Sunday, 5 May 2013

Creative Genius: Donald Maass

This has been a fabulous weekend so far. Friday I managed to have a very productive writing day, which is always a good thing for me, and for my readers. Yesterday I attended a workshop hosted by CaRWA (Calgary chapter of Romance Writers ofAmerica.) Yes, I consider myself a romance writer (among other genres.) In spite of what I have published so far, my focus is on romance. I love a good romance! Unfortunately, not all the stories running amok in my head are romances. Many of them don’t fit into any specific category or genre. I’m good with that. I just want to tell stories.(And with any kind of luck at all, people will want to read them.)

Anyway, back to the workshop … While the workshop was hosted by a romance writer’s group, romance wasn’t the focus at all. The focus was on writing a story that would draw your reader in and keep them captive for the entire story. Creating a page turner. Our special guest was Donald Maass, author and literary agent. He is definately a man who knows what he is talking about, and is an inspiring, entertaining speaker.

We talked about sympathetic characters that were also realistic characters. People with quirks and foibles and conflicting emotions. People who feel those deep, dark and secret emotions that we all feel and refuse to acknowledge to ourselves, let alone to another living being.

We revisited high-school English class and talked about hidden and overt symbolism and how it helps reinforce the story and the message behind the story. I cannot tell you how much it kills me to admit that Miss Morrison knew what she was talking about in English class.

We took notes, did hands on exercises with our current WIP’s (works in progress.) We worked with our own ideas and with other attendees and the work of published authors as well. By noon, my head was abuzz with ideas and ways to improve the projects I am working on. By the end of the day, I was hitting information overload. It was crazy how many improvements to my stories leapt into my head. There were a couple points where it was all I could do not to whip open my laptop and dive into a story.

I know that there is a lot of information not covered in class that is available in his books. So I have ordered them and eagerly await their arrival. (Yes for some things, many things, I still prefer a printed paper book in my hot little hands.) If you are interested, you can find more information on Donald and his books here.

I am optimistic that I have taken away some valuable information that will improve my writing. I like to think I craft a decent tale, but I am certain, beyond doubt, that there is great room for improvement. And, I believe that my readers are worth the extra effort it takes to re-think how I sculpt my characters and worlds to make them better.
Oh yeah, did I mention that
Donald is as cute as a bug's ear?

As for me on this sunny Sunday … I am sitting in the sun, coffee and laptop at the ready. I’m going to have a productive day putting Donald’s advice into action. Maybe today is the day to begin my evil plot to write the mixed genre novel. It is going to be an erotic, shape shifter, vampire, steampunk, sci-fi, murder mystery, adventure, romantic, western, historical, thriller. It will be my biography. Okay maybe it won’t be my biography. But the story I have waking me up at night is definitely a mixed genre one and I have decided to go whole hog and chase after it. (How’s that for mixing your metaphors?)


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