Saturday, August 7, 2010

Notes from a Retreat

A few weekends ago, I attended a writing retreat where Susan May Warren taught. It was an interesting weekend, one God used to broaden my perspective in multiple ways, as I sat back and did a lot of listening.

I cannot begin to expound on everything, either the stuff from personal perspective or the immense volume of teaching. But I thought I would pass on a few of my notes from the retreat:

Ask “What is the lie your characters believe, and what is the truth that will set them free?”

Within the first act of the story, give the reader a glimpse of the protagonist’s greatest dream/desire or his greatest fear.

Around the first threshold (Ms. Warren’s “Noble Quest”), implement some push-pull: what draws the protagonist forward into the unknown (pull) and why is it now intolerable to say where she began (push)?

During the final battle (a.k.a. the climax or death & resurrection), what is the protagonist able to do that he couldn’t do at the beginning?

Try starting your scene five minutes later and ending five minutes earlier.

At the beginning of a scene, ask what the protagonist fears most at that moment.

End a scene with a surprise or the worst thing that can happen at that moment.

Word painting is sensory, specific, active, figurative language having the music and rhythm to act as the score beneath the story.

Description can be either static (focused on a point) or active (intertwined as the protagonist moves through a scene).

Don’t feel guilty about taking down time/white space.


Tracy Krauss said...

I liked the eloquently 'charged' statements at the end of the post. Very 'meaty'.

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Chawna Schroeder said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it! I hope some of it will be some help.