Technically the conference in Portland, Oregon kicks off today, but yesterday a group of us early birds jumped the gun and showed up for a workshop featuring April Henry in the morning and Robert Dugoni in the afternoon. (Notice the cliches!)
“The Night She Disappeared”
What I loved most about April’s presentation, and the fact she’d recently tested for her purple belt for Kung Fu, were the tidbits she sprinkled throughout her crime fiction presentation.
Websites to visit, books to consider.
Bubbl.us for mindmapping
Books to assist in dreaming up plots:
“The Amazing Story Generators” by Jay Sacher from Chronicle Books, San Francisco. A fun way to spur brainstorming.
“Novel Metamorphosis” by Darcy Pattison.
Plotto: The Master Book of All Plots by William Wallace Cook
“My Sister’s Grave”
Dugoni gave us many jewels regarding creating fictional characters.
Posing provocative questions for writers, he asked: “Why does a character need to change?” It maintains interest and people change in real life.
“Are the stakes high enough?” What’s standing in the way of your protagonist getting what she needs? Something for writers to consider.
Dugoni said life experiences are the richest and mentioned people-watching at public places like airports.
Keeping your characters moving is important.
Your protagonist is just a little bit better than everybody else and the reader begins to root for you.
Dugoni referenced movies as he explained creating characters. In “Blood Diamond” a guy races across Africa to save his son. “I’d like to be heroic – would I do what that man does?” Readers relate.
Explore the inner demons and conflicts of your characters.
Character strengths can be a weakness and vice versa.
Help readers to stand in the shoes of your characters.
Give your character self-regard. If your character doesn’t care, you won’t care.
Dugoni said that the expression “Show, don’t tell” is a bunch of crap, that you have to show, but you also have to tell. For instance, expressions tell everything about a character. Such as “Why are you jewing me down?” Tells everything.
Good way to check on character description: Could your reader pick your character out of a line up?