That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. 1 John 1-4
The last divine appointment I will post about occurred on the day before the ACFW conference officially opened. I was not planning on arriving until Thursday in time for the opening session, but after hearing many people comment on line about the early bird session by Donald Maass, a literary agent from New York City, I decided to enroll and fly up on Wednesday. The session was from 8:00 until 2:30 with only a twenty minute break for lunch, but every moment was packed full of wisdom that Maass has learned both as a writer and an agent on the subject of telling more powerful stories. We worked hard, and I took 14 pages of notes! Maass’ teaching style was to speak for a while on a topic and then, give us 10 or 15 minutes to put that information to work in whatever manuscript we were currently working on. Because Caroline’s Story was already published and Florence’s Story (working title) not yet started, technically, I did not have a manuscript to work on, but I used the time to apply his teaching to the character of Henrietta Emily, my great grandmother. Maass’ style is to develop a character driven story based upon our own experiences. He noted that the best stories are ones that tap into human emotions, and said that plot and story are two different things; plot is an outline, a timeline of events, while story is about transformation, the change a character undergoes. He encouraged us to create inner conflict in our characters that would force them to choose between two things that they want, but that are mutually exclusive. They can have only one. Which one is more important to them? Several times, he introduced a problem that our characters might face and announced, “You’re the storyteller, you can figure it out!” His class was the perfect preparation for beginning a new book, particularly a story that I never dreamed I would write. When I finished Caroline’s Story, I crossed “write three novels” off my bucket list. Now, would I keep on writing or attack something else on my life goal list? When I decided I could not stop writing, I had a track I was going to take, but my grandmother’s story rose to the top begging to be told. At the end of Maass’ class, I knew how it should be told and understood more about my grandmother’s mother’s character, at least what I imagine it was like. As Maass stated, “Vulnerable is a hard things for a strong woman to become.” I think my new characters are about to find out how hard. I learned all that in a workshop that I did not plan on attending, and got a jump start on my next book. I’d say that’s another divine appointment! God provided so many in those five days that I can’t wait to see what He does next year. ACFW, Dallas, September 20-24, 2017 is already on my calendar!