Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The ABC's of the Writing Life

I spent yesterday organizing the material I brought back from the Christian Writers Seminar I attended on Saturday. That's one down and two more to go (See blog post on 1/28/2010). Before going I had decided to venture beyond the children's writing track and concentrate on workshops to enhance my writing in general. I settled on attending the fiction track taught by novelist John Olson.

John has written seven novels, receiving numerous awards including the coveted Christy Award. The most significant piece of information I came away with involved a visual, which helps me remember. As John explains, the hero must have an overall driving desire that propels him/her forward inevitably encountering serial conflicts along the way. Those serial conflicts also involve desires that drive the hero through the conflict.

Picture a water skier holding onto several tow ropes. Each rope is attached to a boat with a label (e.g., Romance, Mystery, Thrill, Adventure and Transcendence). Only one boat can pull the skier (aka hero) at a time. So as you write, let the current conflict/desire (e.g., Mystery—another phone call from the anonymous caller) steer the story forward to its mini-conclusion until the next boat (e.g., Thrill—car chase through the streets of Paris) takes control through another conflict encounter. All the action and suspense keeps the reader involved, wondering what's next as the story moves to its conclusion where the hero solves his big desire.

Whew!... I'm worn out getting through all that action and suspense. Really gets your creative juices going. Speaking of which... I'm finding it very helpful to read lots of different fiction to help get my own juices going. My next book to read will be John Olson's Fossil Hunter. The female hero, Dr. Katie James, makes a shocking discovery that sets the world of paleontology on its ear. Can't wait!

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you had a good time at the conference and learned so much. John Olson packs a ton of info into his informative workshops.



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