Sunday, June 19, 2016

Author, Maggie De Vries' writing workshop on POV notes by Leanne Dyck

Usually, in order to attend a writers' workshop, I must hop on a ferry, but not last Friday. Friday, June 17th Maggie De Vries (Governor General Literary Award nominee and Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize (2015) winner) came to Mayne Island.

This was an interactive workshop. Throughout the afternoon, Maggie gave us time to ask questions, talk about our writing, and practice our emerging skills--this included working on revisions. I'm not a fan of this type of writing. I don't feel that I produce my best work under this type of pressure and with so many distractions. But Maggie created such a supportive atmosphere that I was the first to read my revision to the group. This speaks volumes about Maggie's abilities as an instructor.

Maggie began her talk by listing the different Points Of View (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.)
She gave some examples of strategies to convey story (i.e. world building)
She stressed the importance of writing in scenes. She advised us to ask, "From the passage I've just read, can I imagine what is taking place? Is it happening in real-time? Am I spending enough time in real-time?"

I took more notes...
-characters are only able to see the story through their eyes
-it's important to keep your character located in time and setting
-the reader experiences the story through the character
-keep detailed notes on your character. This will help maintain differences in their voices. (i.e. a phrase that that character often says)
-order of events is the writer's friend
-dialogue adds sound
-give information in a timely manner. You don't want readers to have to re-image what they're already read.

The workshop was over by six o'clock. After a supper break, Maggie returned to the library at seven o'clock to offer book readings to an engaged group of Mayne Island readers. Maggie has a diverse body of work--ranging from fiction to non-fiction and writing for adults, young adults, and children. She read from her memoir Missing Sarah (published in 2008 by Penguin Canada) which is about her sister Sarah--who is one of the missing and murdered Aboriginal women. Maggie's pride and love for her sister were apparent. The overriding message:  look beyond the situation--see the person, try to understand the person. Maggie closed by reading from Swimming with Seals--her soon-to-be-published (by Orca Publishing) picture book.

(Maggie de Vries (second person on your right, first row) amongst 
a group of Mayne Island--that's me to your extreme left, first row)

I know that my writing has benefited from the short time I spent with author, life coach, and mentor Maggie De Vries. Blessed is the writer who is able to spend a longer amount of time with her.

Maggie, thank you for traveling to Mayne Island. I hope you have enjoyed your time here--despite the rain. 

Thanks also goes to organizer author Pam Withers and to the Mayne Island library who provided the venue.

(back view of Mayne Island library)


Maggie De Vries author website

(photo by Leanne Dyck)

Next post:  Sunday, June 26 (published around 5 PM) Sarren's Curse a short story by Leanne Dyck
Sarren looks normal, but she isn't. She has a problem. She needs help. Will she find it?

Picture Books in Canada

(photo by Leanne Dyck)
Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers
CANSCAIP is a member-supported not-for-profit organization, and we've been around since 1979. Our Members and Friends include children's authors, illustrators and performers. We also welcome librarians, teachers, publishers, editors, parents and journalists. CANSCAIP membership, renewable annually, includes benefits like: newsletter about the children's book community, monthly meetings with expert speakers, packaging your imagination annual conference and a friendly and supportive community for beginning and experienced writers and artists.
For more information, please visit CANSCAIP's website (link) 

"Me and Bim and our friend Abby"
photo taken on Mayne Island by my friend Eleanor

Sharing my author journey...

Somewhere I heard, maybe from my mom, "If you sit with a problem long enough, the answer will come."

Implied but not said is keep calm and keep the faith.

This week that theory held true...
A couple of months ago I received a note n a rejection letter. In brief, it read--this story isn't compelling.

I loved that story. I knew it would work--I just didn't know how. Then Thursday morning, out of the blue--as if a gift from my muse--the answer came:  change the beginning and end, change the tense, write the story like a letter from the writer to the reader. Brilliant!

Don't you just love it when all the ducks line up and start quacking?