This weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting author Anna DeStefano at my first GSRWA chapter workshop. First, let me say that the workshop itself was very well put together. I enjoyed meeting some of the members and everyone seemed very positive to be there.
“Anna DeStafano is an award-winning, nationally bestselling small town romances spotlight family, friendships and the forgiveness that nurtures her characters’ dreams…as they explore the issues all contemporary families face. She’s the author of more than 27 novels (in more than 7 different languages, with over half a million copies of her books in print) that have garnered numerous awards including twice winning the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Holt Medallion, the Golden Heart, the Maggie Award for Excellence, and finalling in awards such as the National Readers’ Choice and Book Seller’s Best Awards.”~Read more on her website: annawrites.com
She’s beautiful, extremely intelligent and positively amazing to listen to for hours. It was sad when it ended, but I came away with so many great suggestions, tips and tools for making my writing better. And not only the drafting part of writing, but the rewrite and editing as well!
She has all of her workshop notes up on her site, available to anyone and I suggest you check it out: Free Workshops
One of the most important and SIMPLE things she teaches that “anyone” can do, is the “Beginning / Middle / End” technique. Whether you’re a pantser or plotter, if you use this basic tool, you can’t fail in crafting a beautiful, desired story. The idea is to sit down and, if nothing else before you write, figure out the Fear of your characters and their Goal – at the beginning, middle and end. And here’s a hint…it should be different at each stage. For example, she used her novel: Let Me Love You Again (Available at Amazon)
Beginning: Her hero’s fear at the beginning of the story is attachment to a foster family he left behind years ago. When he’s forced to come home, his goal is to get out of there as quickly as he can.
Middle: Her hero learns that he’s a father to a daughter he never knew he had in the same town as his foster family.. ..now what? Stay? Go?…
End: Hero now wants to stay, but…heroine wants him to go.
Notice that at the beginning of the story, he’s fighting against his worst fears and his goal is to stay as far away as possible. In the middle and highest “arc” of her story, you can easily see how he is about to break and head toward the black moment. How this “middle” incident can pinpoint his turning point. At the end, he’s realized that what he wanted all along, wasn’t what he needed and ULTIMATELY wants. Anna says to think about the beginning as giving your character EXACTLY what he wants, in the worst possible way.
She had so much food for thought on writing, it blew my mind and I’ve been struggling to process it all. Anna made me think, made me feel larger than what I thought I could be with my writing. I may still have a long way to go, but with the techniques and handouts (again, available to all on her site), I feel that there’s nothing standing in my way except my willingness to write.
Thank you, Anna, for taking your time to speak with us!