Sunday, July 29, 2012

Midwest Writers Workshop is Invigorating

I spent three days at the annual Midwest Writers Workshop in Muncie, Indiana, and it was time well spent.   This is my fifth time and there is always a good mix of sessions on writing and marketing, and this year you could do a 45 minute one-on-one session on social networking.

Terence Faherty shared his concept of "two for one," talking about the two streams of plotting that he finds essential for his two mystery series (P.I. Scott Simon and failed seminarian Owen Keane) .  He plots out the murderer's story before the protagonist's, since the former is hidden from the reader during most of a mystery.  I always develop the bad guy's motive and back story, but I found Faherty's concept so helpful that I got home and wrote a three-page 'story' for my main bad guy.  And I wrote it from another character's point of view.  It was very instructive.

D.E. (Dan) Johnson discussed what he calls the heavy lifting of writing good fiction.  Simply put, it's that setting is not just a place, it needs to work as party of a tapestry that includes characters and plot.  A well thought-out setting can contribute to tone, tension, and (in a mystery) misdirection.  I have not read Johnson's books, all set in Detroit, and intend to.  From a quick glance at them, it almost looks as if the city is another character in the books.

There is always a great deal of marketing and how-to-publish info at Midwest Writers (#MWW12).  A continuing helpful reference for me will be Jane Friedman's blog on publishing.  The workshop offers five-minute pitch sessions with agents (four this year) and Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest gave an instructive, and humorous, presentation on giving an effective one.  You'll want to check out his new book, Red Dog Blue Dog: When Pooches Get Political.

This mid-size conference is instructive and informal, with many opportunities to interact with faculty and other participants.  Come next year.

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