(you can attend the next one in Irvine, CA in Jan 2018!)
My back going out on me kept me from one day of the three in this workshop, but the other two were attended propped up in a wheelchair among friends and relatively pain-free with the help of modern medicine. Not sure if it was the drugs, but I got a LOT out of this workshop, even still.
The best kind of friends are willing to scrunch down to take a picture with you in your wheelchair.
A COUPLE HIGHLIGHTS
Here are just a few tidbits from the workshop—a combination of things Maass talked about and my insights garnered in the process. Highly recommend getting the book or attending a workshop of Maass’ in the future.
- SYMBOLISM—Symbols are powerful. In each scene, find something that reflects your character’s greater struggle or themes of the book. A bird trapped in a cage. A thousand blades of grass cut down before they can flower. If it’s not there, put it there. Films do this really well because they’re so visual. Find objects/persons/settings that will resonate with your theme and stick with your reader. Orwell insists on FRESHNESS in your metaphors and I agree. When your character sees MORE in a story, the reader will FEEL more in the story.
- HOW TO NOT SLOW DOWN THE STORY—Writers are afraid that adding emotional content will slow down the story, but it’s not about pace, it’s about depth. We need readers to care. Symbols are a great shorthand for that—a compact way to deliver ideas and heart and meaning. Also metaphors or other poetry of language. It doesn’t take many words—it’s how you craft them. This isn’t a showing vs. telling thing—emotional content uses BOTH. Well-dropped emotional content in the middle of a taut dramatic action scene will be felt even more. Writers often put emotional content at the beginning or end of a scene, but it’s better to SURPRISE the reader—put it where they don’t see it coming.
- SHIFTING PACE—What is PACE? Rapidity with which things happen in the narrative—different than tension/microtension. Pace shifts like a song changing key—change of speed (fast to slow to fast) arrests attention. The SHIFT in modes of being is important. It rivets readers. People/characters are either those who store energy (potential force) or release energy (kinetic force). A SHIFT between them is when you capture attention.
These are just a few of the insights. I really encourage everyone to read the book, work the exercises—there’s a lot of gold to mine in Emotional Craft of Fiction. I’m still working through and mining it myself.
Art hard, my friends,