The Internet is a wonderful convenience, particularly for writers. It has been especially helpful for me, as a full-time caregiver. It has allowed me to take writing classes on-line, connect with other writers for coaching and critiques, as well as research topics I am unfamiliar with, all from the comfort of my home.
While I envy those with degrees in creative writing, I knew my responsibilities would prevent me from going back to school, so I decided to teach myself. I bought books, studied, hired a writing coach, and joined an online writing group. I have gone from needing additional training in grammar, to writing stories that others seem to enjoy. But still something was missing, and I wasn’t sure what it was.
Then last Saturday the First Colony Branch Library in Sugar Land, Texas hosted a writing workshop. The topic was Developing Strong Female Characters for Texas Fiction. Four female Houston authors, all members of The Final Twist Writing Society, were given the task of telling us how they created their strong female characters and answering our questions. I’d never been to a writing workshop before. I was initially hesitant, but I had read and enjoyed several of the short story anthologies published by The Final Twist, so I knew there were talented writers in the group. I decided to attend.
As I entered the library, a smiling woman came out of a meeting room and invited me to join them. She was a member of The Final Twist - their writing society provided not only the panel of authors but refreshments as well. Several of their members were in attendance, and some of them wandered among the visitors, getting to know them, and finding out what had drawn them to the event.
I tend to feel like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole in most environments, partly because of my personality type (INFJ, if you’re familiar with Meyers/Briggs), and partly because my interests rarely seem to fall into society’s norms. But I didn’t feel like a square peg in that room. Members of the group made a point of greeting me and making me feel welcome, and within five minutes of entering the room, I was actively discussing writing and publishing books with other writers.
You may think discussing writing is normal for me, after all, I’m learning to write. But, even though my family supports me in my efforts, their eyes glaze over when I try and explain character arcs or plot threads. I found myself in a situation I had never been in before. I was in a room full of people who not only knew what I was talking about when I said ‘character arc’ or ‘plot thread,’ but were interested and willing to discuss them in depth. It was wonderful.
As the meeting got started the mediator, Jennifer Kuzbary, introduced the panel of authors. The authors were (left to right in the picture above):
- · Charlotte Phillips, co-author of the novel Hacksaw (Book 1 in the Eva Baum Mystery Series, Book 2 coming soon) and author of several short stories in The Final Twist anthologies.
- · Becky Hogeland, co-author of several contemporary conspiracy short stories in The Final Twist anthologies.
- · Cash Anthony, screenwriter, and author of several Final Twist anthology short stories.
- · Laura Elvebak, author of the novels Less Dead, Lost Witness, A Matter of Revenge, and The Flawed Dance, plus short stories in The Final Twist anthologies.
The panel members did an excellent job of describing how they created strong female characters. Then they responded to questions from the moderator and the audience, resulting in a lively and interesting discussion. The audience’s questions covered a wide range of topics, from the importance of character development to the difference between methods preferred by pantsers, plotters, and someone in between.
The room was full of interesting people, and I found myself enjoying watching and listening to them almost as much as the discussion. There were at least three different foreign accents in evidence. There were writers of novels, short stories, and screenplays, and a true mix of genres: mystery, science fiction, fantasy, historical, and more. There were editors, librarians, beginning writers, and published authors. The crowd was so diverse, yet they all shared one thing - a passion for writing and reading good books.
The time flew by, and before I was ready, the meeting was coming to an end. The discussion was fascinating, and I learned a great deal. A sense of energy and spontaneity pervaded the conversation that is impossible to get via the Internet. The part of my soul that loves to write fed off that energy and I left the meeting inspired to work harder and do a better job.
So, my advice to you is to attend a face to face meeting of a group focused on the same things you like to do. If you are into writing, check out your local writing society, and if you live near Houston, Texas, I highly recommend The Final Twist Writing Society. Sure, we can get a lot from the Internet, but the passion and connection I found during that workshop is only available face to face.
The Final Twist Writing Society: www.TheFinalTwist.WordPress.com
Final Twist Anthologies:
- Dead and Breakfast
- A Death in Texas
- A Box of Texas Chocolates
- Twisted Tales of Texas Landmark
- Underground Texas
- Deadly Diversions
- Denizens of the Dark