Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Conference Notes

I usually write a little later in the evening - more like sometime after midnight - but the stuff I want to share is quite a bit and will take some thought, so I thought it best if I start earlier. (Not that I'm going to be writing lots - just want to get the meat of the conference down.)

As I stated earlier, I spent a bit of extra money and went to what SCBWI calls an 'intensive.' It was certainly that. The session lasted three hours. I attended the one offered by Rebecca Barnhouse. She's a professor of English at Youngstown (Ohio) State University. Boy - would I love to be close enough to attend her classes! She is the epitome of what a teacher should be. 

She started out with the typical questions about the MC for each of us, but the session really started rocking when she shared techniques for getting to know our characters. For me, it was one of those 'Ah ha!' moments. I should have known this. The most important one, IMHO, was the Maisie Dobbs Exercise. Now I've never heard of this but I've put the link below. turns out Maisie is a fictional character. I've got to go read the books to figure out why this exercise is called the Maisie Dobbs Exercise, but here's the gist. Figure out my MC's body in motion. 

I am an actor. Haven't done it for awhile, but I know how to act and know how to get into my character's mind so I can portray her as she requests. I should have seen the similarities between a character in a play for an actor and a character in a book. Rebecca had us stand up and walk around like our character would. Isn't that phenomenally simple!!! (I know the rule against multiple ! but it feels right to use them here.) We stood up and walked around the room, even out into the hallway, and imagined we were our character. It was eye-opening. Next, we talked like our character - out loud. Now, we didn't talk to our neighbors or anyone in the room, we spoke out loud as our character. Another crazy, yet awesome exercise. I learned a lot. 

Due to the fact that it's not polite to give out too much information about a conference speaker's talk, I'll curtail most of the rest of my excitement. But I will say this: the 'interview the character' exercise was excellent. My buddy, D, interviewed me one time, but as the author of my book. It was a great exercise and made me aware of some weaknesses in my plot and character development. This one, by Rebecca, forced me to learn more. I loved it. 

If you ever get a chance to go to a lecture, seminar, or class by Rebecca, please do so. She's awesome!


Life is learning.

PS - We didn't forget the other characters in our books. Remember - this was a three-hour intensive that taught me a truckload. 

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