Tag: storymakers

LDS Storymakers 2015

Another great year at the LDS Storymakers Conference has come and gone. Storymakers is a conference for Mormon writers where we can take all different kinds of classes and lectures on every part of the writing and publishing process.  This was my 3rd year attending and once again I had a great experience.  I feel a renewed commitment to improving my writing on this and my other blogs!

storymakers3The cool thing about the conference is it is helpful for bloggers and Nanowrimo writers like me but also great for actual published authors.  And it’s not all just religious writing.  Most of it is pretty squeaky clean but all different genres are featured and discussed in the conference.  If I was just a reader I think the conference would be good and well worth the cost.   It is also a fun time to interact with friends and make new friends.  My writing buddy Emilee was there and we had a good time catching up.

storymakersThe highlight of the conference was the Friday night keynote by Martine Leavitt. I wish you could have all heard it.  The tamber of her voice was very meek and soothing but then this incredible profundity kept coming out.  It was so well written and moving.

She talked about her 2 worlds, a gospel world and writing world and how living both to its fullest have made her the best version of herself she could be.

“I wonder if each writer gets an individualized life curriculum designed to make her the best writer she can be, specialized life learnings that contribute to her development as an artist”

She then spoke about her life and the lessons she’d learned a long the way including self confidence, humility, hope, hard work, children and faith.

“I couldn’t write to a certain word count, or a certain number of pages.  Nothing could be guaranteed.  But I needed to write myself soul-fed and happy.  I discovered that I didn’t need to write a lot to be happy, I just needed to write something good.  I found that even a single, perfect, beautiful sentence…could make me feel nourished

I also loved this quote

“I think it’s more likely your children will turn out just fine precisely because they have a happy parent who is happy because she writes”. 

I’m not a parent but I think we all can feel guilty on occasion for taking time to develop our talents.  Her point is our children, the world, our loved one’s are going to be better off if we are happy and especially happy writing.  I think that goes for my blogging a well as novel writing.  I am happy when I’m blogging and I hope that makes the world a little bit better.

Finally she said

“The Lord knew I needed one more thing to become the writer I wanted to be, perhaps the most essential ingredient of all, and that was love…Writers who love are curious about others.  They ask questions.  They observe without judgement.  They try to understand.  How can we write about people other than ourselves if we are not constant and ready students of humanity?”

I’ve thought about that many times with my blogging- wondered about the readers out there and what your struggles might be.  Wondered if there is anything I could say that might help you? You guys don’t know how much I love every last one of you who reads this silly blog!

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Anyway, it was an excellent speech! There were many other great moments of the conference.  My sleeping has been bad lately so that mad the morning sessions a little bit difficult but I still got a lot out of it.  I really loved a lecture from Anne Perry on characters.  I took classes on romance writing, using food and music, blogging and more. All very helpful.

If I was going to provide some feedback I wish there were more classes on social media like there have been in the past and I didn’t care for the food (who knew I was such a picky eater!).  Convention food is the worst!

But it was a lovely weekend and I left feeling enlightened, overwhelmed and excited.

LDS Storymakers 2014 Day 2

So day 2 has come and gone at the LDS Storymakers conference and it perhaps wasn’t as memorable as yesterday but still great.

Started the day tired but with a lot of enthusiasium.
Started the day tired but with a lot of enthusiasm.

The first class was on Prepping for Nanowrimo- by John Waverly and Danyelle Ferguson.

They had some cute ideas and were an adorable couple.  A lot of it the advice was more tailored to a family but I just liked seeing them interact.

They went over the different styles- planning vs pantsers and how to deal with Thanksgiving which is helpful.  I’m really excited about my idea for this next Nanowrimo.  It’s going to be called:

How to be Alone- isn’t that a good title?  At least I’d be intrigued.

I liked that he said ‘give yourself permission to stink. Point of Nanowrimo is not to publish but to write.  Get it on the page’.  Love that.

Writing Great Short Stories-  by Angie Lofthouse

To be honest the class I wanted to go to was full so I went to this and it wasn’t bad.  A little dry but  fine.  She talked abotu what a short stories was and how the action had to start right away.

  1. Never begin your short story with backstory (begin with the action)
  2. Don’t start before the beginning of the story. Start with inciting incidents.
  3. Don’t use someone else’s world and characters
  4. Don’t worry about length of story when writing first draft

A lot of the classes I took today were more technical in nature and I think I enjoy the lighter one’s like the class on Jane Austen.  Next year I’m going to take more of those kind of classes.

Gesture Crutches- by Jordan McCollum

Jordan seems super cute and information was helpful but honestly I struggled to stay awake and my computer died half way through so I don’t have a ton of notes.

Basically if we use too many of the same adjectives and verbs to describe our characters it gets old quick.

Words to use when needed but not in excess

Nod, head shake, smile, eyebrows, shrug, eyes narrow, widen, light up and gaze

Basically avoid cliches and using the same words too much.

Next was lunch and it was blah, very disorganized by the hotel staff.  The food was not great at this event.

The rest of the conference was a lecture by

Crafting Character Arcs- Brandon Sanderson

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It was probably the best lecture of the conference and it lasted 2 hours but the time flew by.

It’s kind of funny because way back in 2005 I knew Brandon.  He was roommates with a bunch of my friends and we would go over there to watch Lost every week.

At the time he was getting ready to release his first book Elantris and he asked me to read it, so I did.  I’m normally not much into fantasy but I enjoyed.  If only I’d known I’d have gotten it autographed. 🙂

Anyway, Lost connection aside his lecture was great.  I think he did what everyone was hoping OSC would do yesterday.  He talked about characters needing:

1. Proactive- character makes choices

2. Competent- character is good at something

3. Sympathetic- has flaws and consequences we feel some sympathy for

Sometimes it is very little of one trait or the other but almost always some of each.

He also said “you want someone to be able to pick up your book, read a page, and be able to tell something about your character”

The last half of the lecture he did a Q and A and a lot of great advice about when to move on from a project, when to kill of a darling passage or scene, outlining vs starting raw, and how many projects to start at once.

He said “My biggest weakness was my unwillingness to revise. Had to learn in order to make characters alive give characters veto power over the outline”

I really liked how he talked about the promises you make your reader:

“Ask yourself how do I remain consistent to the promises I’ve made my readers so that my ending is fulfilling not out of nowhere?”  (Couldn’t help but think of How I Met Your Mother on that one…sigh)

Key to keeping promises is defining what they are along the way.

There was a lot more information but that was some of the highlights.  He is very engaging and funny so if you ever get a chance to hear him speak or lecture I’d recommend it.

Then we finished up with closing remarks and I had tickets to the banquet tonight but my back was hurting and as I hadn’t read any of the nominees this year I didn’t think the awards would be very much fun.  Instead I went to my hotel room, ordered room service and relaxed.  Tomorrow I think I will go for a swim and then head out.

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My friend Emilee is in my writing group and we had a good time hanging out and getting to know each other better. It was nice to know someone at the conference.
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Relaxed and absorbing all I learned!
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Got to live it up every now and then!

Perfect weekend! It inspired me to take a look at my nanowrimo projects and try to make them better and to work harder on this blog. I focused a lot on storytelling and hopefully you will see that in this blog.  Hopefully you will see some improvement in my writing.  That’s the goal at least.

Thanks for reading and thank you to all who worked hard to make the conference a success.  I look forward to next year!