Such a great title for a writing workshop – history, mystery and magic! My weekend in Sydney was full of all three elements. There was history because I went to one of Kate’s workshops two years and because I stayed with my lovely friend L again. The mystery part – well, Kate actually demystified some of the writing process for me! And the magic came when I had a lightbulb moment to solve a problem with one of my manuscripts.
Kate Forsyth is an international best-selling author, with books for adults and children. I’ve written about her here and here. She is also immensely encouraging, extraordinarily knowledgeable both about writing and history, and a very entertaining presenter.
She focused on the genres of history, mystery, fantasy and romance, looking at the different structures, obstacles and character types. We deconstructed half a dozen pages from different books, looking at the language the writer used in order to evoke a specific feeling in the reader.
Kate explained the difference between dynamic and static protagonists. Dynamic characters have a narrative arc and change from the beginning of the book to the end of the book. Professor Don Tillman from The Rosie project is rigid and unbending in his list of expectations for a wife at the beginning of the book but he relaxes his rules after meeting Rosie who doesn’t pass his questionnaire for The Wife Project. Static characters, often in crime novels where the same character stays the same over a series, are exactly the same from the beginning to the end of the novel. But they can cause other characters to change. Kate gave the example of Anne in Anne of Green Gables, who is the same impetuous, curious, hot-tempered, talkative self throughout the book, but causes narrow-minded, conservative Marilla to soften and become more nurturing by the end of the book.
My friend L thoroughly looked after me, feeding and driving me around. And Kate thoroughly stimulated my mind and helped fuel the creative fire again.
Kate emphasised again and again that there is no right way to write. We’re all unique, and we need to do what works or resonates for us.
The history, mystery and magic course was run through the Australian Writers Centre.
So while I’m working on my current books, contemporary middle grade fiction, I’m daydreaming about a children’s fantasy book set in a different world with lots of magic. I think the Easter break is the perfect time for daydreaming about imaginary worlds!