by Faculty Member Connie Stevens
When you are registering for a conference or a retreat, what do you hope to accomplish? What are your goals? If you list the different reasons for attending conference, how do you prioritize your needs? Certainly the cost comes into consideration–the price of the conference as well as the traveling expense. Stretching your conference dollar is important to get the most for your money. Depending on the size of the conference, you might network with other writers, or identify specific areas of your writing that need improvement. You may want to learn how to use social media to your advantage, or how to build or broaden your platform or extend your reader base. Some of you might seek to branch out in a different direction and desire advice from experienced writers who have navigated the waters.
By all means peruse the list of available classes and workshops, and weigh the potential benefit of each. Analyze the description of the material to be covered. Which class or workshop might give your writing the boost it needs. Every attendee’s priorities will be different because we’re all at different places in our writing journeys.
We are in this together–you, the attendee and we, the faculty. So how does a director or faculty member put together a program or syllabus to meet the various needs of each attendee?
Well, first we pray. And then we listen.
When I was asked to be on the faculty of the Blue Lake Christian Writers Retreat, I also had priorities. My first thought was, Lord, what do You want me to say to these people? How do You want to use me? Can I be a blessing to someone? As a faculty member, I have a responsibility to present understandable, usable material you can take away and incorporate into your writing. My goal is to infect writers with contagious excitement. If you leave my workshops with an air of readiness and expectation of moving your writing to the next level, I’ve done my job.
So I spoke with several writers, both published and pre-published, and asked what are some of their biggest difficulties when writing. As I weighed their answers over the course of a couple of weeks, God spoke clearly, and my prayer is that God will meet the needs of the attendees the way He met my need as I let Him direct my thoughts. As you prioritize your conference goals, ask God to direct you, and then study the class and workshop descriptions.
I’m leading two workshops at the retreat. One is on brainstorming your story: Seize the “What if”, and the other is on showing vs telling, and going deeper into your character’s POV: Fire the Narrator.
Seize the “What if”– Brainstorming 101. How do you dig up ideas and ultimately narrow down your focus for a story? Brainstorming a story is one of my favorite things about writing, and my imagination can kick into overdrive. But brainstorming isn’t just about the plot. It’s about knowing your characters and their personalities, their past, and their goals. It’s about creating circumstances to throw obstacles in their way and weaving threads for them to untangle.
Narrator behind curtain
Fire the Narrator takes showing vs telling to the next level. One of the first things we learn as beginning writers is the difference between showing and telling. My Fire the Narrator workshop will help writers weasel out that pesky narrator’s voice in between the lines of dialogue. After all, it’s not the narrator’s story, is it? It’s your characters’ story, so let them tell it.
I’m looking forward to meeting you at the retreat and exchanging ideas. And as I finalize my teaching materials, I’m still listening for God’s voice, because He is the ultimate Teacher.