Lynn Viehl of the splendid Paperback Writer weblog does a virtual workshop every year, and this year’s version gets started on July 13 . There’s more information about the workshop here.
Other authors with weblogs also participate by setting up workshops of their own, and Lynn provides a master list so you can see who is doing what.
I did one of the Lynn-inspired-and-organized workshops two years ago (or three?). When I read about the preparations she’s making, I think, yes, I should do that again. But you know what? I’m at a loss for a subject. It seems that over the last five years I’ve posted and workshopped just about every craft and publishing issue to death, and I hate the idea of boring everybody. I don’t want to be the old lady who retells the same stories over and over again.
However, if y’all would like to come up with subjects for the week, day by day, and those subjects are things I can actually provide materials for, I would be happy to do this again. So you know how this works, here’s Lynn’s list of workshop topics:
Monday, July 13th: Conceptual Planning, Construction and Development — an architectural approach to concept writing.
Tuesday, July 14th: Middlemarch — plotting and writing the middle of the story.
Wednesday, July 15th: E-Future Part I — first part of a two-day workshop on digital publishing.
Thursday, July 16st: E-Future Part II — second part of a two-day workshop on digital publishing.
Friday, July 17th: Art vs. Life — using your creative talents to find solutions to problems in your writing life and everyday life, especially when the two collide.
Saturday, July 18th: Diversify and Survive — approaches and strategies to help strengthen your publishing career.
Sunday, July 19th: Agents and Writers — the reality of literary representation, and how to deal with an agent after signing.
Monday, July 20th: Ask PBW Anything — Open Q&A where you can grill me on anything writing- or biz-related.
Don’t feel obligated, because I won’t be offended if there’s nothing you want to hear me yammer about again. On the other hand, I would be happy to participate if there are things you want me to talk about. So suggest a topic or two, if you like, and we’ll see if it’s doable.
How generous of you to offer to devote time to do something like this for your readers, with all you must have going on. I’m only a reader, don’t write, so I can’t think of anything to suggest, but I thought it’s so wonderful of you to offer to take on something llike this.
I’d like to know the process that led to Pajama Girls. Where you were, what you were thinking, how the nugget of the story started. Then, how you decided which characters were necessary.
I’d like to know the process you went through to write The Endless Forest. That is, you had to decide which old characters needed to continue, which to kill off, and what new characters were needed; which threads to continue; how to reach a satisfying final end of the final end.
I’d like to know how much stuff you write and then throw out, how you decide.
I’d like to know whether you outline and go from beginning to end, whether you write chunks and then paste them together.
Well, you asked!
@asdfg: I was wondering where you had disappeared to. I’m happy to post about all these things, but they aren’t really workshopping material. They are more monolog than dialog. Unless I’m missing something?
I’m just throwin’ these out there, not sure if you’ve addressed them in the past or not.
-How do you think motion pictures have influenced writing? Specifically the way in which modern authors describe characters and setting or select POV, etc.
-Do you ever have trouble reconciling your scientific training with your artistic nature? What would you suggest for somebody who does?
-People use a lot of sensory imagery associated with their optimal learning styles when they speak. Do you find this trait carries over into your writing? Have you noticed it in the work of others?
Nope! I just read the rules 3 times and couldn’t quite figure out how to fit my questions into the format; so I just asked ’em anyway.
I’ve been around. Mostly I didn’t have anything worthwhile to say. Oh! Spent 2 absolutely wonderful weeks in Scotland toward the end of May and beginning of June.
Topics. Not rules. Piffle!
Just read the blog post over at Writer Unboxed by A. Aguirre – the mechanics/rules/guidelines of writing, the storytelling soul within, and doing what works. How does one know what works, when to ignore the rules, and how to tap into the storytelling soul? Or, how do you know and what would you suggest to beginning writers, like me.
Don’t know if this is appropriate or fits with the requirements – but I love your writing prompts…
I’ve been doing “write a book with me” at Holly Lisle’s site. It’s been interesting because I’ve dredged up old writing from 2 years ago.
It’s painful to see what I thought was so special. I think I would need a workshop on how to overcome your insecurities about your own writing.
For example, your writing prompts were absolutely helpful in showing me how to get back into writing in a non-threatening, publish-or-die way. Does that make sense? Some people talk about writing as the “I must write or else” and that’s clearly not me if I could put away the story for two years, isn’t it? So that made me insecure right there. I need to know how to regain some writing confidence. I can write non-fiction, because at work they pay me to do this. But it’s the non-fiction, the poetry, the things where the payment is in others’ enjoyment at this point…am I answering my own question here? perhaps. I need to join a writing circle or something maybe. But I need help getting to the point where I have something useful to share in a writing circle, y’know?
Why does my story count? Why should it be told? I read an awesome article about this, and I’m trying to think of where it came from, but if there were a workshop on how to regain your writer’s confidence after you’ve gone fallow a few years, I think that would be helpful. (or what if you never had the confidence…). etcetera.
Found it – David Morrell, in his book, The Successful Novelist. The opening chapter, I must have read it somewhere, because I don’t own this book. He goes through the exercise of asking would-be writers, “Why in heaven’s name would you want to be writers?” and that resonated for me. His question, his elaborations. Ending up with figuring out why your story is the one to tell, how to search in yourself for the answer to the very first question. Unfinished personal business, I believe, was the nutshell answer.
Most of the introduction of The Successful Novelist is available via Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature, so maybe you read it there.
Thanks for pointing out this essay. I have to admit that I am harbouring something of a prejudice against David Morrell’s books based mainly on my intense dislike of the Rambo movies. However, his book on writing seems to be worth checking out, at least on the introduction.
I frankly don’t recall the plot or backstory of the Rambo movies. I may have seen one. Didn’t know they were based on books. So this writing advice came from an obscure author, at first read. Then to find out he had commercial success, that was odd. But understandable. Commercially successful isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
The book on which the Rambo films are based is supposedly quite different and very likely superior. And I have never managed to watch a full film, either. My problem is not that the book and films were commercially successful, but that for me the Rambo films embody everything that was wrong with 1980s action cinema. What is more, in the mid 1980s I lived opposite of a bar/club called Discotheque Rambo and had to look at a badly rendered portrait of Sylvester Stallone in full Rambo regalia day after day from the kitchen window. After seeing that each and every morning, anyone would hate the film. I should have taken a photo of the club, the exterior was truly remarkable in its awfulness.
A few years ago, I actually did buy a book by David Morrell on a whim without knowing who he was, so he was an obscure author to me, too. It was a decent enough thriller. I also liked his writing advice, particularly the bit about finding the stories one needs to tell and themes one needs to write about. Because I have certainly noticed certain themes popping up again and again in my fiction.