As long time readers of this blog will know, ever since Penny Jordan recommended Donald Maass's Writing the Break Out Novel about five years ago, I've been a fan of his work. So I jumped at the opportunity to hear him speak.
Donald Maass does a good workshop. And I now understand how to get people writing in a workshop without having to share or having a piece to work on.
The workshop was on scenes and transformations. It was all about making a flat scene work.
The exercises are in his book Fire into Fiction but they really made sense -- making sure the changes are marked and that you show that things have changed for the POV character. And in order to show, you need to find the point of change.
Equally to bring the character alive you need to think about the character's passions and opinions. When is the protagonist going to scatter the petrol and light the match? What are your character's passions and deeply held beliefs? Also what is it about this world that you have created that makes you angry? What is the question that none is asking? What is the unexpected grace? What is rare and delicate but is overlooked in your world? what is the strongest emotion that your character feels in a scene and what causes it? Details make emotions come alive.
He also pointed out that far too many people sitting in that room would be tempted to email the editor or agent that they had pitched the manuscript without first taking the time and trouble to make sure it was the best it could be.
In short there is always more you can do. Great story telling is the key.
If you have a chance, go and hear him speak. Failing that, buy his books and do the exercises, not simply read about them. They are good.