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I was off on a new adventure this last Saturday.
It wasn’t my much-anticipated trip to the Junk Bonanza in Shakopee either. Mother Nature took care of that with a surprise snowstorm on April 19 that had even Brainerd Schools closing for the day. Not that I minded. I was more excited for what was to come the following day.
Local author Candace Simar (Abercrombie Trail and Blooming Prairie) along with her author/editor sister Angela Foster teamed up with Krista Soukup from Blue Cottage Agency and The Crossing Arts Alliance for a day of creative writing know-how also known as Creative Writing Bootcamp.
We discussed some of the components of story, creating a setting, creating strong characters, the difference in the writing points-of-view, and how to create great beginnings and solid endings. I have to admit much of this information was brand new to me once again reinforcing the fact that writing and blogging are not always the same thing.
The day absolutely FLEW by which was a testament to me how good the workshop was. You know it’s good when you are engrossed in what’s being said so much that you look at the clock, an hour has gone by in the blink of an eye.
Here’s some of the tips that stuck with me the most:
- Don’t be enslaved by the “ly” words in your dialogue: I know I am exceptionally bad at this one (“Don’t go there,” he said sternly) . But what I learned is that most times a simple “he said” or “she said” suffices just fine and tends to disappear nicely on the page.
- When creating people/characters, focus on the unique and unusual.
- No one is 100% “one way.” Your “good guy” (protagonist) needs to be 51% good and 49% not-so-much. The same with the “bad guy” (antagonist). They need to be 51% bad and 49% good.
- Don’t be afraid of the “Sh*tty First Draft.” All writers work to get the story on paper first, the fine-tuning comes later.
- The first page of your story is what pulls readers in and helps then decide whether they want to keep reading or not. Short declarative sentences are sometimes enough to engage ypur reader and make them want to keep reading.
- Rewrites may be a pain, but it’s how your story gets better.
Days later my brain is still humming with information, thoughts, and ideas. My buddy Nicole from Hiking is For Hippies went with me and later wrote on Facebook: “I had such a great time and learned so much from this class. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to become a better writer!! Thank you to Blue Cottage Agency and the wonderful ladies who shared some of their best ways to become a successful author!”
It was a day well spent.