2017 AGM with Jodi Thomas “World Building and Walking the Land”

On Wednesday, July 26th, we held our annual general meeting with guest speaker, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author, Jodi Thomas. She has also won five RITA’s, is in the Romance Writers Hall of Fame, won the National Reader’s Choice Award and written over forty novels and numerous short story collections.

How privileged we were to have her!

All who came to hear her discuss world building listened with intent. I wanted to be able to hold onto her words, hoping later to recall every bit of the information she’d shared.

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As a writer, she is passionate about others learning the craft. In her unique style, she explained her process of discovering and creating her story.

Since her goal is to sell, she begins with marketing. She said we needed to know our goal, in other words, our purpose in writing the story and the amount of time we intended to invest in the project.

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Jodi writes five days a week, approximately three hours a day.

For those of us who have trouble staying on track, she said to find a writing buddy that would keep us accountable in reaching our goal.

She suggested we study five books in the genre we plan to write. Use them to discover how much dialogue, points of view, etc. that these publish authors have written in their story. Simply put, use the novels like study guides.

After some brief conversation, she paired us off into threes where we created, using her technique, a workable story.

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Once she begins her project, she takes her idea and then builds her world (setting), and then “walks the land” (learns about the area and the people to get an understanding of the characters she plans to write.) “You need to know how the people in that locale do things, say things.” Ms. Thomas stated.

She explained how to take a location, narrow it down to a specific place. And she instructed us to take time to learn how the community does things.

For example: Who ran the town, in other words, who was “royalty?” Who was in charge of the specific place you chose—was it the patriarch of the family? The matriarch? What were the laws of the community? Their customs? Who were the givers and the takers in the town?

How did they use or tell time? Example: In New York, people might determine how far it is to a place by how long it takes to get to that location, whereas, in Texas it would be determined by how many miles they had to go.

“You need to understand your characters. Each one is like a coin—it has a good and bad   side, so to speak.” Put another way, for every good trait there is a bad one.

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Before closing, Jodi took time to talk with us about making our group better—more useful for all of our members.

Some great ideas were generated and hopefully, we’ll be able to adopt them into our online group.

Stay tuned to hear more.

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Avery Cove is currently VP of Communications for RWF. Also, she’s held the position of Secretary. She was a 2017 finalist in the Historical category for WisRWA Fab 5 contest. She writes both historical and contemporary romantic women’s fiction. She has a degree in Creative Writing and has been PRO for several years. Before she goes to her day job, she wakes up each morning to walk her very spoiled dog as the sun rises. She is working on book one of her contemporary series, loosely based on a town in the Ozark mountains.

Avery is a member of RWA and many online chapters. She can be found at her Facebook page and Twitter. Her website is www.averycove.com and she writes at http://averycove.blogspot.com/  and Sheila’s blog.

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One thought on “2017 AGM with Jodi Thomas “World Building and Walking the Land”

  1. Thanks so much for sharing Jodi’s world building ideas! What a treat to have her work with our group. I liked that she shared specifics for creating the community – who was the “royalty” in the town, what were their laws, customs, time references. Hopefully next year I’ll be at the AGM to hear first-hand our wonderful speakers. Great post, Avery.

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