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What did you learn at Spring Conference?

Those of you who missed Spring Conference missed some outstanding workshops, readings, and discussions about the craft and business of writing.

As tempting as it may be to gloat, though, I hope that those who were there will share a little bit of what they learned with the rest of the Network.

If you attended the 2009 Spring Conference, please leave a comment on this blog, telling us the most useful or insightful piece of information or advice you heard Saturday.

You can summarize one of your workshops, share a quote or two that you enjoyed, or talk about your favorite aspect of the conference.

Thanks again to all of you who attended the conference, and to our instructors, readers, panelists, and volunteers who helped to make it so memorable.

And keep your eye on www.ncwriters.org – Summer Residency registration will be open soon.

8 Comments

  1. Katrina Williams wrote:

    I attended the North Carolina Writer’s Network Conference. I chose the workshop “Oh Give Me a Home, Where My Characters Roam” faciliated by Jack Riggs. I really enjoyed the suggestions and ideas Mr. Riggs related to the participants on how to add depth to a character through the geography of your landscape. I plan to use some of these techniques when writing and revising my literary works. I think I am using some of the characteristics brought out in the workshop in places in my work now, but I see where I can use them more to add depth to my stories. I enjoyed the conference, and I learned a lot at this workshop. It was my first time going, and I hope to attend more in the future.
    Katrina Williams

    Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 2:16 pm | Permalink
  2. Ed Southern wrote:

    That’s great, Katrina; I’m glad you enjoyed it. Were there any suggestions or ideas that you thought were particularly helpful?

    Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 2:46 pm | Permalink
  3. Katrina Williams wrote:

    Hi Ed,
    Yes, there were many techniques Jack Riggs mentioned that he used in his writings in the workshop. He noted there were three things he needed before he began his stories: believable characters that feel authentic, geography—a setting in which the characters can be believable–language also is a part of the geography, especially for him since his characters are set in southern fictional towns—and finally, conflict.
    He indicated that he tended to write his stories by thinking in terms of a film shot or a movie scene–he wants to create a visual depiction of his story rather than just telling what happened to the characters. He read some excerpts from his second novel The Fireman’s Wife to show how the geography and landscape, barren and dying, depict the inner struggle of his protagonist, Cassie Johnson, who contemplates her marriage to her husband of fifteen years.
    He emphasized that when he writes, he must feel confident in his character–he must know his character’s motivations, desires, fears, beliefs, etc., in order to write a believable and authentic story. Once he knows his characters, he writes the story and lets the language, the geography, and the characters come alive on the page. He also believes that a writer should tell the story and trust the reader to read between the lines, allowing the reader to become an active participant in the story.
    Jack Riggs provided the participants with several excerpts of works that depict how characters are created by their geography and how language plays a role in bringing depth to one’s story. Examples are William Faulkner’s “Dry September;” John Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums;” Tina McElroy Ansa’s “You Know Better;” Araby’s “Dubliners;” John Updike’s “Rabbit,Run;” and Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants.” In all of these excerpts, Jack Riggs showed how the authors used the geography of their stories to make a connection between the characters and place.
    Another technique he used when developing his stories was putting fictitious places in his stories that were based on real places. He pointed out that he would go to the cities that his fictitious towns were based upon and photograph buildings, houses, streets, etc. to get a feel for the town, the people, the language, etc., and when he was ready to write, he would feel like he knew the town and the people he was writing about in his stories. I think that is a wonderful technique, especially for writers writing about places they’ve never been.
    All in all, the information shared at this workshop was something I can use in my own writing. I hope the other participants got as much from this workshop as I did. I must say it was not long enough for me as I am sure it wasn’t for the other participants. So many questions that could have been asked and so little time.

    Wednesday, April 29, 2009 at 7:44 pm | Permalink
  4. Ed Southern wrote:

    Sounds fascinating, Katrina. I wonder what other Spring Conference attendees remember as the best advice they got from their workshops?

    Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 8:17 am | Permalink
  5. Katrina Williams wrote:

    I would love to hear from them also. I hope they got something worthwhile from all of the workshops as I did.

    Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 10:01 am | Permalink
  6. Glenda Beall wrote:

    As always I enjoyed the Spring Conference. Meeting old friends, and making new friends is an aspect I like. I had a session with Marianne Gingher and thought she did an excellent job in discussin the ways go ways to develop a memoir. I enjoyed Ed’s session on non-fiction, especially the discussion and questions.
    And Ed, I am trying to bring back to our Netwest people as much of the fun and knowledge I can. One thing that impressed me was the publishers paneld, the varied group but they all seemed to agree that without an online presence, a writer will be irrelevant within five to ten years. I’m not sure most writers realize that.

    Saturday, May 9, 2009 at 12:22 am | Permalink
  7. Glenda Beall wrote:

    As always I enjoyed the Spring Conference. Meeting old friends, and making new friends is an aspect I like. I had a session with Marianne Gingher and thought she did an excellent job in discussing the ways to develop a memoir. I enjoyed Ed’s session on non-fiction, especially the group discussion and questions.
    And Ed, I am trying to bring back to our Netwest people knowledge I found there. One thing that impressed me was the publishers panel, the varied group but they all seemed to agree that without an online presence, a writer will be irrelevant within five to ten years. I’m not sure most writers realize that, although I heard that at Fall Conference in 2007.

    Saturday, May 9, 2009 at 12:25 am | Permalink
  8. Ed Southern wrote:

    Thanks, Glenda. We’re glad you were there.

    Sunday, May 10, 2009 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

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