Monday, May 16, 2011

Elizabeth Lyon Interview (Part II) "From Dust to Diamonds"

On Saturday, May 21 2011, Elizabeth Lyon will give a "From Dust to Diamonds" workshop from 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. during the Ozarks Writers League (OWL) quarterly meeting.

Ms. Lyon is best-known for her writer’s guides: Manuscript Makeover, A Writer’s Guide to Fiction, A Writer’s Guide to Nonfiction, The Sell Your Novel Tool Kit, and Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody can write. Besides being a prolific author, she has also worked as a successful independent book editor and writing teacher for two decades.
The OWL meetings are held at the
College of the Ozarks in Hollister, MO, just minutes from Branson.

The "From Dust to Diamonds" workshop is free to OWL members.

Visitors may attend for $10.

Lunch will be $7, and registration must be made in advance with Delois McGrew

The workshop will be presented in the auditorium of Plaster Business Building, located on Opportunity Avenue, on the College of the Ozarks campus.

Registration begins at 8:30. Get there early for a good seat!

Meeting opens at 9:00 with announcements.

At 9:15 - Elizabeth's workshop on "Writing for Voice, Revising for Style," begins.

After the catered lunch break at noon (on the patio), the annual OWL auction will commence in the auditiorium. Last year's auction raised over $1,500, and OWL President Delois McGrew is hoping to top that figure this year.

At 2:15 Elizabeth's workshop continues with "Writing for Character Driven Plot, Revising for a Page Turner."

Meeting will end at 4:30, of course there will be breaks during the morning and afternoon.

For details about attending the workshop or about OWL, visit the OWL website or e-mail OWL President Delois McGrew

Here is Part II of my interview with Elizabeth, where she gives a preview of her OWL presentation on "From Dust to Diamonds."

Donna: I love the title of “Dust to Diamonds,” a workshop you will be giving at the Ozarks Writers League meeting on May 21. What does that title mean?

Elizabeth: The word “dust” means raw ore that must be processed to extract the diamonds—and even then they need polishing to catch the eye. Our rough drafts are “dust,” raw material. We’re the diamond masters; our job is to extract and then polish the diamonds. Every rough draft of a novel (or any other book) has potential for becoming a diamond.

Donna: In the morning workshop session at OWL you are talking about "Writing for Voice, Revising for Style." What will you cover during that session?

Elizabeth: Over the years, I heard a number of professionals—authors and agents—claim that style can’t be taught. Excuse me! That just made me mad and determined to learn how to teach improvement of style. Society needs conformity to assure law and order. To an artist censorship and conformity is like a Mac truck rolling over individuality. Too often our writing sounds generic, as memorable and exciting as governmental reports. Ugh! I have an in-class exercise to stir the imagination and retrieve original use of language. Second, I’ll hand over a host of techniques for easy “wordsmithing” to strengthen sentences and passages in a way that adds color and edge.

Donna: In the afternoon workshop session at OWL you will discuss "Writing for a Character-Driven Plot, Revising for a Page Turner." Briefly describe what you'll cover during the afternoon.

Elizabeth: Too often, the writer is a bully pushing the point-of-view character off stage, because the writer has her own goals, usually to hold a press conference and brief the reader. Scene structure with a character-defined goal puts the character back on center stage. Story goals and scene goals plant suspense and the higher the stakes—for the character—the better. I’ll show how to create multiple levels of tension and suspense for the “page turner.” What about the poor author’s needs? You’ll learn how to be sneaky, how to not only show don’t tell, but to tell well. Hook the reader in every sentence.

Thanks for the preview of your workshop, Elizabeth, I am looking forward to hearing the rest in person at the OWL meeting on Saturday!

Tomorrow in Part III of my interview, Elizabeth will answer a couple of my questions about her information-packed book, A Writer's Guide to Fiction.


  1. Hi Donna - I read the first interview, and then this one. As usual, I'm in the wrong state! It seems you frequently have wonderful writers' workshops and things going on up there. This sounds like a great one, and I'm sorry to miss it. Thanks for the terrific interview, though.

  2. Thanks, Donna, for giving us a preview of what the OWL workshop will offer. And thank you, Elizabeth...I'll see you Friday night when we have our gathering at Boxcar Willies. You're gonna love OWL. And for all those who think we're too far away...I live in St. Louis and have driven to Branson, MO four times a year for the last 18 years. My trip is a 4 1/2 hour one, but we have members who drive much farther to experience what OWL has to offer. Come join us this week-end and meet Elizabeth Lyon in person. Donna and I will both be there too.

  3. Very interesting!
    Am having lots of Blogger problems today so will see if this posts!

  4. I thought the part about the character being pushed off the stage and the author holding a press conference was very interesting and it gave me something to think about.

  5. Wish I could make the conference. You girls have fun!


  6. WIsh I could make the conference, too. But I think even more I wish I could make Boxcar Willies. :) LOVE THAT NAME.

  7. I've been enjoying the interview, Donna. But now Louella's comment has me thinking about Boxcar Willie's.

    When my son was two, we took him there for the breakfast buffet. Boxcar Willie himself walked through. He saw my boy sitting in the high chair in his little overalls, and pinched his cheek. "He's cute as a bug," said Willie.

    That was right before the kid grabbed a ham steak and slapped his dad across the face with it. Mercifully, Boxcar Willie had moved on. We left a bit abruptly. My husband did not respond well to being meat-slapped by a two-year-old.

    The kid is sixteen now. His meat-slapping tendencies have abated. And he won't wear overalls for any price.

  8. Hi Lisa,
    You are welcome. Wish you lived closer,too.

    Hi Lou,
    You are welcome. Thanks for helping arrange for my interview with Elizabeth. I'm excited to be able to return to OWL.

    Hi Bookie (Claudia),
    Looks like your Blogger problem has been fixed.

    Hi Pat,
    Thanks. And congrats on winning a copy of Mary's book.

    Hi Margo,
    Wish you could be there, too.

    Hi Val,
    Love your meat-slapping story.



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