Q&A with Bonny Millard, leader of 6/16/18 KWG Workshop, “Digging for Gold: Using Life’s Moments for Story Building”
KWG: You are a seasoned writer. Do you still attend other writers’ workshops? Why or why not?
Millard: Yes, when I have time. I used to attend those weekend two-day conferences, but unfortunately many of them have gone away. As a host to the Knoxville Writers’ Guild monthly workshops, I’ve found the advice of other presenters extremely useful. I love hearing other writers’ perspectives on the process, and I think we can always learn from them. It provides inspiration too.
KWG: You stress the importance for writers to look to their own memories for moments that give rise to emotions. You cite a wasp buzzing around you. Many aspiring writers ignore these mundane occurrences in search of obviously dramatic, life-altering events. Why do you think that is? What is lost by failing to find the enormity of the small?
Millard: I don’t think writers purposely ignore these moments, necessarily, but maybe they don’t consider the value in them. If you are desperately afraid of wasps and one flies into your car, you may crash into a tree while slapping at the wasp. That’s a pretty big moment! But to take it to a deeper level, what does that fear generate in you and how can you translate that same type of fear to your character? That’s what we’ll be looking at in this workshop: finding moments that create the raw emotions your characters need to feel and using those to develop scenes. Life is made up of a series of small events that lead to much larger circumstances, which might not be possible without those tiny moments. A chance meeting leads to a marriage proposal (down the road) or a new job. Our characters need to be on these journeys as well.
KWG: Your workshop lasts two hours. What portion of that time will be devoted to discussion and how long will participants be engaged in writing exercises?
Millard: The main focus of my workshop will be a discussion of life moments and how we can use them to deepen emotions for our characters and stories. I will show participants how to mine their own lives and sometimes other people’s. I’ll weave two or three short writing exercises into the mix. The exercises I use are designed to help participants further explore the stories they are already writing or want to start writing. We will also have time for Q&A.
KWG: In a sentence, what do you hope your participants walk away with after Saturday’s workshop?
Millard: My hope is that participants will have specific new ideas for developing and expanding their current project or the one they want to start.
KWG: Anything you would like to add?
Millard: Writing in isolation can be hard, and that’s one reason why writing workshops can be so beneficial: to learn new strategies, network with other writers and gain validation of our own process. But beyond that, we can see our projects through fresh eyes and discover different approaches to tell our stories. Come join us, and find the connections to build your story.