First year co-Municipal Liaison Frank Dahlman gave a stirring and insight-filled preparatory workshop Saturday, 19 October at the Community Room of the Nichols Library in Naperville.
After opening with a cute story about his daughter’s first soccer goal, Frank leapt into the importance of engaging our readers and began a tour of many ways we as writers could accomplish this. How do you engage your readers? It starts with story, which means creating tension.
The most important part of tension comes from your characters. It is important to create characters that will be loved by the reader. Focus on attributes that make a difference and stand out.
Frank then listed the four major sources of conflict (that lead to tensions). He also advised the participants to know their central conflict before they begin writing. Having one strong conflict can carry you through November. Of course, creating a layered story with many conflicts results in the best books; however, you should try to avoid overwhelming yourself. You can always add complexity in the editing phase.
One of the best parts of the workshop were the genre-related group exercises. I was part of a great Fantasy group that came up with a story about Molly, a girl who exhibits a split personality that turns out to be a ghost who can only take over Molly when Molly is stressed.
Frank shared many valuable techniques for increasing tension even as he reminded everyone to avoid constant increases of tension, which would tend to wear out the reader and break the aura of believability in the story. He finished by sharing many useful tips for succeeding in November (including the great suggestion to focus on a big dramatic question). The audience rewarded Frank with a big round of applause at the end of the workshop.
Long-time Journey member Squiddish (Katherine) shared peeks at the beautiful story stones she will be giving out as prizes at her write-ins.
The presentation and notes from the presentation are available on the naperwrimo.org wiki.