“Strive for perfection. Settle for excellence.”
(Don Shula, football player, coach and restaurateur… who knew there is no “n” in that word?)
Ask and ye shall receive. Sometimes.
One of my goals today was to come up with a worthy Storyfix post. I was jonesing for something with intimacy, a little one-on-one commiseration – it’s been a while - but thought-provoking.
And there it was, in my email inbox.
Quick backstory: I’m teaching three workshops at the Willamette Writers Conference (August 2 – 4, Portland OR… it’s a massive affair with a wing full of agents and some really killer breakout sessions, please check it out). In preparation for promo and program materials they asked me for a short description of my sessions. Of course, I ignored the “short” directive and pounded out three missives… which were distributed today to participants via email.
Which brings us – me – full circle to today’s post. Hopefully some morsel will stick to your writing wall in the form of something… useful. It’s good to go Big Picture now and then.
“Beyond Craft… Embracing Greatness” — read the blog post here (from the Willamette Writers site).
FRIDAY 8:30 -10:00 (double room) – STORY PHYSICS 101
Writing salable fiction is a full circle proposition. We begin wanting to touch lives, maybe change the world, and to do it with high style. We yearn to reach our readers as we entertain and enlighten. And so we immerse ourselves in craft, learning about structure and voice and the nuance of character, applying trial and error informed by workshops and books and the collective wisdom of a closet full of critiques and rejection slips. Maybe we reach a point where we believe we “get it,” or maybe that journey continues… it’s usually both. But at some point we return to that initial intention, armed with our learning curve but still relying on instinct to create stories that work. This workshop will offer a peek behind the curtain of craft into the realm of Story Physics (where that instinct awaits), the forces and essences of cause and effect that move readers toward a state of total immersion and emotional resonance.
SATURDAY 8:30 – 10:00 (double room) – CHARACTER VS. PLOT
Welcome to the eternal dance between character and plot, sometimes disguised as trade-off or debate. When done properly, it becomes a narrative union that becomes a sum in excess of the parts. Great stories blur the lines between character and plot, making each both dependent upon and expansive of the other. This workshop will use well known examples (books and films) to demonstrate this critical codependency within the context of expositional (sic, and deliberate… sometimes the best word isn’t really a word at all…) creation, identifying and avoiding traps that can cause a good idea to under-achieve on the page.
SUNDAY 8:30 – 10:00 (double room) – FIX YOUR NOVEL WITH ONE MORE DRAFT
Nobody expects a first draft to work at a salable level. Beyond that, though, the number of drafts required before you can legitimately stamp “FINAL” on it depends on three things: what you learned from and about that first draft… in context to what you know about what the story – any story – ultimately requires… and the process by which you evolve it toward that benchmark. This workshop delivers criteria, targets, benchmarks and reference points that apply to all drafts of a story, and will show how their integration and implementation – it doesn’t have to be one step at a time, draft after draft – is what charts a path, and the number of pit-stops, toward that destination.
If you’re connected to a writing conference, or you are looking for a presenter for your regular meeting and/or private writing soiree, and some of this sounds like juicy good fun to you, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.