’t make for interesting conflict.
Time to hit the gym, ready for today’s series of inspiring talks!