Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Respite From Retreat

A family comes home after being away for two weeks. Luggage on the floor, mail piled on the table, that icky stale smell of a house that's been shut up for two weeks; they stand on cramping legs and sigh, "I need a vacation from my vacation!"

I wasn't exactly on vacation, but I was away (note previous entry). And now I'm back. Still trying to catch up on the lost sleep. I added it up. I slept for 15 hours divided over 5 days while away at the Write!Canada Conference in Guelph, Ontario. And, for the record, I wasn't the rowdiest person there. You know who you are.

But, home again, and it's time to get back to the work of being a writer. What I want to do over the next several blogs is to tie in lessons I've learned, observations I've made, and skills I see lacking in beginners writing that I noticed at the writer's conference to the previous blogs about books on writing. (Gee, that was a massive run on sentence. You get two points if you can untangle that mess and post a concise translation of it in the comments section of this blog.)

I've been talking about how to find the best books on writing, how to gage if a book is useful to you or not, and if you should invest in buying a book that you aren't sure you really need (NO!).

Now I'm in a better position to address the specific issues of beginner writers. I was faculty at the conference (I gave a 75 minute workshop called Strength to Write: How to find you voice and passion as a writer). I also had the opportunity to critique dozens of manuscripts (9 ahead of time, and the rest were 'on the spot' critiques where people signed up for a 15 minute interview with me), and the problems I saw in manuscripts were pretty much universal.

So, with that in mind, I'm going to spend the next few blogs addressing the systemic problems, and detail problems I found in the manuscripts. If you are just starting out as a writer, then you need to subscribe to this blog - you'll learn so much, not just from me, but from the minds of many great writer's that I will bring in over the next few weeks.

Here are a few topics that I'll be covering in the blogs to come:

Titling you work

Get to the Action (or the point)

Introducing your ideas to the reader (No, no, no, no, no!)

Writing is never having to say you're sorry

Find your voice (it's better than being a technically good writer)

Passive voice is so passe

Narrative summary

Foreshadowing: The promise of plot

Sandbagging your scenes

Genres that sell today (and why your old favorite may not work anymore)

POV First person vs. Third Person vs. Who's telling this story anyway?

Passion for the story
Books I recommended to new writers

Fasten your seat belts! It's going to be a blast!

I bid you good writing.


authordonna said...

You just had to issue the challenge Bonnie so here goes:

"I saw, at the conference, in beginners’ writing, certain skills lacking which I will address in future blog postings."

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Bonnie, I look forward to this series. Thanks for sharing!

Since authordonna did such a great job of unscrambling that looooong sentence, I won't even try. But I'll be looking for more like it in your future postings. LOL

Bonnie Grove said...

Donna, I bow to your superiour skills.
But there's room for improvement!Come on everyone. Two points!

Eileen, yikes! Now I've gone and done it. Yes, yes feel free to correct any boo boos you see. Tis the only way I'll learn.

Serendipity said...

so now we wait....impatiently i might add.

Bonnie Grove said...

Ahh waiting. Yer a writer, right? Waiting. It's the next big skill!

Yes, I know everyone is waiting, and I agree I should post and make it clear just how exciting the next few weeks are going to be on the blog.

It's gonna be GREAT! (nod to Tony the Tiger and my childhood in general)

www.maxgrace.com said...

Here's my unscrambling of the run-on:

"I learned a lot of stuff. I want to share it with you."

Whaddya think?

Bill Giovannetti

Bonnie Grove said...

Bill! You have the gift of 'bottom-lining'!

Bang on, dude!

Why didn't I think of that?

Colleen Taylor said...

Before reading everybody else's paraphrase, I want to try my own:

Over the next several blogs I want to incorporate what I noticed at the writer's conference with lessons I've learned, observations I've made, and skills I see beginning writers need.

2 points? :)

Bonnie Grove said...

Suffering agony, Colleen!

2 points?

I give you 4 points!