this fight scene,” Cayce says from across the table. “And I’m wondering if the
sequence seems realistic.”
“Read it,” I
We are holed
up in a condo on the 16th floor of a Hilton resort in Myrtle Beach on a
Saturday afternoon. We’re writing, revising, and workshopping our novels.
Cayce and I
met at the South Carolina Writers’ Workshop annual conference in 2014 and since
then have made it a point to get together several times a year. Both of us are
fantasy writers and usually attend conferences. This weekend we decided on a
writing-focus retreat. No official conference, just the two of us with plenty
of time to work. Setting aside time to focus on writing was one of the best
things I’ve done. We are novelists and need time to work.
read like a list of workshop titles. We’ve been conferencing, just us, in
Myrtle Beach. Throughout the weekend over drinks, meals, lounge chairs, and the
condo’s kitchen table we discussed:
platforms and how to promote your work.
groups and the helpful and unhelpful aspects thereof.
versus editing and at what stage in the novel creation each should occur.
edits and content edits and how the two contribute in different ways to the
in action scenes.
voice and using vocabulary to express the character’s emotions in a scene.
an agent, a small press, or self-publishing and the merits of each.
We made it
down to the beach three times. We ate some really good food. We heard bad
karaoke. Mostly, though, we just enjoyed talking about our writing.
very few substitutions for being able to talk about how you found the story
you’re writing and what you plan to do with it. It’s fun to be talking about
your characters like they’re real people.
describes her teenaged protagonist’s ability to transport and how the people
teaching her to control it are actually plotting to use her, I ask those
editorial questions: What does the character want? What’s at stake?
describe the storytelling frame of my vampire novel and ask if maybe this is
the wrong way to tell this part of the story. We brainstorm the different ways
it could be done and talk over the advantages of each.
We feel like
real, working novelists.
I got through
230 pages of version seven of the vampire novel and have enough notes to push
into version eight. I also worked on new material (including this blog) and
logged about 5000 words.
character has to be between the final victim and the door,” I tell Cayce about
the fight scene. “Otherwise he would just run while she’s killing the others.”
Then we both
go back to our manuscripts, pencils in hand, making notes and corrections. Our
own writers’ retreat workshop was perfect in its purpose and outcome.