16 May 2011


This past weekend, I was at a writing retreat for nine fellows selected by the Midwest Writers Workshop.

We spent all day Friday and most of Saturday at the Pokagon State Park in northern Indiana honing the opening chapters of our manuscripts, learning how to make pitches to agents and generally having a great time.

Part of what was so great is that, as fellows, we got to spend our time with other writers, people who also get this intrinsic drive to sit alone for long stretches, developing characters, situations and problems that we create in our heads and put down on paper.

This wasn't a convention where writers with book spend the whole time on panels telling us about how they do things. This retreat was focused on us as writers. Our work. Our problem areas. Our strengths. I needed to make a guy creepier and show the audience that instead of the classic telling. We were given time to do re-writes and bringing the scene back, it was better with some reworking.

I'm sure I'll post more things that come to mind from the two days as I keep applying them to my manuscript, but a few moments that really stuck out.

My small group -- in a moment of levity -- started doing mash-ups of mystery series. The best one? If Tony Hillerman and Sue Grafton wrote together, we'd get these titles: A is for Apache, B is for Brave, C is for Comanche.

Also -- the best quote of the weekend was from one of our very short round table sessions with all 9 writers together listening to the mentor-writers. "Novelists are the only artists who have to create their raw material," said novelist Terry Faherty.

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