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.