Monday, May 23, 2011

Highlights from the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference-2011

Hello Writers Alley,
It’s me – Pepper, and I’m delighted to share the highlights of my visit to the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference two weeks ago. This was my fourth year at Blue Ridge, where each year I attend as a day guest because the conference is about an hour and a half from my home in TN.
Nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, just east of Asheville, Ridgecrest Conference Center might be a bit unexpected for this growing conference, but it’s the perfect place. Beautiful, quiet, with friendly people at every turn.
I was so pleased to recognize lots of faces this year, as well as be recognized by fabulous authors like Deb Raney, DiAnn Mills, and Jim Rubart. Getting to meet new authors like Edie Melson (we’d met last year, briefly, Gina Holmes, and Ramona Richards was another treat. And waving to familiar aspiring authors like Lisa Carter and Lori Roeveld. Oh what a blast. And this year there was even more courses , agents, and editors  than last year.
But I’m rambling (no surprise). I wanted to give you a few of the highlights.
I was only able to attend 2 days – so I tried to pack as much in as possible. I attended DiAnn Mills, Writing Romance That Sells course, Ramona Richards Writing a Lady to Love course, and returned to DiAnn Mills for Writing Dialogue.
From Writing Romance That Sells:
1.       Characters are vital. We remember well-written characters. KNOW THY CHARACTER!!!!

2.       DiAnn suggests filling out a detailed character chart on each character, and filling out the Myers-Briggs personality test for each of your main characters. It gives important information that makes your characters more three-dimensional and complex.

3.       What are some things that make a ‘selling manuscript’?

a.       The triumph of a character through pain to fulfillment
b.      Unusual plots with your unique ‘spin’ on them
c.       Transforming love that makes each main character better people
d.      Witty dialogue
e.      Emotive conflict
f.        Satisfactory ending

4.       Each page in your manuscript must have some type of conflict

5.       Your protagonist should initiate the action rather than be a victim*** (I liked this one. Readers like strong, independent women)

6.       Quick look at 5 Plot Elements

a.       A sympathetic character (make us care)
b.      A problem arises resulting in conflict (make us desire something)
c.       Conflict must have twists and turns, and character must grow (make us have to fight for our desire)
d.      A climax must exist (make us fight to the finish)
e.      Resolution (make us meet our goal, find our treasure, recover our lost item, get the guy, etc.)
A Lady to Love – this class was absolutely awesome. If you get the chance to sit in on it at a conference near you – DO IT! (here are some highlights)
What makes a woman unforgettable? Scarlett O’Hara, Marion Ravenwood, Jo March, Hester Prynne, Vivian (from Pretty Woman)
1.       All of our current movie heroines descend from Cinderella

a.       A young woman struggling against her environment
b.      Breaks free of the conflict because of her personality
c.       Finds her way to break out
d.      End of story resolved well

2.       What type of woman should we write?

a.       One who cares deeply
b.      Independent
c.       Women who face immediate conflict
d.      Smart

3.       Three conflict for your heroine:

a.       Environmental Conflict (something you can ‘see)
b.      Internal Conflict (something within the heroine)
c.       Interpersonal Conflict (with others)

4.       Heroines are one of 7 personalities:

a.       The Boss (ex. Queen Elizabeth I) a ruler
b.      Seductress (ex. Scarlett O’Hara)
c.       Spunky Kid (ex. Meg Ryan in most of her movies) ‘girl next door’
d.      Free Spirit (ex. Lucille Ball) – follow their own path; ultimate hippie
e.      Waif – ‘Ultimate damsel-in-distress’
f.        Librarian – control freak, prim, proper
g.       Crusader – (ex. Marion Ravenwood from Indiana Jones) adventurer
Most heroines have a basic personality of one of these, with another type or two layering over the foundational one.
Okay, I’m going to stop for now. I have so much information – so many notes, but I’ll just have to save those for next time. What would you like to hear more about? Writing romance? Writing Dialogue? Writing heroines? The dance of character and plot?
Or would you like to learn more of the basics? What are conferences like, or specifically the BRMCWC?


Misha Gerrick said...

Sounds like you got a lot of information to share. I'd love to read more about the dance of character and plot.


Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Yes, yes, and yes. I'd like to hear more about all of the above. I think it's great that you can do day trips. What a fantastic opportunity!

Katie Ganshert said...

Whoa! This puppy is FILLED with all kinds of gold nuggets. Thanks for sharing Pepper!

Pepper said...

I have plenty of blogs more that I can write! :-)

Pepper said...

heading out the door on vacation. I'll check back in tonight!

Kav said...

Wow -- I'd love to hear about everything! I've never been to a conference and the very idea just boggles my mind. How many were in attendance? What kind of venue was it held in? Do they hold it there because there are so many authors living in the area? From reading blogs and book jacket bios I get the feeling there are clusters of authors in certain regions. How invigorating would that be!!!!

Wendy Paine Miller said...

I'm cracking up at Katie's comment thinking about a puppy filled with gold nuggets, though she's so right. This baby is full of 'em.
~ Wendy

Southern-fried Fiction said...

Good article, Pepper. I'm still sniveling because I had to miss it this year. :o(

Casey said...

REALLY good notes! Esp. the heroine ones, like we were talking could write a post on that. ;-) THanks Pep!

Stacy S. Jensen said...

Thanks for the detailed post. Lots of tips. I'm interested in the character and plot dance. Look forward to it.

Mary Vee Writer said...

Just reading this great info is almost like being there. Stirs the writing juices, excites the soul, inspires to 'get at it'...I'm pumped. Conferences have an unique energy to them.
Thanks Pepper.

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Wow, Pepper, those classes sound WONDERFUL. I write romances, so of course I'd love to hear more on those but I really, really appreciate all the stuff on characters too! Great info, thanks!

Sarah Forgrave said...

Ha! If Katie and Wendy can have nugget-filled puppies, can I have a nougat-filled chocolate bar? :)

Lots of great information here, Pepper! I especially love the notes on that heroine course. I hadn't heard those seven categories it.

Ralene said...

Eek! Tons of great stuff here. I'm with the others--I'd love to hear more about all 3! Bring it on, Pepper!

Beth K. Vogt said...

So glad you connected with Edie. She is one of my kindred spirits in the writing world. And I call her "Edit" just for fun.
And I think I'd like to hear more about the dance of character and plot--but whatever you want to share is fine with me!

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Wow, Pepper, it sounds like you soaked in LOTS of great information to help you in writing! I'd never heard of the seven personalities of heroines, so that would be interesting to me. I'd also love to hear how to get conflict on every page. :) Looking forward to gleaning some of the gold nuggests you leave for us! :)

Julia M. Reffner said...

Wow, this is great. And the beautiful pictures only add to it. Some of this stuff I'd heard before, but really should put into practice. Having characters take the MBTI is a great idea.

I would love to hear more about using environmental conflict in our stories.

Pepper said...

Thanks Sherrinda,
It's a realy blessing! And WHAT. A. DRIVE!!! Those pictures of the mountains are of my drive over the mountain from TN to NC. absolutely lovely

Pepper said...

I'd prefer puppies filled with gold nuggets rather than any other kind, Katie.
Thanks - I'll try to scoop up another post about the great info ;-)

Pepper said...

Whew, Kav.
Great questions. I'm sure the BRMCWC started off as a smaller conference, but it's grown to one of the largest Christian conferences in the country. I think it was uniquely designed to reach people in the Southeastern U.S., but people come from all over the place now. It's about 25 years old and has such a nice, easy-going type of setting.

Pepper said...

Wish I could've seen you there! Maybe next year.

Pepper said...

Here's a great recap of BRMCWC

Pepper said...

Case & Stacy, I'll see what I can do about those requests :-)

Pepper said...

Mary & Cindy,
Thanks - I would have loved to soaked up more.

Pepper said...

Sarah and Ralene,
The heroine course was fabulous!

Pepper said...

Beth & Jeanne,
I think I should have posts set for the next two months!! LOL.

Pepper said...

I LOVE to brag about my home in the Blue Ridge! To me there's no lovlier place on earth - and it's a great source of inspiration

Alycia Morales said...

Hi Pepper! I was in DiAnn Mills' dialogue class with you, and I recognized your name tag but never had the opportunity to finally meet you face-to-face. I'm grateful to know you via the internet, though! Hopefully next year we can meet! :)