Elizabeth: Learning with Others

Sometimes mastering a new skill is a breeze; other times it’s like trying to swim through quicksand.

– – -Beats?

– – -Scene escalation?

– – -Conflict lock?

Mastering those basic concepts, especially in terms of my own stories, has been like trying to swim through quicksand in a full suit of armor.

We’ve blogged about all of these concepts multiple times here on the blog, I’ve attended numerous RWA sessions on them, and of course we covered them in our McDaniel romance writing classwork.  Sadly, my grip on them has been decidedly tenuous, with hit-or-miss implementation.

According to a random article I read on the internet today, the problem may not be that these concepts are beyond me, it may just be that I need to find a different learning style.  There are, according to the aforementioned article, seven styles of learning: Continue reading

Nancy: Fix This Damn Scene!

Protagonist vs Antagonist Face-to-Face

This past week, I had an opportunity (READ: no choice but) to go back to some of our McDaniel program basics to fix a scene that had gone off the rails. Actually, it was more like it had stalled on the tracks.

First – a bit of context for the horrible, no-good, very bad scene. My protagonist, Eileen Parker, has been stuck in idle since her (now) ex-husband went to prison for the night he attacked her and set the neighbor’s garage on fire in a rage. When she learns he’s going to get a parole hearing, it spurs her into action to create the life she has wanted for herself, a life without and safe from her ex. She starts working her plan, which at its core involves starting her own business.

What I knew I needed after I read the first draft was a confrontation scene between Eileen and her ex (who use to be named Jim but is now Alex, for those following along at home). But I needed a device to get them in the same room – no easy feat since he’s in prison and she isn’t about to go visit him. Continue reading

Nancy: What Sondheim (Re)Taught Me About Scene

Stephen Sondheim

Story is everywhere, and storytellers come in all shapes, sizes, and media. This lesson was brought home to me recently when I caught a fascinating documentary on HBO titled Six by Sondheim. The documentary covers the career of American composer and lyricist Steven Sondheim. The documentary traces Sondheim’s career in musical theater, focusing on six of the many, many songs he has penned.

I must admit, I am not a musical theater aficionado, nor am I particularly a fan (apologies to all my college friends who were musical theater majors), outside of a few classics like Guys and Dolls and Jesus Christ, Superstar. And while I know musical theater productions tell stories, I had never before thought about songs being used as turning points. That’s where Sondheim, who gives master classes in musical  theater and has stated that teaching is “a sacred profession”, taught me something new. Continue reading