Tuesday, September 15, 2015

PNWA 2015 Workshop Review #3: The Writer's Connection

(Image from:  Crestleaf, 19 Strange Professions of Your Ancestors that Don't Exist Today)
 The last, and only workshop at the end of the Summer Conference's first day was an inspirational finale. 
The Writer's Connection was hosted by PNWA's perennial emcee Robert Dugoni
In the five non-consecutive years I've been attending this convention, Bob Dugoni has demonstrated an unflagging appreciation for the help PNWA provided to his writing career.  I admire him for the enthusiastic way he gives back to the writing community.
Bob reminded the mass audience attending this workshop that this 60th Anniversary of PNWA was about connections.  So he started the workshop by discussing his rocky road to success.
Bob's Backstory:
A lawyer by trade, he became increasingly afraid he'd never get a chance to write novels.
His turning point came when a relative, who's a well-known portrait photographer, gave him the following advice:
--Follow your dreams and the money will come.  Follow the money and you'll lose your dreams.
--Immerse yourself in the community of artists. 
--Make yourself available to many and many will make themselves available to you.
--Think of writing as your job.
--Love what you do and you'll never have to work a day in your life.
So Bob joined a writer's group (PNWA?) and his writing career took shape.
Bob's first batch of advice dealt with making personal connections:
Your first connection is to yourself.
--You have to know yourself as a person and as a writer.
--Because understanding who you are helps you understand what's the best story you should write.
Meet people and ask questions.
You want a business relationship that's genuine.
It takes time to build an audience (an observation from James Rollins).
Writers need to write more than one book to build an audience.
Write honestly (advice via Stephen King).
Writing is a different form of entertainment that other forms of media, because--
--Reading is interactive.
--To read a story well is to follow it.
--It's a collaboration between reader and the author.
Try to write a book that resonates with others and touch the reader on some fundamental level.
Bob next discussed character development.
Where do characters come from?
You, the writer.
Characters are of you--but they're not you (no matter how whacked-out the characters may be).
A writer plays the role of ever character in a story.
So to develop a character ask yourself these questions:
Where's he from?
Who are his parents?
What is his birth order among siblings, if any.
How did this affect him?
What religion does he practice?
What schools did he go to?
--Was he the star?  The nerd? A bully, or was bullied?
What was his life-changing event?
Was he in the military?
--Did he see combat?
Type of personality--adventurous, or cautious?
Is he married, or single?
And--What would be the quote on his tombstone?
Continuing-on with character development:
You need to be aware of the people around you, which will help visualize the characters you want to create.
Be aware of peoples' physical features and mannerisms.  (As a writer, you don't have the luxury of overlooking this).
Ask yourself what five characteristics you'd tag a character with if he were standing in a police line-up.
From character development, Bob moved on to discuss the writing process.
Writers are different.  They're quirky. 
Understand your writing process.
Understand you're weird. (I've known this about myself for as far back as I can remember).
Don't throw out any ideas.  They may come in handy.
Don't buy into the idea that you have to suffer for your art.
Figure out how to tap into your muse, and understand what your assigned muse is telling you.
Figure out where and when you're most creative.
Treat writing as a career, not a hobby.
Be sure to place yourself in an environment that's conducive to writing.
You have to write a novel to understand how to write a novel, and once you're finished write the next book.  You will get better.
Understand simple concepts.
Understand that a story is a journey, both a physical and an emotional one, where the emotional journey sparks the physical one.
If you're experiencing Writer's Block:  Do some research, or get some exercise.
Being a writer means understanding what you control, which is the writing--not the publishing.
Don't give up on writing.
Don't be afraid of failing--it's the first step to success.
Don't let rejections get you down.
Help dispel the myth that writing books is easy and innate.
And speaking of books, Bob recommended having at least six reference books.
(He rapidly cited his top six pix, but couldn't write them down fast enough).
As to books in general, read one that speaks to you.
Practice the Six P's:
Passion, and
Bob ended the workshop by getting the audience to stand and recite an altered-for-writers form of Aragorn's speech at the Black Gate.

No comments: