Tag Archives: workshop

Writing Workshop Number Two…

Standard

For the first writing workshop I took in my young adult novel and fielded some pretty good questions regarding my manuscript.

For my second workshop I took in a picture book and its accompanying query letter.

This particular book began six years ago at about fifteen hundred words, well too long for a picture book. At the time I was going for a story book kind of vibe.  After ten rejections or so I sat on it for a while, you know, had some kids, moved once, etc.

The second cut brought it down under a thousand. I was much happier with it, but it went through another ten rejections or so.  I sat on it again through another move and another baby.

The third cut brought it down under six hundred words and was about as bare bones as I could get it and still leave it complete. I did a little more research on query letters and cut a couple of sentences that evidenced my novice status.  But I still felt the silent dagger as the six weeks slipped by as one and another forewent claiming my little work.

So, to the workshop I carried my little book.

I believe I threw it down and said something like, “Please, tell me what’s wrong with it!”

For starters, the woman who read my piece out loud could hardly keep from laughing from one sentence to another. Everyone around the table was near riotous when she finished.  I was not expecting this and it shook me a bit.  It was pleasant, but surprising.  I mean, I had thought it was funny, but this funny?

And then the feedback came. One lady wanted to hear more about this, another wanted more about that, and so on, naming almost every piece I had cut out over the previous six years.

I confessed, “Well, yes, originally this was followed by a bit that went like this.”

Riotous laughter! Everyone loved it!  “Why would you have left that out?!”

So, I’m getting slowly frustrated because how on Earth am I supposed to squeeze all this into a picture book? And if it is indeed this good already then what on Earth am I doing here?

And then someone asked, “Have you considered making it an early reader?”

A light bulb clicked on centimeters above my head.

I didn’t hear anything after that. My little manuscript would lend itself well to the playful vignettes of an early reader.  The only problem is that this would change my writing style.  I couldn’t use any of those long elegant sentences I was so very fond of.  Sigh.  I love commas if you haven’t been able to tell.  And the story vocabulary would need to be altered.   My story may live, but in a drastically different manifestation.

So, I’ve been playing with it and I think I like where it’s going. It does appear I have signed on for a few more years, though.  And I’ve heard early readers are harder to sell.  Is this true? Anyone?

At any rate, she loved my query letter, so that’s something.

Chip, chip, chipping away!

My First Workshop…

Standard

I finished my YA book. That is, I wrote it all down and now I’m in the process of revision.

I reread it and printed it out because I find I catch a lot on paper that I miss on the screen. I had fun marking it up, but the best moment was when I finished reading through it. I felt like I had a giant pile of play dough to mess with. I noticed that in my passion to get it all down I skimmed some of the setting and a few of the minor characters. I’ve been having fun fleshing them out.

I think the editing process is going to be my favorite part of this writing thing.

I signed up for two workshops this month, but one got cancelled. So I went through the agonizing process of deciding which manuscript to take. I decided to take the first ten pages of my YA and save the picture book for next month.

I’d never been to a workshop before or even a critique. We used to do critiques in my studio art classes, offering criticism and compliments on paintings and drawings hung up and down the hallway. It was very similar, except that I find I’m much less emotionally attached to my writing.

There were six of us and I thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone’s pages. There were two middle grade books, two picture books, and two young adult novels.

We read each other’s out loud and two, at least, I wanted to curl up with and read to the end. And then someone read mine. It was interesting to hear it in someone else’s voice. The comments and critiques I got were very helpful. They brought up questions I hadn’t considered for my character which helped me get to know her better.
In the end I found a better way to present the setting in the initial chapters that tells the reader more about what’s going on and gets to the action sooner. So, I’m excited all over again.

Now, I just need to find a couple of uninterrupted hours between nap time and school pickup to get it down.

I really, really like this writing thing.