Foundations, Facade and the Future

This year marks my seventh year with DFW Writers’ Workshop; that sort of commitment is usually reserved for spouses and favorite T-shirts. But here we are, you and me. It certainly doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, but at the same time I don’t really remember life without you.

CSceUlrU8AEHfc-.jpgLooking back on my very first Wednesday, I wouldn’t have guessed I’d one day serve on the Board of Directors. I remember walking into an ongoing read in the foyer. At that time, I had my first novel in hand and merely needed someone to point me in the direction of a publisher. If only.

So here we are, seven years later, and I’m in much the same position except there are a few more manuscripts to cart around and I’ve had the greatest education $100 a year has to offer. MFA be damned. I have the Workshop.

This past year was a busy one for the board. We updated and strengthened the bylaws to give the Workshop a solid baseline. We modified our bank relationship to improve our financial management. We rolled out a new website that allows us to promote our members with ease and offers our members the opportunity to schedule their own events. We streamlined online registration, membership renewal, and our membership management – all of which has resulted in some serious growth. (When I read over that paragraph, I realize how amazing it can be when you let loose a gang of passionate volunteers on a project…apparently you really can move mountains.)

As for this year? Well, for starters, there’s the world-class DFW Writers Conference in Fort Worth on April 22-24. Again, that’s thanks to some tireless people working for something they love: Jennifer Duggins is leading the charge. In addition to that, we hope to bring a regular newsletter to the fray, some extra offerings to the calendar, and a few more member perks, including (but not limited to) the official launch of the Speaker’s Bureau and The Writers Bloc.meeting.jpg

And after all that’s done, we’ll find ourselves in 2017. It’s a milestone year for us: since 1977 we’ve been “writers helping writers.” Four decades of reading and critiquing. Two score. Forty years!

There’s celebration in order, and it may require you to put aside your Wednesday night uniform and don a tie or heels. (Note: I’m fully prepared for Alex Martinez to be wearing a graphic T-shirt that only looks like he’s wearing a tie.) But either way I promise it’ll be worth it. DFW Writers’ Workshop only turns forty once, and I can’t wait to see you there.

Until then…well, actually, until next Wednesday,

Brooke

DFWWW President

 


Perfecting Your Prose at SMU

Learn how to perfect your prose with DFWWW Member, Tex Thompson during her 5-week class at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. 

From Tex: 

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It's the timeless tragedy of 8th-grade English: most of us spend our formative years alternating between abject terror and fathomless boredom, and smother whatever we learned about subordinate clauses as soon as we escape high school. Years later, the sad result is that many aspiring writers struggle with the essentials of good writing – and even excellent, experienced writers are often left working from gut instinct: we know what we've written is effective, but can't articulate why.

Perfecting Your Prose is... terror and fathomless boredom, and smother whatever we learned about subordinate clauses as soon as we escape high school. Years later, the sad result is that many aspiring writers struggle with the essentials of good writing – and even excellent, experienced writers are often left working from gut instinct: we know what we've written is effective, but can't articulate why. 

  • all about 'micro'-level writing
  • suitable for writers of all skill levels
  • an opportunity for you to submit your writing for peer & professional critique
  • a great investment in your work!

Perfect_Your_Prose_Image_2.JPGIn this class, we're ditching the sentence diagrams to focus exclusively on the grammatical, rhetorical, and linguistic concepts that writers of ALL skill levels can use to take their work to the next level.

Starting in week 1 with the smallest molecular unit of writing – the word – we'll work our way up through phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and scenes, dissecting each in turn to discover what makes them tick. From participating in interactive discussions and presentations to revising first draft fiction and analyzing the work of A-list authors, you and your peers will work together through a variety of activities designed to make sure you finish the course with gold-star confidence in your knowledge of English – and a handsome vocabulary of writing-specific terms that you can use to continue improving for years to come.

Click here to register. 


Reviews Reviews Reviews

Three DFW Writers' Workshop members have received outstanding reviews from several publications this month. 

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Horror Underground on Russell Connor's GOOD NEIGHBORS

A lot of books and authors are compared to Stephen King, especially fiction that showcases the dark side of the human condition. Good Neighbors is easy to compare as such, but I think that Connor’s writing has enough of its own voice that it doesn’t need the comparison. Click to read the full review. 

Austin American-Statesman on Melissa Lenhardt's STILLWATER: A JACK McBRIDE MYSTERY

Melissa Lenhardt of North Texas lays the foundation for a dangerous, romantic and seedy world with the first in a series, “Stillwater: A Jack McBride Mystery”...You want to know what is going to happen and how it’s going to go down. Click to read the full review

Portland Book Review on Harry Hall's THE PEDESTRIENNES: AMERICA'S FORGOTTEN SUPERSTARS

(The Pedestriennes: America’s Forgotten Superstars) is very easy and enjoyable to read. Most people will have very little knowledge or awareness of endurance walking, but should find this book to be interesting and even amazing. Click to read the full review. 

 

 


Pedestriennes Wins Another Major Award

Harry Hall’s book, The Pedestriennes, America’s Forgotten Superstars, ($20 Dog Ear Publishing) has picked up a third major writing award, as it won an Honorable Mention in the Life Stories category for the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.

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Hall’s prizes include promotion at WritersDigest.com and $50 worth of Writer’s Digest Books.

Previously, The Pedestriennes manuscript won a prize at the 2012 Mayborn Literary Non-fiction Conference, which put Hall in the Mayborn Author’s Guild. Earlier this year, Pedestriennes earned a bronze medal through Independent Publishers (IPPY).

Hall is a long-time newspaper reporter and columnist and is a member of DFW Writers Workshop. He has also taken courses in the University of North Texas Mayborn Journalism School.

“Writer's Digest discovered something we already knew,” says DFWWW President Brooke Fossey, “Harry Hall is a talented author, and he's been sharing this with DFW Writers' Workshop for years. It's thrilling to see him finally find the recognition he and his books deserve.”

To find out more or to order a book, for $20 + $6.95 S/H go to www.pedestriennes.com. You can also take advantage of the new lower priced Kindle edition ($6.99) by ordering from www.amazon.com.

 


The WHY of Your Story

by: A. Lee Martinez. DFWWW Member since 1995

A. Lee MartinezThe first thing you should ask yourself is why?

Writing isn’t as simple as putting down words on paper. If it was, everyone would be doing it, and at times, it feels like everyone thinks they can. If we’re talking about sitting in front of a keyboard and typing until you have a few pages, then, yes, everyone can do it. There’s a difference between doing it and doing it well.

Asking why is that difference.

Let’s stick with fiction for the moment. Much of this applies to non-fiction as well, but it’s easier to focus on one right now. Fiction is, generally, a series of scenes that string together to form an overarching story. All basic stuff, you might think, but you would be wrong.

The Why (capital W from this point on) is Why this scene must exist in the first place. Your initial answer will probably be wrong. You will no doubt think of story points and character motivations and getting the plot moving to its next stage. That’s important stuff, but it is NOT your Why.

Gil's All FrightThe Why is all about what we’ll call emotional intention. I should be feeling something in your scene, and that feeling should be what you want me to feel. New writers (and even experienced writers) can be so invested in moving the pieces on the board and pushing the plot forward that they forget that writing fiction isn’t about conveying mere facts.

“John woke up in the morning. He went to the store. He bought some eggs. He came home and had breakfast.”

That’s a boring story. Not just because it’s a boring story but because there’s no emotional weight to it. Even if we change it up by adding a zombie apocalypse or messy divorce, it still doesn’t have any intention.

“John dragged himself out of bed. He trudged to the store and bought some damned eggs. He cooked them alone, in his kitchen, thinking about her.”

The Why here is obvious. John is having a bad day. He’s tired. He’s barely motivated. And I, as the reader, know that this isn’t a happy scene or funny or exciting. It’s sad. I may not know the details, but the weight is there. The intention isn’t screaming, but it is palpable.Helen and Troys

“John jumped out of bed. He ran to the store, treated himself in some extra large eggs. Singing their song, he cooked the eggs in his kitchen, thinking about her.”

The Why is completely different here. It’s full of positivity and energy. John is still alone. We still don’t know anything about Her, but we don’t need to. We sense the emotional weight of this scene just by how we choose to tell it.

Nobody cares about the details. Characters are not playing pieces on a board, and stories are not a series of checklists. They are about emotional intention, and, yes, even ambiguity is a perfectly acceptable goal for a scene if done on purpose.

So don’t write what happened. Write Why it happened, and that Why should almost never be because John ran out of eggs.



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