Posts Tagged ‘motivation’

Well I see it’s quite a while since I added anything new to my site. I have a good excuse, honest.

I mentioned in What’s New back in April that I’d been taking a few courses. Well, I sure did. I don’t know what came over me. I seem to have discovered a multitude of wonderful resources and slipped temporarily into a kind of addiction to learning. After taking two online course from Laurie Schnebley at WriterU entitled the Hero’s Personality Ladder and Plotting Via Motivation, I judged a contest, took a WordPress class online through the RWA-PRO group, then headed off to the Banff Centre for the Arts for the weeklong Writing with Style Workshop, as mentioned earlier.

Not yet ready to lie down, I then attended the RWAGVChapter Write On Vancouver Conference and enjoyed the amazing Michael Hauge’s “Style Mastery” Workshop. Then at the end of May, the RWAGVChapter hosted an all day workshop with the intrepid Bob Meyer on the Warrior Writer. Throughout May, I was also taking Margie Lawson’s Deep Edits course online, by which time I was practically brain dead. I just couldn’t keep up with the assignments, even though the material was fascinating and I wanted to juice it for every ounce of wisdom (and trust me, Margie has plenty to offer.)

I think that’s when I turned off and tuned out completely, and after a brief reprieve, decided to go back to working on the first draft of my WIP, Coming About (see Books.) I was still trying to write 50K words between February and the RWA National Conference in NYC in late June, which, sadly, I was unable to attend.  Nevertheless, I actually did ultimately succeed in meeting the goal, and have continued onward through the summer adding to that total, so that now, I’m about 75% complete the first draft of the ms. with about 78,500 words to date.

Margie’s material is so terrific that it was hard to keep writing when I knew there was still so much to learn. But if there’s one thing I have learned, it’s that the first draft hasn’t much to do with all those terrific writing skills. Those are best applied later, during revisions. It’s a funny thing. I’ve always preferred writing the first draft, and rather dreaded the revisions. More on that later.

My brain is so overfilled with fantastic new knowledge that it’s difficult to recap, but I want to say at least one pithy thing about each of the courses that I’ve taken this spring. Firstly, in The Hero’s Personality Ladder, I learned that it’s critical to know your protagonist very well before you begin to write. It’s important to understand both the hero’s strengths and weaknesses, because these tell you how s/he will react to stimuli, and this clues you into what obstacles to throw in their path to best reveal their transformation. Also, these strengths and weaknesses have to be revealed early in the story.

Progressing on from there, Plotting Via Motivation delves deeper into character, and motivation, including backstory, to dig down beneath the surface. By asking Why? we can understand what really makes our characters tick, and expose their most basic needs. Sometimes these are selfish and not-so-honourable, but they are the motives and needs that make the characters both human and believable. Weaving together the personalities and motivations of the main characters reveals the warp and weft of your plot. Et Voila.

About the WordPress course, I can only say to my RWA-PRO peers, THANK YOU! For a somewhat-too-old-to-be-quite-comfortable with this technology, this course demystified and made available the tools to create a web presence which was before unavailable. It turned out to be quite simple. Which is not to say I’m ready for regular blog posts. But it’s a start.

The Writing with Style workshop at the Banff Centre was a once in a lifetime rich experience. There is simply nothing like total immersion in a full time writing environment surrounding by peers who are on the same journey. I learned valuable skills from each of the stylistas in my Novel-First Chapter workshop, and we all thrived under the expert guidance of award winning author Audrey Thomas. From these talented writers I learned something about dreams, voice, history, detail, humour, culture and discipline. Most of all I learned to believe in and never to short-change your own vision as a writer.

Michael Hauge’s workshop was an interesting take on similar material to Christopher Vogler’s Hero’s Journey but with a focus on Michael’s massive experience with screenwriting and vetting. With this unique perspective came new terminology and some questions and answers about story structure and the relationship between the hero’s inner and outer journey that were fresh and helpful.

Bob Mayer’s workshop focussed on the Writer as a professional. The material is available in his book Warrior Writer: From Writer to Published Author and delves into the psychology of the writer’s mind to help articulate personal goals and achieve them. It’s an aspect of the writing life that’s seldom touched upon, and Bob digs deep into character to help us understand what we want and what might be holding us back. (I will I will I WILL send out those D**M queries!) Thanks so much Bob!

Back to Margie Lawson. What can I say. I’ve learned something valuable from all my teachers, but I’ve been looking for the tools that Margie teaches for years. Until now, I’ve approached revisions in an optimistic but fairly hapless way. Margie’s Deep Edits and Rhetorical Devices class gave me a system to examine my writing, and that of others, and to really understand what it’s doing and HOW. It’s rational, which I guess I like. There’s often so much going on in my head that I can’t pin it down, and end up spinning my wheels (cliche alert! ; )) and feeling helpless, so I like systems to organize my thoughts. Now I’m looking forward to finishing my first draft of Coming About and getting to work tightening up the first two books before coming back at the new one with fresh eyes and VERY sharp tools. So Exciting!

I so enjoyed Margie’s class that I also downloaded the lecture packets for her other two classes: Empowering Character Emotions and Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist. I’ve just started working through the second one (I know, I know, I’m supposed to be taking a  break from courses, but…) WOW. It’s great material. What can I say?

Back to writing. Just coming to the juicy part now. We’ll see if all this stuff really works. Cheerio.

Oh! I’m also going to test the Pomodoro method as recommended by Randy Ingermanson. Just sayin’ : )


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