October 21, 2011

End of Master Classes

Warning! Donald Maass just gave me permission -- nay, he urged me -- to kick even more crap outta my characters. You thought Eve had it rough, well she didn't! That first book was a breeze. She got everything handed to her (in retrospect, it does make it kinda boring). Expect more angst, more difficult decisions, more loss and despair in book 2. More than for Cargon, I plan to take this advice into NaNoWriMo. My time loop, apocalyptic novel is perfect for this. I thought I'd already set some pretty high stakes, but when Don said, "What would a more daring writer do?" I gave Cassie a few more trials to work into separate loops. Now each one will have it's own tearing, tormenting twist! Yes! People are going to scream, but they will turn the page!! A scene exercise in the same session will work nicely for helping me write those scenes I skip in first draft. We were asked to choose a blah scene.
I hate writing blah scenes, so I don't. I jump right on past and either work the details into where I start from and/or go back and write those scenes last. They are almost always short. This exercise helped me identify where I can build that scene and make it complete.

Want to know how? Donald Maass is working on writing this into a book, so watch for that!

What changes in the scene? What is fundamentally different after the scene? i.e., why does this scene need to be in the novel. Be specific. The exact 'aha' moment when the change occurs.

Now, go back in time before that specific event and look at your POV character. Who are they? What are they feeling? What do they want? What are they thinking about?
Go forward past the event, after the immediate consequences. What is he thinking/feeling now? How is it different from before?

Use those emotions and thoughts WITH the action to move the scene.

To build on that, pick out three things your POV character notices about his surroundings - the time, the people, the place - that no one else would or does. Use those to set the scene. Use one of more of these as part of the 'change' that occurs.

Finally we were asked to write the action/change of scene in one sentence in the same tone and style as our story. (i.e. past tense, first/third POV etc.) If our reworked scene did not convey more tension, more conflict, more impact than that sentence, we probably don't need the scene and can use the sentence as part of a transition.

Why am I giving you all this? Because if I lose this notebook I damn well want a record of that! You get to tag along for free. :D

We also worked on microtension and how to add conflict to smaller things like actions, descriptions and dialog.

Before this wonderful session with Don Maass, I had a breakneck session with K.C. Dyer. She walked us through the alphabet in terms of publishing, making sure we all knew about contracts, royalties, good and bad agents and publishers, beginner mistakes, everything! A lot of it was familiar, but everything that wasn't got added to my tool box.

But the day is moving on and I should get blasting into Day 2. I'm planning to start with the Pitch Party. I've never pitched before, so I want one more chance to prepare. I signed up for my pitch session with Kaylan Adair, thinking I would pitch my Ghost Story. However, that is the story that I have since scrapped. So... I'm going to pitch Cargon, even though it's already published, for practice. I might try to pitch Thickness of Blood as well, although that is not the sort of story she normally works with. After that, I'm thinking I'll listen to my Blue Pencil editor, Robert Dugoni, and learn about Creating Plot for Page Turners. I'm taking the first few pages of Thickness of Blood to the Blue Pencil session this afternoon. My pitch and blue pencil sessions should leave me enough time to take in the second half of Don Maass's "The Inner Journey" or I might crash Truth in Lies (writing convincing fiction for teens).

Don't know that I'll have time to post again before tomorrow morning (I expect not), but I'll be back in the AM to share what I've learned.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog post! I hate writing blah scenes too but as with anything practice makes perfect. I am also working on increasing the complications in my characters' lives.

    Wow. I look forward to Donald Maass' new book. Thanks for sharing info from your master classes. I would give anything to take a class from Don Maass.