February 3, 2014

Interview with Edgar Award Winner Lori Roy

I had the pleasure recently of being in a novel workshop led by Lori Roy, award winning author of two literary mysteries. Ms. Roy agreed to answer a few questions about the writing craft. Lori Roy was born and raised in Kansas, is a graduate of Kansas State University and currently lives in Florida. Her debut novel, Bent Road (2011), was awarded the Edgar Allen Poe award for best first novel by an American author, named a 2011 New York Times notable crime book and it was nominated for the Book-of-the-Month Club first fiction award. Bent Road has been optioned for film by Cross Creek. Roy’s second novel, Until She Comes Home (2013), has been nominated for an Edgar for […]
January 28, 2014

Eckerd College Writers Conference Wrap-Up

I suspect few, if any, of the eight dozen “students” who attended the eight-day Eckerd College Writers Conference, went away dissatisfied. That, in and of itself, is remarkable and a testimony to the conference organizers and staff. While many of the students may have experienced a twinge of dissatisfaction when contemplating the status of their writing careers or the quality of the document they submitted for the workshops, I can’t imagine any left without a glimmer of hope and clear guidelines to improving their craft. The faculty readings, from Tim O’Brien’s remarkable Things They Carried (1998) to newcomer Attica Locke’s second novel The Cutting Season (2013), were nothing short of inspirational. They reinforced each student’s justification for dedicating themselves to […]
January 24, 2014

Report on Days 4 & 5 from the Eckerd College Writers Conference

I’ll call the theme of Day 4 “wants versus needs” and that of Day 5 “story structure.” On Day 4, after the two workshop stories were discussed, we focused on identifying the elements of the story arc in the first part of the novel. Using the movie Legally Blond as a teaching devise, workshop leader Lori Roy broke the movie down into beats or segments, starting with showing the status quo at the start of the movie. (The Reese Witherspoon character is shown to be beautiful and rich, but also kind; she is preparing for a date with her boyfriend whom she expects to ask her to marry him.) The inciting incident in the movie––the breaking of the status quo––is […]
January 21, 2014

Report from Day 3 of the Eckerd College Writers Conference

After our morning workshop session, during which two more victims had their stories critiqued, we listened to two craft sessions––one on beginnings, the second on endings. The theme for the day (my label, not the conference’s) is beginning a story is like grasping the reader’s extended hand, holding it firmly throughout the story, then letting it go at the end. Between critiques, Lori Roy ran off a list of writing tips, which I’ll share for those entering the craft. Avoid the “fallacy of imitative form.” One does not create a mysterious atmosphere by writing vague, mysterious prose, or create a suspenseful atmosphere by using a suspenseful tone. The story has to carry the weight, not the tone. Name the Dog––a […]
January 20, 2014

Report on Day 2 of the Eckerd College Writers Conference

The Writers in Paradise Conference began officially this morning with welcome messages by the co-directors and a presentation by last night’s reading series author Tim O’Brien. Later we attended our first workshop with Lori Roy where we dissected the first two writers’ submissions and in the evening heard Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River, Shutter Island, et al and Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog, Last Resort, etc. If there was a theme for the day it was “tell your story”––about why and how to do so and about the consequences of telling the truth as you see it. Tim O’Brien electrified the room of fifty writers at 10 AM to the same high wattage level […]