On Saturday, May 5, 2018, the Calgary Association of the RWA hosted its annual Spring Workshop.
For this workshop, our guest speaker was Kristan Higgins, one of my favourite authors.
With eighteen novels written and published—in two dozen languages—Kristan obviously knows what she’s doing. Her nineteenth book is showing up in August. Her “NOW THAT YOU MENTION IT” is nominated for a RITA. This woman is definitely a professional writer.
She’s also friendly, an excellent teacher, and humble. The first thing she did as she started her workshop was to pick up her cell phone and take a picture of us. “First things first. I’m always tickled that people come to my workshop!”
This workshop had three topics:
- Secondary Characters, Secondary Plotlines
- Writing Humour
- Character Mistakes and Missed Opportunities
Kristan also critiqued several humour submissions telling us what worked, and what did not resonate. Notice her choice of words. She didn’t say it didn’t work. It just didn’t resonate with her.
My head is still spinning and I’m still high from this workshop. I learned so many things that I can use in my own writing.
Some of the things we talked about
- Different types of characters: The Mentor, The Best Friend, The Deflector, The Reflector
- The difference between Secondary Characters and Fringe Characters
- What a “Christmas Card” is. (A character dropping in from another book in a series—and serving no useful purpose.)
- Having a sense of humour does not mean you can write humour. Note: In case you’re not aware, I’m writing in Canadian, so humour—instead of humor. (I’m bilingual 😊)
- Don’t try to be funny all the time.
- Don’t announce that something is funny. (
Beth laughed and laughed.)
- Thor vs. Loki
- Assassin Jason Bourne vs. Amnesia Jason Bourne
- An overlay of Questions to Ask Your Character—my favourite being: What is the new situation and why is your heroine the worst person for the job?
- Why do we laugh? What is the Psychology of Humour?
In the Q&A at the end of the workshop, I found a little gem:
Kristan says to write your book for twenty minutes. Open the document every day, and spend twenty minutes with it—even if all you do is read the last bit you wrote. You might change a typo. You might tweak a sentence.
Don’t plan to sit down and write for Two Hours. Plan on Twenty Minutes, knowing you can stop after that. Knowing that after that Twenty Minutes, you can make tea or check Twitter. But do the twenty minutes.
And if you find you got lost in the writing, you may have to cancel the hair appointment.
Have you read a Kristan Higgins novel?
Have you ever been to a Kristan Higgins workshop?
Did you read the one about Tweety?