Conference: lightbulb moments and awards

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Romance Writers of Australia annual conference. I had a ball. I caught up with friends, pitched my manuscript to agents, attended the fancy dress cocktail party (although this year I wussed on the costume and just wore a blingy tiara with my jeans for the tiara and tuxes theme) and went to heaps of workshops. There are heaps of awesome things I could talk about, but there are two important ones, so that’s what I am going to reflect on in this post.

Marnie St Clair and Leisl Leighton dressed to impress at the cocktail party (they placed 2nd for best costume)

The first is the awards evening. I didn’t attend but followed closely on twitter with a group of friends because I was up for a major award – a mentorship with esteemed Australian author, Valerie Parv. I finished second in the award and am totally thrilled. Valerie provides feedback and her feedback to me was extraordinarily uplifting (as an example: The writing is so strong here that there’s very little improvement to suggest except to keep up the good work.) I can’t be disappointed with that and I feel like I won.

The second thing I wanted to talk about was my lightbulb moment from conference. I can be pretty much assured of finding a lightbulb moment at every conference. According to the Collins Dictionary a lightbulb moment is: a moment of sudden inspiration, revelation or recognition. This year the moment came in author and Tule editor Kelly Hunter’s “Ten Top Tips for Character Development” workshop.

During the workshop, Kelly introduced us to Plutchik’s Wheel (see image below). You can see that each petal lists different emotions. We had to look at the strongest emotions (thoseImage result for lightbulb in the centre of the flower) and order them from the emotion we are most comfortable displaying through to the one we are least comfortable showing. The one I am least comfortable with is rage. We then had to follow that emotion out along its petal until we came to the point we felt most comfortable. Kelly then asked if when we write a character, do we push ourselves to have that character show more than that emotion. For me it meant asking the question: do any of my characters show more than mild anger? Kelly said it is hard to write an emotion we aren’t comfortable expressing – how true! She said we should try and consider the emotional arc of a scene. Push your character beyond what we ourselves are comfortable with and to remember even when our character is happy, they will still carry some of that anger, or fear, or grief with them. I’ve never thought about that before…

Image result for plutchik's wheel

14 comments on “Conference: lightbulb moments and awards

  1. This sounds like a wonderful event and congratulations on that feedback from Valerie! I’ve been to the SCBWI conference for children’s writers and that’s great too, but no workshops, just panels.

    Fingers crossed you get an agent out of one of those pitches!

  2. Congratulations AJ – so well deserved. And what a brilliant lightbulb moment- love it when those occur. Love that photo too – I need you to send it to me and Marnie. Hilarious! 😘❤️

  3. OMG. Now I need to throw a tiaras and tuxes-themed event!
    Love Plutchik’s wheel – never heard of that one before. Have to incorporate it into a painting somehow very similar to flower of life, dharma wheel etc. An archetypal symbol put to another use. Hmmmm.
    Love it when I go to a workshop or listen to a speaker and have a lightbulb moment. Glad it was worthwhile for you, AJ!


    • Deb, there were some awesome costumes (the winners were the zombie brides). Next year the theme is “Fractured Fairytales”!

      If you do work with an idea from Plutchik’s Wheel make sure you share on your blog – would love to see.

  4. That is definitely a lightbulb. I’ve never seen the wheel before.

  5. Congratulations on the near-but-felt-a-win-win, AJ!! 🙂

  6. That’s a great tip. Something to consider.

  7. Congratulations on the second-place win and such positive feedback!

    I like that wheel. I’ve never thought about the emotional thing that way, but that may explain why some of the writers I’ve worked with have characters whose emotions are all about the same level of involvement. I’ll have to pass this along.

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