Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sharing Tidbits from the Moonlight and Magnolias Conference

Missy Tippens, here. I attended the Moonlight and Magnolias Conference this past weekend (sponsored by Georgia Romance Writers). I was thrilled to take part in an all-day workshop provided by Michael Hauge. I'm sure I've mentioned him before. I love his how-to video series, The Hero's 2 Journeys. I had recently heard him speak at the ACFW conference as well, so this past weekend was a time to let it all sink in and to pick out some new tidbits that really hit me on the second time around.

Hauge talks about the inner journey of a character. How a character lives in his identity at the first of a story. The identity is created as a way to protect himself. Just like real people do. We have wounds from earlier in life and find ways to cope--to protect ourselves from being hurt again. It's our armor--what people see on the outside. As the character progresses along the character arc, he starts to see glimpses of his essence--the person he really is inside, the person who needs love or acceptance or whatever. And by the end of the story, the character is finally able to live fully in his essence.

One thing Hauge said that I highlighted in my notes was that in a romance novel, when our main characters connect, it's at the level of essence. And whenever they have conflict, it's at the level of identity.

Excellent advice! So if my hero is a tough cop who refuses to open up to anyone because he fears losing them, he'll be spooked when he realizes he's falling in love. He'll fall back into being the tough cop, shutting the heroine out (which will cause more conflict). But as he grows and learns to open up to her, and she accepts him and loves him no matter what, he'll let more of his needy side show. She'll get to see the person he really is on the inside, the one who needs her love. This is connecting on the level of essence.

Now, I can't wait to explore this more in my work! I think maybe we do some of this naturally, but I look forward to playing it up. And hopefully pulling at a reader's heartstrings in the process. :)

How do you show character growth? Or, if you're not a writer, what do you see in the books you read that really touches you?



  1. As usual, Missy, I'm still in the process of learning to show that internal character growth. Our Southside group meets next week, and we're watching the Michael Hauge DVDs that I borrowed from Lindi. Disc 1 next week and Disc 2 in November. Can't wait 'cause I've heard nothing but good things about the series.

    Glad to hear you had a great week-end. I'm still bummed I didn't get to attend. Oh well, c'est la vie.

  2. Michael H. does have a way of teaching that makes sense to me. Besides what Missy posted one thing that stuck out to me after this weekend was this. Michael H. said that in relation to the goal, the reader has to have something visual to connect with. Something they can latch on to. He said it's hard to envision what "I'm going to be a better person." looks like. But a reader can visualize "I'm going to get a diploma and walk down the aisle at graduation." A reader can actually visualize what that looks like. (those are my examples)
    Anyway, that struck home with me. I've seen him a couple of times and have watched the videos a few times and I always learn something new.

  3. I loved the one Michael Hauge workshop I attended. Good stuff, for sure. And I always like it when they use movies as examples. I guess because I'm a visual learner.

  4. Thanks for stopping by, ladies! Dianna, we missed you at the conference. Lindi, that really struck me as well.

    Mindy, I'll tell the turning points on the movie we broke down. Don't let me forget!

  5. I liked your example Lindi and since you all like Michael Hauge, I guess I should chase him down. Thanks for keeping those of us who couldn't attend in the loop Missy!


  6. Some great advice. I like showing my characters' growth at the moment of realization. Similar to how life is, we accept universal truths, but we really don't think about it until we're slapped in the face with it and personally impacted. Then it's the moment of reaction--being faced with the very thing we've secretly feared.

    Also, emotion is critical to character development. We want to see how a character will respond and react. What emotion will we see and feel?