Please join us for a conversation with Carolyn Adams. Carolyn is a poet, artist and performer, her poetry, photography, and collage art have been published in numerous journals, including Willawaw Journal, Caveat Lector, Skylark Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, and Forge Journal, among others. She is author of four chapbooks, Beautiful Strangers (Lily Press), What Do You See? (Right Hand Pointing Press), An Ocean of Names (Red Shoe Press), and The Things You’ve Left Behind (Red Shoe Press). She has been nominated for a Pushcart prize, as well as for Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net Anthology. In 2013, she was a finalist for the post of Houston Poet Laureate. Having recently relocated from Houston, TX, she now resides in Beaverton, OR. Conversations With Writers meet the last Monday of each month from 7-9pm at the Reedville Presbyterian Church at 2785 SW 209th Ave, Aloha.
Making Stories Come Alive
If you’ve been in the author business for any amount of time, you know that readings and signings can be pretty blah. But if we’re going to the trouble of putting together an event, we want to make it worth our time, right? Margaret Pinard has planned her own three launches and attended numerous festivals and events. She will outline important factors and planning decisions to consider as we brainstorm about how to make our book events special, memorable, and profitable. Think color, think unique locations, think party themes!
Margaret is a soul from the 19th century who finds it easiest to disguise herself by drinking tea, writing historical fiction, and popping off to the British Isles for ‘research.’
Her favorite books transport the reader to a different time and place, while poking at the unconscious assumptions one holds about one’s place in the world.
Margaret has published two standalone historical novels and two novels in her Remnants series. The third book is due out in 2019. Visit her at http://www.margaretpinard.com.
Every story needs a world in which to take place, whether it’s a suburban kitchen or an imaginary kingdom. In this workshop we’ll talk about the difference between world and setting, how to build a compelling, believable world, and how to seamlessly incorporate world building into your narrative without the dreaded info dump. Bring your favorite writing implement so we can try an exercise (or two!). I’ll also send you home with some additional exercises to apply to your own work.
Carolyn O’Doherty lives in a much prettier and less dangerous version of Portland than the characters in her new novel, REWIND. When, as a kid, she dreamed up the idea of freezing time, she only considered the benefits: always having the perfect snappy come-back, the right answer on the test, untraceable revenge. It was when she turned the idea into a novel that she delved into the dark side of this potential blessing. Carolyn has an MFA in Creative Writing from Stonecoast. REWIND was released on April 10th.
Washington County Writers hosts a Writers Forum on the first Thursday of each month except January. Join us at Insomnia Coffee’s downtown location at 317 E Main Street in Hillsboro from 7-8:30pm. Admission is $5.
**NOTE: Lucy Monroe was kind enough to share this post with WCWF. It’s a recap of her presentation on February 1st AND MORE! Thanks, Lucy, for your generousity!**
Why is emotion so important in writing? Because when we connect with our reader on an emotional level, we engage them and keep them interested. Even what should be the most fascinating facts ever revealed will lose reader interest when offered with dry rationality and no attempt to connect to feelings those facts could evoke.
As an example, I have several books on Viking history, two of which share an almost identical structure and table of contents. One? Is written to engage the emotions of the reader, telling the history in such a way that I am allowed to picture it in my mind. The other is not poorly written by any stretch, but took twice as long to get through because I kept getting bored…despite being truly interested in all the topics covered.
Emotion is key. Let me say that again.
Emotion. Is. Key.
So, how do we use that key to unlock the door to reader engagement?
First, let’s begin with defining what we mean by emotion. It is not the potential for feeling. It is not the tragedy or the celebration, it is the feelings either of those two events evoke.
Feelings as defined in Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions that are at their most basic level: Fear, Anger, Sadness, Joy, Disgust, Surprise, Trust & Anticipation. But Book 2 of Aristotle’s Rhetoric lists those basic emotions as: Anger, Friendship, Fear, Shame, Kindness, Pity, Indignation, Envy, & Love. You notice that arguably the most powerful, sought after emotion on the planet isn’t even included in the first list, which goes to show that even the “experts” don’t agree, but we still must find a way to reveal these elusive feelings, however we define them.
It’s too easy to fall into the mistake of believing that we create emotion when we create an emotional situation, but until we fully realize that potential for the reader, via our characters, our language and our narrative we’ve only taken readers on half the journey. In fact, if left there, the only emotions we are likely to engender are frustration, anger and disgust.
Telling a reader to feel an emotion isn’t going to work, not unless we’ve built up emotional language and character reaction so the reader can have an aha…that’s the emotion I feel moment.
So, how do we do this? How do we build the emotional arc, not just inform the reader it is there? How do we allow the other end of our writing journey, the people who read what we write…to feel, to experience the story in a way s/he can fully realize the emotional potential of the plot?
It begins with the language we use. There is a difference between what we might term emotional words and those that are more intellectual in bent. Take for example, the word accelerate – if you use the term speed up instead, it is more accessible for the reader…allows a sense of emotion not generally associated with accelerate.
This is not to say that intellectual language has no place in our writing. Of course it does. Words are our tools and all are at our disposal, but if we want to make readers feel, we use the language to do so. Additionally might in a certain spot strategically become there’s more, circular => round, container => bag, or bottle, etc., fidelity => faithfulness, pleased => happy, and so on. Do you see? Can you feel the difference in these words?
Beyond word choice, what do we do to ensure emotion is forefront in everything we write?
We draw characters that are three-dimensional and fully developed. We do not write caricatures, or depend on tropes, reader familiarity, or anything else that makes it easy on us but awfully boring for readers. We motivate the actions of our protagonists, antagonists and secondary characters so their actions not only make sense, but are instinctive to the reader. A past experienced, steeped in some deep emotion is a good place to start, but it is not the end. Who of us is influenced by a single event in our past without changing, growing, learning? So, build on that first event, give a reason it still impacts the character, is still driving them to do x, y, & z.
But let’s not forget that for a plot to drive emotion, it must have emotion and that means at this point, we are searching for both an internal and external conflict as vehicle for feelings we want to evoke. For example, your protagonist may be on a quest to save the princess, but if there isn’t some internal thing driving him (or her), that quest becomes just another uninspired journey through the universe (or Outback, or small town America). But give an internal conflict, the hero(ine) must save the princess for the sake of all in his/her kingdom, only doing so will destroy the one s/he holds dear.
Answer the why’s of this in a way that allows the reader to feel emotion, to connect with and care for the character and you’ve written a much stronger story. An emotional story.
Finally, and possibly, probably, the most important element of all to writing emotion? Write from your heart. Let your own emotions get involved. Forget marketing studies, trends, editorial feedback that may, or may not come. Even, for a while, forget the reader on the other end and write what is in your heart to be written. I pass a promise on to you that the late Kate Duffy made to me on this, the story will be better for it.
2018 Authors’ Conference
Helping You Move from Writer to Published Author
Writers in the Grove, a creative writing group in Forest Grove, will host a 2018 Authors’ Conference. The event is set for Saturday, January 27, 2018, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Forest Grove Senior and Community Center.
“This writing conference is a fundraiser for the Forest Grove Senior anWIG Conference Flyerd Community Center,” says author and organizer MaryJane Nordgren. “This is
a win-win event, supporting both the FGSCC and area writers. The seminars advance writers’ skills, helping them move from first draft to published author, while proceeds will aid the FGSCC update their kitchen for meals to seniors.
“We have the esteemed, award-winning poet and former Oregon State Poet Laureate Paulann Petersen presenting an afternoon poetry workshop. In addition, Deborah Reed, Holly Lorincz, Chip MacGregor, Jessica Morrell, Kristin Thiel and I will speak on topics including preparing manuscripts, pitching stories, developing a character arc, pitfalls of common editing errors, and writing hooks.”
Optional private consultations and small group sessions are available. Sign up on a first-come, first-served, paid-at-the-door basis to meet with Jessica Morrell, Holly Lorincz, or Kristin Thiel.
All levels of writers are welcome. Register now at Writers in the Grove website at http://www.writersinthegrove.com or http://bit.ly/2018author. For $60, writers receive lunch and engaging small-group workshops from established authors and literary agents at the FGSCC, 2037 Douglas Street, Forest Grove, OR 97116.
Write and Publish Fierce in 2018
Author Sage Cohen invites you—and equips you—to make 2018 your most fierce year of writing and publishing yet. In an interactive lecture + reading + mini-workshop, Sage will offer her top 3 success strategies for writers of all levels and genres. Together, we’ll prepare to do your best work, live your best life, and make your greatest contribution in the New Year. Come with a pen and notebook!
Sage Cohen is the author of Fierce on the Page, The Productive Writer, and Writing the Life Poetic all from Writer’s Digest Books and the poetry collection Like the Heart, the World from Queen of Wands Press. She reads, teaches and lectures widely, including at Powell’s City of Books, Wordstock, and Willamette Writers. Sage offers strategies and support for writers at sagecohen.com and for divorcing parents at radicaldivorce.com.
Washington County Writers hosts a Writers Forum on the first Thursday of each month. Join us at Insomnia Coffee at 317 E Main Street in Hillsboro from 7-8pm.
Tales as Old as Time:
Modernizing Fairy Tales, Myths and Legends
Prometheus stealing fire from the gods. Pandora opening a box. Atlantis. Paradise lost. Vampires. Some myths have stood the test of time, and the reason is simple —
they resonated with their cultures, and they resonate with us. As writers, we can learn so much from these tales that are as old as time (yes, just like Beauty and the Beast). On October 5th, join author and folklorist Kate Ristau at The Washington County Writers Forum as she explores what we can take away from the myths that persist and the characters that keep fighting, stealing, and tricking their way into immortality.
Fundraiser for the Forest Grove Senior & Community Center
Scrivener Workshop, Sept. 21 – Oct. 12, 2017
Dream of writing your memoirs? A novel? Register now for a workshop on the basics of Scrivener, an affordable and complete writing studio to help you from idea to final published book. The workshop is held on four consecutive Thursdays, September 21 – October 12, from 6:30 – 9 PM.
International trainer Lorelle VanFossen of Lorelle on WordPress has been teaching and offering workshops on Scrivener for over seven years.
As a fundraiser for the Forest Grove Community and Senior Center, the instructor is making this course available in Washington County for only $100 with the proceeds benefiting the Center. Normally these courses cost over $200.
Space is limited for this special event, to be held at 2037 Douglas Street, Forest Grove, OR, where there is free parking.
The Friends of the Forest Grove Library invites everyone to a Cultural Series eve
nt with noir writer Lono Waiwaiole. Lono’s debut novel, Wiley’s Lament, was named a fi
nalist for the 2003 Oregon Book Awards for fiction and an Anthony award for best first novel of 2003. He will talk about “Noir Fiction: Writing from the Dark Side”.
VENUE CHANGE DUE TO HEAT! PLEASE EMAIL ROSEMARY FOR NEW VENUE ADDRESS – ROSEMARYDLOMBARD@YAHOO.COM.
Taylor Stannard will present “Libel in Fiction: Why It’s Important & How to Avoid It” at the Conversations With Writers meeting on August 28th at 7:00pm.
Taylor Stannard has taught Creative Writing and her short fiction has been published in several literary journals. Her The Stonepile Possum Queen, the first book of a trilogy-in-progress, was given favorable reviews by Kirkus.
Taylor will discuss the legal intricacies of writing fiction whose plot, places or characters might pose a resemblance to actual circumstances, either current or recent.