Workshop Help: Information vs. Perspective

I recently realized I hadn’t updated my Volume 1 info page. Whoops. Fixed that.

As I mentioned before, I’ve been dragging my heels in my writing a bit because I signed up for some online writing workshops.

“Do those really help?”

Yes and no. There’s always the stuff you already know from experience, the stuff you’ve already researched, and the stuff you can’t figure out how to assimilate. The farther along you are in your writing, the more narrowed your focus. For instance, I now know that I am writing an antihero (as opposed to a Prince Charming or an epic hero), and my Fantasy story’s plot decided it wants to be a Romance. So every time I read advice about what a hero should and shouldn’t have, and what they should and shouldn’t do, I’m seeing it through a Romance/Antihero lens. I take some things, and I toss the rest. What to take vs. what to toss is the pivotal question. My male counterpart is an Antihero, he’s discreetly muscled and slimly built, and I loathe irrelevant book covers, so I automatically dismiss the idea of having a book cover image depicting a headless muscly chest, and I’m going to ignore any advice on how to make him extra-fluffy lovable. On the other hand, he’s damaged with a past, I want readers to be sympathetic, and I’ve got to get my heroine (and my readers) to fall for him. So I’m more than happy to take advice about how to write in his sexy quirks every couple lines, and build questions and intrigue through his actions and reactions.

Information is what is helpful in these workshops. It’s authors handing you tools. It’s social connections. And it’s awareness of your contemporaries and the current book market.

Perspective is a totally different issue. The best perspective help I’ve had volunteered actually comes from readers in the genre, down to the subgenre and the sub-subgenre. There’s no substitute for it. Readers intrinsically know what they’re looking for in a subgenre—or rather, they can tell whether what they’re looking for is or isn’t present. Some readers will just drift away if they feel your story is lacking. But other readers will leave a line or two—or even a few paragraphs—if they know you’re interested in what they have to say.

So I’d like to say “thank you” to those readers who reviewed my most recent chapter, and those who have reviewed my story in the past. Also, a special “thank you” to those readers who reviewed multiple versions of my story. It is your comments I keep in mind when I revise, and when I try to figure out where to write to next. It is your comments that I use to write myself out of corners. And your comments have helped make me a better writer. Don’t think that your one little nay-saying comment is not heard inside a bunch of yay’s, or vice versa. I know I have cut scenes some of you liked, but don’t think I’ve deleted them. They’re still here, waiting to be added back in.

That being said, I am slowly realizing that all of my focus on the “right” ways to do things in order to get published has both helped and stunted my writing. I’ve been outlining and re-outlining, trying to figure out where to go next. That’s necessary, at certain stages. But I’m looking at two more events before the end of the second book, and realizing my writing went so much faster when I just free-wrote. Sure, I wrote myself into a bunch of corners. Sure, I had a bunch of adverbs and repetitive sentence structures. But I also chalked scenes full of emotion and used them as catalysts for unexpected plot turns…and I did it without hardly thinking about it. I just followed my pen. The next revision I have in mind for my manuscript is actually way closer to my original plot ideas, because my story has taken on a life of its own and thus far I have opted to blindly follow it, into whatever unexpected turmoil my pen may lead. I’m not sure which is better to publish: the original plot, or the raw, character-charged emotional turns of events. But with the end of the second book finally taking shape, I think I might just throw myself into it. After all, that’s where all the limes are going to hit the fan.

The second event at the end of this book, I was actually considering moving to the end of the first book. But now I’m not so sure. I guess I’ll figure it out after it’s written. After all, no matter which order events fall in for these two books, events in the next portion of the story should progress the same.

I don’t know if I will go right into writing and posting the next book after I finish Book 2. I might, if I have momentum. But it seems like a great breaking point for revisions.

Anyway, I’m finishing up a Male P.O.V. workshop by Sascha Illyvich (previously entitled “Inside the Male Mind”). I’m starting in on a Romance Writers of America workshop called “Killer Openings” by Alexa Bourne, which should help with the revisions I’ve been toying with for the beginning of my series. I’m also attending a one-night class on publishing and a seminar about characters this month. After those, my two-month workshop madness will be complete. It’s quite the marathon, and it can be difficult to switch back and forth between question mode, social mode, revision mode, and writing mode. Who knew authors had to be such multi-taskers? But after that, it should slow down…and my writing should pick back up. Theoretically.

Chapter 12 is underway; don’t think I’ve forgotten about it just ’cause I’m in a workshop frenzy. I’ve spent a lot of time mulling it over, attempting outlines, and brainstorming specific prospective scenes. I’m being careful, because recent discussions about bondage and alphas has helped me see how important it is that I handle the details of Lord Alonza’s party the right way. Rome may be dominant, but it is very important that you (my dear readers) see that his brand of dominance distinguishes itself that of the corrupt nobility—that they’re about a lot of things that he’s not. I believe the best way to do that is to stick Rome in a noble-dominant situation, and contrast his desires (and how he handles them) within the same situation.

I should warn you, though: Some bad crap is going to happen to Labriella. And, Sheryl, you’re right; Labriella has been growing more timid. But, if I play my cards right, the aftermath of said “bad crap” is going to change that. 😉

So stay tuned!

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