By Kathy McKinsey
I was happy to meet staff from Mantle Rock Publishing—Kathy and Jerry, Diane and Pam. Plus a bunch of fun writers from Missouri, Illinois, Mississippi, Georgia—and whatever else I’m missing—as well as Kentucky and Tennessee.
Two of my favorite statements from the retreat: brain dump; start five minutes later.
We had classes by multi-published authors and authors from a variety of backgrounds—teachers, librarians, nurses, military staff. Topics such as conflict, setting, creating characters, brainstorming, a writer’s toolbox, point of view—so much.
I’ve heard about most of this before, but I’ve learned how important repetition is to me, as a student of writing, as well as a student of the Bible. Having techniques explained again, hearing them in a different and brighter light—they sparkle in a new way.
We talked about editing, publishing, book covers, our own stories, marketing—I wish I could remember it all.
Here are a few details that especially struck home to me:
Let something unexpected happen in each scene.
Readers don’t like whiny main characters. Whoa! That made me take a new look at my current MC.
Start stories from the end, in the middle, five minutes after significant happening.
I’ve heard of brainstorming before, but it made so much more sense to me this time. Don’t sensor. Don’t stop too early. Write down at least ten things. Give yourself a significant amount of time to brainstorm. Two hours?
Hook readers emotionally.
Do not bore readers.
Use memories of events which have affected me emotionally to help me create emotions in the story.
Think of the worst thing that could happen, then make it worse.
Open my character’s wound again.
What can she do at the end of the story that she couldn’t do at first?
And much more.
As I’ve heard before from those who attend writers’ conferences—you come home and reality crashes in on you. After two days of talking about nothing but writing, I came back home to reality. But that’s okay. My reality is pretty good, and writing is an important part of it. I am grateful for the lovely people I met at the retreat, as well as the fun and useful tips and reminders.
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