Twice a year I hold a workshop at Ozark Folkways. Attendance has mushroomed since we first began doing this. Saturday, Sept. 26 we arrived with an enrollment of 25, but two fell out because something came up, so I had the largest crowd at 23 since I started the writer’s workshop. I set a limit of 20, but somehow we allowed a few extra before realizing it.
The spacious, brightly lit art gallery at the back of Folkways was crammed full when we began at 9 a.m., taking names and discussing what everyone wanted to get out of the long day. We began by discussing characters, the most important creation in anything you write. Our character must have a dream, a past, a goal, flaws, and he must fear something. Some of these were difficult for everyone to come up with, but they did a great job of helping each other.
Once we had that down, everyone took their character and wrote a scene using only dialog and tags. Then everyone read theirs. With much brainstorming, each helped the others come up with more and better ideas.
After a delicious dinner at Grandma’s: I had fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, fried okra and cream cherry pie still warm from the oven and sweet tea — we returned to begin working on our scenes. For they needed some description — but only within the action and through the POV character’s eyes — there was plotting and pacing and conflict to consider as well.
We discussed getting ideas for our story, learning how the story is put together with scenes and sequels, each book or story being divided into four parts. And we learned how to use Maslow’s Triangle which tells what every human must have. We talked about how, when we take one of these needs away from him, he will have to “do something.” That helps build our story.
Everyone finally came to realize that all they needed to begin a book was a strong character, someone every reader would sympathize with and relate to because he would have flaws and he would be striving to fulfill a goal that he probably wouldn’t reach. He would be someone the writer would know so well, he felt as if he were living under the character’s skin during the writing of the story. We reached far out for our ideas and some were doozies.
I believe everyone who was there Saturday could easily take the writing we created and flesh it out into an interesting and exciting book. I for one can’t wait until the workshop next spring.