Our logo truly became a reality to me last Saturday as I attended the online Fiction Master Class taught by the gifted Joyce Moyer Hostetter. Not only has she written a popular MG Historical fiction series, but she is able to impart her knowledge of writing to her students in a simple and engaging way.
Such was my experience as we met online with writers from the Carolinas and beyond. It was a delight to gather, share experiences, and put into practice what we had just ingested in our breakout sessions. After the PLOT session, my mind was sparked and my writer’s block shattered when I discovered new scenarios for my MG Historical fiction WIP.
Our sometimes overwhelming but satisfying day was divided into three sections (and we know how important the concept of “3s” is in our writing): Character, Plot, and Voice/POV/Dialogue. I found those sessions to be super motivating! Let me share some of the tidbits I learned during our class.
- Invent a backstory for each of your characters.
- Give your character a personality test.
- Write an obituary for your MC.
In the breakout session, we used a template for the poem, Where I’m From by George Ella Lyon.
We filled it out for ourselves, then the suggestion was made to use it for our characters. Also, a recommendation was made for the website One Stop For Writers as an aid for character development.
- The power of 3’s – think of three things the MC hates/loves.
- Without conflict, you don’t have a story. Each scene should have it.
- Write the “mid-scene” or the turning point for your MC’s transformation first, before you begin your story. Then you know where you are headed (suggested by James Scott Bell)
In our breakout session, I brainstormed options for my WIP with these three scenarios: think of 6 difficult things that could happen to my MC; two ways she can respond to each; then imagine what happens next after each of these responses. Voila! I had fresh twists for my tired plot.
Joyce suggested we read The Three Trees by Angela Hunt for clever plot ideas. And hey – it’s the power of 3 again!
VOICE, POV, AND DIALOGUE
That’s quite a bit to cover in an hour, but our master teacher succeeded! She a few words of wisdom – some of them I have listed below:
- First-person (I, me, we, us) is appropriate if you are telling an emotional story and you want the reader to empathize.
- Third-person omniscient (inside everyone’s heads) is useful for high fantasy, action, and sci-fi, especially for world-building.
- Voice is your unique way of telling a story – your word choice, the sentences you craft (and their length), your attitude, and the descriptions you choose.
- Does your MC talk too much? Interrupt? Use incomplete sentences? Talk slang or with an accent? These specifics in dialogue reveal character and make them stand out. Each character should have a distinguishable and unique dialogue.
During our breakout session, we filled in simile phrases (red as a _____, stout as a ______, angry as a ____) from your main character’s world (farmer, professor, artist, policeman, etc.)
Kudos for the Master Class
All in all the master class was a complete success and left us with plenty of ideas to spur our writing on to the next level. So, what did the participants think of their experience??
“As a beginning fiction writer, I mainly learned that there’s a lot I don’t know! But the Master Class gave me lots of tools to improve my writing. The speaker’s talks were insightful & full of great tips & resources on building characters & plots. Everyone in my small group – especially Jean Hall, our facilitator – was super supportive, accomplished, and helpful. Working through the activities with them has really motivated me to keep writing.” – Jane P.
“I can’t stop thinking about how awesome Saturday was. I miss people so much! I took seven handwritten pages. I was inspired to keep going amidst Covid. – Theresa P.
For more info on Joyce M. Hostetter and her books, visit her website.
So, which part of fiction writing do YOU struggle with? Let me know below. . .
Congratulations to Carrie Schmidt who won Ships, Secrets, and Survivors from last week’s blog.
6 thoughts on “Reflections from a Fiction Master Class by Jarmila Del Boccio”
Jarm, thank you so much for these concise reminders from our Master Class. I needed those to help me better digest the materials from Saturday. And yes! this was a block breaker for me. I’m going to print out this post as a quick reminder of the direction my characters need to take.
Thanks so much, Gail, for your comments. I’m glad the post was a help to you!
Thank you, Jarm, for the recap. The day was packed with explanations and examples. Kudos to Joyce and the W2I Team!
My biggest weakness when writing fiction is NO CONFLICT. I avoid it. And you just can’t have a story without it. Gotta work on that.
I certainly understand. I don’t want to hurt my characters, either. But, no pain no gain, I guess!☺️
This is a great re-cap. I enjoyed the day and had fun learning more and practicing the craft. Love the ZOOM pic!
So glad you could join us, Trine, and that you’re now following our blog! Please stay in contact with us and let us know how we can serve you! Carol Baldwin