Monday, May 23, 2011

Highlights from the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference-2011

Hello Writers Alley,
It’s me – Pepper, and I’m delighted to share the highlights of my visit to the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference two weeks ago. This was my fourth year at Blue Ridge, where each year I attend as a day guest because the conference is about an hour and a half from my home in TN.
Nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, just east of Asheville, Ridgecrest Conference Center might be a bit unexpected for this growing conference, but it’s the perfect place. Beautiful, quiet, with friendly people at every turn.
I was so pleased to recognize lots of faces this year, as well as be recognized by fabulous authors like Deb Raney, DiAnn Mills, and Jim Rubart. Getting to meet new authors like Edie Melson (we’d met last year, briefly, Gina Holmes, and Ramona Richards was another treat. And waving to familiar aspiring authors like Lisa Carter and Lori Roeveld. Oh what a blast. And this year there was even more courses , agents, and editors  than last year.
But I’m rambling (no surprise). I wanted to give you a few of the highlights.
I was only able to attend 2 days – so I tried to pack as much in as possible. I attended DiAnn Mills, Writing Romance That Sells course, Ramona Richards Writing a Lady to Love course, and returned to DiAnn Mills for Writing Dialogue.
From Writing Romance That Sells:
1.       Characters are vital. We remember well-written characters. KNOW THY CHARACTER!!!!

2.       DiAnn suggests filling out a detailed character chart on each character, and filling out the Myers-Briggs personality test for each of your main characters. It gives important information that makes your characters more three-dimensional and complex.

3.       What are some things that make a ‘selling manuscript’?

a.       The triumph of a character through pain to fulfillment
b.      Unusual plots with your unique ‘spin’ on them
c.       Transforming love that makes each main character better people
d.      Witty dialogue
e.      Emotive conflict
f.        Satisfactory ending

4.       Each page in your manuscript must have some type of conflict

5.       Your protagonist should initiate the action rather than be a victim*** (I liked this one. Readers like strong, independent women)

6.       Quick look at 5 Plot Elements

a.       A sympathetic character (make us care)
b.      A problem arises resulting in conflict (make us desire something)
c.       Conflict must have twists and turns, and character must grow (make us have to fight for our desire)
d.      A climax must exist (make us fight to the finish)
e.      Resolution (make us meet our goal, find our treasure, recover our lost item, get the guy, etc.)
A Lady to Love – this class was absolutely awesome. If you get the chance to sit in on it at a conference near you – DO IT! (here are some highlights)
What makes a woman unforgettable? Scarlett O’Hara, Marion Ravenwood, Jo March, Hester Prynne, Vivian (from Pretty Woman)
1.       All of our current movie heroines descend from Cinderella

a.       A young woman struggling against her environment
b.      Breaks free of the conflict because of her personality
c.       Finds her way to break out
d.      End of story resolved well

2.       What type of woman should we write?

a.       One who cares deeply
b.      Independent
c.       Women who face immediate conflict
d.      Smart

3.       Three conflict for your heroine:

a.       Environmental Conflict (something you can ‘see)
b.      Internal Conflict (something within the heroine)
c.       Interpersonal Conflict (with others)

4.       Heroines are one of 7 personalities:

a.       The Boss (ex. Queen Elizabeth I) a ruler
b.      Seductress (ex. Scarlett O’Hara)
c.       Spunky Kid (ex. Meg Ryan in most of her movies) ‘girl next door’
d.      Free Spirit (ex. Lucille Ball) – follow their own path; ultimate hippie
e.      Waif – ‘Ultimate damsel-in-distress’
f.        Librarian – control freak, prim, proper
g.       Crusader – (ex. Marion Ravenwood from Indiana Jones) adventurer
Most heroines have a basic personality of one of these, with another type or two layering over the foundational one.
Okay, I’m going to stop for now. I have so much information – so many notes, but I’ll just have to save those for next time. What would you like to hear more about? Writing romance? Writing Dialogue? Writing heroines? The dance of character and plot?
Or would you like to learn more of the basics? What are conferences like, or specifically the BRMCWC?