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Weldon Writes ... Almost a Blog

Writers at the Beach, 3/28/10

Well, today ended the Writers at the Beach conference for 2010. I'm crossing my fingers there will be a conference in 2011. I'd like to make this an annual event!

Only one workshop today:

Screenwriting Techniques for Fictions Writers (10:30-12:30)
Khris Baxter was the leader of this workshop, and it fit nicely with the earlier workshop of his, Building Dramatic Scenes That Work, that I took Friday morning. The session today focused on structure and how techniques used by screenwriters can be adapted when writing a novel. I was familiar with much of the material (the three-act structure, story arc, the hero's quest), but I still picked up on some key thoughts.

The main thing I took to heart was Khris's statement, "Structure is form, not formula." He's absolutely correct, and even though it may seem simplistic on the surface, I suspect this is something with which many writers (including myself) battle.

The workshop today forced me to rethink  Read More 

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Writers at the Beach, 3/27/10

The second full day of workshops was just as packed as yesterday! Here are the events I attended, again with some thoughts. (I skipped the readings scheduled 10:00-10:45.)

Want: Character and Motivation (11:00-1:15)
The workshop leader was Jami Attenberg, author of the recently released novel The Melting Season and The Kept Man. I was impressed with Jami, not only because of her advice about characterization techniques, but because she was open about the writing business, how she came into it and how she lives the life. Her insights about writing were illuminating.

Jami had us do two writing exercises. I never write well in those situations (“Take 15 minutes to write about this scenario about this character”); I need time to think about the angles on an idea before it gels enough for me to write anything worthwhile. But I was amazed at the quality of work the other participants were able to create in short time!

A couple of things she said rings true to me.  Read More 

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Writers at the Beach, 3/26/10

Today was the first day of workshops for the conference. Quite a packed day! Here are the events I attended, with some thoughts.

Building Dramatic Scenes That Work (10:30-12:30)
The workshop leader was Khris Baxter, a screenwriter. Using scenes from film (The Silence of the Lambs, Doubt, When Harry Met Sally, Good Will Hunting), he explained the different ways dramatic scenes are structured for maximum impact, and how fiction writers can use screenwriting techniques to improve their stories. “Dramatic scenes are the true engines of story.”

Another insight I found interesting involved dialogue.  Read More 

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Writers at the Beach, 3/25/10

I’m attending the Writers at the Beach conference at Rehoboth Beach, DE, held at the Atlantic Sands Hotel right on the boardwalk overlooking the ocean. The first thing I did after checking in and going to my fourth-floor room was to open wide the balcony door and gaze out over the waves. It’s chilly and certainly not “beach weather”—but, man, that fresh ocean air is welcome in the lungs! There is definitely something calming, refreshing, maybe even primal about looking out over the ocean, water as far as the eye can see. (I’m sure the locals would say, “Sure, whatever.”)

I came for early registration (the workshops actually start tomorrow) and met Maribeth Fischer, author of the novel The Life You Longed For, founder of the Rehoboth Beach Writer’s Guild, and organizer of this annual conference. Quite a herculean task, judging from what I’ve seen so far. Kudos and thanks to Maribeth for pulling this all together.

Tonight, there was a “meet & greet” in the hotel restaurant for conference attendees. Light food, drinks, live music, and plenty of conversation. There are quite a few people here already! I met a couple, the Hagartys, who make a living selling “virtual land” on the Internet. Long story, but a fascinating one—they actually met long distance online and developed the business. Amanda is writing a fantasy novel. This is her first conference, and I think she’ll learn a lot this weekend to help her along.

I’m pretty sure I will, too! I’m looking forward to a great weekend of workshops and networking with fellow writers, editors, publishers, and agents.
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The Tale of a Tale

Let me tell you a story--a history, actually--of a story.

Back in 2004, I decided to write a short story about a hitman, from the hitman's POV, that takes place in the Chesapeake Bay area. I ended up with a nasty little story titled "Welcome to the Food Chain." I had just sold a story, "Another Highway Fatality," to the Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine, and the editor at the time was pulling together an anthology. I sent along "Welcome to the Food Chain" and, after a slight rewrite, the editor accepted the story.

Then, about four months later, Futures Mysterious folded its tent; the anthology would never be published. My story was homeless!

I threw "Food Chain" in a drawer for about a year, letting it "ripen." I do this at times so that I can, at some point, resurrect the story and examine it with different eyes. On second perusal, I thought the story still had legs. So, I rewrote it a bit more, then sent the story back to market. Read More 

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Gardening How-To: Colorful Cauliflower

The March/April issue of Gardening How-To magazine contains my article, "Colorful Cauliflower." I've written for the magazine many times over the past five years or so, and the editor, Amy Sitze, and her staff are superb and a joy to work with. This time, they outdid themeselves! The graphics and photos accompanying the article are beautiful and perfectly complement what I've written. I particularly like the photo of various colored heads of cauliflower arranged almost like something you'd see in a flower market. Wow! Cauliflower never looked so good!



Here is a short online sidebar, The Origin of Orange Cauliflower, that I wrote for the article.

If you don't already subscribe to Gardening How-To ... well, you should. Simply join the National Home Gardening Club, and you'll not only receive a subscription but a wide range of other services--including access to the forums and archives. Well worth the membership dues. Read More 

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