Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - 5 - 13 Wonderful Things I Discovered at the 2007 Writer's Retreat

1 - If you want to unlock the mysteries behind a character's behavior, ask 'why?' five times. For example, I'll take Peredur, my warrior-vampire from my WIP. What is his goal at the beginning of the novel? To reunite with his beloved, Tanwen. Why?(1) Because he's finally achieved enough riches taken from battlefields in order to ask for Tanwen's hand in marriage. Why?(2) Because her father is the wealthiest man in the village and Peredur needs to display the promise of a similar future for Tanwen. Why?(3) Because Peredur lost his own warrior father when he was a boy. He needs to impress this father figure. Why?(4) Because male validation has taken on greater significance than female validation. Why?(5) His widowed mother leaned heavily on him but Peredur seemed able to help her. He never got to prove himself to his father, who grew to mythic proportions in his mind and heart.

2 - People who are skilled at organizing things make the retreat a smooth success. A talent I'm impressed with because I don't have it. We're so lucky to have had this retreat planned by someone who made it seem effortless. Just like gymnasts make front walkovers on the balance beam seem effortless. Thank you, Kelly!

3 - Anyone going to a retreat has already stepped outside of his or her comfort zone. Growth is certain to follow.

4 - It's helpful to think of all the names that scroll by in film credits, and then realize a writer wears all of those hats. The cinematographer, the art director, costume designer, props master, director, actor and editor - that's all you.

5 - Screenwriters and director/producer duo Joel and Ethan Coen are amazing dialogue crafters. I used an example of their "Raising Arizona" script as part of my dialogue workshop, and can't stop hearing 'Moses' talk about crawdads in my head!

6 - As long as the subject matter is something I'm passionate about, that energy will override my intense aversion to public speaking.

7 - Realizing you're watching a movie that's making you cry (Stephen Frear's "The Queen") is not so bad when the other people you're watching it with are writers and they're in tears, too.

8 - Having just watched a film together makes it easy to absorb new writing craft tools, since you can reference the film for examples of the crafting process.

9 - The secondary character fulfills a specific need for the narrative. He functions partially as world-building structure, partially as a way to reveal character for the hero and heroine, and partially as a player for key plot developments.

10 - Take an everyday object from our world and rename it for the paranormal world. This gives an increased realism to your original setting.

11 - The amazing writing that resulted from all of the writing exercises and read out loud by each writer left me honored to be in such company.

12 - A competitive person involved in an at-work challenge to acquire the highest pedometer step-count, who walked all over creation during the retreat breaks, is an awesome thing to behold.

13 - Eating fish is a sure-fire way to get a migraine. I'd removed fish from my diet along with many other foods to search for anything that could worsen my migraine triggers. But I love fish so much! I thought I'd order the delectable haddock when we went for dinner at the lodge on Saturday night. The next morning, I realized I'd made a severely bad mistake. However, at least I know how important it is to keep fish out of my system. I can't control low pressure weather systems, but I can control eating fish.

Happy TT everyone!


Annie Mac said...

Love the five WHY? questions.

I've heard of shell fish causing migraines but not white fish.

It sounds like fun watching the competitive person walking, walking, walking - as long as you didn't have to join her.

Miss Frou Frou said...

Have enjoyed reading the blogs about the writers retreat, sounds like an absolutely amazing experience

Annie said...

Sounds like it was an excellent retreat and I'm so glad to see it was such a great experience for you!

Happy TT!

Daisy Dexter Dobbs said...

Great TT list! Sounds like a wonderful writing retreat, Julia. Lots of helpful and informative material covered while having an enjoyable time. Well, except for that nasty fish migraine. :-(


Some awesome tips in here.

My DH has a seafood restaurant and I can't abide any type of seafood. Talk about irony. Anyway, I get to drink alot of free water. LOL!

Kelly said...

Anne, you'll be happy to know the only person I dragged out walking with me was Pam and I tagged along with Renee and Christine once. And I won the weekend total count on Monday!

And you're right about Moses and the crawdads - I can't get his voice out of my head!

...and sometimes mama would boil the crawdads...

Glad you had such a great time at teh retreat. It's one of my favorite things to plan.

Kelly said...

Good many times can I put the word 'and' in one comment??

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Ooh, babe, so sorry about the migraine! I had one last weekend; I hear you! (mine was triggered by shrieking kids. Ouch.)

I, too, love the five whys. That ought to spread to more writers. Really makes a lot of sense.

toni said...

I loved #4. So true.

Rashenbo said...

I so want to go to a retreat! :)

BecK said...

Sounds like you had a great experience minus the migraine.

Thanks for the comments on my TT, yep we sound a lot Star Trek, dog walking, star gazing, junk food...etc!

I'm adding your blog to my daily reads list

Have a good weekend

Christine said...

I really loved the retreat and learned so much from it. I can't wait to participate again next year. :)