Build a dynamic world for your story to inhabit
During the next few weeks building up to the Super Mini-conference (July 27-28, Ball State Alumni Center, Muncie, IN), we will feature interviews with our faculty members.
If you write fiction, especially world building, you should think about registering for Maurice Broaddus’ Friday all-morning session “World Building: How to Out-Imagine Your Reader.” As Maurice explains, “Every story needs a setting: a sense of WHERE and WHEN it takes place. World building is the process by which we create an imaginary world or build a fictional universe. The workshop will present tips on how to build a dynamic world for your story to inhabit (with in-class writing!).”
Maurice will also teach a session “Characterization Through Dialogue” because characters are at the heart of stories and dialogue helps define characters and drive story. In this workshop, he will help you develop characters, consider word choice, and define their voice through dialogue. His session will present essential tips to improve dialogue and explore how to write dialogue that rings true, deepens character, creates tension, and more.
Maurice Broaddus is the author of steampunk adventures, fantasy and horror, and best known for his short fiction and his Knights of Breton Court novel trilogy. A community organizer and teacher, his work has appeared in Lightspeed Magazine, Weird Tales, Apex Magazine, Asimov’s, Cemetery Dance, Black Static, and many more. Some of his stories have been collected in The Voices of Martyrs. He co-authored the play Finding Home: Indiana at 200. His novellas include Buffalo Soldier, I Can Transform You, Orgy of Souls, Bleed with Me, and Devil’s Marionette. He is the co-editor of Dark Faith, Dark Faith: Invocations, Streets of Shadows, and People of Colo(u)r Destroy Horror. Learn more about him at MauriceBroaddus.com.
Former MWW intern Amanda Byk asked Maurice a few interview questions for some advice to the attendees and to help us learn a bit more about him as a writer and faculty member.
MWW: How will you design your MWW class so participants–from wannabee to published author–leave with great info that will nudge their writing careers forward?
MB: Whenever I prepare a workshop, I approach it from the standpoint of anyone’s writing can be improved. If I’m talking about dialogue or world-building, a newer writer will pick up a lot (and hopefully not be overwhelmed) and a published writer can use either the refresher or look to refine what they already do well.
MWW: If you were hospitalized for three months but not really too sick, whom (and it can’t be a relative) would you want in the next bed?
MB: My buddy J.J. I know he will 1) let me write (because a hospital bed is just an expensive fancy writer’s retreat to me), 2) let me bounce ideas off him, 3) he’ll read whatever I come up with, and 4) watch the same tv shows I watch (and comics I read and games I play). Hope you weren’t looking for anything too deep.
MWW: When you hit the wall and nothing is working on your computer screen, how do you clear your head and refresh? Do you power down and go to a movie, or do you just keep pounding the keys? Advice?
MB: I do the dishes or laundry. Some mindless task that takes a while that will allow my mind to drift and my creative muscle to do its thing. My wife LOVES it when I hit a wall.
MWW: Tell us about your first manuscript sale. What was it? How did you get the news? Did you frame the check or cash it ASAP for fear the editor might have second thoughts? How did you celebrate? Who was the first person you told? How much time passed before you sold a second mss?
MB: Back in that halcyon days of 1999, I got the news via a letter. That was also back when we had to mail out manuscripts via the postal system. It was my story “Soul Food” for the magazine Hoodz. My first few sales (probably six months or so later), I Xeroxed the checks and then cashed them immediately. I kept the checks on file as encouragement (since I was still hanging up my rejection letters as wallpaper back then, too).
Then, as I do to this day, I have my “cigar moment”: I tell my wife, we do a happy dance, and then I enjoy a tasty beverage of some sort (since I don’t actually smoke). But I think it important to take the time to celebrate a sale since I also have a rejection ritual to mourn a market saying “no” to a story before I suck it up and send it back out again.
MWW: A lot of new writers fear that they can’t possibly be successful in the competitive world of publishing. Shoot down these reasons for their lack of confidence:
- I don’t live in the “fast lane”- NYC or the West Coast – whatever, I live in Indianapolis.
- I never took a writing class in college, high school, etc. – doesn’t matter if you have an MFA. It all boils down to the right story to the right market.
- I’m too old – good, you have life experience to draw from.
- I’m too young – good, you have more time to learn and make connections.
- I don’t have a “platform.” (I don’t even know what a platform is!) – platforms are overrated, especially if what you’re writing isn’t aimed at that platform. All that time not building your platform can go into writing your next story.
- I don’t have an agent – they aren’t necessary for short story sales.
- My book manuscript has been rejected (fill in the blank) times – my first novel never sold. Neither did my second, third, or fourth. The next ten did though.
- I’ve heard it’s impossible for an unpublished writer to get a book contract – everyone starts off unpublished.
Come meet Maurice!