10March2018 Meeting Minutes

San Joaquin Valley Branch
California Writers Club
Saturday, March 10, 2018

Call to Order: Scott Evans
Scott reviewed upcoming election elements and solicited nominations for office
and shared information about the June Creative Writing Conference available to members at half the usual price. 

Sign In Sheet: June Gillam
Approximately 22 in attendance
Many newcomers, some from Meetup

Speaker: Joshua Mohr gave a lively presentation on the intersection of plot and character, of linearity and non-linearity creating various frames. He noted that writers inhabit a consciousness on the page for each character’s individual quest, their decision-making system. For example, he said it won’t work to trade the protagonists from Clockwork Orange and Eat Pray Love because the characters would choose differently at each plot point.

Josh said that characters from each end of the spectrum may be too one-dimensional while characters who live in the middle have the best shot at the dignity of complexity—what makes them like us, complex human beings. Our task, he believes, is to bring them to life in an exciting way. If we show them in one scene as selfish and greedy, then we can show their grace in another scene, to create dissonance—up the activity level for the reader to ponder the richness of the character; take the story to a meaningful level, meaningful as defined by a complex protagonist. 

He advised writers to play with time in the plot, consider alternate timelines; reframe the story architecture; ask yourself when is linearity an asset, when is it better to hold back the linearity of the actual story seen as a planetary body, with various moons orbiting it, some defying the gravity of the main body to show a more open heart; the writer meets the reader by way of the “open heart” of the book. 

Josh recommends the writer be a reckless explorer with a story’s structure, create a visceral experience for the reader, take him/her to the first row of the theater, invite readers onto the stage of the play. Understand the stakes in the story; what loss or pain is the protagonist risking, what context will add visceral texture to the story—where is it more compelling to be linear and where to depart from that? 

Josh gave us the task of taking a few minutes to list the most visceral scenes from our work in progress and consider rearranging the order they appear in our stories. Content and structure, are all trial and error, he said. We won’t make all readers happy. There is no such thing as THE start of a story; offer the reader an image, an impression, that defies the reader to stop reading. Josh left us with a renewed enthusiasm for our work and the advice to “write the book only you can write.” 

We took a short break for networking

Announcements from those in attendance
Robert Reinarts invited writers to participate in the Heritage Writers Community, which meets monthly at the Hagin Museum. Contact him at rreinarts22@comcast.net for details.

Officers and Committee Reports: 
Website: Updates on the website were provided by Anthony Marinelli who invited all to visit https://sanjoaquinvalleywriters.org/ to view the site and add comments, using the member information form now “live” on the site. 

Minutes from the January meeting were approved.

Adjournment: Scott Evans

Manuscript Critiques followed.

June Gillam,
Secretary                        Date of approval