Friday, September 10, 2010

How Do I Start WRiting?

I've been having an interesting dialogue with a fellow who excelled in Toastmasters. They encouraged their members to try new skills, so he thought it would be interesting to try his hand at writing. After several back and forth conversations, these are some of the questions he's asked and my answers.

Q. What skills and tools do you learn by attending a creative writing class in college?
A. You learn about goals, motivation and conflict, all essential elements of any good story, as well as how to present your story in logical sequence, the proper construction of sentences, and the elemental "stuff" of which stories are made. If you're fortunate, you'll learn the building blocks of suspense or how to keep your writer involved in the story.

Q. What are the advantages of attending writer seminars and workshops?
A. You meet other authors, agents, publishers, editors and see what is going on in the publishing world today.

Q. What do you learn there?
A. You can learn the craft of writing, how an editor wants your manuscript presented, and what is being accepted now by the various publishing houses, as well as specialized classes on different elements of writing.

4. How do you find out about them and are they very expensive?
Q. Check out Writer's Magazine and The Writer, as well as on line. Some are expensive - the Maui Writer's Seminar is way out of my league, but watch your local newspaper for local groups. A group in Mesa/Phoenix, Arizona, ANWA, has a conference, as well as the LDS Storymaker's Writers Conference in Utah, both in the spring. Los Angeles is filled with them and San Diego State University has an excellend writer's conference every year. Most are very affordable.

Q. Does the Church, Deseret Book, Seagull Publishing, or Covenant Books sponsor writer's seminars or workshops?
A. No, none of them do. I got my start at a writer's conference at BYU-Hawaii where Deseret Book, Covenant and Bookcraft editors attended. The closest thing to that that I know of is the LDS Storymaker's conference in Utah or ANWA in Arizona.

Q. Are there LDS writer's groups around?
A. Depending on where you live, there are many LDS writer's groups. I've never belonged to one here in California. My writer's critique group consisted of all non-members except me - a historical romance author, a children's book author, a science fiction writer, a hard-boiled detective writer, a paranormal writer and me - suspense or romantic suspense, or mystery - whichever category I fall into.

Q. How do you develop the creative imagination and vision of a writer or is it a natural-born gift?
A. That's hard. I can't tell you how to develop creative imagination. I can only tell you that if you want to write, you must just do it and it will become easier. Creative imagination may be a natural gift, but the ability to write can be developed.

Q. You said you physically go to many of the places that you write about. Is that what many authors do?
A. Many authors travel as I do to authenticate their work or get into the atmosphere of the place and setting. Others do all their research on line. There are advantages to both methods of research, but I don't want to be making mistakes when I'm describing a setting because I have only seen a picture of the place and haven't seen the rest of the surroundings.

Q. How much of your writing incorporates your actual physical research of the place and how much involves your own imagination?
A. Most of my writing incorporates the physical, on-site research I do. I keep pictures, brochures and articles I've picked up surrounding my computer so I can put myself back into that time and place as I write. Since memories aren't perfect, it's nice to have a picture so I can get it right - instead of how I may have remembered it.

Q. Do you ever add things to a location such as a castle, a village or a river that are not actually at the place that you are writing about?
A. I do add elements that aren't there if I need to spice up my story. The mansion in Santa Barbara in my first ten books was a figment of my imagination. The estate on which I created it was a golf course in Tehachapi that I simply moved to the coast above Santa Barbara and placed the mansion on it. The old English mansion in Pursued was also conjured up for story effect. It simply depends on the story. Many times I have not had to add a single fabrication in location.

This is half of the questions and answers that we ended up with, but I'll save the other half for next time so this won't get too long and boring.

Please feel free to weigh in on any of these with your own answers and I'll forward them on to this potential writer. Like the rest of us, he can use all the help he can get. :)

1 comment:

Valerie Holladay said...

Lynn, you're such a treasure of experience and wisdom. Your friend is lucky to know you and be able to benefit from your experiences. I believe that's one way to use your experience, sharing it with others. But I hope you'll feel the urge, and find ways to invest the time, to write again. Remember Lillian Jackson Braun and her experience. She took a few years off and then came back to write many, many more books. Granted, I know you've appreciated the time with your family and your other interests. But just think how you'd feel if some of your favorite writers--and I started to write names but that list would be longer than both our posts put together :-)

No guilt or pressure intended here. Maybe right now it's enough to know that you've created a place for yourself in the hearts of many with your books and perhaps introduced them to the delights of reading so your readers can go on to discover other fabulous adventures in other books.

Hugs, Valerie