We went straight to our classroom and jumped right into critiquing. Here's Ann from Tuesday:
We started with Alisha Geary's manuscript. Her book is a contemporary realistic YA novel. Here she is:
Since she is so photogenic, and also happens to be my best friend, I am including two pictures of her. Here's another one:
She announced at the beginning of her critique that she wasn't afraid of comments for improving the piece, so she told people not to be scared to tell it like it is. There are some real gems of beauty in the prose of Geary's draft, and I know the story on which it is based, so I know the book is going to be beautiful and important. She was a little vulnerable after the critique, which I think is natural for such a personal project, but she was glad to hear what was working and what needed clarification.
Then we went over Gabrielle Saunders' manuscript. Gabrielle's novel is high fantasy YA. Here she is:
One of the biggest notes Gabrielle's piece received was development of sense of place and hard research into weapons, etc. Scott mentioned he had lots of knives, and then when we asked, said he might bring them in.
Then we took a break. During the break, I took a photo of Ann's hands, because of her jewelry, and because they have so much character:
Also, I just really like hands.
We came back and dove into Jessica Nelson's manuscript. She is working on a fantasy adventure. Here she is:
If Jessica looks young, that's because she is. 16. Yes, we were all thinking, "I would have loved to have attended something like this at her age." Jessica had a LOT of characters to maintain, and her biggest note was to just keep a vivid sense of place. It was great to have her perspective in the class, since for many of us, she is the target audience.
Next we moved on to Tanya Finkel's manuscript, which is historical fiction based in Taiwan. Here she is:
Gorgeous, gorgeous prose. Seriously, a beautiful manuscript and very polished. She might end up turning it into fiction for adults, but wow, I was so impressed with her writing. Her biggest note was to avoid the passive voice. Her manuscript ended up falling into this sort of third-person, unattached, fairy tale rhythm, which could work, but it really depends on what she's intending.
After that we broke for lunch. We ate in the foyer, as usual. And it was a working lunch, as usual. Pictured are Taya, Geary, and Bethany.
Then we met in the auditorium for readings. Carol loves readings:
And a plenary by Amy Jameson, an agent for A+B Works Agency. Her presentation was called: Literary Agents: Why You Need One and How You Get One. Here is a slush pile photo:
She also talked about query and pitch letters. And in the end, reminded us how much we all love books.
Then we went to our breakout sessions. But not before I took a photo of Geary's purple Converse and Doctor Who journal:
The last breakout session of the day that I attended was Wendy Toliver's Cardboard Cut-Outs Need Not Audition. Here is Wendy posing with Bilbo:
Her presentation was based on the metaphor of acting. The things that actors go through to get into the character are things we can use to develop vivid characterizations.
Characters need to be fresh, complex, and well-rounded. Like Bilbo. Isn't he cute? He was looking at me the entire time, and I just wanted to pop him into my bag and carry him home.
One thing Wendy suggested as we are getting to know our characters was that we should interview them. "Bring your character to Starbucks with you," she said. "Have a conversation with them. Ask them questions. Then let another character from the book sit down with you. See how they interact. After a few minutes, have the first character get up and go to the restroom, then see what the 2nd character REALLY thinks of the 1st."
Things to think about when developing characters:
Movement (body language tells more than words do)
And speaking of costume, Scott was sitting next to me and I took a picture of his hands, because if those rings don't inform a character, I don't know what would:
As I was leaving Wendy's breakout, I was handed a slip of paper with the details for an appointment with literary agent John Cusick the next day. I was very excited at the prospect.
When we got outside, it was FREEZING, with sleet and we thought it would snow any second. We ran (which wasn't fast, considering Geary's limitations) to the car:
That night we finished Much Ado About Nothing.
If you haven't seen it, go find it online. OMG. So a-mazing.
And the second day was over.