So last week I was one of thousands at the "Get Motivated" conference in Atlanta. It was pretty cool. The speaker I was the most excited about hearing was Bill Cosby (and unfortunately, we had to leave before he spoke). But there were a lot of other speakers...Goldie Hawn, Lou Holtz, General Colin Powell, Rudy Guliani, plus a few who weren't advertised.
I saw a lot of characters and a lot of "what if" threads there. It was definitely a lesson in character study. Enough for several posts. So this will be a series that will end the week of Thanksgiving.
Anywho... first lesson: make sure your characters don't contradict each other.
So, each speaker had a specific topic to discuss with us: goals, leadership, perseverance, etc. It was advertised on the ticket. What we were not given was a program, so we had no idea who was going to speak when. It was a method to keep us guessing and in our seats, instead of leaving early for lunch and for home in order to beat the crowds. In our case, it didn't work.
The whole day seemed to go smoothly (though we had no idea how if the sessions were on time), until the final two sessions we heard.
I'm not an idiot. I know all of the speakers did not arrive at the Georgia Dome at the break of dawn and listen to all of the talks. They probably strolled in not too long before their scheduled speeches, sat in the green room on their phones/computers/hanging out with people, and then strode out to the stage to a rock star welcome when beckoned. But this made me wonder how much background each of them were given on the speeches in general:
One of the speakers, James Smith, encouraged us to turn off our televisions, our cell phones, our computers, and connect to life. He reminded us of what really matters (more on him on next week).
Then Rudy Guliani got up and did 2 things wrong: 1) He repeated a joke one of the morning speakers gave almost verbatim. But instead of enhancing the point of the joke, it just looked like poor preparation. Like he didn't know what his colleague was going to speak on.
2) After repeating that joke (asking how many people had a computer and knew how to use it) he encouraged each person to get an iphone, a kindle, a computer, etc. and stay connected to what is going on in the world, our businesses, and our governments.
What a contradiction!
Guliani's problem was his presentation. Honestly, he was so boring. He followed a fascinating speaker (with a topic I couldn't even understand- again, to be discussed next week) and had a topic I understood: leadership. But, oh my word. I couldn't wait for him to finish.
In his first moments on stage, he told an "original" joke that wasn't original and contradicted the speaker directly before him. It was like he prepared his speech, but not in the context of the entire conference. He didn't compare notes. And since he was the repeat, it made him look very ... silly.
Something I've learned the hard way is going through and checking the dialogue in my stories to make sure they are free of contradictions, not only in themselves, but in the context of the novel. It can be so easy to do... I mean, it's not like we write the entire book in one setting. It's such a simple slip, to make a decision later on in the process that contradicts an earlier one. But they are so important to catch.
If we don't, we can lose our audience.
See y'all next week!
8 hours ago