Monday, October 29, 2012

Free Expressions Takeaway Part I: Voice & Deep Point of View

 Last week, I joined fifteen other middle grade and young adult writers in an intense week of writing instruction orchestrated by  Lorin Oberweger, founder of Free Expressions seminars.  As we learned throughout the week, our books need to be closely seen and experienced through our character's point-of-view. Accordingly, in my next 5 or 6 blog posts I plan to experience the seminar through my point-of-view. I plan to share some of the writing craft points as well as feedback I received on Half-Truths

As Emma Dryden, an experienced editor and children's publishing professional,  said on our last day together when she gave us an overview of the digital landscape of publishing, "Buckle your seat belts, and get ready for the ride!"

When we introduced each other during our Saturday night get together, we were asked what superpower we wished we could have. After a moment's thought I replied, "I would like to be able to heal old hurts." My unexpected tears told me I had struck a chord. That bit of self-realization--that applies both to my life and my book--was a tremendous way for me to begin this seminar. 

My week began on Monday morning with much anticipated classes on Voice and Deep Point of View. Emma Dryden said, "Voice turns an "anyone" into a "someone." An author must employ word choice, sentence structure, vernacular, slang, idioms, to create the "poetry of speech." 

Emma Dryden

She told us that, "Voice helps identify characters in a setting. It lies beneath the actual words the characters use."  Underneath those words, our characters' bodies and eyes may say something else. "The emotions, motivations, fears, hopes, desires, internal trajectory of your characters should all be expressed through dialogue, actions, and thoughts." 

Going into the week I had wondered if my characters were exhibiting voice. Overwhelming feedback from my critique group and response to our daily writing prompts answered that question with a deep resounding "Yes!" So good to know. 

Later Monday morning, Lorin Oberweger, the mastermind and talented wordsmith behind Free Expressions, taught us about deep point of view. She introduced her class with the words, "Seduction—not instruction." In a nutshell, deep POV is about, "Creating a immersive rich environment on the page that seduces the reader. You want your reader to lose herself in your book." Writers want to avoid "Instruction" with a more distance POV that’s more authorial.  
Lorin Oberweger

As much as possible, writers need to see the world through their characters' eyes and experiences. The more we are inside our characters' skin, the greater our ability to write how their emotions dictate their responses. Lorin told us to use rich details to show who they are, what they love, and how their passions filter through their language and experiences. 

Later that afternoon, I had my one-to-one critique time with Lorin. She had many great things to say about my manuscript (Yeah!) but helped me to see some holes too (double yeah!). Both of my characters need clear external goals which they are striving for. And since they are fifteen-year-olds in the 1950's, my job is to show how they think about the world and their relationships in a more complicated manner that is also appropriate to their time period. Their passions and desires need to surface through their actions, thoughts, and dialogue. And not just their anger (which apparently I have down pretty well!)--but also their soft spots and sympathies. 

A tall order. 

But after a week with the staff of Free Expressions, I am excited to dig in and make this happen.

Now, back to work. 

Lorin Oberweger, Brenda Windberg, Emma Dryden, & me!
Lorin has generously allowed me to share some of her handouts with all of you.  Here is the first one,  Deep Point of View. Click "download file now" and it will open as a PDF file. 

Next week in Part II of this series, I'll share what I learned about creating deep scenes and how Gary Provost's sentence can shape your WIP. 


Linda A. said...


Terrific! I've printed out the handout. Thank Lorin Oberweger for sharing. I even saw homework.
Linda A.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Linda. Lorin's homework was always great!

Kathleen said...

Thank you for sharing such wonderful information on your blog-I always learn something pertinent to what I am working on. Also thank you to Lorin Oberweger for sharing this valuable handout!

Carol Baldwin said...

YOu're welcome, Kathy. Glad you found it helpful!

Lolo said...

Wonderful blogs, Carol. Much appreciated, and so glad to have had you at our event!

And you're welcome to all, re: the handouts. My pleasure.

We're close to announcing dates for next year too. After such an amazing experience, I'm even more excited for a repeat performance.

Thanks for helping make it so special to US!

-- Lorin

Carol Baldwin said...

You've got me in your corner now, Lorin-- like it or not, I'm your fan forever!

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