Friday, October 18, 2013

Speaking of Clichés: Going to Kansas City was a kick!

Women Writing the West past-President Sheila Wood Foard, author of the WILLA-winning YA novel, Harvey Girl, came back from the WWW conference in Kansas City inspired (and full of fun!).

WWWers tour the Steamboat Arabia Museum. Photo by WWW member Bob Foard
Where else, besides a Women Writing the West conference, can you chat with people of your own kind? People who speak the same language using words like plot, proposal, blog, platform, narrator, setting, writer’s block, rejection, alliteration, and social media while touting the importance of including sensory images in describing the western landscape even as they caution against using –ly adverbs, dangling modifiers, fragments (like the one you are now reading), and clichés when you draft your next story?

Speaking of clichés, Brian Shawver, presenter of the Language of Fiction session, reminded us of the well worn warning we first heard in a middle school English class: Avoid Clichés Like the Plague! Then he kicked it up a notch by discussing examples of clichés from literary works being used effectively. At the moment, I can’t quote any of his examples, but I plan to buy his stylebook on Kindle so I can from now on.

Again speaking of clichés, I recalled Dolly Parton’s song titles and lyrics. Now there’s a woman who writes the South well. Why couldn’t I get rich writing clichés like Dolly? Maybe one reason is I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. But I’ve always admired Dolly’s spunk, if not her use of English.

My fervent hope is that the awesome Kansas City Conference (thanks to LaDene Morton and her WWW sidekicks) will be a kick in the pants for my own writing of the West. I’ve been kicking my next novel down the road for far too many months. Now it’s time to kick my ruby slippers together (the way Dorothy, a.k.a Judy Garland, did to get out of the Emerald City in Oz and travel home to Kansas, which was faster than steaming up the Missouri River on the Steamboat Arabia) and finish the sequel to Harvey Girl. (At least I have a working title: Girl Courier on the Indian Detours.)

Hey, did I mention that many of the Harvey Girls (the real ones, not those of that other Judy Garland musical fame) were hired at the Fred Harvey Company offices at Union Station right there in Kansas City? One way to kick start your writing is to revisit the landscape of your first novel. Right? Write! This is no time to kick back unless it’s in my computer chair.

Photo by Bob Foard
Sheila Wood Foard writes for young readers. Her historical novel Harvey Girl (Texas Tech Press) won a WILLA Literary Award as well as taking First Place in YA Fiction Books in the National Federation of Press Women contest. Past President of WWW, Foard is an e-instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature.


Mary E. Trimble said...

What a fun article! I agree--it was a wonderful conference. And I also think Dolly is great.

Linda Herman said...

Wish I could have attended the conference. Just the tour of the Steamboat Arabia Museum would have inspired story ideas!

Anonymous said...

The WWW Conference always makes my year. The Steamboat Arabia Museum made my day. Is that cliche?

Anonymous said...

Always inspirational, always informative, always excellent. Good to see old friends, good to make new ones. (above comment was from Bob Foard as is this one) : )

Heidiwriter said...

A great post, Sheila! I missed seeing you and everyone at the conference. Sounds wonderful!