Back to Work, Minus the Slog

I signed up for a writer’s workshop at my local library. Now, I live in a very, very small town and this was the first time in my memory that anything like this has ever been offered. The person running the workshop was someone I knew (small town, remember?), though not very well. I also had a burning curiosity to know who else would show up.

Turns out, I was the only one. (The nasty weather last night may have been a factor.) So, I had a one-on-one discussion with a lovely, gracious lady who gave me some tips on character creation and plot development and her thoughts on and experience with the publishing industry. We seemed to have similar tastes in books and movies, enough to use as examples.

So it was a pleasant way to spend an hour and a half on a rainy Thursday evening. Talking shop. In person. With someone else who writes. That was probably the biggest thing. I’ve got a great group of writer friends online, but nobody to talk to in the flesh. It was a nice experience.

She, herself, writes romance. I, of course, write fantasy. However it didn’t seem to be the huge gulf I always imagined existed between genre writers. Perhaps it depends on the people involved. We’ve both read in each other’s genre, too.

When she asked me about my WIP, I have to say I choked. I’ve never practiced my spiel. I read her my novel sentence and it suddenly sounded ridiculous to my own ears. But she asked questions and tried to tease out information which, to me, seemed disjointed and unfocused. No wonder I’m at a bit of a stand-still with my writing lately.

She suggested I might want to work on character motivation and conflict. Which I thought I had done quite a bit of, based on Holly Lisle’s courses. But the more I’ve looked over what I have so far, I realize that some of the motives for the conflicts are shallow. I need to dig deeper. She let me borrow one of her writing books. GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon. After reading a couple of chapters, it looks like it will help.

Something else I noticed, too. When I read for my own pleasure, the difference between books I like and books I love and consider “keepers” is all about the characters. I love the emotion and the finely-crafted actions and dialogue that grow out of characterization. In writing my own novels (the current one and the unfinished previous one) I started with the setting and plot and characterization was last! Not necessarily a wrong place to start, but odd for me I think.

So, after all this, I would have to say that writing workshop has given me the jolt to get back to work. Back to the planning stage again. Without that slogging feeling.

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9 comments on “Back to Work, Minus the Slog

  1. Texanne says:

    So glad to hear you have found at least one person close by who shares your passion. And yes, a new slant on things can often provide the kickstart or restart that you need. Sounds very good!

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  2. Alanna Klapp says:

    That is awesome, EK!!! Good luck!

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  3. Diane says:

    I also found a local group of writers, different genres, that meet for coffee at a place near me so I applied to join their group. Have no idea how many or if they are published or not. Doesn’t matter. Local writers I can talk to might help keep me motivated. Coincidence? 🙂

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  4. a.m. kuska says:

    I have found many of my stalled stories aren’t failed ideas, but ideas that could not grow until I did. A great example is my favorite published piece, “the good unicorn”. My husband (then boyfriend) felt my work was too dark, and asked me to write a story without physical or emotional violence of any sort. I wasn’t able to at first, because any conflict I considered worth reading was…well..not subtle.

    I found a beautiful scene in my idea box, ending with a rather ugly scene that didn’t match the beginning, erased the ugly and started with that scene. The result was a sale on the first submission

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  5. Congratulations on finding a renewed sense of vigor. I love it when something “outside” of my routine gives me a good old fashion kick in the pants.

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  6. ekcarmel says:

    Thanks everyone for your wonderful words of encouragement – you all keep me going!

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  7. It’s always a bit special when you speak with other writers in person about writing. I think it grounds our writing in the real world when it’s usually so virtual. I’ve heard about GMC but have never read the book. I think I’ll look it up. I recently read Sophie Kinsella’s Twenties Girl and absolutely flew through the novel. As soon as I finished I had to know how she did it and what it was that had me gripped. I have some ideas now but I really want to study it and pull the story to pieces to learn from.

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  8. ekcarmel says:

    I’ll probably be gushing about GMC in an upcoming post. I’m really getting some great stuff for my novel by using it.

    I’ve heard good things about Sophie Kinsella, but I’ve never read anything of hers. Have fun with your dissection!

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  9. Oh excellent! I’ll look forward to your post about GMC.

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