The Ozarks Writers Workshop, August 18-20, 2011 (sponsored by Ozarks Adventures –http://www.ozarkadventures.org) began at Ye Olde English Inn in Hollister, Missouri. Not only is this a beautifully restored building, but it has been rescued from neglect by famed romance author Janet Dailey. She shared some of her wisdom with us in “The Writing Life”…
August 18, 2011 Janet Dailey – “The Writing Life”
(from my notes – any mistakes or misquotes are entirely my fault)
Mainstream vs. Category Fiction
Occupations mold the character’s personality – a woman who starts her own personal protection agency must be strong physically, have a lot of initiative, etc. She wouldn’t be a timid kind of person. But you also have to stay away from stereotypes. There is always an angle or slightly different point of view to twist a traditional job.
Description can lend to the character’s personality. People in everyday life do have regular names (Jane, Liz, Bob) and their eyes are blue, brown, or green (not jade, amethyst, or flame). The fire should stay in the fireplace (no smoldering glances, burning gazes, blazing anger, etc.) Words that are not subtle drag your story down and break the suspense of reality.
Peripheral characters should advance and enhance the plot and other characters, but not take over the story.
Setting creates mood and defines a character (think of a person from the Rocky Mountains, Mojave desert, etc.) When you write about the mountains, you should, in effect, be writing about the man.
Words to Remember…
“Category fiction is like ‘candy for the soul’.” – Janet Dailey
“It’s the things in life you don’t do that you regret.” – spoken to Janet Dailey by her husband, when first contemplating her start in writing
Many thanks to the Divine Ms. Dailey for her hospitality and generous sharing of expertise… Visit Janet’s blog – http://www.janetdailey.com/blog/ – and experience her best-selling novels.