And then we forget them because someone has gifted us with a brand new one because what do writerly friends buy for each other? Blank journals, post-it notes, pens, and other writing paraphernalia from bygone eras.
Sometimes I open up these old journals to discover gems and this is what happened to me recently:
I found notes from a workshop given by Rita-award-winning and NYT bestselling author, Jo Beverley (1947-2016). Jo was a member of my local RWA group (since disaffiliated) and in January 2002 I went to a workshop with a brand new, never-before-written-in journal. I took these notes:
Flying Into the Mist Workshop
presented by Jo Beverley
- GMC is discovered - write in the "now" - be there with the character (GMC means Goal, Motivation & Conflict from Deb Dixon's book)
- It's not more artistic and free (I think she meant not more artistic than plotting & planning)
- Decide what works for your characters - upset the status quo (fish out of water stories have this inherent strength)
- A trait that gets in the way of the characters' success
- Give characters secrets - don't have to be huge but really a problem for character (I still use this brilliant piece of advice) i.e. claustrophobia
- Three characteristics - one flaw that opposes a trait (maybe the secret)
- Ask why for everything
- Sometimes a surprise needs the character and author to take time to consider ramifications.
- Hunting for surprises can be daunting
- Surprises should grow out of the events
- One secret can't carry a book!
- No book survives on the first three chapters.
- Characters should fear something.
- Goals have roots in the past.
- Look for a genuine dilemma for the characters
- Write until the story stops.
Jo was a great teacher. Her workshops were clear and concise. She never wasted a word and these notes only give her lesson that day a glance. I'm a terrible note taker but these brief words make up storytelling in a nutshell.
If you can do all these things, you'll have a cracker of a story!
Thanks again, Jo.
In Loving Logan, Return to Welcome, my heroine Elle Foster has a really big secret that once revealed is a catalyst for the romance to take off. I'm willing to bet that Jo started me looking for what secrets my characters can have and how I use those secrets to find all the surprises she mentioned.
She lives by three rules: Don’t date. Don’t sleep with the boss. Don’t believe in happily-ever-after.
Elle Foster left Welcome broke, pregnant, and with a bad-girl rep.
Now, she’s returned to Welcome, still broke, with four children, but has vowed to never get pregnant again.
Logan Hughes is younger and establishing a new business. Adopted, he wants nothing more than to have a family of his own. He needs an assistant and Elle needs the work…
A pirate raider lurks inside Logan and when he lets him loose, even a determined woman can fall under his spell. And that sexy pirate may make Elle Foster break all her rules.
Can Logan give up fatherhood for the one woman he wants more than life itself?
How can Elle look for her future when she's returned to her ugly past?