Last week I attended a six-day workshop taught by David Farland, and I thought I'd share some of the highlights over my next few posts. Dave enamored me with his direct and to-the-point discussion, starting the workshop by telling the class that the first thing a writer must do is audience analysis. A writer must connect with an audience so that s/he can connect with a lot of people and make money. As authors we can kill our own careers by narrowing audience appeal.
He then went on to talk about tools to learn this, and recommended How To Build Believable Characters by Mark McHutchon, Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card and Writing to the Point by Algis Budrys. He stressed that setting comes first, and the story must contain at least three try-fail cycles for the novel to be a success.
We talked about the "denoument" where all of the conflict is tied up. The denoument must convince us intellectually and emotionally that the story's over. He also said that for a story to be really satisfying, there must be a turning point early on where the main character realizes what her problem really is.
So - Why do you think people read? Sure, entertainment is a good answer, but it goes deeper than that. A story that really works makes you feel as if you're in jeopardy. It raises your heart rate and transports you to an amazing world. A good story is a stress induction-reduction bio-feedback loop. You put your readers through hell and pull them back out safely.
What could be better than that?
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