As you might know, this Southern Literature writer (I’m talking about me!) attended #MWW15 (Midwest Writer’s Workshop) this week. I’m currently sitting in the Atlanta airport with a three hour layover before I can wrap my arms around my kiddos and squeeze. My brain is processing all the information crammed into my head this weekend. Valuable information. Life-altering information.
First of all, if you’re a writer, and you’re thinking about going to a conference then you should absolutely go. Those who have been following my blog for a long time know I’ve been writing since I was a little girl. What you may not know is I have no technical training in writing. Sure, I sat through English classes in high school and college and loved them, but I don’t have a Creative Writing degree. I don’t have a MFA. What I do have is the love of writing. I love the craft. I love how I feel like myself when I write. I feel happy and content, and I’m nice to others around me when I’m doing what I love.
So how amazing to go to a conference with TONS of other people who feel the same way. Not only authors, but editors, agents, teachers of the craft: people who want to succeed and want to write just like I do. And if you’re starting out as a writer but are unsure of what to do, then attend a conference so you can meet other people who can help guide you on your writing journey. You will not be sorry. I promise.
The first day at #MWW15, I took an intensive class with Martha Brockenbrough (rhymes with “toe”). Her intensive was aptly named the “Writer’s Survival Kit.” And boy, doesn’t every writer need this? A way to get through. A way to finish. A way to revise. She spoke about her YA book, The Game of Love and Death (I had her sign it! I might be a groupie now since she’s a wonderfully fantastic human being.) and how the idea came from one question: Can love survive death? Simple, right? Every good book starts with ONE question. That’s all it takes. Sometimes plucked from nowhere, and the author’s job is take it, shape it, revise it and turn it into something that transcends time. Something to leave behind. Probably the biggest idea I zoned in on when Martha spoke was the concept of tone. Tone is the protagonist’s voice. Each protagonist’s voice is unique. Having a unique voice builds trust with the reader, because it shows the writer knows how to reflect a tone that meshes with the characteristics of the character (age, race, location, gender, etc.).
I thought about “tone” through the whole weekend. The word echoing in my head like a silent whisper. In my current work-in-progress-not-yet-named, my character is a thirteen year old girl from rural Alabama in the 1920s. She is a tenant farmer’s daughter. Her tone and voice would be vastly different from a businessman, say in Atlanta from the year 2015. Tone can make or break your work. It’s important to make sure the proper voice is representing each protagonist in each novel.
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to share my key takeaways from the Midwest Writer’s Workshop.