Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Learning New Skills

This past weekend the Dallas Area Romance Authors featured author/psychologist Margie Lawson, who presented her workshop, EMPOWERING CHARACTERS' EMOTIONS.

It was an all day event and the hours flew by as we worked on our current Works In Progress, (WIP). We learned about showing visceral responses of our characters to critical events in the story. We learned to use writing techniques such as anaphora, onomatopoeia, and opposite imagery to evoke emotions in our readers. We learned to read our work aloud to find examples of beat and rhythm.

Margie taught us about back-loading a paragraph or sentence to give it more emphasis and clue the reader to its importance.

Then Margie had us get out the many colored highlighters we brought and she gave us a brief overview of her EDITS system. Using different colors to denote different things in our WIPs, such as dialogue and description. Margie showed us how to get a visual assessment of our work. This would help us edit more deeply. Margie runs a month-long workshop on this and her teaching schedule, as well as lecture packets for both ECE and EDITS, is available through Pay Pal on her web site at www.margielawson.com.

The entire day empowered me. I came home after sharing a drink in the bar with friends, totally overwhelmed, but stoked. That evening I took out a proposal I'd planned to send to an editor and found I could use the techniques to really make my opening scene full of energy. It was a rush! These new skills took words I'd looked at a thousand times and made them new and exciting again.

It goes to show we're never too old or too experienced to learn something new. Have you ever taken this workshop? Have you ever come across something in writing or working that totally changed how you approached things? Have you ever stumbled upon a new author and thought, "Wow, I have to go buy everyone of her/his books?"

6 comments:

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Margie Lawson ROCKS! I've done several of her workshops on getting motivated, but haven't done this one. I'Ve been meaning to find it "somewhere" nearby. Since it probably won't be anywhere nearby, I'm going to go to Paypal and get the lecture notes. Thanks, Suz!

Beth said...

I'm taking this workshop now through Writers U and I'm loving every minute of it! I'm also planning on taking an all day class with Margie in Toronto this fall.

I also love Virginia Kantra's workshops. I always find something I can use in my own work.

Inara said...

Anyone else get overwhelmed at these types of presentations? I often walk away jazzed up, but also overwhelmed. Sometimes I wonder how we ever get words onto the page, given how complicated this whole business can be! :-)

Great ideas, though I will now have to invest in a new set of highlighters!!

-Inara

Caren Crane said...

I found Deb Dixon's GMC and Big Black Moment workshop to be transformational. I thought my brain would explode before I could write down all the ideas I had for my work when I came home.

As far as "have to read" authors, I was introduced to Harlan Coben's work last year and have since read everything of his I could find. His style is immediate and compelling. Phenomenal work. Highly recommend him!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Inara, YES! It was overwhelming and I did wonder how in the world I could incorporate these techniques and yet keep my voice. But the funny thing was as I went through my pages, I did find that in places I had already done them instinctually. I think writers, those who practice the craft and read voraciously let their subconsciouses do some of this layering.

Suz

Anna Campbell said...

Suz, thanks for telling us about the workshop. Oh, I wish I could have been there! I'm a bit like Inara - I always get a bit overwhelmed and the stuff takes some time to percolate through to where I can actually use it. I remember Jane Porter came and spoke at our local conference a few years ago about how long it took her to get published and that just being so empowering to me (as you know, I was not a fast learner). And she's so smart and funny and gorgeous too. But I remember her telling a story about sitting on the kitchen floor crying her eyes out over a rejection and I thought, "Yes, that's my experience of being unpubbed." And still she kept going. We've had quite a few speakers over the years but none of them had that experience that absolutely chimed with mine.