Monday, August 19, 2013

The Magic of Writing Fiction

The view at the Millennium from the entry to our conference room
I spent most of the weekend at the Millennium Hotel in Scottsdale attending the Desert Sleuths Chapter of Sister in Crime tenth annual Write Now! 2013 Conference. As always, this was an information-packed conference attended by warm and friendly mystery writers.

If you're a writer and not familiar with Desert Sleuths, you really should check them out. They meet in Scottsdale at Grimaldi's Restaurant and offer good food, good company, and tons of information on writing and marketing your novels. You can learn more at their Facebook page.

So what did I take away when the conference was over?

It was something that happened between our keynote speakers, GREGG HURWITZ  and HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN. Although each gave a dynamic program, what really touched me was the interview that Hank, who is a seasoned investigative reporter, did with Gregg, a bestselling novelist, screenplay writer, and comic book author.
Somehow the interview turned into a conversation about their individual writing processes. Gregg tends to be free-wheeling, Hank takes a more structured approach. Then it drifted into those magic writing moments that authors seldom talk about anymore -- at least not among themselves. The random phrase that turns into a major theme.The walk-through character who gets thrust into a major role. A sudden idea that gives new heart to the story.

Write Now! Collage
When I first began writing I had conversations like these.  Over the years, that somehow drifted away. Conversations about writing tended to be feedback on each others completed pages or discussions about writing techniques. Since I am also a fiction writing teacher I often put too much emphasis on the structure, and listening to these two writers expose their storytelling process reminded me that the heart of writing is really in the magic. The alchemy that happens when you throw the words on the page and let the story unfold. Not to say, I'm abandoning structure, but what I will be doing is staying alert to these magic moments, because the writing that comes out on those days infuses your story with life in a way that trying to control all the beats and movements at all times can never do.

How about you? Are you in touch with your story magic? If yes, do you have rituals or affirmations that help you build it? Or are you naturally that way? Or have you fallen out of touch and are trying to get back? Feel free to comment with your successes, struggles, and tips for getting the magic back.  I also advise you to pencil this wonderful conference onto your 2014 calendar.

So what did I get from Desert Sleuths Write Now! 2013 conference? I had a glimpse of story magic and I snatched it from the air. I plan to keep in touch with it. That's what I took away.

Connie Flynn is a bestselling award-winning author, 
who teaches fiction writing at Mesa Community College in Arizona,

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